The Donald Show continues to keep us guessing, which is the biggest reason the show remains hot. Unpredictable is interesting, maybe scary or sickening at times, but interesting. Today’s guessing game centers around a meeting Trump will have with top intelligence officials to discuss Russian hacking during the election.
The case has been floated in the news often in recent weeks, raising questions as to both the intentions and success of Russia’s actions in interfering with the election. Trump has not welcomed either angle, especially the part that raises doubts about the legitimacy of his win and, as usual, when he feels diminished in any way, he comes out swinging, or throwing.
He has disparaged those intelligence agencies in tweets and other statements, even going to the extent of citing Julian Assange for support, though he denied that yesterday as I will get to later. When battling, Trump will grab anything to throw at you (and often later deny that’s what he did or meant).
Despite several previous statements to the contrary Trumped tweeted yesterday he “is a big fan of intelligence”. The intelligence community doesn’t believe that, as James Clapper, Director of Intelligence made clear at an open hearing in the Senate yesterday. He said that while skepticism of intelligence results is warranted, “I think there’s a difference between skepticism and disparagement.” And there was no question who he thought was disparaging them, the same guy they are meeting with in Trump Tower today.
This intelligence team is not likely to pull any punches, especially since they are all about to leave office, so the media buzz revolves around how contentious the meeting might become: Will Donald Trump deny their findings or accept them?
I think he will likely accept them for the most part and even praise those agencies in the process because to dismiss those findings, once seeing secret information, would be to put him at odds with Republicans he needs help from.
First of all the meeting won’t be all that contentious because Trump has a history of vile attacks at a distance in public, while congenial with the same people in private. At meeting’s end Trump will announce he has been convinced that Russia did try to interfere with the election, but did not succeed in tipping it (since Clapper has already stated the intelligence agencies have made no conclusion on that, so there is no knowing, just lots of opinions). Trump will then make a show of the respect he has long held for the intelligence agencies and what a serious matter the hacking is, and might even talk tough, but he won’t do much about it right now
He has boxed himself in here. The Russian hacking evidence interferes with his apparent desire to be more cozy with Russia by riling up the likes of Republican senators McCain and Graham, the latter having talked about Obama’s response as “throwing pebbles” while Graham wants to throw “rocks” at the Russians. Those senators likely will push for a stronger reaction, something Trump will have to deal with later.
Right now his biggest consideration is getting Rex Tillerson, the Exon Mobil chief, confirmed for Secretary of State. Both a pro and con with Tillerson is that he has worked out various energy deals with Putin over the years, so he knows him well, but maybe too well, too close, too friendly to many who think of Putin as a thug and a virtual dictator.
It would only take a few Republican senators to stop Tillerson’s nomination, so I predict we will see less of the tweeting teen-ager on the attack, and more the conciliator for a few days at least.
By the way, what gives me some confidence in my predictions is this tweet from Trump yesterday, in which he clearly has begun to reverse his story about the dubious intelligence services. Of course he never thought that way. It was the dishonest media that made it seem so.
“The dishonest media likes saying that I am in Agreement with Julian Assange – wrong. I simply state what he states, it is for the people…. to make up their own minds as to the truth. The media lies to make it look like I am against “Intelligence” when in fact I am a big fan!”
Thank you for clarifying that misunderstanding Mr. Trump. Now excuse me as I need to refrain from upchucking all over my computer.