Trump thinks Russia’s intelligence capabilities are far superior to those of the U.S.

ThinkProgress reports: Anthony Scaramucci has been on the job for less than 72 hours, and on Sunday he made his first appearance on the news talk shows as White House communications director. It did not go well.

On CNN’s State of the Union, host Jake Tapper pressed Scaramucci about Donald Trump’s continued insistence that the ever-growing Russia scandal was “fake news.” After questioning whether Trump was planning to sign a bipartisan bill imposing fresh sanctions against Russia for meddling in the November presidential election, Scaramucci instead sought to again cast doubt on the legitimacy of the U.S. intelligence community, and initially used an anonymous source to do it.

“There’s a lot of disinformation out there,” said Scaramucci. “Somebody said to me yesterday—I won’t tell you who—that if the Russians actually hacked this situation and spilled out those emails, you would have never seen it, you would have never had any evidence of them.”

An incredulous Tapper cut him off, pointing out that this anonymous source was breaking from every single intelligence agency in asserting that Russia’s involvement was in dispute. That’s all it took for Scaramucci to throw his boss under the bus.

“How ‘bout it was the president, Jake,” said Scaramucci of his anonymous source. “I talked to him yesterday, he called me from Air Force One, and he basically said to me ‘hey you know, maybe they did it, maybe they didn’t do it.’” [Continue reading…]

So this is Trump’s reasoning:

The Russians have so much mastery in their intelligence operations that if they hacked the U.S. election, they would have done so without leaving a trace of evidence. It follows, therefore, that whatever evidence the U.S. intelligence community claims it has of Russian interference has either been misinterpreted or is false and is purposefully being used to mislead the American public.

Trump (like many Americans, post-Iraq) apparently has little confidence in U.S. surveillance and analytical capabilities. Russia’s intelligence services are, however (Trump apparently believes) of a caliber that surpasses all others.

And yet, rather than own the logical conclusion of what he is saying (that this president doubts the competence and/or integrity of the intelligence services who report to him), he then backtracks and portrays the issue as an unresolved mystery — a mystery whose actual resolution he has never expressed an interest in seeing.

Of course, even the “maybe they did it, maybe they didn’t do it” narrative isn’t one that Trump pushes with any force. This afternoon it was back to his favorite story as the victim of a witch hunt:


Note the phrase: taking hold.

The charade of phenomenal success is falling away as Trump concedes he’s losing ground.

 

As for whether Trump will sign the new Russian sanctions bill, it depends on who you ask.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says: “The original piece of legislation was poorly written, but we were able to work with the House and Senate, and the administration is happy with the ability to do that and make those changes that were necessary, and we support where the legislation is now.”

In his interview on CNN, Scaramucci said of Trump: “He hasn’t made the decision yet to sign that bill one way or the other.”

The only point of consistency here is that now, as always, the White House is struggling to get its message straight.

Garbage in, garbage out.

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