Democrats are now casting themselves as the party of national security since Donald Trump cannot be trusted and is probably committing treason.
By cozying up to Vladimir Putin, and attacking U.S. intelligence agencies, Donald Trump has proven that he cannot be trusted. He clearly cares about his personal business interests more than he cares about the security of the country he is sworn to protect. He has even attacked key U.S. allies.
Last week Trump made clear that he can’t be trusted when he called his intelligence leaders “passive and naive” after seeing media reports about their testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
CIA Director Gina Haspel and Direction of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats expressed their disagreements with Trump on several key foreign policy issues, such as North Korea, ISIS, Iran’s nuclear activities and Russia. This led Trump to publicly attack them, which is unprecedented. These intelligence officials have great integrity and knowledge about what is really happening with our foreign enemies. They should be supported 100% by the president, not attacked.
Yet Donald Trump has a history of attacking the CIA and the FBI since becoming president. He does this in order to further his own political agenda.
In the past he has even said that believes what Putin says more than he believes his own intelligence agencies (especially on the topic of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election).
Trump’s actions could be classified as as treasonous, and they strengthen the arguments of Democrats in Congress that they should now be acting as a check on Trump’s power in the area of foreign policy.
Since taking control of the House of Representatives, key Democrats have become more vocal in asserting their proper role under the U.S. Constitution.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said:
“What I worry about is if the president is going to so obviously and plainly and publicly disavow his own intelligence agencies, then if there is a real crisis who is going to believe the president?”
“He has so impeached his own credibility that few Americans have confidence in what he does or what he says.”
With their newfound power, and after Trump’s detrimental comments, Democrats are now talking about funding areas of security that they think should be priorities.
And they are stressing that their priorities closely match priorities that were expressed in the public remarks made by Haspel, Coats, and other U.S. intelligence officials.
For example, Democrats have stressed comments by DNI Coats where he expressed doubts about North Korea’s willingness to give up its nuclear arsenal. Coats also warned of the continued threat from ISIS, which Democrats also agree with. Trump pronounced ISIS as having been destroyed and is bullish on his ability to denuclearize North Korea through talks with that country’s leader, Kim Jong Un. But almost nobody else in Washington agrees with him.
DNI Coats addressed these issues in his testimony, saying:
“We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.”
Democrats also point out that none of the intelligence officials mention a crisis at the southern border. Which is because they know that there is no crisis there. And they know that there are other real emergencies that the U.S. government must deal with in order to protect our national security.
Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell from California, also a member of the House Intelligence Committee, expressed Democrats’ view when he said:
“We can fund where the threats really are, not where he tells us the threats are.”
Democrats in Congress — including those who will be running for president in 2020 — want to make sure the public sees that the current president must be replaced in order to strengthen our national security. They are seeking a political edge on the issue, and it is possible that they will be successful. So they are trying to make sure the public understands the risks we face with our current president, who may be sharing classified secrets with Vladimir Putin.
Democrats say Trump’s public criticisms of the CIA and other intelligence agencies help our foreign enemies, and threaten national security.
Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, talked about the dangers posed by Trump;
“It is one more card that our antagonists have: that our president doesn’t trust his 80 billion dollar a year intelligence operation. That is a huge card in a poker game for our opponents. That is a terribly dangerous thing.”
These are dangerous times and the United States cannot afford to be undermined by our own president. There is a void in leadership on national security, and Democrats in Congress have decided that they must now step forward and try to save the country from further harm caused by Donald Trump.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.