Joe Biden Is Painfully Aware How Dangerous It Is For Donald Trump To Heart Russia
Throughout the 2016 election, Republican nominee Donald Trump has shown a bizarre affection for all things Russia, and especially Russian President Vladimir Putin. During Wednesday night's final presidential debate, Trump again defended his man in Moscow, claiming we have "no idea whether it is Russia, China, or anybody else" hacking into Democratic email and other government accounts. On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden went ahead and set the record straight.
Speaking in New Hampshire, Biden argued that Trump's false assertion of our supposed mystification about who's behind recent government hacks is actually quite dangerous, saying, "What an indictment of who we are, what an indictment of our capabilities, what an indictment of our military." When Trump stands on a national stage and claims our intelligence officials cannot be trusted, that implies America is indeed in a dysfunctional state, easily compromised. (Clinton made a similar point during the debate, pointing out that Trump would "rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us.")
Trump has long held Russia in high regard. Back in 2013, he tweeted out this gem:
Why anyone would want to be a "best friend" to Putin remains a mystery. He was allegedly involved in the 2006 death of former KGB operative Alexander Litvinenko (which Russia denies). His forces invaded Crimea (which belongs to Ukraine) in 2014, and according to the New York Times, over 9,000 people have since died in the conflict.
Putin also appears to show little regard for liberties Americans take for granted. In 2012, he jailed two members of the Russian band Pussy Riot, for expressing their "anti-religious" views. In fact, he's compiled a thorough list of jailed dissidents.
Trump sees all this as evidence of "toughness," perhaps. He's expressed admiration for tyrannical, violent behavior before. Also, remember Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chair who resigned a few months back? Manafort used to work for a wealthy Ukrainian who supported that country's former president, Victor Yanukovych, a man who was himself closely tied to Putin and was ousted in large part due to his refusal to move towards joining the European Union.
But Russia's attempts to influence America's election are not something any presidential candidate should accept or condone. Even his fellow Republicans say as much. “As our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process and I will not indulge it," said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
On Trump changing his tune though, no one should hold their breath. As Biden pointed out Thursday, he might lack the... requisite understanding to think through his own rhetoric:
Or maybe Trump knows exactly what he's doing. It's difficult to determine which would be worse.