Donald Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning calling for a repaired relationship between the U.S. and Russia. His latest string of tweets comes the day after attending a classified hearing hosted by intelligence officials who laid out why they’re confident Russia not only favored Trump to win the election, but that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally ordered an influence campaign to take down Hillary Clinton.
“Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing. Only ‘stupid’ people, or fools, would think that it is bad!,” Trump tweeted. “We have enough problems around the world without yet another one. When I am President, Russia will respect us far more than they do now.”
Trump appears to be on his own when it comes to defending Russia. Only a handful of Republicans have openly criticized Trump’s remarks about Putin and Russia. Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio sit on the Foreign Relations Committee and will have the opportunity to approve or deny Rex Tillerson, who once called Putin his friend, from serving in Trump’s cabinet as secretary of state on January 11.
After briefing President Obama and Trump, intelligence officials released their long-awaited declassified 25-page report on Friday detailing Russia’s involvement in the hacks that may have helped Clinton lose the election.
“We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.”
Remember that “Access Hollywood” tape that everyone thought would make Trump’s chances of winning the election even smaller than before? According to Politifact, WikiLeaks started releasing emails from the hacked Gmail account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair less than an hour after the world heard the Republican nominee talk about grabbing female genitals.
“On October 7, the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape comes out. One hour later, WikiLeaks starts dropping my emails,” Podesta said on Meet The Press after the election. “One could say that those things might not have been a coincidence.”
The report also states that Putin wanted payback after the release of the Panama Papers and the U.S. media reports that the Russian government was involved in the doping scandal that led to 111 athletes, including the entire Russian track and field team to be banned from the 2016 Summer Olympics. The Panama Papers disclosed the fortunes of several Russian officials that are being held in offshore accounts and tax havens.
Intelligence officials also believe that Putin wanted to do everything he could to ensure Clinton’s defeat.
“Putin most likely wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton because he has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in the late 2011 and early 2012,” the reports states. “And because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him.”
The effort to smear Clinton started long before Trump was the Republican nominee or a candidate for president. But after Trump entered the race and was the clear front-runner, intelligence officials concluded that Putin saw the president-elect’s business background appealing. The most alarming section of the report is that intelligence officials know that Russia celebrated Trump’s victory.”
“Russian media hailed President-elect Trump’s victory as a vindication of Putin’s advocacy of global populist movements… and the latest example of Western liberalism’s collapse,” the reports says.
Trump will be hard pressed to find allies in Washington, D.C. in defending Russia after this report. He’ll also have his work cut out for him finding anyone on Capitol Hill with political clout to join him in labeling Russia as anything but an adversary. If Rex Tillerson fails to survive his confirmation hearing next week, Trump may need to start deleting his tweets and change his Russian stance while hoping we all forget the time he praised Putin’s response to U.S. sanctions.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]