CNN reports that Donald Trump is still waging war on the United States intelligence community over its assessment that Russia interfered with the election. In (of course) a fact-free tweet Tuesday night, Trump accused the community of delaying a briefing on the subject because they didn't have enough evidence:
The problem, according to CNN (after burying the lede in the 4th paragraph), is that no one had actually scheduled a date for the briefing:
Top US intelligence officials have been scheduled to brief Trump on the full report on Russian hacking President Barack Obama ordered once it was completed, but the meeting was not set to take place until later in the week, according to US officials.
The meeting was never scheduled for Tuesday, as even Obama has yet to receive the full-fledged briefing on the Russian hacking, one US official said.
And a US intelligence official told CNN that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was never scheduled to be in New York City, where Trump is, on Tuesday -- and was perplexed about the "delay" Trump claimed was taking place.
If you'll recall, over the weekend, Trump made a big deal about the secret stuff he knew that he wasn't going to tell anyone about until "Tuesday or Wednesday." A charitable reading of Trump's claim about a delayed briefing is that he got confused about when it was, boasted about insider knowledge he didn't have (not the first time he's done this) and then needed a scapegoat when he couldn't reveal anything to his adoring fans.
A less charitable reading is that Trump is desperate to be seen as a legitimate president. The idea that not only did he badly lose the popular vote, but that he needed Russia to hold his hand to get him over the finish line would be intolerable to a raging narcissist like Trump. It's why he's had his PR goons all over TV, trying to make the story about a hostile foreign power tampering with our election go away.
It's also why Trump himself continues to repeatedly and loudly attack the intelligence community. If he can undermine their legitimacy, it will protect his own. But no matter how hard he tries, the ugly truth is that Trump is not a legitimate president. He will forever have a giant asterisk next to his presidency denoting him as a fraud. And that's before his already mounting scandals make his time in the Oval Office one of America's most embarrassing historical failures.
In the meantime, in typically shortsighted conservative fashion, Trump and the Republicans enabling him are damaging the very organizations we rely on to protect us from hostile foreign powers. But hurting America for personal and political gain has become a recurring theme in right wing politics so this shouldn't be much of a surprise at this point.
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