It gets worse. Yes, yes, I know you didn't think it was possible, but...well, wait, no, even you've just been paying random attention, you likely thought that there was a reasonable chance that it could get worse, even not knowing what the "it" is.
Trump has started the process to invite Putin to the White House.
Yes, you read that right.
And the thing is, even that gets worse. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was being interviewed live on TV by Andrea Mitchell onstage at the Aspen Security Forum when the story broke...and he had NO IDEA.
And yes, you read that right, too.
At one point during the interview, she had to interrupt him with news of a tweet that had just been released from the White House. Coats rolls his eyes, turns his body away, laughs, and though you can't hear it clearly on this particular clip, says, “Oh, God.” What followed is a master class in body language, so blatantly obvious that it would be taught at kindergarten level, especially since it was accompanied by verbal clues of agony.
Keep in mind that Putin is the man who the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee reported directed the attack on the U.S. elections, which are ongoing. The man who the intelligence services showed evidence to Trump two weeks before he took office emails and text messages from, directing the attacks. The man who directed the 12 GRU military operatives who were just indicted for attacking the U.S. election This is the man who Trump has invited to the White House -- without first telling his Director of National Intelligence -- just days after many news outlets, analysts and elected officials have suggested Trump committing treason in his dealings with Putin.
The thing is, what makes this all worse is that it's not the first time this has happened. He said that he had no idea when Trump took the Russian ambassador and Russian foreign secretary into his office. No idea -- and this is the Director of National Intelligence. And lest one think it's no big deal, that invitation ended up being deeply problematic because Trump ended up giving away code-word highly secret classified information about foreign intelligence, making our allies wary about sharing information with us.
And Coats -- the Director of National Intelligence -- said that he still has no idea what Trump and Putin actually talked about in the private meeting. I think it's a safe bet that Russian intelligence knows.
Furthermore, it should be noted that at that Security Forum yesterday, Microsoft announced that it "detected and helped block hacking attempts against three congressional candidates this year." This is the first known instance of hacking for the mid-terms. So much for anyone attempting to deny that it's happening.
And in the end, I can only reiterate, this is not about Trump anymore. We know who he is. Ghastly as it is that he's not only inviting Putin to the White House and that he didn't tell the Director of National Intelligence, I don't think many people are shocked to hear of it. No, as always now, this is about the elected officials of the Republican Party. They're who are enabling him, they're who are standing behind him in support to protect him.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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