Why Does Trump Ignore Top Officials’ Warnings on Russia?

Why Does Trump Ignore Top Officials’ Warnings on Russia?


Mike Pompeo, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, center, testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, along with other intelligence chiefs.

Eric Thayer for The New York Times

The phalanx of intelligence chiefs who testified on Capitol Hill delivered a chilling message: Not only did Russia interfere in the 2016 election, it is already meddling in the 2018 election by using a digital strategy to exacerbate the country’s political and social divisions.

No one knows more about the threats to the United States than these six officials, so when they all agree, it would be derelict to ignore their concerns. Yet President Trump continues to refuse to even acknowledge the malevolent Russian role.

It’s particularly striking that four of the men who gave this warning to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday — the C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo; the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats; the F.B.I. director, Christopher Wray; and the Defense Intelligence Agency director, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley — were all appointed by Mr. Trump.

They testified that the president has never asked them to take measures to combat Russian interference and protect democratic processes.

Mr. Trump isn’t completely oblivious about Russia, of course. He fired Mr. Wray’s predecessor, James Comey, to derail the F.B.I.’s investigation of possible Trump campaign involvement with the election hacking, and reportedly asked Mr. Coats and Mr. Pompeo to help end the investigation of his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and Mr. Flynn’s contacts with Russians.

With the midterm elections only nine months away, the federal government is taking some defensive measures. It is trying to get at least one election official in each state a security clearance to make them aware of threats, and is providing states with enhanced online security to ensure that Americans’ votes will not be manipulated.

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