Instead of any concern about intelligence findings that Russia interfered in our election in order to help Donald Trump win, Trump dismissed the conclusion as “ridiculous” and talked about having “different people coming in” once he takes office. Fox host Chris Wallace all but prodded him to go there.
During his mostly lapdog interview on Fox News Sunday today, Trump baselessly dismissed the CIA’s conclusion that Russia interfered in our election in order to help him get elected (transcript excerpts via FoxNews.com, with added emphases):
TRUMP: I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it. I don’t know why, and I think it’s just—you know, they talked about all sorts of things. Every week, it’s another excuse.
We had a massive landslide victory, as you know, in the Electoral College. I guess the final numbers are now at 306. She’s down to a very low number.
No, I don’t believe that at all.
In the first place, Trump lied about having a landslide victory. But more importantly, he offered not a single piece of evidence to indicate he was right and the CIA wrong.
But host Chris Wallace gave him a pass on that. Worse, Wallace never questioned Trump's cavalier attitude. What decent American wouldn't immediately want to investigate such a thing? One who puts party over country, that's who. And Wallace seemed to think that perfectly acceptable.
Instead of challenging such an anti-American perspective, Wallace facilitated more of the same by setting the stage for Trump to suggest that the CIA needs a purging:
WALLACE: You say you don’t know why. Do you think the CIA is trying to overturn the results of the election --
TRUMP: No, I don’t think—
WALLACE: -- somehow to weaken you in office?
TRUMP: Well, if you look at the story and you take a look at what they said, there’s great confusion. Nobody really knows.
And hacking is very interesting. Once they hack, if you don’t catch them in the act, you’re not going to catch them. They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean, they have no idea.
WALLACE: So, why would the CIA put out this story that the Russians wanted you to win?
TRUMP: I’m not sure they put it out. I think the Democrats are putting it out because they suffered one of the greatest defeats in the history of politics in this country. And, frankly, I think they’re putting it out. It’s ridiculous.
We ought to get back to making America great again, which is what we’re going to do. And we’ve already started the process.
Let’s pause a moment to consider Wallace’s last question about why the CIA would put out the story. Wallace knew Trump had no idea why. So if Wallace really wanted the answer to that question, he’d have asked someone else. Also, if Wallace was interested in Trump’s reasoning, he would have asked something like, “What do you know that the CIA doesn’t?” or he could have pointed to the fact that cyber security experts not in the CIA think the same thing, as one of Fox’s own guests said on the air yesterday.
Instead, Wallace asked a question that, while feigning neutrality, was really more of an invitation to attack the CIA. Still maintaining his veneer of neutrality, Wallace just happened to wonder how Trump will work with the CIA in the future. This time, Trump took the bait.
WALLACE: But the question is, these are the [CIA] folks you’re going to have to rely on to know what’s going on in the world?
TRUMP: Of course, we’re going to make (ph) changes, you know, at the top. I mean, we’re going to have different people coming in because we have our people, they have their people. And I have great respect for them.
But if you read the stories, the various stories, they’re disputing. And certain groups don’t necessarily agree. Personally, it could be Russia. It—I don’t really think it is. But who knows? I don’t know either. They don’t know and I don’t know.
The Guardian reported today that the intelligence community fears retaliation from Trump. Daily Kos notes that a purging process seems to be taking place at The Energy Department where the Trump transition team has “demanded a list of individual federal workers who have worked on climate change reports or attended climate-change related meetings.”
As DK also noted, Trump has already “surrounded himself with pro-Russian figures who have repeatedly peddled conspiracy theories about the actions of the American government while denying or brushing aside intelligence charges against Russian foes outright.”
The specter of Trump stacking the CIA with Putinist yes-men is beyond despicable and downright terrifying.
I’ll have more to say about this interview in another post (or two). Meanwhile, watch it below, from the December 11, 2016 Fox News Sunday.
You might want to catch NPR’s “All Things Considered” tonight. They’re covering what it’ll take for Orange 🍊 Hitler to revive the coal industry as he promised. The teaser for the piece quotes some right winger saying ‘cut the EPA staff by 50%’ and ‘abolish the Energy Department’.
Oh, and have a plane with a tank full of gas with enough range to get to Ecuador 🇪🇨 should the fascist regime fall from its own corruption and incompetence. 😉
The Energy Department’s upcoming scandal will be interesting on two different fronts, not even counting the outrageous notion of the new Secretary being Rick Perry (!!!???!!!) Yes, there’s the obvious witch hunt going on in the staff where Pence is demanding the names of any Energy Dept staffer who participated in Climate Change work. And there’s also the projects witch hunt where Pence is demanding to know exactly which projects are essential to that Climate Change work, for the clear purpose of scrapping those projects on January 20th and 21st. The new focus of a reduced Perry Energy Dept will be to approve as many pipelines and oil drilling sites as possible. I think we can guarantee an aggressive increase in offshore drilling and a deliberate move into ANWAR just to get the drilling into position before the country truly realizes what has been done. Add to this that we know that an EPA under Pruitt will be radically scaled back until it’s simply a rubber stamp for whatever corporate projects are contemplated. And a Betsy DeVos Dept of Education will simply be a mill for approving charter schools (particularly Christian ones) and for promoting school vouchers to deplete the public education system. I fully expect that the Pence Administration will move to eliminate both Education and the EPA before 2020 as redundant and unnecessary ideas. They are particularly motivated to get rid of Education as soon as possible, so that Jimmy Carter can live to see the one vestige of his presidency erased.
When it comes to the CIA, I fully expect a return to the nastiness of the days under W and Cheney, where the agents had free rein to brutalize people if they could justify it under national security. Where intelligence was politicized to support whatever military action Cheney recommended. I’m not as concerned about some Russian influence over Pompeo and Pence, as I don’t think of them as Russian sympathizers in any way, but I am concerned about how a Pompeo CIA will respond to terrorist acts that happen during the first couple of years of the Trump/Pence White House. As we saw with Cheney and W, that would be guaranteed to result in major military action as distractive political theater. If Trump’s popularity is dropping and Pence is having trouble getting all his Far Right ideas through Congress, these guys will not hesitate to declare that some kind of military adventure is needed against (fill in the name of Middle Eastern country or terrorist group). That’s just the sort of thing the Right always uses when they want to terrify the population and get everyone riled up to support the Commander in Chief. I fully expect them to use this tool to try to buttress themselves for the 2018 midterms and the 2020 campaign. The upcoming Sessions prosecution of the Clintons will be great entertainment for the Right, but that will really only slake the Right’s hatred of this couple. To distract the entire American public, something bigger would be needed. And that’s the situation where a Pompeo CIA could be truly scary in the implications of its work.
I said the other day that Mao Tse Tung was spinning in his grave. J Edgar Hoover is spinning like a jet engine.