Trump Officials Make Russia/Midterm Election Announcement No One Saw Coming

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Donald Trump, who promised his supporters that he would be ruthless and totally ignore diplomacy when dealing with enemies of the U.S., sure seems to take a soft-line stance on Russia. Despite more than a year of Russian collusion denials and Trump’s desperation for the investigation into his campaign team’s actions in regards to their Russian ties to end, the president has done little to prove that he doesn’t have some kind of soft spot for President Vladimir Putin.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took the exact opposite tact from Trump’s “I believe Putin” stance. Speaking from Mexico City, Tillerson told reporters that attempts to hack the 2018 midterm elections have already begun.

‘Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is warning that Russia is already beginning to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections and the US is ill-prepared to combat it.

‘Without elaborating, Tillerson raised the alarm about new Russian meddling in an interview with Fox News on Tuesday in Bogota. In an earlier stop in Mexico, he advised Mexican officials to be on guard for Russian interference in their elections scheduled for July.’

Tillerson is not the first of Trump’s own administration to contradict him on Russian election interference. Intelligence officials have already accepted as fact that it happened, and his secretary of state agrees.

‘Last year, the director of National Intelligence issued a report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections, saying, among other things, that the campaign was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

‘The report, viewed as the consensus among US intelligence agencies, said Russia changed its tactics to undermine Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as her chances of winning improved. It also said the covert activities involved “Russian government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or ‘trolls.’ “

‘While the report said the Russian operatives did not alter the vote count, they gained access to data from some state and local electoral boards.’

The Department of Homeland Security’s head of cybersecurity, Jeanette Manfra, spoke to NBC News in an interview released on Wednesday and confirmed that Russia did attempt to penetrate voter registration rolls in 2016. Hackers targeted 21 states and were successful in a small number of them.

‘We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.’

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, nominated by Donald Trump, warned last month that the U.S. continues to see evidence of election interference and has never agreed with Trump’s assertion that Russia did not interfere with the election that landed him the presidency. Following Trump’s insistence that he believed Putin’s denials, Pompeo delivered a statement:

‘The Director stands by and has always stood by the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment entitled: Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections. The intelligence assessment with regard to Russian election meddling has not changed.’

Despite all of this, Trump has continued to refuse to impose the sanctions on Russia that Congress voted on and agreed should be imposed in July, just six months into Trump’s presidency. Although Trump’s ability to “suspend or terminate the sanctions” were severely limited in that agreement, the president has decided to simply ignore them.

Featured image via Getty/Andalou Agency

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