Tuesday, February 11, 2020

the last book I ever read (A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America, excerpt two)

from A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig:

There were three core questions facing U.S. intelligence officials about Russia’s role in the 2016 election. First, did the Russian government itself interfere? The overwhelming evidence said yes. Next, did Russia try to help Trump win? Much of the evidence suggested yes. Finally, did Russia’s efforts change the election result? Intelligence leaders argued they lacked the ability to say definitively. But Trump believed that acknowledging Russian intervention effectively tainted his victory.

In the days following the January 6 intelligence briefing, Priebus, Kushner, and other advisers pleaded with Trump to publicly acknowledge the unanimous conclusion the spy chiefs had presented to him. They held impromptu interventions in his twenty-sixth-floor office in which they tried to convince him that he could affirm the validity of the intelligence without invalidating or even diminishing his win. “This was part of the normalization process,” one adviser explained. “There was a big effort to get him to be a standard president.”

But Trump dug in. Each time his advisers pushed him to accept the intelligence, he grew more agitated. He railed that the intelligence community’s leaders were deceitful and could not be trusted. “I can’t trust anybody,” the president-elect said. On that point, he was seconded by Bannon, who said of the Russia report, “It’s all gobbledygook.” The president-elect said he believed admitting that the Kremlin had hacked Democratic emails would be a “trap.”

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