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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 That statement now appears to be outdated.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.

Confirmed Cases: 15523

Reported Deaths: 734
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds100625
Lauderdale73862
Madison72423
Scott65012
Neshoba64639
Jones62928
Forrest56438
DeSoto5427
Rankin4398
Holmes42928
Leake42712
Copiah3124
Jackson30813
Attala29817
Yazoo2814
Newton2714
Leflore26431
Lincoln26329
Harrison2587
Monroe25725
Oktibbeha23912
Lamar2385
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Wayne2041
Pike20311
Adams19915
Noxubee1866
Washington1787
Warren17310
Covington1652
Jasper1634
Bolivar16211
Lee1536
Smith15211
Kemper14411
Clarke14418
Lafayette1364
Chickasaw13512
Coahoma1254
Carroll11711
Winston1171
Marion1159
Clay1124
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Tate941
Grenada943
Yalobusha935
Hancock9111
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Montgomery851
Sunflower843
Union835
Marshall833
Jefferson Davis773
Tippah7311
Panola713
Webster692
Calhoun654
Amite641
Humphreys607
Walthall560
Tunica553
Prentiss533
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Pontotoc353
Quitman330
Tishomingo320
Stone300
Franklin292
Tallahatchie271
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene131
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18018

Reported Deaths: 644
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2239116
Jefferson1837102
Montgomery171040
Tuscaloosa78315
Marshall6939
Franklin5567
Lee54833
Shelby51720
Tallapoosa42765
Butler41118
Chambers35525
Walker3542
Elmore3548
Madison3394
Baldwin2909
Morgan2801
Dallas2723
Etowah25711
DeKalb2483
Lowndes24612
Coffee2361
Sumter2247
Autauga2214
Houston2204
Bullock2095
Pike2030
Colbert1842
Hale1739
Russell1710
Marengo1706
Barbour1671
Lauderdale1642
Calhoun1603
Choctaw1538
Wilcox1487
Clarke1442
Cullman1430
Randolph1277
St. Clair1231
Marion12211
Pickens1164
Dale1150
Talladega1135
Limestone1060
Chilton1011
Greene944
Winston900
Macon824
Henry802
Covington801
Jackson782
Crenshaw753
Bibb751
Washington706
Escambia633
Blount621
Lawrence500
Geneva430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Monroe402
Perry390
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Unassigned00
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