At this point, the CIA and FBI both agree that Russia interfered with the election in an effort to put Donald Trump in office. U.S. intelligence officials added that Vladimir Putin was personally involved in directing the process. Trump claims he doesn’t believe this happened, and he’s conveniently forgotten that he asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.
So, no one should be too shocked to learn that Trump does not consider Russia to be one of his administration’s top “defense priorities,” as outlined by a Pentagon memo that Foreign Policy has obtained.
You can read the short document here, which is a simple outline and hails from December 1. That’s before the big freakout of the past few weeks but months after U.S. intelligence expressed “high confidence” that Russia was hacking the DNC, which resulted in near daily dumps of John Podesta’s emails. Here’s the list of Trump top defense priorities as transcribed by acting Undersecretary of Defense for policy Brian McKeon, who directly spoke with Mira Ricardel, the co-head of Trump’s Pentagon defense team:
1) Develop a strategy to defeat/destroy ISIS.
2) Build a strong defense (Eliminate caps from Budget Control Act; improve force strength/size/readiness).
3) Develop a comprehensive USG [whole of government] cyber strategy.
4) Find greater efficiencies (pursue/build on “great work” led by DSD Work; open to new idea from the Department).
For what it’s worth, a Trump transition official spoke with Foreign Policy and did not dispute the authenticity of the list. The official stressed that this isn’t a complete list of Trump’s defense priorities but wouldn’t comment on whether (or where) Russia would fit into a longer list, only that the existing list would be “erroneous and misleading” to speculate upon. Yet clearly, Russia is not at the top of any list of Trump concerns.
During Trump’s campaign, he praised Russia while insulting U.S. military leaders. “When you think about it, wouldn’t it be nice if we got along with Russia?” he openly mused. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we got together with Russia and knocked the hell out of ISIS?” Trump also repeatedly claimed to know nothing about Russia and downplayed Putin’s role in cyberattacks during a Larry King interview on Russian State TV.
Then he picked a Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who holds extensive business ties to a foreign power that many consider hostile. The country’s absence from Trump’s list of defense priorities is even more ironic following Bloomberg’s recent piece that suggests he has — unwittingly and through his own actions — made Russia the top foreign policy issue for the U.S.
(Via Foreign Policy)