Tag Archives: DNI

Parlor game continues: Who wrote that op-ed?

Conservative commentator/gadfly/rabble rouser Ann Coulter believes she knows the author of that infamous op-ed published the other day in The New York Times.

She says it’s Jared Kushner, son-in-law of Donald John Trump. Why did Ivanka’s husband write it? She believes Jared and Ivanka think Daddy Trump will be kicked out of office and want to high-tail it to the Hamptons.

Fine. Whatever.

MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell, a liberal/progressive/gadfly/rabble rouser, posited a notion that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats did it. He said Coats has nothing to lose; he’s holding his final public office and is miffed that the president keeps undermining him at every turn regarding the Russian attack on our 2016 election.

There you go.

Op-ed mystery deepens

Others have suggested someone on Vice President Mike Pence’s staff wrote it, inserting the “lodestar” term that the VP is fond of using.

Hey, this is all nonsense. I am becoming less concerned with who wrote it than I am with the content of the essay. It’s a devastating critique of the way the president governs. It speaks to the “resistance” within the West Wing that seeks to protect the nation from Trump’s more dangerous impulses.

We’ll know eventually who wrote it. If the president’s team is allowed to ferret out the ID of the author, the name will come forward. Whoever wrote it will be canned, or he or she will resign.

Meanwhile, the parlor game continues. It does create grist for gossip. That’s all.

Language might give away author’s ID

MSNBC commentator Lawrence O’Donnell has posited an “educated guess” on who he thinks wrote the anonymously published op-ed column that talks about White House efforts to protect the nation against the president of the United States, Donald Trump.

O’Donnell thinks it’s Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who’s in his 70s and is occupying the final public service job in his career.

The more I think about it the more plausible O’Donnell’s guess appears to be.

Then I went back to the essay and found this passage: … United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior.

I zeroed in on a pair of terms: malign behavior.

I have heard that phrase used exactly once in my life. It was stated recently to discuss the Russian involvement in attacking our electoral system.

It came from, yep, DNI Dan Coats.

Coincidence that it appeared in this NY Times commentary? I think not. Read the essay here.

Two events: contrasting styles, confusing messages

The juxtaposition of two events the other day — just hours apart — speaks volumes about the incoherence of the Donald Trump administration and its outlook on national security threats.

Five members of the president’s national security and intelligence team stood before the nation and delivered a stern, but unified message. The Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016 and are doing so as we speak. These men and one woman were serious in their tone. They were measured. They all spoke with concern in their voices and delivered an urgent message: Our national security is at risk as is our electoral democratic process.

Then came the hysterical rants of the commander in chief. Six hours after the White House press briefing, Donald Trump stood before a campaign rally and bellowed “hoax!” in describing the Russia attack. He launched into an idiotic tirade against Democrats, against the “fake, fake, disgusting media,” and damn near every other perceived foe out there on the horizon.

The contrast in style and in message couldn’t be more profound.

Or more frightening.

Trump is the man in charge. The individuals who are charged with protecting our national security answer report to a goofball! It’s as clear as that.

Trump continues to deny the obvious attack on our electoral process. He continues to equivocate and make excuses. He doesn’t understand what his national security adviser, the homeland security secretary, the director of national intelligence, the FBI director and the National Security Agency director all know with absolute clarity.

The Russians have attacked us. They are continuing to do so.

The president is giving the Russians “aid and comfort” by undermining the concerns expressed by our national security team.

Disgraceful.

Just how can they tolerate being undermined?

This is as baffling and confusing a circumstance as any I can find within the Donald Trump administration.

Several key intelligence and national security officials — including at least two Cabinet-level authorities — declare for all the world to hear that the Russians attacked our electoral system in 2016; they all say the same thing, that the Russians acted alone and that they are in the process of doing the same thing to our 2018 midterm election. They enter the White House press room, listen to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders say a few words, then they all speak in unison.

Then the president of the United States, Donald John Trump, flies to a campaign rally and declares the Russian attack a “hoax.” He blames Democrats and the so-called “fake and disgusting news” for fomenting the notion that the Russians interfered in our election, that they sought to manipulate the outcome.

