Trump Isn’t Protecting Our Elections From the Russians

What happens when you have a president who asked for and received help from Russia during his campaign? Will he have any interest in holding the Russians accountable for their actions? Will he lift a finger to prevent the Russians from doing the same types of things again to help his party in the midterms? Will he even worry that the Russians might lose interest in his party and just start trying to get Americans to go for each other’s throats?

These are questions Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) wants answered.

US Cyber Command chief Adm. Mike Rogers told lawmakers on Tuesday that he has not been granted the authority by President Donald Trump to disrupt Russian election hacking operations where they originate.

Asked by Democratic Sen. Jack Reed if he has been directed by the President, through the defense secretary, to confront Russian cyber operators at the source, Rogers said “no I have not” but noted that he has tried to work within the authority he maintains as a commander.

While he did not agree with Reed’s characterization that the US has been “sitting back and waiting,” Rogers admitted that it is fair to say that “we have not opted to engage in some of the same behaviors we are seeing” with regards to Russia. “It has not changed the calculus or the behavior on behalf of the Russians,” Rogers said about the US response to Russia’s cyber threat to date.

“They have not paid a price that is sufficient to change their behavior,” he added.

Sen. Reed, who is the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked similar questions to FBI Director Christopher Wray. The leaders of that committee also have privileges to attend meetings of the Intelligence Committee.

Reed, D-Rhode Island, also asked FBI Director Christopher Wray, earlier this month whether the efforts to counter Russia’s election activities in 2018 had been directed by Trump.

“Not as specifically directed by the President,” Wray responded during a hearing at the Senate Intelligence Committee.

We are not deterring the Russians. We aren’t punishing them. Insofar as the intelligence community is working to protect our elections, they’re doing it on their own without any direction from the president. They haven’t received any additional authorities they might need for the fight.

I think they’re probably putting their careers in jeopardy just by acting like the security of our elections is important.

This is just one more piece of evidence of collusion, in case you weren’t already convinced.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.