The unified and dramatic comments from top national security officials of the nation to warn of Russia’s effort to weaken US democracy has underlined one of the most confusing contradictions of the Trump administration.
Usually, the administration of President Donald Trump adopts positions, rhetoric, and interpretations of issues that conflicts directly with the beliefs and views of the President, thus raising doubts about the coherence and unity of White House strategy on major issues — including broader foreign policy, addressing election interference, and domestic issues such as immigration or avoiding a shutdown of government.
This unusual duality played out on Thursday as the chieftains on intelligence and foreign policy gathered together in the White House Briefing Room to make a promise on what FBI Director Christopher Wray opined would be a “fierce determination and focus” to abort the meddling of Russia in the midterm elections.
However, the absence of the President and his unflinching past efforts to weaken the assessment of the interference of Russia by his own intelligence agencies, and his failure to question President Vladimir Putin in public last month in Helsinki, created some doubts.
This is not the first time that there have been doubts about President Trump’s allegiance to the policies of his own cabinet. Key domestic and foreign issues, from NATO to Russia, to the origins of the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation, to the dispute between Qatar and its neighbors, Trump has seemed to follow a course that conspicuously contradicts the positions of his own government usually with his explosive tweets.
Trump said at a rally in Pennsylvania few hours after his top national security officials criticized attempts by Russia to influence US elections — “In Helsinki, I had a great meeting with Putin. We discussed everything. … We got along really well. By the way, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Now we’re being hindered by the Russian hoax — it’s a hoax, OK?”
A source said that the decision to roll out the heads of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Council, came from the President himself. All the senior officials hailed Trump for his style of leadership.
The President however, did not introduce them himself, thereby depriving them of the sort of direct presidential approval that is key to the authenticity of any major activity in the White House.
The President has severally disrupted the assessments made by his own intelligence agencies to prove that Russia had a hand in the election.
A month ago, he favored the denials of Russian leader’s over involvement in meddling in the joint assessments of US intelligence agencies.
Earlier in the week, President Trump called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to put an end to Mueller’s special council investigation — even though a part of its duty is investigating election interference by Russia and its indictment of 12 Russian nationals, has provided a shocking view of the sophistication of the election meddling effort.