President Trump’s War at Home and Peace With Putin

President Trump’s intelligence community leaders, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, hate their boss. President Trump is their boss. In case the president missed their contempt, on the eve of his meeting with Russia’s president Vladamir Putin, Mr. Rosenstein held a press conference announcing that 12 Russians influenced the election. This report reinforced a Congressional report on the same topic that was made public in April. The timing of Rosenstein’s announcement was purposeful. He was letting President Trump know that Russia is America’s enemy, and he better act like it. Jed Babbin writes more about it here.  Andrew McCarthy could be quoted in his entirety regarding the politicization of the Justice Department so you might as well just go read what he wrote and then come back.

Why is this all so important? Because the bullying, yes, bullying, by the President’s subordinates to their superior, attempting to sway foreign policy and overtly seeking to influence a political outcome, consumed the President and sat at the forefront of his mind as he met America’s rival leader, Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki Monday.

If America’s so-called Justice Department sought to undermine the leader of the free world before he stepped into a meeting with the world’s slipperiest communist, congratulations! Success!

President Trump is not stupid. He knew what they were doing. It’s an affront. It’s dangerous. It’s utterly disrespectful not only to the President but to the American people.

If Robert Mueller has evidence that Trump is a Russian bot, then out with it. Otherwise, stay this madness. Mueller is undermining American foreign policy at this point. It’s outrageous. Furthermore, the President knows that Mueller is attempting to conflate the nefariousness of Russia with Trump.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner noted on Twitter that President Trump could de-couple the idea of Trump collusion from Russia meddling. I’m not sure that’s true. President Trump knows, and so does anyone who’s watched the media rend their garment for the last year and half, the following:

  1. That the media won’t present “Russian collusion” in a fair way. The media still believes that President Trump is a Russian stooge. Every clarification to the contrary has been met with outraged disbelief. They continue to conflate both even if Trump clarifies.
  2. The meddling claim is flimsy and, as Putin pointed out, has not been proven in a court of law. It’s alleged. Is it likely? Yes, but that’s always been true. When hasn’t Russia tried to influence American politics?
  3. The meddling didn’t affect any votes. Anyone who knows anything about social media knows that Russia’s attempts to influence voters were laughably ineffective.
  4. None of this nonsense has anything to do with Trump but Trump knows, and so do the media, that any mention of Russian influence is attached to Trump psychologically because the phrases have been reported ad nauseam by the media. Trump knows if he says, “I believe our intelligence community’s findings about Russian meddling,” people will assume that he himself is admitting guilt. More than anything, the media wants that soundbite.
  5. Should Trump suss out the statement and say that he has full confidence in the intelligence community, it would mean supporting those who are actively attempting to undermine him and invalidate the votes that made him President.

So the President denies it all, even when it’s obvious that Russia did, ineffectually, attempt to fiddle with the election. This enrages the leadership of the FBI and DOJ and all those in D.C. who want full-throated support even when actively attempting to overturn a lawful election.

Should the President deny it all? Since this is a political and optics question now, and made so by Mueller himself, something that shouldn’t even be a question is.

Under normal circumstances, no American president would dream of making an equivalence between Putin and his own intelligence community on foreign soil. Under normal circumstances, the President would suck up his pride and personal feelings and defend his own.

These are not normal circumstances.

Americans are rightly concerned about the leadership of the various intelligence arms of the government. As President Trump noted:

And if anybody watched Peter Strzok testify over the last couple of days — and I was in Brussels watching it — it was a disgrace to the FBI, it was a disgrace to our country, and you would say that was a total witch hunt.

The norms so many are concerned about are being violated. They were violated by Mueller and by Rosenstein. They’re being violated by the media. These same people insist that Trump not respond in turn. It’s not in his nature to show that much self-restraint.

Speaking of the media… The question from Jonathan Lemire of  the AP was not so much a question, but a demand. As a rule, these sorts of commands make the reporter the star of his own little drama. In the era of Trump, Jim Acosta has made these insults an art form. Lemire was one of two American reporters given an opportunity to ask a question and said the following:

Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. [Editor’s note: Really? Every one?]

What — who — my first question for you, sir, is who do you believe? [So he is telling Trump to call Putin a liar to his face and in front of the media.]

My second question is would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin, would you denounce what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again? [So threaten the world leader you’re trying to negotiate with, and who is standing right next to you.]

It’s easy to see why the President would rankle at being asked such a thing and he responded in the way that gave ammo to every Never Trumper and progressive in perpetuity:

But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I — I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. [Note: Both parties being President Putin and the United States intelligence community.]

Well, that did it. The explosion amongst the American media, liberals, Never Trumpers, and even amongst Trump supporters was immediate. The American President just sided with an evil communist, on foreign soil, over his own intelligence community!

And it’s true. Hearing President Trump say that he believed the dirty commies over Americans was too much. He shouldn’t have said it. Clean up that mess behind closed doors, or at least in closed hearings, not in Helsinki in front of one of the world’s killers of innocents.

The denunciations of President Trump’s answer came fast and furious. They ranged from Nancy Pelosi accusing the President of being blackmailed by Putin to a mild statement from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Multiple journalists called for various intelligence leaders such as Dan Coats to resign in protest. None of those so offended explained why they thought it smart for the “rogue” President to be left alone and without intelligent advisers. Trump is evil, by gum, and someone must pay!

The bumbling by the President, as usual, is being eclipsed by the media’s shrill hysterics in response to it. The American people, who’ve never much cared about foreign policy unless it directly affects them personally, are likely to ignore this new outrage with a shrug.

Lost in all this will be President Trump’s actual talk with President Putin. Most of it was benign, typical diplomatic opining. The President didn’t bend on Crimea or the European pipeline. He said that he felt that peace with Russia was better than the alternative. It is.

That’s not the war that’s concerning at this point. American elites are at war with President Trump and the battlefield is spilling over to foreign lands. Mueller and Rosenstein attacked the head of the Executive branch with the idea of influencing the President’s actions on the world stage. They succeeded. The war they’re waging and the President is responding to is going to cause collateral damage. It needs to stop.

Melissa Mackenzie
Melissa Mackenzie
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Melissa Mackenzie is Publisher of The American Spectator. Melissa commentates for the BBC and has appeared on Fox. Her work has been featured at The Guardian, PJ Media, and was a front page contributor to RedState. Melissa commutes from Houston, Texas to Alexandria, VA. She lives in Houston with her two sons, one daughter, and a Ragdoll cat. You can follow Ms. Mackenzie on Twitter: @MelissaTweets.
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