Monday, December 19, 2016

OPINION - Shields and Ponnuru 12/16/2016

"Shields and Ponnuru on the ‘dark cloud' of Russian cyberattacks" PBS NewsHour 12/16/2016


SUMMARY:  Reports emerged this week that the CIA is confident Russia attempted to sway election results through cyberattacks.  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru of the The National Review join Judy Woodruff to discuss what Russia's interference suggests about the future of our democracy, the president-elect's Cabinet picks of Rex Tillerson and Rick Perry and President Obama's legacy on Syria.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  And now to the analysis of Shields and Ponnuru.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Ramesh Ponnuru of The National Review.  David Brooks is away.

Welcome to both of you.

Let's start out, Mark, by talking about this back and forth.  Every day, there's a new piece of information about it did between what Donald Trump is saying about whether the Russians were involved in this hacking of the Democratic National Committee and what the CIA and now the FBI, President Obama weighed in today on this.  What are we to make of all this?

MARK SHIELDS, syndicated columnist:  I think what we're to make of it is, to me what's fascinating is not what Donald Trump is in no particular position to know, but what's most alarming to me is Donald Trump will become President of the United States, he won the election.  This is not about who won the election.  He will become the 45th President the 20th of January.

It is about whether the sovereignty and self-determination of the United States was compromised by an organized at the highest Russian levels, which means the imprimatur of Mr. Putin, espionage, sabotage of the American democratic system.  And there is an office in this country that's higher than that of President and it's [a] 'patriot,' and John McCain is filling that right now, and John McCain is saying, these are questions that must be answered, that these are questions that demand an answer.

And the idea, as Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, says, sending it to the Intelligence Committee is a way of sending it to limbo because we had — we spent $40 million in five years in the Intelligence Committee investigating torture at Abu Ghraib, we have yet to get a report about it.  That's a nice way of saying, oh, it's national security, we can' t talk about it.  We will not get a 9/11 Commission.  But I think John McCain and the Armed Services Committee with Jack Reed, the Democrat, with Lindsey Graham and others, and Tim Kaine in a pretty damn good committee, I think you will get an honest hearing and we need it.

The idea people are so concerned about a $500,000 contribution to the Clinton Foundation changing and influencing American policy somehow indirectly, and incurious about Russia's involvement and sabotaging an American election is unforgivable to me and irrational.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Ramesh, do you think this will be investigated thoroughly?

RAMESH PONNURU, The National Review:  I think this controversy is expanding in all directions.  You're going to have an investigation.  You're going to have a report from the administration.

During the a press conference, President Obama said there would be a report tying loose ends, tying it all together before he leaves office.  And then you're going to have the hearings over the configuration of Trump Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson, where I believe the number one topic and probably number two topic as well is going to be the administration's intentions toward Russia.

Trump is going to be our third President in a row coming into office wanting friendly relations with Russia.  But, of course, this incredible backdrop now is going to color everything.

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