CNN Guest: President Trump 'Believes the Russian Activity Benefits Him Politically'

During an appearance on CNN's New Day Monday morning, counterterrorism analyst Richard Clarke argued that President Trump has not imposed sanctions on Russia in retaliation for their interference in the 2016 election because "he believes the Russian activity benefits him politically."

Clarke, who has worked in both Republican and Democratic administrations, apparently also believes that President Trump could not have gotten elected President without help from the Russians, saying “The very same bots that helped get him elected are still out there. The organization that did it is still out there. And they are still supporting his causes.” According to Clarke, these bots are “still making dissent, likely in the United States, pretending to be Black Lives Matter groups, pretending to be pro-gun groups. They’re whipping up dissent, they’re whipping up discord.” Perhaps it never occurred to liberals that these kinds of divisions existed in America long before 2016.



During his tenure as Good Morning America’s news anchor, New Day co-host Chris Cuomo had previously given a gushing interview to Clarke, who had just published a book critical of the Bush administration. During this interview, which took place during the final year of the George W. Bush presidency, Clarke brought up the importance of global warming, which has basically become a religion on the left, and criticized the Bush Administration’s handling of the war in Iraq. In the decade since the interview took place, Clarke’s opinion of Republicans has not changed very much, neither has the media embrace of his anti-GOP rhetoric.

Clarke closed his interview on New Day by warning that America may find itself on a “very dangerous path” because President Trump has refused to talk with North Korea unless they agree to give up their nuclear weapons. Clarke warned that “we need to find some compromise” with North Korea in order to avoid “a war in which perhaps millions of people would die.”



CNN New Day


07:35 AM


CHRIS CUOMO: All right. So we keep hearing, and please tell me what’s not true in any of the premise here. That nothing’s being done. The Congressional committees are looking at it. Yes, the NSA and different parts of the intelligence community are always in an ongoing battle that takes place digitally as well as in different for fighting against America’s enemies, that that’s always going on. But that specific to the election meddling, there is no program in place, there is no strategy. What’s your take?


RICHARD CLARKE: Well Chris, for any of the Presidents I worked for, if there were a major threat to the United States, to our democracy, the President would have asked for and personally gotten involved in crafting a comprehensive program. This President hasn’t done that. And yeah, the government does sort of work on automatic pilot on some issues but for some things, the President has to give an order. And for NSA and Cyber command and CIA to do some things covertly in cyberspace to stop the kind of attacks that are still ongoing with the Russian bots and Russian trolls trying to make America argue against itself, trying to create discord in the United States. For that kind of counter program to happen, the President has to give an order. He hasn’t done it. I think there is a very clear reason why he hasn’t done it and why, after Congress overwhelmingly approved new sanctions on Russia, he refuses to implement them. And the reason, I think, is inescapable. It is that he believes the Russian activity benefits him politically.


CUOMO: How so?


CLARKE: Well, the very same bots that helped get him elected are still out there. The organization that did it is still out there. And they are still supporting his causes. They are still making dissent, likely in the United States, pretending to be Black Lives Matter groups, pretending to be pro-gun groups. They’re whipping up dissent, they’re whipping up discord. And on every issue in cyberspace and the social media forums, these Russian bots are still backing him. Why are they still allowed to do that? Why hasn’t NSA or Cyber command attacked their computers which they could do with existing technology? They could do it easily. They could fry all of those computers. They could take down the so-called internet research agency in St. Petersburg but they haven’t because they need an order to do so, and that order has not been forthcoming. 


CUOMO: So, let’s, let’s take a step further down that road.  You know, we saw Vladimir Putin come out with a video presentation last week where the supposed missiles they have that can go anywhere in the world. And the target he chose was Florida, and it looked like they were headed right for Mar-a-lago and the President said nothing about that. Why would Putin antagonize a guy that he’s trying to help and why would the President say nothing when he’s so easily provoked and he goes after our allies with such a low standard but nothing when the guy targets his house with missiles?


CLARKE: Well, I think you can guess. The President has never really criticized Putin. He likes Putin, he says he admires Putin. You’re not going to hear him criticize Putin no matter what he does. Imagine any other President, imagine Ronald Reagan or George Herbert Walker Bush, if the leader of Russia gave an Anti-American speech with pictures of missiles attacking the United States. Could you imagine them being silent under those circumstances? But this President is silent.


CUOMO: North Korea. We have word that South Korean officials are up there. There is parlay with North Korean officials in North Korea. Supposedly, the goal is to bring the United States into dialogue with the North. Then, there’s this political intrigue where the President said North Korea reached out to me to want to talk. I said “you’ve got to de-nuke first” and North Korea laughs off that suggestion. What’s your take on the state of play?


CLARKE: Chris, of all the issues the President is dealing with, this is the most dangerous. This could, if mishandled, result in a war, a war in which perhaps millions of people would die. And perhaps even people in the United States, certainly Americans in Korea. So we have to be very, very careful how we handle this. And for the President to say I’m not going to talk unless you completely capitulate before the talks even begin is a very dangerous path. We need to be in discussion with North Korea. We need to find some compromise because two weeks ago, in Pearl Harbor, the American Military Commanders conducted what was called a tabletop exercise for war in Korea. And they were horrified by what they saw would happen. It’s a terrible outcome out there and it could happen this year if we’re not careful. We have to do everything we can to avoid that and talking without precondition is one of those things. And so far, the President has said he will only talk if North Korea says “yeah, we’ll give in, we’ll give up our nuclear weapons program. Now, let’s talk.” They’re not going to do that. 

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