SHAFFER: Trump’s Supposed Russophilia Is A Total Myth

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Tony Shaffer London Center for Policy Research
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President Trump has done many things during his time in office — but protecting Russia isn’t one of them. 

Sadly, the liberal media are clinging grimly to the long-debunked myth that Donald Trump is secretly an agent of the Kremlin, desperately trying to resurrect it ahead of the upcoming presidential election. Russian Collusion Narrative 3.0.

The disputed New York Times report about how Moscow allegedly “offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops,” based on a SINGLE unverified source from an interrogation conducted incidental to combat operations in Afghanistan, is a perfect example of how delusional the liberal press has become in its endless fixation with non-existent Russia collusion. Contrary to the unverified claims made by the newspaper, members of the intelligence community appear to have had major doubts about the bounty report, and consequently decided not to brief the White House on the matter unless the accusation could be verified. 

The origin of this information was from interrogations conducted in Afghanistan in the late 2019 timeframe. The frailty and tactical nature of this information indicates that it was leaked in it’s unverified form to the NYTs for a very specific purpose.

I’ve personally conducted this type of interrogations, in Afghanistan in 2003, incidental to special operations raids, and devoted two chapters on this issue in my book Operation DARK HEART. The key feature is vetting and validation of the information obtained. This is what we did in our work — and it was discovered that Iran was funding terror attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. After this information was validated, the Bush 43 administration took no action against Iran. There was no accusation of collusion, despite clear evidence the Bush White House knew about American’s being killed by Iran.

“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or [Vice President Pence],” Donald Trump tweeted recently, adding that the story is “Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax” intended to smear him and the GOP ahead of November’s elections. Predictably, this didn’t stop the media from bombarding White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany with questions about how President Trump plans to “respond” to Russia’s rumored actions — questions that McEnany deftly shot down as absurd and politically motivated. 

The key was and is to remain vigilant. Based on a current review of the information, it is not credible. This makes the effort by The New York Times both improper and, yes, fake news.

The Commander-in-Chief is right — The Times report is just another partisan effort to advance the baseless Russia collusion narrative and mislead voters about President Trump’s actual foreign policy record, which includes countless geopolitical triumphs over Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Shortly after taking office, for instance, the Trump administration implemented new economic sanctions on Moscow over its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. “For eight years Russia ‘ran over’ President Obama, got stronger and stronger, picked-off Crimea and added missiles. Weak!” Donald Trump tweeted at the time. 

Also during his first year in office, President Trump approved lethal arms sales to Ukraine in a tactical effort to help the country fight against Russia-backed separatists. Notably, this move infuriated the Kremlin, which accused Washington of “fueling the war” in Ukraine by giving our ally the means to defend itself against Russian aggression. 

Geopolitical clashes between the U.S. and Russia have occurred frequently in the Middle East, too — President Trump has authorized countless military strikes in Syria, destroying military assets and bases that were of strategic importance to Moscow. 

Crucially, the Trump administration also withdrew America from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty after Russia repeatedly violated the agreement. 

“For far too long, Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with impunity, covertly developing and fielding a prohibited missile system that poses a direct threat to our allies and troops abroad,” the President explained last year, adding that the U.S “has fully adhered to the INF Treaty for more than 30 years, but we will not remain constrained by its terms while Russia misrepresents its actions.”

Standing up to our geopolitical adversaries, however, does not mean the White House should use every piece of disputed intelligence to pick needless fights or fuel endless conflicts abroad — we learned that lesson the hard way in Iraq. If the intelligence community is not confident in its assessment, it would be reckless for the President to act on incomplete information. This is more appalling “fake news” that by its leaking has put American lives in danger to simply attempt to score political points — The New York Times has again jeopardized the lives of men and women who serve our country by leaking classified information.

There is a long shadow here of the left wing’s inherent “pro-war” agenda. As President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo work to end the war in Afghanistan, the timing of the leak of this information could create, if true, conditions for us to stay in the war. There are those on the left who now work with the Neocon never-Trumpers who see sustained war as a necessary feature of American foreign policy — The New York Times is a party to this philosophy as well.

Another point that has been lost is that by putting out this “fake news” based on leaking out-of-context real classified information, The New York Times has put American lives in danger to simply attempt to score political points. Let me be clear: The New York Times has again jeopardized the lives of men and women who serve our country by leaking classified information. 

The mainstream media’s continued attempt to portray President Trump as an ally of Russia simply doesn’t reflect the historical record. This Commander-in-Chief has been tougher on Moscow than any U.S. president since Ronald Reagan — and he will continue to contain and constrain Putin’s ambitions at every turn.

Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer is a retired senior intelligence operations officer and President of the London Center for Policy Research.