The baffling and confusing part?

How do these individuals charged with administering our intelligence and national security agencies tolerate being undermine, undercut and undone by the commander in chief?

How in the name of their sacred oaths do they stay on their jobs while the president continues to disparage and disrespect them? He undermines their work, insults their intelligence and does damage to our national security.

Surely they cannot all be without principles. Surely they must understand what Donald Trump is doing to their credibility and that his insistence that the Russia attack is a “hoax” gives aid and comfort to a hostile foreign power.

I won’t call it “treason,” at least not yet … but damn!

It is inching very close to it.

POTUS turns back on intelligence chiefs

The nation’s top intelligence and national security gurus stood before the nation this week at the White House and declared what many of knew already.

The Russians attacked our democratic system in 2016 and are engaging in a similar attack at this moment, trying to disrupt the 2018 midterm election.

All of them said the same thing. They sang in perfect harmony.

Then the president of the United States jetted off to a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. He rambled on for more than an hour. He trashed the “fake news” media. He railed against Democrats. The president called the Russian attack a “hoax.”

Do you think Donald John “Stable Genius” Trump Sr. would deign to offer some perspective or context about what the nation’s intelligence hierarchy had said just a little earlier in the day in the White House? Heavens no!

Trump was intent on whipping up the crowd that gathered to hear his campaign pitch. Mission accomplished, Mr. President.

He continues to dismiss this Russian attack. He continues to give short shrift to the need to protect our democratic process against future attacks. He ignores the “blinking red lights” that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said are warning us of impending peril at the hands of hostile-power cyber warriors.

As I listen to the president’s voice keep rising, and as I watch him rant and rail against his foes, my fear keeps getting reaffirmed.

The president is not living up to the sacred oath he took to protect the government and, thus, our nation, against our enemies.

WH trots out intelligence officials to state the obvious

If we only could hear this kind of language come out of the mouth of the president of the United States.

Five top U.S. intelligence officials today stood before the media and declared in virtually a single voice that Russia interfered in our 2016 election; the Russians acted alone; they sought to undermine our democratic process; they are engaging in such electoral interference at this moment.

Stunning, eh? Sure it is! They all are telling Americans what millions of us know already.

“The threat is not going away. Russia attempted to interfere in the last election and continues to do so to this day,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said.

One key White House source, though, remains oddly tepid. The president of the United States himself cannot yet bring himself to condemn in the strongest language possible the actions of Russian intelligence officials.

Donald J. Trump needs to step up. He needs to weigh in. He needs to tell the public that he has laid down the law to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and has told him — in no uncertain terms — that severe punishment will await the Russians if they persist in sabotaging our electoral process.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, moreover, still doesn’t know what Trump and Putin said behind closed doors in their summit in Helsinki, Finland. It’s been — what? — three weeks since the summit. The DNI, the nation’s top intelligence official, still doesn’t know what they said? That is unconscionable!

I am going to give credit where it is due. The intelligence chiefs are telling us the truth. They have confirmed what many of us have known all along.

The man at the top of the executive branch of government chain of command, though, needs to speak clearly and without equivocation about the things his top national security and intelligence advisers have declared.

Wishing DNI Coats had kept quiet about his reaction

Man, I wish Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats hadn’t issued an apology to Donald J. Trump.

The president reportedly was upset with Coats because of the DNI’s reaction to news that Trump had asked Russian strongman Vladimir Putin to visit Washington in the fall.

Coats, the nation’s top spook — and a valuable member of Trump’s national security team — learned about the invitation while being interviewed on national television.

His reaction was classic. It also was not a reason for him to apologize.

As Politico reported: Trump, according to two outside allies, has grown exasperated with Coats, whom he blindsided Thursday when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced on Twitter that the administration was working to bring Putin to Washington this fall. The news landed while Coats was in the middle of a live interview with NBC in Aspen, Colorado.

