Bizarre Trump-Russia-Assange situation

President-elect Donald trump is in a bizarre situation, appearing to support (via Twitter) Russia, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange and appearing to ridicule the US intelligence community.  Some believe this is at least in part an attempt by Trump to try and legitimise his election victory.

Amongst others Republican senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain have expressed concerns, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appears to have rebuked Trump.

Politico: Trump sides with Assange, Russia over U.S. intelligence

Ahead of his briefing on allegations of Russia election-season hacking, Trump mocks the intelligence community.

President-elect Donald Trump is freshly questioning U.S. intelligence assessments of election-season hacking, appearing to side instead with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Russia in comments that are rattling the American spy world as well as many of his fellow Republicans.

The billionaire real estate mogul late Tuesday and early Wednesday used Twitter to once again cast doubt on intelligence community deductions that Russian government-affiliated entities tried to tip November’s election in Trump’s favor.

In one tweet, Trump expressed suspicion about a supposed delay in an intelligence briefing he was due to receive about the suspected Russian interference.

“The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!” Trump tweeted.

A U.S. official immediately fired back, insisting the briefing had always been set for Friday.

In a separate tweet, Trump noted that Assange has “said Russians did not give him” leaked emails from the DNC and other prominent U.S. political leaders. Trump also pointed out that Assange, who is holed up in Ecuador’s Embassy in London to avoid sex assault charges in Sweden, said “a 14 year old” could have been the hacker. It was a remarkable vote of confidence in Assange considering that Trump, according to newly uncovered material by CNN, called WikiLeaks “disgraceful” in 2010 and suggested its actions should face the “death penalty or something.”

Trump is deeply averse to the notion that his victory on Nov. 8 was tainted.

He appears to be putting his own ego ahead of his country’s intelligence agencies. Cross party criticism is growing.

Politico: Democrats, intel chief lament Trump’s ‘disparagement’ of spies

Minority members on the Senate Armed Services Committee turned Congress’ first hearing on Russia’s alleged election hacks into a platform to strike at the billionaire businessman and try to drive a wedge between him and GOP leadership — with even South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham joining in the criticism.

Even Director of National Intelligence James Clapper seemed to implicitly rebuke Trump’s ongoing refusal to believe the government’s assessment that senior Moscow officials orchestrated a cyber campaign that roiled the Democratic Party in last year’s election.

“I think there’s a difference between skepticism and disparagement,” said Clapper, who leaves office on Jan. 20, in response to McCaskill’s speech.

Later, Clapper — who strongly defended the government’s assessment that Moscow directed the election-season hacks — told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) that Trump’s rhetoric about intelligence agencies is alarming American allies.

“I do think that public trust and confidence in the intelligence community is crucial,” he said. “And I’ve received many expressions of concern from foreign counterparts about, you know, the disparagement of the U.S. intelligence community, or I should say what has been interpreted as disparagement of the intelligence community.”

Trump has repeatedly accused the intelligence officials hawking false narratives in an attempt to undermine his incoming administration. Most recently, Trump cited as evidence WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s repeated insistence that his organization did not receive the emails from the Russian government.

Clapper and NSA chief Adm. Michael Rogers also denounced Assange at Thursday’s hearing, when McCain asked if “any credibility” should be “attached to this individual,” given WikiLeaks’ record of leaking materials that put U.S. lives “in direct danger.”

“Not in my view,” Clapper replied.

“I’d second those comments,” Rogers answered.

Graham later crossed the aisle to join the Democrats in their condemnation, addressing his remarks directly to Trump.

“What I don’t want you to do is undermine those who are serving our nation in this area until you’re absolutely certain they need to be undermined,” Graham said.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) insisted that he trusted Clapper and the intelligence community to carry out the election-season hacking review and brief lawmakers on its findings.

Senior Republicans concerned at Trump’s siding with Russia and Assange, and supporting their own intelligence.

And it appears that there are differences over Russia in the team Trump is putting together.

Politico: Trump’s team tries to stifle rift on Russia

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 the president-elect’s top national security picks prepare to testify before Congress starting next week, his transition team is plotting ways to prevent a public spectacle that airs their most wildly divergent assessments of the threat Russia poses, according to two members of the Trump camp directly involved in the deliberations.

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 the president-elect’s top national security picks prepare to testify before Congress starting next week, his transition team is plotting ways to prevent a public spectacle that airs their most wildly divergent assessments of the threat Russia poses, according to two members of the Trump camp directly involved in the deliberations.

And 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.”

I wonder how quickly Trump will learn that owning and running a company is much different than being President.

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42 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  6th January 2017

    ” ‘It was a remarkable vote of confidence in Assange considering that Trump, according to newly uncovered material by CNN, called WikiLeaks “disgraceful” in 2010 and suggested its actions should face the “death penalty or something.’ ”

    I think it’s the ‘something’ the intelligence agencies will be struggling to get him to clarify.

