This is an intelligence-focused website, not a political blog.
But I’m flabbergasted — as are many intelligence professionals — by Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump’s recent request to Russia to hack and release Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s email:
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
It is without precedent for a presidential nominee to ask a foreign power — especially an antagonistic one like Russia — to directly interfere in our political system and the 2016 campaign. Trump’s supporters, including former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, say he was just joking, and the GOP nominee himself said today he was just being sarcastic.
Nonetheless it’s uncomfortable that a man who might occupy the White House in January 2017 is so cavalier about issuing intelligence collection guidance to other adversarial nation-states.
Obviously, Democrats are strongly condemning Trump’s comments. But what I find distressing is no Republican member of the House and Senate intelligence committees, nor the Speaker of the House or Senate Majority Leader, have clearly and explicitly condemned these remarks.
These are, after all, the lawmakers who are entrusted to oversee America’s intelligence community, and the lack of explicit condemnation concerning the interference in our political campaigns is distressing to say the least.
This is a no-brainer.
I understand it’s campaign season and many Republicans are loath to criticize their party’s standard bearer. Politics is often a team sport, and people are willing to cut their own team a lot more slack than the other side. And of course, the “other side” will take advantage of any real or imagined political vulnerabilities.
But if one cares about America’s intelligence community and our national security, Trump’s remarks are far, far outside normal political discourse. I hope GOP policymakers will come to their senses and disavow in the strongest, specific possible terms these disgraceful remarks.
The Republican members on SSCI in the 114th Congress are:
- Richard Burr, Chairman (NC)
- James Risch (ID)
- Dan Coats (IN)
- Marco Rubio (FL)
- Susan Collins (ME)
- Roy Blunt (MO)
- James Lankford (OK)
- Tom Cotton (AR)
The Republican members on HPSCI are:
- Devin Nunes, Chairman (CA)
- Jeff Miller (FL)
- Mike Conway (TX)
- Peter King (NY)
- Frank LoBiondo (NJ)
- Lynn Westmoreland (GA)
- Tom Rooney (FL)
- Joe Heck (NV)
- Mike Pompeo (KS)
- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL)
- Michael Turner (OH)
- Brad Westrup (OH)
- Chris Stewart (UT)
I’ll update this when if any GOP member on the intelligence committees make an explicit statement about the comments.
photo: Donald Trump Signs the Pledge. 3 September 2015. Michael Vadon via Wikimedia Commons