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Reality Check: Trump's reluctance to call out Russia for interference muddies US response

"Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs."So said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, fla...

Posted: Aug 3, 2018 3:02 PM
Updated: Aug 3, 2018 3:02 PM

"Our democracy itself is in the crosshairs."

So said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, flanked by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, the national security adviser John Bolton and FBI Director Christopher Wray at the White House Thursday, warning that Russia is actively attacking our elections.

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Now if only someone would tell President Donald Trump. Also missing in action: Congress and badly needed funding for election security.

Let's start with the President. We've all seen his odd, repeated reluctance to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin and his impulse to take Russia's word about election interference over our own intelligence agencies. Last month, Trump reluctantly said he accepted the intelligence community's conclusion on Russian meddling, though he added, "it could be other people also."

Thursday night, Trump again undercut his administration's carefully calibrated united front, dismissing the "Russian hoax" at a rally in Pennsylvania.

This disconnect is disturbing. And because tone comes from the top, it has muddied our nation's response to date.

Department of Homeland Security official Bob Kolasky, the assistant secretary for infrastructure protection, told The Daily Beast in March, "we have not seen any significant nefarious activity" ahead of the midterms. That statement now appears to be outdated.

We've seen the deep disconnect between the partisan House Intelligence Committee and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee's reports of Russian involvement in our elections.

And earlier this week, we saw the Senate vote down a $250 million appropriation to fund state election security efforts. This vote was split along partisan lines with the exception of retiring Tennessee Republican -- and frequent Trump critic -- Bob Corker.

This despite the fact that the campaign of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, was unsuccessfully targeted by Russians last year. As Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford told us on "New Day," "I would be shocked if there's a senator who hasn't been."

Election security is national security. It shouldn't be a partisan issue. But the President has been lagging rather than leading.

The former Trump White House official in charge of cybersecurity, Tom Bossert, recently told Yahoo News that he was concerned no one was "minding the store" when it came to cybersecurity in the White House.

Let's hope that the clear-eyed officials of the Trump administration, and not the Trump we saw at Thursday night's rally, rule the day. But that means moving beyond words -- it means letting special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation continue so we know the full extent of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

It means relentlessly combating the online disinformation campaigns that blur the lines between fact and fiction with confirmation bias, conspiracy theory clickbait.

And it means fully funding election security efforts across partisan lines and dramatically increasing sanctions on countries that interfere in our elections.

Our representatives should vote like our democracy depends on it. Because it does.

And that's your Reality Check.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 292811

Reported Deaths: 6613
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19515228
Hinds18611385
Harrison16431275
Rankin12543261
Jackson12419216
Lee9641160
Madison9378194
Jones7857145
Forrest7094136
Lauderdale6760225
Lowndes5998137
Lamar581180
Lafayette5698113
Washington5135128
Bolivar4580120
Oktibbeha438691
Panola424992
Warren4101113
Pearl River4083128
Pontotoc406668
Marshall398392
Monroe3977126
Union392173
Neshoba3758166
Lincoln3447100
Hancock338673
Leflore3349118
Sunflower316685
Tate299874
Pike298293
Scott291867
Alcorn289660
Itawamba288571
Yazoo283262
Tippah275465
Copiah273957
Coahoma272666
Simpson270778
Prentiss267658
Leake251370
Wayne250540
Marion249878
Covington247178
Grenada244676
Adams232877
George229845
Newton223151
Winston220274
Tishomingo211465
Jasper211244
Attala205969
Chickasaw200550
Holmes181470
Clay177848
Stone171129
Tallahatchie169239
Clarke168271
Calhoun155527
Smith151531
Yalobusha142236
Greene126533
Walthall123340
Noxubee122629
Perry120934
Montgomery120537
Lawrence119021
Carroll117223
Amite110732
Webster109229
Jefferson Davis99931
Tunica98023
Claiborne97329
Benton92524
Humphreys91326
Kemper89422
Quitman76614
Franklin75419
Choctaw69416
Wilkinson62226
Jefferson61027
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 490220

Reported Deaths: 9744
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson704661342
Mobile35810721
Madison32203443
Tuscaloosa23961409
Montgomery22417489
Shelby21773211
Baldwin19635272
Lee14883147
Morgan13571248
Etowah13118312
Calhoun13090283
Marshall11212203
Houston10036257
Limestone9321133
Elmore9313179
Cullman8864177
St. Clair8771220
Lauderdale8570210
DeKalb8419173
Talladega7450162
Walker6492249
Jackson6466102
Autauga617285
Blount6072125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5229100
Dale4614106
Russell401431
Franklin397675
Covington3948105
Chilton383196
Escambia376670
Tallapoosa3559139
Clarke342749
Dallas3396140
Chambers3393103
Pike292771
Lawrence281284
Marion280793
Winston245665
Bibb243759
Marengo238554
Geneva238468
Pickens223554
Barbour209550
Hale208464
Fayette199356
Butler195165
Henry182341
Cherokee176338
Monroe165638
Randolph162740
Washington156233
Crenshaw143353
Clay143254
Macon140543
Cleburne136539
Lamar131632
Lowndes130148
Wilcox120825
Bullock116534
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98231
Coosa86823
Greene86732
Choctaw54723
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