Trump Doesn't Care that Russia Is Targeting the Midterm Elections

The intelligence community put out a dire warning in testimony before Congress Tuesday: Russia remains determined to undermine American democracy as we head into the 2018 midterm elections.

The heads of the CIA, FBI and National Security Agency, as well as the director of national intelligence, were all in agreement about the necessity of addressing this threat. The only person who doesn't seem to be on the same page is President Donald Trump.

NSA director Mike Rogers said Trump has "directed [him[ to blunt or actually stop" Russian interference in the election. The other chiefs echoed this comment, though CIA director Mike Pompeo, a close ally of the president, said it is taking steps to block Russian efforts. However, he did not say Trump had directed these efforts.

Trump has shown little interest in defending against the Russian threat. He has repeatedly expressed doubts about the Russian attempt to influence the 2016 election, in opposition to the uniform opinion of the intel community.

After Congress took action against Russia by slapping it with major sanctions in response to the interference, Trump undermined their work by declining to enforce the sanctions. He's virtually given the Kremlin a green light to interfere in U.S. elections. 

There are steps Congress could take to insist that Trump address the threat. It could threaten to step up investigations into his administration if he doesn't enforce the sanctions. It could refuse to pass his preferred legislation or appoint his nominees if he doesn't act.

The American people could pressure Congress on this front. And if they don't think it's important yet, maybe they would heed the word of the Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.

"We need to inform the American public that this is real," Coats said Tuesday. "We are not going to allow some Russian to tell us how we're going to vote."

He concluded: "There needs to be a national cry for that."

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