GOP Has Trump’s Back As He Questions U.S. Intelligence

Backing comes after Paul Ryan criticized President Obama for reading his briefings and not getting a presentation

WASHINGTON — Republican Rep. Paul Ryan was among those piling on when President Barack Obama came under fire several years ago for reading some of his daily intelligence briefings, rather than receiving them in-person.

“I have a hard time comprehending that, because the primary job of the commander in chief is to keep the country safe,” Ryan said in an October 2014 interview on Fox News Channel. “And you need to get from your intelligence community, your defense community — especially when we have troops in harm’s way — what’s going on.”

Yet now, as President-elect Donald Trump refuses daily intelligence briefings, questions U.S. spy agency conclusions about Russia interfering in the 2016 presidential election, praises Russian President Vladimir Putin and appears to side with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Ryan and other Republicans have Trump’s back. Far from strongly defending the U.S. intelligence community, they’re siding with the new leader of their party, even when he makes comments or takes stances that would seem anathema to the GOP.

It’s a remarkable turnabout for a political party that cheered President Ronald Reagan’s hard-line stance against the “evil empire” of the Soviet Union, unfailingly supports the military and joined with European allies in blistering Putin after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Asked at a press briefing Thursday whether he had full confidence in U.S. intelligence agencies, now-Speaker Ryan offered a tepid endorsement that began and ended on a note of criticism.

“Well, they don’t always get everything right. We’ve seen that clearly,” Ryan said. “But I do have faith that our men and women in our intelligence community are doing an incredible job, sacrificing for our country. But there’s always room for improvement.”

Earlier Thursday, in an interview with WTAQ radio in Wisconsin, Ryan passed up the chance to distance himself from Trump’s elevation of Assange in a tweet earlier this week, when Trump cited Assange’s claim that Russia had not been the source of Democratic Party documents that WikiLeaks revealed.

Instead, even while criticizing Assange, Ryan defended Trump, saying that what the president-elect is “rightfully concerned about is partisans are trying to use the Russian hacking incident to … call into question the legitimacy of his victory.”

And Ryan endorsed Trump’s claim, disputed by intelligence officials, that intelligence leaders had delayed a briefing for Trump on the hacking issue that is set to take place later Friday. In dismissing the intelligence on Russia, Trump highlighted a glaring intelligence failure — the claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion and war.

With a couple of exceptions — most notably Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — other GOP lawmakers and leaders have also stayed largely quiet as Trump lauds Putin and derides U.S. intelligence.

During a hearing Thursday with intelligence agency officials on the alleged Russian election meddling, Republicans on the panel largely avoided making comments that would contradict Trump’s well-publicized skepticism that Russia had anything to do with hacking Democratic emails. The exceptions were McCain and Graham.

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas even appeared to try to build the case for Trump, ticking off several Trump proposals, from increasing defense spending to accelerating nuclear weapons modernization, to challenge the notion that Putin would favor Trump over Hillary Clinton.

“There is some contrary evidence, despite what the media speculates, that perhaps Donald Trump is not the best candidate for Russia,” Cotton argued.

The hearing provoked an angry outburst from Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

“The notion that the soon elected leader of this country would put Julian Assange on a pedestal compared to the men and women of the intelligence community and the military … no matter whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, there should be howls,” McCaskill said. “And mark my word, if the roles were reversed, there would be howls from the Republican side.”

In most cases, Republicans haven’t actually embraced Trump’s stances, they’ve just declined to call him out on them, noted Gary Schmitt, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who worked as a Democratic Hill staffer before serving as executive director on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board during Reagan’s second term.

“It’s a normal situation in which the nominal head of your party, you don’t want him to be undercut,” Schmitt said. “But my view is if it looks like the substance is clearly on the side of the intelligence community, you’re not doing anybody any favors by protecting him.”

  • Perrico de los Palotes

    Obama can read?

    • Snowbird

      Just his teleprompter

      • Rhett the Butler

        No different that T Rump and Snowmachine Snooki and just about anybody else giving a prepared speech.

  • Gravelly Joe

    And the party of anti-intellectualism stays true to form. Not ok when Obama reads the intelligence briefings, but waaaaayyy ok when the orange one avoids and ridicules them. No false equivalencies here…..again.

  • Rhett the Butler

    Goopers are selling out America to multi-national corporatists and Russian oligarchs.

    • Snowbird

      Kinda like when hillary allowed the sale of 20% of our uranium to rosatom, a russian companyor bill allowed the sale to chicoms from loreal corp for missile tech.
      But i agree this is hypocrisy

      • Rhett the Butler

        There were 8 other Cabinet officers that signed off on the deal. And you’re forgetting Canada’s role in the uranium deal. Not to mention all the material is still in the ground.

        • Snowbird

          She hadthe power to veto the deal and did not, and shortly thereafter the clinton crime family foundation received millions from Rosatom principles

          • Rhett the Butler


          • Snowbird
          • Rhett the Butler

            WHAT!?! You expect me to believe the lamestream elitist East Coast liberal media that gave a pass to Hillary during the entire campaign? /snark

            You are overlooking other reporting in that article that shows that the whole process started in 2005. Whose administration was that?