Coats said he meant no “disrespect” to the president, who reportedly was angry. Good grief, he could have said as much privately in a phone call to the president.

Truth be told, it as Coats who was “disrespected” by the president who failed to consult with one of his chief national security advisers before issuing the invitation to the very man who attacked our nation’s electoral process in 2016.

The shoe, I’m tellin’ ya, was on the other foot.

Coats, though, felt compelled to set the record straight.

I just wish he hadn’t done it. There was no need.

Now it’s a hoax, Mr. President?

Which is it today, Mr. President?

You said just the other day that the Russian attack on our electoral system in 2016 occurred. You accepted finally the U.S. intelligence agencies’ view that the Russians did it.

Then you send a message out today that calls it a “hoax”?

Let’s look back for a moment.

All of our nation’s intelligence bosses — FBI, CIA, director of national intelligence, National Security Agency, the Joint Chiefs of Staff — have been singing off the same hymnal page. The Russians did it! They acted alone!

You have denigrated their work. You have stood next to the Russian president and accepted his lying, prevaricating denial.

Then you backed off of that and said you now believe the U.S. spooks.

Now you call it a hoax.

Man, oh man. I am getting confused, Mr. President. You’re making my ears bleed. My head is spinning. I need smelling salts. I’m getting a case of rhetorical vertigo.

You won’t listen to me. I mean, you don’t listen to DNI Director Dan Coats, or CIA Director Gina Haspel, or anyone for that matter on anything!

I’ll offer this bit of unsolicited advice: Why don’t you just keep your unpresidential trap shut, let the special counsel, Robert Mueller, finish his job and then let the chips fall where they will fall?

Trump aides should ‘reevaluate’ their role? Do you think?

Trey Gowdy, the lame-duck South Carolina congressman who recently worked over FBI agent Peter Strzok over his conduct in the Russia interference investigation, has taken the gloves off — more or less — with members of the Trump administration.

Gowdy made an appearance today on “Fox News Sunday” and said that members of the administration should consider quitting if Donald Trump continues to ignore their best advice on how to handle Russia and other matters.

According to The Hill: “It can be proven beyond any evidentiary burden that Russia is not our friend and they tried to attack us in 2016,” Gowdy told host Bret Baier. “So the president either needs to rely on the people that he has chosen to advise him, or those advisers need to reevaluate whether or not they can serve in this administration. But the disconnect cannot continue.”

“Need to reevaluate whether or not they can serve … “?

I’d be willing to bet real American money that those advisers already are reevaluating their future with the Trump administration. They are likely doing it privately, swearing loved ones to secrecy.

The true shocker would occur if some of them actually turned in their West Wing security badges and walked out the door.

Indeed, the president has demonstrated an astonishing capacity to ignore the advice he gets from the “best people” who are equipped with the “best minds” with whom he has surrounded himself.

Moreover, he has shown a mind-boggling willingness to blindside those advisers with tweets and other pronouncements that one might expect to have been done only with close consultation with those experts.

Exhibit A: The amazing reaction from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to news that Trump had invited Vladimir Putin to the White House for a second summit later this year. “OK,” Coats said with a tone of exasperation. “That’s going to be special.”

How can someone as accomplished and serious as Coats — a two-time Republican U.S. senator from Indiana — actually avoid “reevaluating” whether he should remain as part of the Trump national security team?

Chaos and confusion continue to reign supreme in the Trump administration.

DNI Coats on the bubble?

This just in: Donald J. Trump is so angry at Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats that he wants to fire him.

Coats sat through that extraordinary interview Thursday with NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell in which he challenged the way the president handled Vladimir Putin and the allegation that the Russians attacked the U.S. electoral system in 2016.

Trump reportedly is furious. He is outraged. He doesn’t like being criticized, let alone in public.

He’d fire Coats except for this tidbit: Coats, a two-time U.S. Republican senator from Indiana, is a good friend of Vice President Mike Pence, who’s also from Indiana; were the president to fire Coats, White House chief of staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary James Mattis likely would follow him out the door.

Message to the president? It’s nice to have friends in high places.