Evan McMullin appeared on CNN’s New Day this morning to tell Alisyn Camerota that Donald Trump wants to “weaken” the U.S. intelligence community because “he knows as long as he has the issues he has with Russia the intelligence community and he are not going to get along.”
— New Day (@NewDay) February 17, 2017
Camerota asked Steve Hall, the former CIA Chief of Russia Operations about Trump’s press conference yesterday. Hall answered that,
“I don’t think there is very much good news especially after we saw the press conference Donald Trump conducted yesterday…he said things like it wouldn’t be so bad if we had a good relationship with Russia.”
Hall cited his old boss, ambassador Mike McFaul (ambassador to Russia 2012-2014) that “attempting to have a good relationship with Russia is not a policy.”
He explained that you have to first identify U.S. and Russian interests, “fully understand that and then find that very slim part of the Venn diagram” as to where there might be cooperation.
There isn’t much hope of finding that, however, as Hall warned that because Vladimir Putin’s goal is to “undermine liberal democracies in the West and to drive wedges in NATO it’s awfully difficult to find that kind of common ground.”
He said we need a “realistic policy” and that there is no evidence from the Trump administration of an “open-eyed” approach to Moscow. As McMullin said in a tweet this morning,
Trying to "get along with Russia" and colluding with it in subversion of American democracy are two very different things.
— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) February 17, 2017
Mike McFaul too, is leery, tweeting the need for “a bipartisan, independent, 911-like commission to investigate foreign meddling in our elections.”
McMullin, who wrote an op-ed in The New York Times today, called recent revelations about Trump and Russia “alarming” and a “grave, grave set of facts” given Trump’s “close connections” with Russia.
Asked by Camerota why Republicans don’t speak out more forcefully, McMullin answered that Republicans are allowing themselves to be distracted by a “shiny thing” – namely, the chance to advance the conservative agenda under Trump.
He also worried that Republicans may not understand how serious things are, that they “recognize it as a problem” but “aren’t as alarmed by it as they should be.” This latter is much more difficult to believe. One does not have to be an intelligence expert to understand the threat posed by Russia.
In his op-ed, McMullin stressed that “President Trump’s disturbing Russian connections present an acute danger to American national security” and warned that “This plotline is unlikely to improve of its own accord, and America’s security is now at stake.”
McMullin makes it clear that “Republicans are now responsible for protecting the nation from its dangers.” Sadly, as he also pointed out both to Camerota and in his op-ed, we can’t expect them to do that.