Trump Is Our Greatest Threat to National Security

That Donald Trump is the greatest threat to the United States' national security is hardly a new idea. He was a threat, if not the biggest, even before he was president — back when he was merely a candidate, standing at a podium and inviting the Kremlin to hack federal government email servers.

But now that he is the president, his capacity for causing harm has expanded exponentially. And whether it's his provocation of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un or his embrace of Philippine dictator Rodrigo Duterte, his sexism toward German Chancellor Angela Merkel or patriarchal posturing with French President Emmanuel Macron, his hostility toward NATO or his indifference toward climate change, Trump is continually subverting U.S. leadership in the international community and alienating us from our allies.

But perhaps nothing makes Trump more dangerous to this nation, and to the rest of the world, than his position on Russia and his affinity for Vladimir Putin.

In an extraordinary and critical piece of reporting for the Washington Post, Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe, Philip Rucker, Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima, and Julie Tate make abundantly clear how vast this peril truly is: "Doubting the Intelligence, Trump Pursues Putin and Leaves a Russian Threat Unchecked."

There is a lot there, but I strongly encourage you to read the whole thing.

What emerges is the portrait of a president whose ego and temperament make him catastrophically unfit for the presidency, and whose stubborn fealty to the remarkably stupid idea that a friendship with Putin is both possible and integral to world peace renders him uniquely unsuited to lead at a moment in time when taking seriously the international threat of Russian destabilization of democracies is critical to global stability.

Simultaneously, what is painfully clear here is that there is no one — no one — in Trump's orbit who presents a meaningful challenge to his authoritarian insistence on not being questioned. The idea that Trump would surround himself with "smart people" was always a foolish one, because his refusal to abide criticism or dissent always meant he would surround himself with sycophants.

So here we are. This anecdote, as but one example of that chilling dynamic, is horrifying:
[National security adviser H.R. McMaster] gained an internal ally on Russia in March with the hiring of Fiona Hill as the top Russia adviser on the NSC. A frequent critic of the Kremlin, Hill was best known as the author of a respected biography of Putin and was seen as a reassuring selection among Russia hard-liners.

Her relationship with Trump, however, was strained from the start.

In one of her first encounters with the president, an Oval Office meeting in preparation for a call with Putin on Syria, Trump appeared to mistake Hill for a member of the clerical staff, handing her a memo he had marked up and instructing her to rewrite it.

When Hill responded with a perplexed look, Trump became irritated with what he interpreted as insubordination, according to officials who witnessed the exchange. As she walked away in confusion, Trump exploded and motioned for McMaster to intervene.

McMaster followed Hill out the door and scolded her, officials said. Later he and a few close staffers met to explore ways to repair Hill's damaged relationship with the president.
Trump's intractable misogyny led him to assume a Russian expert was a secretary, and then he got angry at her for insufficient deference. That is troubling enough, but McMaster knew who she was, and scolded her anyway, for the president's benefit.

Clearly, there is no one prepared to stand up to Trump. We are in very deep trouble.

One final note: Mike Pence is mentioned exactly once in this piece: "Trump took a seat at one end of a large table, with Vice President-elect Mike Pence at the other."

The article doesn't say what Pence's position on Russia is. It doesn't say what he's doing when Trump throws tantrums at having to hear even a mention of Russian interference. It doesn't address Pence's accountability for allowing this garbage, despite being a career politician. It doesn't address his accountability for abetting it.

It continues to be absolutely scandalous that Pence is just skating through all of this with seemingly nobody in the media caring about the critical role he is playing in the accelerated downfall of this nation.

He is significantly less of a concern at the moment than Trump, but, one day, he might not be.

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