    Reply
  2. David

     /  6th January 2017

    The previous intelligence report was issued by some small agency on alleged Russian hacking and not from the NSA, CIA, FBI and it was a 14 page document that said it was “possible” the Russians did it.
    The intelligence agencies need a great big kick in the ass as they have got way to political under Obama and seem to think they can do whatever they like, the Snowden leaks were staggering. I agree with Trump on this that there is little evidence, Podesta left his emails wide open and the leaks made not a jot of difference to the election result and if the Democrats arnt careful they will end up like Labour here and in England immersed in their own bitterness.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  6th January 2017

      It’s not just the Dems though, is it? Plenty of senior Republicans are up in arms against this. But Trump’s public skepticism is a good thing. Clapper described himself as having “a high level of confidence” about the assessment, which equates with the agencies’ certainty about Saddam’s WMD’s and links to Al Qaeda. El Trumpo is doing the right thing publicly requiring them to come up with something stronger than that.

      Reply
      • David

         /  6th January 2017

        The thing people really need to get their heads around is Trump is a businessman and if you dont perform you get smacked and sacked and the security agencies suck up vast amounts of money and achieve little in tangible results.
        He aint a politician he is a straight talking new yorker and he is going to upset the sensibilities of tenured republican senators as well as loads of others, its about bloody time.

        Reply
    • Joe Bloggs

       /  6th January 2017

      [so you] agree with Trump that there is little evidence

      You must be in a very privileged position David, with access to all of top secret information held by the various intelligence agencies, that enables you to decide there’s very little evidence.

      Not even Obama has seen the latest classified report prepared by the intelligence community on Russian intelligence interference in the campaign. He doesn’t get it for another week yet.

      Trump is more concerned about future business deals with Russia than with election security, especially as the dubious Electoral College results favoured him. No surprise that he’d cast aspersions on any suggestion that there was interference.

      As for Russia’s interference being limited to hacking, well Clapper has scotched that notion as well. He’s already described a multi-facted campaign of interference in which the hacking of Democrat and Republican servers, and selective release of Democrat emails is only one dimension.

      My reading so far is that
      1. Russia hacked and trolled and propagandised,
      2. Assange fed the media
      3. who obsessed about Clinton’s email server,
      4. then Comey sealed the deal by sending out his letter 2 weeks before voting

      Reply
      • David

         /  6th January 2017

        The report is called Grizzly Steppe and its been widely panned by the right and ignored by the left but there is absolutely no proof of anything in it.
        You are mixing up seperate issues, the “Assange” hacks were internal DMC/Podesta correspondence on how they knee capped Sanders, paid people to disrupt Trump rallies and all sorts of other dirty politics. The Comey and Clinton private email server were a different matter, you cant confuse the two because neither are connected.

        Reply
      • Ok dude – what was “dubious” about the Electoral College vote? Come on lay it all out in proven facts what was “dubious” about it.

        And don’t be quoting HuffPo, WaPo, NYT bs – those “sources” have fully shown themselves to be heavily biases….

        Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  6th January 2017

        Still waiting to hear Podesta deny that his password was “password”, Joe.

        Though I guess the average Lefty can’t be expected to type anything else when the computer says, “Enter password”.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  6th January 2017

          I think you might be sniffing the fumes off the open container of hyperbolic acid there Al.

          Reply
  3. Conspiratoor

     /  6th January 2017

    A traditional diplomat he is not but time will tell whether or not this is a bad thing.
    However like all good CEOs Trump instinctively knows a level of tension within the management team is a good thing. It builds a competitive culture and provides an effective hedge against complacency. A constant reminder there is only one ringmaster. Steve Jobs was a past master at this

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  6th January 2017

      I think Trump is going to be good for America in a number of ways (although not necessarily good for other countries). He’s certainly a polarising figure but clearly he’s exposed the unreliability of the mainstream media to provide in depth reporting on virtually anything. while there’s no doubt the campaign showed up how simply tribal huge numbers of Dem & Rep voters are, I suspect many who voted for him did so out of utter frustration with the swamp & the emptiness of their whole system. My hunch is that he will provoke many who were previously basically disengaged from the political process to now take a much stronger interest in what is going on “on the hill”, do their own research, challenge their own assumptions. Ultimately that’s going to be a good thing.

      Reply
      • He’s going to be good in some ways. And bad in others. Presidents always are.

        The critical thing will be how bad the bad is.

        Reply
      • Conspiratoor

         /  6th January 2017

        G, forget about Trump polarising. Bill hasn’t even got his feet under the desk and he’s managed to polarise our third largest export market. Oh dear, never mind. The big panda is standing by…

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  6th January 2017

          😳 ❓ Do mean the big white one with the black eyeshadow, or the big orange one with the white eyeshadow❓

          Reply
  4. Joe Bloggs

     /  6th January 2017

    Such interesting times we live in.

    Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham:

    “You seem to have two choices now — some guy living in an embassy, on the run from the law for rape, 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.”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-criticism-of-intelligence-on-russia-is-dividing-hill-gop/2017/01/04/1ffc1a04-d2a1-11e6-a783-cd3fa950f2fd_story.html?utm_term=.6831a6ecdb31

    Speaker Republican Sen. Paul Ryan:

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a “sycophant for Russia…He leaks, he steals data and compromises national security,”

    http://thehill.com/policy/international/312632-paul-ryan-calls-assange-sycophant-for-russia

    Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  6th January 2017

    Other reports say Trump is planning to restructure the intelligence services. It’s hard to defend a system that claims 17 intelligence agencies have had to come to a conclusion on whether the Russians tried to get Trump elected by showing Americans the truth about what the Democrats were doing.

