In the run-up to next year's election, U.S. Cyber Command has recently acknowledged that they are considering countering any Russian meddling with revealing personal information of any relevant Russian official. Given the media's constant criticism of President Trump for not doing enough to combat Russian election meddling, you would think that such tough action would be sufficient for them to give Trump credit this one time, but MSNBC Live host Ali Velshi and intelligence expert Malcolm Nance still found a way to condemn Trump on Velshi's Thursday show.
After detailing the potential plans, Velshi asked Nance, "I have a question and it's a one-word question: Trump? ... I mean, he's still-- he's not at the front of this train?"
Nance concurred, "Like I said, we have defenses. We're lacking leadership." Which was an interesting comment, considering the Washington Post source material reported, "Also enhancing Cybercom’s flexibility was Trump’s signing the following month of a national security presidential memorandum that revised the process by which cyber-operations are vetted and approved, leaving the final decision with the defense secretary even if other agencies object."
Over at CNN, Kylie Atwood added in the 1:00 hour that under President Obama, Cyber Command, would have had to get White House approval.
There was no excuse for Velshi to miss this, but he continued in his anti-Trump preconceptions, "Do we need Donald Trump to come out there and be part of the warning? Because I'm just not holding my breath that he's going to really put his back into this one."
Nance, also skipping Trump's role in letting Cyber Command do their job without White House micromanagement, seemed to declare that Cyber Command and the NSA were doing this in spite of Trump, "In this circumstance, they do not need instruction in order to defend the nation from threats as they see them, operationally. Let me tell you. All of the places Donald Trump will have the least impact, it's within U.S. Cybercommand and the National Security Agency."
The original WashPost article quoted one U.S. official as saying, "asserting that Russia’s main goal in the 2020 campaign continues to be to sow discord. 'It’s always been about exacerbating fault lines in our society.'" Which is exactly what Velshi and Nance were doing when they declared Trump was not doing enough to combat election interference while praising a decision that could not have happened without him.
Another interesting nugget in the original WashPost reporting is a quote from former Time editor, former Under Secretary of State under Obama, frequent MSNBC contributor, and perpetual Trump critic Richard Stengel: "I’m not a big fan of the Department of Defense doing messaging operations. “I’m even skeptical of the State Department doing messaging operations. . . . I just don’t think that’s something we’re good at." Maybe Democrats and the media aren't the Russia hawks they've claimed to be after all.
Here is a transcript for the December 26 show:
MSNBC Live with Ali Velshi
3:47 PM ET
ALI VESHI: Malcolm, I have a question and it's a one-word question: Trump?
MALCOLM NANCE: Sure.
VELSHI: What -- I mean, he's still -- he's not at the front of this train.
NANCE: No. And like I said, we have defenses. We're lacking leadership. And let me tell you. In the 20 -- in the run up to the French 2017 election, the National Security Agency worked with the French bureau, the DGSE, in order to disrupt a cyberoperation, which may have been Russian-oriented, using American citizens to release fake e-mails from the Macron campaign. And it turns out all of those e-mails were actually placed in their way by French intelligence and our national security agency to -- to disrupt their activity in these Macron leaks. That's the sort of operation we have a lot of capacity with. But warning some of these actors, especially the ones who have a lot of money that we could go after them personally and, you know, I've been a big advocate of going after and freezing their bank accounts or stealing their illegally-posted money around the world. We have this defenses.
VELSHI: Do you need -- is this far enough along? Do we need Donald Trump to come out there and be part of the warning? Because I'm just not holding my breath that he's going to really put his back into this one.
NANCE: This is the beautiful part about the armed forces of the United States and the intelligence agencies of the United States. Their oath is sworn to the Constitution of the United States. To protect and defend the nation from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. In this circumstance, they do not need instruction in order to defend the nation from threats as they see them, operationally. Let me tell you. All of the places Donald Trump will have the least impact, it's within U.S. Cybercommand and the National Security Agency. You know, I worked there. Those places are cryptic themselves. The people there are going to do the nation's defense. And to tell you the truth, it is so sophisticated, that it is -- it takes years to understand precisely what they're doing. It's not like the CIA running human intelligence officers. They have the ability to disrupt things as part of their day-to-day mandate. I think we're relatively safe with them.
VELSHI: That makes me feel good if you say Malcom. Thank you, my friend.