Trump's Team Scrambles to Get Stupid Enough to Support His Position on Russia
It’s become clear that Donald Trump has no consistent position on anything. That is, almost anything. There’s a single issue on which Trump is unwavering: Russia is right, Putin is swell, and the entire United States intelligence community is wrong. Hanging onto that position is not only making Republicans in the Congress start to sweat, it’s driving a wedge into Trump's nascent administration.
A war is brewing among Donald Trump’s advisers over how to deal with Russia and Vladimir Putin — and his team is trying to keep it from breaking out into the open.
As a result, expect Trump nominees to develop a serious case of know-nothing when they sit down for their photo op with the Senate.
Trump's nominees to run the State Department, Pentagon, CIA and Department of Homeland Security are all being prepped to avoid making major policy pronouncements and stick to generalities as much as possible in deference to the incoming president.
Russia? What is this Russia of which you speak? While many of those gathered around the Man in the Trump Tower share his endless love for authoritarian dictators (or at least, an appreciation for billions in oil) even Trump had trouble finding a complete squad of Vlad-o-philes. There are a few nominees who have said things somewhat, or very much, at odds with Trump’s positions.
But while Trump’s team is undergoing a knowledge-ectomy to be sure they say nothing that embarrasses the boss, some senators have a sneaky plan of their own. They may ask questions.
Senate Republicans and Democrats worried by Trump's blase reaction to Russian interference in American interests are expected to pounce on any divisions by grilling his nominees on whether they agree with his efforts to cozy up to Vladimir Putin and excuse the Kremlin's belligerent behavior.
There’s a particularly tricky form of interrogation that Democrats have lined up. It goes like this: Donald Trump said this crazy thing, do you agree?
Forcing a stack of former generals not named Flynn to give Putin a tongue-bath is something that may not be solved by telling them to be vague. Some of them might even say things that, amazingly enough, agree with the assessment of the United States government.
K.T. McFarland, a former Reagan administration official selected to be Trump's deputy national security adviser, has said that "we're at cyberwar with Russia," adding that "if it is true that Russia has been trying to influence and sort of jigger up and scramble our elections, then that's an act of war."
The importance of the Russia issue to Trump can be seen in the single time that his team intervened in the Republican platform process. The only thing that Trump felt was important enough to change in the platform? Not jobs. Not taxes. Not anything else on his agenda. The only time Trump’s representatives stepped in was to weaken the Republican position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That’s not an opinion shared by everyone … yet.
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), tapped to head the CIA, has said the U.S. response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2014 has been "far too weak."
The would-be administration members who haven’t bought into the Putin bromance are definitely outnumbered, but as Trump continues to hew a harder course toward Russia-or-nothing, will they also be just plain out?