Have I got a bridge for you!
“Dear Donald: If you really believe me, if you think us Russians didn’t try to tilt the election in your favor, then I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. It’s in Brooklyn. Yours faithfully, Vlad.”
That note could well have been waiting for President Donald Trump as he returned from his lengthy trip to Asia, where he continued to pursue his deranged and dangerous attempts to deny Russian involvement in last year’s election. His statements reveal a man deeply committed to a post-truth world — a place where facts and fact-finders don’t matter, and he alone, the Twitter King, gets to define reality.
Even worse, his attempts at denial are profoundly un-American, rejecting the consensus view of his own intelligence agencies while swallowing the disinformation spread by the Russian ruler, a tyrant who has repeatedly demonstrated his disdain for democratic values and exceeds even Trump in assaulting his media and political critics.
Putin lies. Trump believes. And the world laughs. On what planet does this Make America Great Again?
As Sen. John McCain said: “There’s nothing ‘America First’ about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community. … Vladimir Putin does not have America’s interests at heart. To believe otherwise is not only naive but also places our national security at risk.”
Last January, America’s intelligence agencies issued a joint report concluding that Moscow had tried to influence the U.S. election. Special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed to probe those influences more deeply.
“The president was given clear and indisputable evidence” of Russia’s role, says James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, and yet Trump continues to reject that evidence, fearing it could undermine the legitimacy of his election.
That “clear and indisputable evidence” is really an “artificial Democratic hit job,” he told reporters.
His critics are all “haters and fools” who don’t understand the importance of refurbishing relations with Russia. Putin vehemently denies any knowledge of election meddling, and Trump believes his denials.
The reaction was so negative that Trump backtracked slightly, saying he accepted the findings of the intelligence agencies, but he clearly doesn’t.
Putin knows and exploits this character flaw. The former KGB officer is a “trained liar and manipulator,” said former deputy CIA director Michael Morell to the Washington Post, and Trump is swallowing his propaganda “hook, line and sinker.”
Trump knows Putin helped him and is grateful for the boost in defeating “crooked Hillary.”
But because Putin denies the help, and Trump gratefully accepts the denial — bolstering the argument he won on his own — the president is even further in Putin’s debt.
A brilliant KGB double play. And that’s what has intelligence experts so worried.
“I think Mr. Putin is very clever in terms of playing to Mr. Trump’s interest in being flattered,” former CIA director John Brennan told CNN.
The president’s refusal to confront Putin, while eagerly embracing the Russian leader’s lies, “demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders,” says Brennan.
So Donald, about that bridge …