            And this part:
            “In a statement, Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s
            presidential campaign, said no one “has ever produced a shred of evidence supporting the theory that Hillary Clinton ever took action as secretary of state to support the interests of donors to the Clinton Foundation.” He emphasized that multiple United States agencies, as well as the Canadian government, had signed off on the deal and that, in general, such matters were handled at a level below the secretary. “To suggest the State Department, under then-Secretary Clinton, exerted undue influence in the U.S. government’s review of the sale of Uranium One is utterly baseless,” he added.”

          • Snowbird

            And yet she approved it and she profited from it

          • Rhett the Butler

            How can she profit when she’s not drawing a salary from the Foundation?

          • Snowbird

            The Ccff supports their lifestyle as you well know and on the part where the spokesman denied it, I place no credence in the ad hominem defense from a paid lackey

          • Rhett the Butler

            Right, because they never got any money from book sales and speeches as private citizens.

            You need to review the definition of ‘ad hominem’ because you’ve just demonstrated that you don’t know what it means, “doctor”.

          • Snowbird

            i view the argument as an attack on the people making the charge rather than a defense with facts to disprove the argument. A simple denial, saying those bad people are lieing.
            Seems you will do that quite often as well

          • Rhett the Butler

            It is a denial made diplomatically. It is not a personal attack.

            I call liars liars when they are lying. Your point?

          • Snowbird

            Its a denial in the face of fact and reality, therefore a lie in defense of the indefensible, meant to be believed by persons lacking critical thinking skills.
            , and gullible naive partisans

          • Rhett the Butler

            Nice cloud of squid ink.

          • Snowbird

            Smells better than the load of dung you leave

          • 1stNameLast

            Then, at least, you must see the irony of trump actually asking Russia to hack Hillary, then when that happens according to US intelligence, claiming it didn’t – but if it did – it didn’t affect the outcome of the election?

          • Snowbird

            A joke, and even clapper states that it did not affect any vote tallies. If they even did it

          • Rhett the Butler

            There is a difference between affecting vote tallies and influencing voters’ opinions and considerations prior to voting.

          • Snowbird

            Right, by informing voters of the corruption inherent in the clinton family, people got to make more informed choices. If they even did it

          • Snowbird

            You mean exposing hilldebeasts corruption, deceit, and unethical behavior?

          • Rhett the Butler

            Like the confabulation that was Pizzagate and the Satanic dinner hoax?

          • Snowbird

            MOre like Climategate actually

          • Rhett the Butler

            AGW is scientifically sound.

          • Snowbird

            BS, biggest hoax around

          • Rhett the Butler

            Then why is the Pentagon implementing plans to deal with rising sea levels at their coastal facilities?

          • Snowbird

            You mean the plans forced on them by their liberal civilian overlords appointed by comrade hussein obama, which will very shortly be shelved?
            Probably the same liberal idots who own coastal beach homes like the liberal idiot hollywood set?
            The martian military had the same plans due to their global warming, and look what happened to them!!!
            But Im still going to get that Mons Olympus sand scooter with the cosmic inductor engine, and dual overhead reactors. Its pretty cool and guaranteed to really cause global warming

          • Rhett the Butler

            Now you’re just jibbering.

          • reggiewhitefish

            Didn’t Clapper lie to congress while under oath?

  • Snowbird

    This is hypocrisy, plain and simple, and i am a conservative

  • It is humorous that the world is treating Trump like the POTUS already.

    I can just picture Obama turning off the White House lights in a couple of weeks and walking to his car alone with nobody noticing.

    • Rhett the Butler

      It’s asinine and immature that T Rump has been acting like he IS the POTUS already.
      But what can you expect from a thin-skinned narcissist desperate for attention?

    • Concerned Citizen

      Don’t you mean POSOTUS?

  • Rhett the Butler
  • 1stNameLast

    I’m just not sure what Mr. trump thinks Russia has to offer America that causes him to shill for Putin and Russia so shamelessly. Certainly it’s NOT their military expertise – is it ?

    The only thing I can think of – and this isn’t a stretch – is that it is ALL about Donald.

    There really seems to be no difference to him between attacking US intelligence services and attacking Arnold Schwarzenegger after the new ‘Apprentice’ ratings reflected so badly on his little reality TV show.

    He takes everything so personally…Someones gonna get hurt.

  • I am Gatekeeper
  • Fast

    Humpty Trumpty has bigger worries 😱😱😱 the new host of his old show is not up to Trumpty’s standards 😱😱😱 “O” but it doses DISTRACT THE MINONS 💯 Get to the he chopper Arnold 💥

  • I am Gatekeeper
    • Rhett the Butler

      Except it wasn’t the same at all.

    • Justine Courchene

      When will America realize this ISN”T a Caucasion, Christian,Jewish or Muslim or any other specific nation! WE have religious freedom here! It is a melting pot of people. We do not adhere to any specific esoteric texts. The immortal declaration “all men (women) are created equal is in our Declaration of INDEPENDENCE. I am not anti Jew, Muslim or anti anything however I am anti inequality for any person! Including the Palestinians.

  • donho1116

    drumpf questions the intel agencies intelligence? The entire nation questions drumpfs intelligence!

    • I maintain a powerful antipathy for politicians, yet,
      Trumpty Dumpty ™ is trapped and confused – before he’s even inaugurated.

      More, Truth:
      Craigslist/NYC/Rants & Raves
      “The House of David: 20Seventeen Reigns”