In America BT (Before Trump), news that the president had failed to give his military commanders and leaders of the intelligence community orders or authority to answer a foreign attack with enough force to end it would be greeted with universal shock and outrage.
But outrage was about all anyone could muster on Tuesday – and it came only from Democrats – as Adm. Mike Rogers, director of the National Security, told senators that President Trump has neither asked nor ordered him to strike back at Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. elections.
Rogers, who also directs the Pentagon’s cyber command, said he’s taken retaliatory steps consistent with the authority that comes with his job. But “I haven’t been granted any, you know, additional authorities, capacity and capability." American commanders are smart enough and sufficiently equipped to inflict enough damage on Russia to persuade Vladimir Putin to call off the Russian attacks, he added, but they've not been directed to act.
“We’re taking steps, but we’re probably not doing enough,” Rogers said. Economic sanctions approved by Congress but not implemented by the Trump administration, plus other measures he didn’t’ specify, haven’t “changed the calculus or the behavior” by Moscow, he said. “They haven’t paid a price at least that’s sufficient to get them to change their behavior.”
Rogers’ comments came as he and other military and intelligence community leaders are warning that Russian cyber attackers already are busy spreading misinformation and sowing discord in America’s body politic as the nation approaches the 2018 midterm election.
Rogers declined an invitation from Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-MO, to call the past and ongoing Russian activities acts of war. It’s certainly “a competition” and the Russians are using every tool at their disposal to try to undermine basic American institutions, he said.
McCaskill was not so restrained.
“I just gotta tell you. They came after our democracy,” she said.
“Yes ma’am,” Rogers replied.
“I can’t imagine anything more essential to the United States of America than our democracy,” McCaskill said.
That’s the heart of it. And it should be clear to everyone by now that President Trump either doesn’t get it or doesn’t care. He and his campaign may ultimately be exonerated in the ongoing investigation of whether they cooperated in Russian efforts to disrupt the last election but there is no question that the president is complicit in Vladimir Putin’s work to disrupt the next one.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Voting and Elections