Trump Trusts A Foreign Adversary More Than U.S. Intelligence

Listening to the intelligence community is so 2016...
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in St. Augustine, Fla. – Oct. 24, 2016 (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in St. Augustine, Fla. – Oct. 24, 2016 (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Despite the agreement of the CIA, FBI, and broad consensus among congressional leadership that Russia was behind the hacking of emails from Democratic organizations and subsequent release to Wikileaks, President-elect Donald Trump is still denying that this is the case.

This week, Trump took to Twitter to attack the U.S. intelligence community. He then propped up Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, citing him as a source in an effort to bolster his claims that “anyone could be behind the hacks.”

Intelligence Officials clarified that the briefing was always scheduled for Friday, there was no delay.

Many were startled by Trump’s quickness to believe the word of Julian Assange, who has spent years working against U.S. interests, over the analysis of the U.S. intelligence community. Aki Peritz, a former CIA counterterrorism analyst, expressed his concern in a Politico op-ed:

“The next president of the United States is siding with Julian Assange, a man who wears his anti-Americanism proudly and acts like the textbook definition of a Russian asset, over the U.S. intelligence community — thousands of smart, patriotic people who work long hours for middling pay, some risking their lives to keep the rest of us safe.”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) spoke out as well, stating:

“We have two choices: some guy living in an embassy on the run from the law…who has a history of undermining American democracy and releasing classified information to put our troops at risk, or the 17 intelligence agencies sworn to defend us. I’m going with them.”

Trump says he “knows a lot about hacking” and it would be hard to determine who was behind it. He’s wrong. Cyberattacks can behind malware signatures that can be traced back to the source. In this case, Crowdstrike, a firm that analyzes threats to network security, found the signatures of Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear on DNC servers. They are confident they belong to the Russian intelligence agency (GRU) and the Russian security agency (FSB).

In June, Crowdstrike released their findings in an extensive report implicating Russia as being behind the hacks. The following week, two cyber security firms independently corroborated Crowdstrike’s findings. Then, on October 7th, the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a joint statement directly accusing Russia of being behind the hacks on Democratic officials.

Then, as we all know, the FBI and CIA came to an agreement that Russia was not only behind the hacks on the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s advisors, but it was all in an effort to help get Trump elected.

To be frank, Trump’s skepticism surrounding whether or not Russia is behind the hacks against the DNC is unfounded. Unfortunately, his skepticism appears to be seeping into how he plans to operate his administration.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Donald Trump “is working with top advisors on a plan that would restructure and pare back” the CIA, driven by “his belief that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has become bloated and politicized.”

This effort is reportedly being led by Trump’s conspiracy theory prone national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. He once served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was pushed out by the current Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper in 2014.

Trump’s team has denied this report.

President-elect Donald Trump’s lack of respect and distrust for the U.S. intelligence community is a startling development in his transition into the office of the Presidency. Many are worried that this distrust, which is also reflected in his unwillingness to attend intelligence briefings, may negatively affect his effectiveness in addressing threats to the U.S.

Trump took to Twitter to claim that the media was distorting his support for Julian Assange and that he is a big fan of “Intelligence.”

Trump can tweet whatever he wants, but a few words can’t distort reality. According to the Wall Street Journal:

“Since the November election, Mr. Trump has published close to 250 Twitter posts. Of those, 11 have focused on Russia or the election-related cyberattacks. In each of those tweets, Mr. Trump either has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin — last month calling him “very smart” — or disparaged the investigation into the hacks.”

The report on Russia’s efforts to interfere in our democracy is completed, and President Barack Obama has received his briefing. Also happening today, Sen. John McCain is holding an Armed Services Committee hearing with testimony from ODNI and NSA officials, who are not expected to comment at length on the report. President-elect Trump will attend an intelligence briefing this Friday.

Will this briefing change his mind? We don’t know. Until then, some questions remain.

Why can’t Trump say anything negative about Vladimir Putin?

Why was his team in contact with Russian officials throughout the course of his Presidential campaign?

Why does Trump keep siding with a foreign adversary over the nation he is about to lead?

News // Donald Trump / Government / Politics / Russian