Trump dodges question on Russian interference

President Donald Trump declines to say whether he agrees with US intelligence agencies' assessments that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, instead choosing to attack Hillary Clinton and the DNC.

Posted: Jul 17, 2018 12:02 PM
Updated: Jul 17, 2018 12:02 PM

How much longer can the foreign policy leaders in President Donald Trump's Cabinet stick by this President?

The Helsinki, Finland, summit will surely go down as one of the worst-ever presidential performances on the international stage. Not since President John F. Kennedy was thoroughly intimidated when he met with the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna, Austria, in 1961 has an American president been so completely and artfully outflanked by his Russian counterpart.

At a press conference in Helsinki standing next to Russian President Vladimir Putin, instead of endorsing the unanimous finding of US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, Trump observed that Putin was "extremely strong and powerful in his denial."

Well, that settles it then! We will always take the word of Putin, a former longtime KGB official whose actions around the world have run counter to American interests, against those of America's key intelligence agencies.

For good measure, Trump dumped on his own country, "I think that the United States has been foolish. We've all been foolish. We're all to blame." Really? In fact, as special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has painstakingly revealed, the ones to blame are a small coterie of officers in Russia's military intelligence agency GRU, acting no doubt under the orders of Putin.

Surely Trump's performance in Helsinki must have the members of his war Cabinet asking themselves: How can I continue serving in this administration? After all, these are serious public servants, much of whose lives have been bound up in countering first the Soviet threat and now the Russian threat.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis enlisted in the Marine Corps in the late 1960s when he was 18 and when the Cold War was at its height.

During his confirmation hearings to become defense secretary, Mattis described the Russians as the number one threat to the United States and opined that Putin was seeking to break up the NATO alliance.

In the Pentagon's defense strategy released in January, Mattis again described Russia as a key threat.

This was a similar conclusion to that of the national security strategy review overseen by now-departed national security adviser Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster that was released in December.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's first assignment as an Army officer was patrolling the border between West Germany and East Germany as the Cold War wound down.

At his confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Pompeo said, "Russia continues to act aggressively, enabled by years of soft policy toward that aggression."

In May, Pompeo said the United States has a "great deal more work to do" to safeguard the November midterm elections from outside interference.

Dan Coats, who oversees the 17 American intelligence agencies, testified in March that Russia "is likely to continue to pursue even more aggressive [cyber] attacks, with the intent of degrading our Democratic values and weakening our alliances."

After Trump's bizarre press conference on Monday, Coats' office released a statement pushing back on the President's bromance with Putin, saying, "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy. ..."

In the past Trump's current national security adviser, John Bolton, has called Putin a "liar" and Russia's election-meddling in 2016 an "act of war." Bolton has moderated his tone on Russia of late, but clearly, he is naturally a skeptic of Putin and his works.

So, we are now in the bizarre place where the Trump administration seems to have two sets of policies about Russia. There is the policy of the administration, which has taken a fairly hard line on Russia, for instance, expelling 60 Russian diplomats in March after Russia's attempt to assassinate a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom with a nerve agent.

Then there is the policy of the President, who continues to embrace Putin and to deny the assessments of his own intelligence agencies. How long is this really sustainable for the members of Trump's war Cabinet? Or put another way, at what point should it no longer be tolerable?

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 96032

Reported Deaths: 2894
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7110159
DeSoto556559
Harrison385374
Jackson348670
Madison329788
Rankin329377
Lee271468
Forrest247872
Jones247579
Washington223872
Lafayette217339
Lauderdale2049125
Bolivar184066
Oktibbeha177850
Lamar170035
Lowndes156958
Neshoba1566104
Panola147129
Sunflower146546
Warren140550
Leflore140481
Pontotoc126616
Pike123451
Monroe122868
Copiah118433
Scott117427
Coahoma115528
Holmes109659
Marshall109517
Lincoln109053
Grenada108336
Yazoo105930
Simpson103346
Union99724
Tate98737
Leake95338
Adams93837
Wayne90021
Pearl River88353
Marion85935
Prentiss85517
Covington82022
Itawamba81521
Alcorn80311
George77113
Newton77024
Tallahatchie77021
Winston73819
Tishomingo68238
Chickasaw67924
Tippah66917
Attala65925
Walthall60026
Clay59218
Clarke58746
Hancock58222
Jasper57315
Noxubee54816
Smith53215
Calhoun51512
Tunica48615
Claiborne46316
Montgomery46120
Lawrence43313
Yalobusha43314
Perry42319
Humphreys37715
Greene37517
Quitman3735
Stone37112
Jefferson Davis34111
Webster33813
Amite32910
Carroll31612
Wilkinson30518
Kemper28915
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2263
Franklin1923
Choctaw1856
Issaquena1043
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19572348
Mobile13320292
Montgomery8811183
Tuscaloosa8586117
Madison782078
Shelby592349
Lee588759
Baldwin545650
Marshall393343
Calhoun349942
Etowah343945
Morgan327328
Houston280221
Elmore265947
DeKalb240620
St. Clair230835
Walker230683
Talladega214628
Limestone208820
Cullman189020
Dallas178326
Franklin176729
Autauga175725
Russell17573
Lauderdale169833
Colbert164126
Blount160815
Escambia160324
Chilton156431
Jackson156011
Covington138527
Dale135844
Coffee13206
Pike119410
Chambers116142
Tallapoosa115685
Clarke108916
Marion95729
Butler91639
Barbour8737
Winston73812
Marengo71620
Pickens65614
Lowndes65327
Bibb65210
Randolph64213
Hale63428
Lawrence61623
Geneva6074
Cherokee60313
Bullock59914
Monroe5848
Clay5797
Washington55613
Perry5416
Crenshaw53632
Conecuh53511
Wilcox53111
Henry4935
Macon48119
Fayette4508
Sumter43519
Lamar3662
Cleburne3646
Choctaw34912
Greene30315
Coosa1683
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Broken Clouds
67° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 67°
Columbus
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 68°
Oxford
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 63°
Starkville
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 64°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather