It’s no secret that US President Donald Trump isn’t exactly a fan of the country’s intelligence agencies, and the sentiment is mutual. They’re not keeping quiet about what they see as Trump’s foreign policy missteps at the G7 Summit. Current and former members of America’s intelligence clubs might have kept quiet about recent events had Trump not spent the past few weeks lashing out at them, particularly the CIA.
But he’s also made some other statements that make it clear that this American president has only a loose grasp of the rules of engagement--particularly with Russia.
Recently, he said he would accept dirt on his 2020 opponents from foreign governments.
The intelligence community is firing back.
At last week’s G7 summit, Trump had more than a few odd statements about his wealth and pitches to host the next G7 meeting at his own resort, among other things.
But intelligence officers latched on to something else: Trump’s lobbying for Russia to be readmitted to the G7. He also blamed former President Barack Obama for Russia's annexation of Crimea, expressed sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and hinted that he would invite him to next year’s summit.
“A lot of people say having Russia, which is a power, having them inside the room is better than having them outside the room…there were numerous people during the G7 that felt that way. We didn’t take a vote or anything but we did discuss it,” President Trump told reporters.
French, British, German and Canadian leaders, as well as the head of the European Union, reportedly denied sharing that view at all.
It was all a bit too cozy for the intelligence community.
Business Insider cited former and current members of the US intelligence community as saying that Trump’s “performance” at the G7 suggests one of two things: either he’s a “Russian asset” or he’s a “useful idiot” for Putin.
Relations between Trump and the U.S. intelligence community got off to a bad start since the beginning of the 2016 campaign, when the latter released a report assessing that Russia intervened in and sought to influence the U.S. election.
Since then, Trump has been on the warpath, targeting the FBI and trying to discredit the Bureau’s investigations into Russian meddling.
Russia, it seems, has become a partisan issue--along with almost everything else, including the sacred bipartisan relations with Israel.
The Democrats have urged Trump to keep Russia out of the G7, and this view was only heightened after the Kremlin barred senators from both American political parties from entering Russia. Moscow denied visas to two members of the Foreign Relations Committee earlier this week.
The G7 used to be the G8, but Russia was kicked out in 2914 for annexing the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and invading eastern Ukraine.
Still, Trump continues to cozy up to Putin with welcoming overtures. The more the Democrats fight back against Russia, the more Trump digs in. Even Russia’s overt assistance to the Maduro regime of Venezuela and its alliance with Iran doesn’t seem to matter. Russia itself has become a 2020 election issue to the point that the vote will in many ways be for or against Putin.
By Fred Dunkley for conil.me