The US lame duck administration is going to any length in an effort to torpedo the looming normalization of Russia-US relations as Donald Trump is preparing for his inaugural speech on January 20. Any method would do, even playing with fire.
In an interview with NPR radio station (Morning Edition) aired on Dec. 16, President Obama said the United States will respond to Russian cyberattacks that the intelligence community has concluded were part of an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. «We need to take action and we will», he warned.
The lame duck president has directed US intelligence agencies to conduct an investigation into hacking attacks related to the US election and issue a report before Mr. Trump takes office.
On Dec. 15, Press Secretary Josh Earnest indicated that he shared the view of US intelligence officials, reported by NBC News, that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a direct role in hacking during the presidential race. He also argued that Donald Trump knew Moscow was engaged in the cyber-attacks that helped him win the election. Mr. Earnest pointed White House reporters to the October unanimous statement from all 17 intelligence agencies, saying «only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities».
Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, agreed in an interview on MSNBC. «I don’t think things happen in the Russian government of this consequence without Vladimir Putin knowing about it», he said.
Administration officials said on Dec. 15 that Trump himself must have known of Russia’s interference.
A CIA assessment, reported recently by NPR and other news outlets, asserts that Russia’s goal was to elect Trump.
Russia rejected the claim of Putin’s involvement, spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissing it as «amusing rubbish that has no basis in fact».
«I don’t believe they interfered», Donald Trump said in an interview with Time Magazine published on Dec.7. «That became a laughing point, not a talking point, a laughing point. Any time I do something, they say, ‘Oh, Russia interfered.’ «Why not get along with Russia?» Trump said, adding the Russians can help defeat Islamic State. Asked about who could be the perpetrator of the attacks, the president-elect said, «It could be Russia, and it could be China, and it could be some guy in his home in New Jersey».
«I think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it», the president-elect told Fox News in another interview. Mr. Trump cited the botched conclusion of US intelligence community in 2002 saying Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. «If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?» the president-elect tweeted.
Even the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) agrees there is no conclusive evidence to support the accusations.
The lack of specific facts shared publicly about the alleged role of Russian president obviously undercuts the administration’s statements. The US media have questioned the intelligence reports President Obama alludes to.
Fox News’ Judge Jeanine Pirro, the former Republican political candidate and extremely popular and respected TV commentator, was more than convincing responding to the outgoing president. She said that President Obama’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election is unpatriotic and that to question Donald Trump’s victory is an act of aggression against the country.
«Why are you so obsessed with Russia?» she demanded of Mr. Obama, going on to accuse him of sympathizing with radical Muslims instead of a Christian like Vladimir Putin.
She believes that Obama’s investigation of Russia’s role in US election is an act of disrespect. «It’s not about November 2016. It’s about January 2017 and your attempt to prevent Donald Trump from the smooth transition of power and your inability to face the overwhelming Electoral college win that American people gave him», she said.
Instead of offering explanations about the corruptness of both the DNC and the Hillary Clinton camp revealed by Wikileaks reports, the administration distracts public attention going on the offensive to bring as much damage as possible in an effort to prevent Donald Trump from keeping his word and fulfill the pre-election promises.
The timing of the attacks against Russia and Donald Trump makes believe the influential opponents of the president-elect are raising ballyhoo about the Russian involvement to take revenge for the lost election and obstruct in each and every possible way the drastic shift in US domestic and foreign policy advocated by Donald Trump. The president-elect’s pick for secretary of state – Rex Tillerson known for ties to Russia – has prompted the jittery reaction.
In his attempt to prevent the inevitable President Obama has gone as far as actually to declare an intention to launch a cyberwar against Russia without giving any solid reasons to back up his decision. Mr. Obama and administration’s officials openly accuse the president of Russia of «personally directing» election hacks without providing even a hint of evidence to go upon. Obviously, the unconfirmed affirmations are used to prevent any possible normalization of the bilateral relationship at the time the terrorist threat dictates otherwise.
Now, what is behind the administration’s frenzied activities? The accusations of Trump’s complicity is nothing else but a covert attempt to launch a process that would gradually lead to his impeachment or call into question the Nov.8 election results to substantiate the need for holding a new election. It has already started. The voices predicting a possible impeachment have been made public. Allan Lichtman, the man dubbed «Prediction Professor» for accurately calling almost every presidential election since 1984, forecasts the impeachment of the president-elect.
Former CIA operative Robert Baer has recently told CNN that if the evidence regarding Russia hacking the elections is true, then the only logical thing to do is to hold a new vote! According to him, «If the evidence is there, I don’t see any other way than to vote again». «But I’ll tell you, having worked in the CIA, if we had been caught in interfering in European elections or Asian elections or anywhere in the world, those countries would call for new elections», Baer said making the first public call to review the election results.
But the CIA assessment as well as other «reports» are all classified. Then whoever will decide what to do about it won’t be American people who voted for what Mr. Trump offered them. They have a right to expect their opinion to be respected. Americans did not vote for confrontation with Russia over concocted stories about its «involvement» in US elections. Neither did they support the idea of launching cyber-attacks against Russia what is paramount to a declaration of war. The outgoing administration is about to dig the hatchet up and do as much damage as it can before it leaves office. It still has time to do it. It should be stopped before it is too late.
About the Author: Alex Gorka is a Defense and Diplomatic Analyst
See more pertinent articles and information at STRATEGIC CULTURE
This article (How Much Damage Can Lame Duck President Obama Do Before Leaving Office?) was originally created and published by STRATEGIC CULTURE and is printed here under “Fair Use” (see disclaimer below) with attribution to author Alex Gorka and STRATEGIC CULTURE.