In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, the leadership of the American intelligence community vehemently disagreed with President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE, tactfully but unanimously, by warning the nation, aggressively and unanimously, that Russia is escalating its war against democracy by launching an attack against the midterm elections in 2018.
The intelligence leaders did not address whether the Russian attack seeks to support either party in 2018. I believe, with 90 percent confidence, that Russia will work to elect Republicans in 2018, as Russia worked to elect President Trump in 2016.
It is ominous that while former KGB boss Vladimir Putin directly ordered and masterminds the Russian attack against America in 2016 and 2018, our intelligence leaders testified on Tuesday that Trump has issued no commanding directive ordering them to expose and combat Russian attacks against American elections.
In one of the greatest derelictions of duty in presidential history, Trump refuses to unequivocally acknowledge that these attacks are happening, fails to designate one senior official to lead and manage the American response against them, fails to order his staff to develop a coordinated battle plan to counter them, fails to enforce American sanctions against them and praises the former KGB boss who directs them while he repeatedly attacks the FBI that defends America from them.
Imagine if Franklin Roosevelt had told the nation on Dec. 7, 1941, that reports of the Pearl Harbor attack were fake news!
Why would Putin work to elect Republicans in 2018?
Putin has made a huge investment in Trump, whose policies divide the American people and the democratic alliance, serving major strategic goals of Russian military doctrine. Trump and his allies in Congress continue aggressive attacks against the FBI, which is the enemy of Russian espionage against America.
While Russia attacks America with saturation cyber bombing of lies and propaganda, Trump describes investigations of Russia as fake news while the Democratic Congress that Putin dreads would conduct full and thorough investigations of Russian attacks against us.
Readers should google “Nunes memo Russian bots.” Numerous stories detail evidence that Russian bots worked aggressively to promote the Nunes memo. It should make every patriotic American angry that Russians who attack America promote the work of Trump partisans who attack the FBI and Department of Justice.
While the Russian attack aims to corrupt the 2018 midterm elections, the Feds and many states lag far behind in planning, focus, tenacity, organization, execution and a will to win against the Russian onslaught.
The Russian attack against democracy is the moral equivalent of war, and in fact constitutes a new form of warfare. America must respond on a wartime footing appropriate to countering a foreign attack against our democracy. Even and especially if Putin seeks to help Republicans in 2018, GOP leaders have a huge patriotic and political interest in joining Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWhoopi Goldberg signs four-year deal with ABC to stay on 'The View' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Meghan McCain: Country has not 'healed' from Trump under Biden MORE (R-Ariz.), Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Biden jumps into frenzied Dem spending talks GOP senators say Biden COVID-19 strategy has 'exacerbated vaccine hesitancy' Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam MORE (R-N.C.) and others to lead America to victory over this war against democracy.
First, Americans should demand that one person be named to coordinate our defense of democracy against the Russian attack. Someone like retired general Michael Hayden, who led the CIA and National Security Agency, or retired general and former CIA Director David Petraeus, should coordinate the response of the Feds and states.
Second, this “czar” would develop a coordinated and aggressive federal plan to defeat the Russian attack, work with Congress to effectively fund it, coordinate with the National Governors Association to develop “state of the art” plans for individual states, and seek full federal funding for upgraded state efforts.
Third, Trump should enforce all pending sanctions against Russia immediately. Now. Today. Aggressively.
Fourth, the “czar” should create a task force working with leading tech companies to reveal to voters, in real time, with dramatic visibility, specific Russian disinformation attacks to destroy the propaganda impact of Russian-promoted lies against America.
Russia is waging war against America. Americans should fight back with the full force and power of American democracy to win this war.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.