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Helsinki, today

Russian Military Attacked The U.S. In 2016. Period. So Where’s The Trump Who Likes To “Punch Back 10 Times Harder”?

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Instead, Trump setting the scene for his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Finland this morning by punching back against America:

So he’s outright calling the U.S. stupid. And even that won’t raise a cry from his supporters except “hurrah!” Russia’s military attack on U.S. elections, support of the regime in Syria, interference in Ukraine, including annexation of Crimea, and many assassinations and attempted assassinations of reporters and political opponents including two in Britain no more than fever visions of American fools?

The Justice Department’s indictment late last week of 12 members of Russian military intelligence refutes a lot of things Trump likes to say to minimize the seriousness of Russia’s attack on the U.S. elections:

  • That we don’t definitively know it was Russia. Now Trump does.
  • That Putin said he didn’t do it and he believes the Russian leader. Now Trump knows Putin lied to his face.
  • That if Putin had done it, “he wouldn’t have gotten caught”. Now Trump’s own people have indeed caught him.

A quick digression: That last statement by Trump which was in full, “there are those that say, if he did do it, he wouldn’t have gotten caught, all right? Which is a very interesting statement,” which was apparently put in his ear by Putin himself, has always struck us as infuriatingly insulting to all Americans. (Much like his Tweet from this morning.) Because it implies undeniable Russian superiority. To have an American President — even one fond of delightful conspiracy theories — assert this rises to a level of scurrility for which Trump has never been appropriately taken to task. Probably because people figure Trump just says all kinds of things all the time and this was just one of them.

One would think the latest revelations would at least lead to some expression of outrage at Russia from the White House. And that cancelling the Putin meeting would be an appropriate response especially for a President who likes to look strong and not weak. (Remember how Trump said he would’ve turned Air Force One around when President Obama arrived in China? And that was only because Obama was not greeted at the airport.) But no. Not even the mildest displeasure. Nor any real expression of concern.

And according to the Washington Post, Trump knew about the new indictment before he left for Europe, and yet once on the ground there, still went out of his way to call Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, from which these charges stem, “the rigged witch hunt”, adding someday he’d like to be Putin’s “friend”.

Indeed, Trump’s entire effort has been to rebuff the notion that the actions by Russia had any bearing on the legitimacy of his election. Instead of immediately launching strong penalties against Russia and calling for a forceful bipartisan response to make sure this never, ever happens again, the White House response has been more along the lines of “Great! Our hands are clean!”

When that’s really not the issue at all. (Except for the President and perhaps a few earnest Liberals remaining out there with a lot of time on their hands to waste who still envision turning back the clock). Most people — on both sides — have come to live with the reality of Trump every single day, and that even with this new evidence, there’s no way of ever really knowing if Russia played enough of a role to tip the election. The people who seek to oust Trump by-and-large know the most likely path is to vote against him in 2020, and try to weaken him before that by voting a bunch of Republicans out later this year.

Let’s also note reaction from Republicans — except for Senator John McCain — has been very muted, perhaps since the Russian actions helped them win too. We are pretty sure they’d be screaming if it was the other way around.

Remember also that it was just about a year ago that Trump, in a Tweet, floated the idea (apparently something Putin had suggested to him) of forming a joint U.S.- Russia “impenetrable Cyber Security unit”.

There’s a lot more sheer noise out there today, much of it propagated by Trump himself: that Obama’s actually to blame since it happened under his watch, that “I heard they were trying to hack Republicans too…but they had much stronger defenses”, that Democrats should be “ashamed of themselves” for allowing themselves to be hacked (Trump does love to blame the victim), that the U.S. meddles in other countries’ business too…. Not to mention tangentially related stuff meant to distract and tantalize: like calling Europe the U.S.’s biggest “foe” and Tweeting that much of the news media (yet again) “is indeed the enemy of the people”. And also stuff from the Left like Mitch McConnell’s to blame since he blocked Obama from releasing the Russian hacking info.

All or some of which may be true. Except… None of it has to do with the core issue.

Which is, we repeat: There’s now hard evidence Russian military attacked the U.S. in 2016.

And it wasn’t just hacking: if you read the full Justice Department indictment, you’ll see the Russian military unit also worked with closely with political operatives, reporters and other sources of online information to distribute the information it gathered, assumed identities of Americans, and went to great lengths to make it appear it wasn’t Russia doing what it was doing at all: instead, a lone Romanian hacker.

Also, and this may be why Trump’s deflecting so hard, if you scroll down to p. 16 of the indictment, you’ll find mention of the involvement of several people who appear to be American. Including:

  • a “candidate for the U.S. Congress” who requested stolen documents.
  • a “then-registered state lobbyist and online source of political news” who received stolen data.
  • and a “person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump” who engaged in two-way communication with the Russian military hackers.

It’s not made clear exactly what they saw or received or did with the information, what their exact roles were, or how close they really were to Trump’s people. But it is made clear that at least in some cases they were witting participants. However, they are not named.

For now. Is that what Trump’s afraid of? Will he ever allow that other shoe to drop?

Peabody award winning journalist. Streaming media pioneer. Played @ CBGB back in the day. Editor-In-Chief "The Chaos Report"

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