    Reply
  6. Klik Bate

     /  6th January 2017

    THE WASHINGTON POST reports:

    ‘The Democratic Party is building a “war room” to battle President-elect Trump, to train a spotlight on Russia’s alleged cyber-attacks to influence the 2016 election….”

    Reply
  7. Gezza

     /  6th January 2017

    An interesting concluding comment from Al Jazeera’s Moscow correspondent just now along the lines:

    “One thing is for sure. Whether Russia was actually involved in manipulating the US elections or not, the suggestion that it might have, has already enhanced its reputation internationally as a global power to be reckoned with”.

    Reply
    • Will it trigger an election manipulation hack race? The US have done plenty of meddling in other countries in the past.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  6th January 2017

        They would struggle to undermine The Vladimir’s incredibly high level of popular support in the motherland & in fact would probably only increase it. Vlad is on a roll.

        Reply
  8. The Buck stops at the President, not the Director of the CIA, NZA, DIA etc (all 17 of them). So they all serve the President on behalf of the people of the US. I find it disturbing that these Public Servants are free to criticise implicitly the President (Elect). If they wish to work against him and not for him, then they should do the honourable thing and resign their posts.
    Clapper in particular seems to believe he is in charge, which is not the case. The advice he gives should be free of constraint but should also be done in confidence so as to preserve some semblance of order. If I were Trump (which fortunately am not) I would note that some people in positions of trust seem to be looking to relitigate the last election result instead of focussing on their Oaths of Office.

    Reply
    • Don’t forget BJ a whole tranche of the senior guys in all agencies will be replaced post 20 Jan as trump puts his administration in place. I suspect a number of the sources of this noise know they are gone until a Democrat is back in the White House so are firing a few shots to a) proof their Democrat credentials, b) line up a job with a Democrat think tank or democrat friendly business….

      For those who are not political appointments – they are just marking their territory and showing how damaging/undermining their can be to the President-Elect. Just posturing for life post inauguration and establishing negotiating positions…

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  6th January 2017

      Al Jazeera noon had a commentator from the CATO institute (described as a National Security expert), because this is their current item one. The guy, an American, described the whole situation as ridiculous, a “food fight” over nothing. Interference attempts in elections by other governments have been commonplace for decades he said. The United States has a long history of doing precisely that itself & this is just hypocritical nonsense, blown out of all proportion, he said.

      The hacks of the DNC emails revealed that the Democrats wanted to win the election. Everybody pretty well knew that already!! The number of votes which might have changed as a result of these he reckoned might have been “about 12?”

      US intelligence agencies he said have been shown time & again to have massively exaggerated “threats” to America to absurd proportions. Just to give one illustration, he said, in 2002 an intelligence assessment given to the President said there were estimated to be between 2,000 to 4,000 Al Qaeda operatives currently in the USA. The actual number turned out to be “exceedingly close to zero”.

      Reply
      • Hi Gezza, well I do not take RT as an authority or source of telling information in this area. However, my prejudices aside, your assessment is logical and I support it. See also my comment made before reading your and Dave’s posts.

        Reply
  9. Freudian slip NSA NOT NZA!

    Reply
  10. Blazer

     /  6th January 2017

    Assange and Snowden are heroes of the common people.To the chagrin of the establishment, they lifted the veil on the real way power is wielded ,something that is meant to be denied the ‘chattering classes’ .Lindsey Grahams diatribe is so typical,smear and insinuation.

    Reply
  11. Pete Kane

     /  6th January 2017

    FULL VIDEO: Senate Hearing on Russian Hacking – Intelligence Officials TESTIFY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLB2ws41cEI (a few hours ago)

    Reply
    • Pete Kane

       /  6th January 2017

      Assange interview with Hannity.

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  6th January 2017

      Jeez. That Senate Intel hearing is 2 hours 40 min Pete. I’m on dave-watch today. I’ll see if I can find a ‘highlights’ version.

      Reply
      • Pete Kane

         /  6th January 2017

        I only 3 minute skimmed it. It’s just there. Hey Clinton campaign chair Podesta’s(?) password was password according to the Assange chat with Sean Hannity.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  6th January 2017

          God. Not another one? What the hell is wrong with these people?
          They should use 1234#QWERTY like me. No one will ever guess that.

          Reply
  12. Patricia Midwinter

     /  6th January 2017

    That’s not all: In an Aug. 20, 2012 conversation, Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, told her boss she had the iPad password reset. The device had previously given Clinton problems, though Abedin wrote that it’s “all good now.”

    At the top of the message, Abedin typed out the entirety of the new password, which was redacted on the State Department release. Clinton responded later with even more information, noting that “I finally realized I had to add the [redacted] to the password!!!!”
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/01/05/email-headache-returns-new-clinton-messages-show-passwords-scheds-flowed-freely.html

    Reply

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