No matter how hard they try to deny that they’re in bed with Russia, members of the Trump administration continually prove that their words are meaningless and at odds with their actions.
With the 2018 midterm elections just a few months away, the head of the National Security Agency (NSA), Mike Rogers, told Senators Tuesday that his agency has yet to receive any authorizations from the White House to combat Russian actions on the cyber front. That led ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl to ask during the press briefing:
“Admiral Rogers is the one that would have the agency that could actually go and confront the Russian intrusion at the source. And he hasn’t been given the authority. In fact, he says the Russians haven’t paid a sufficient price to make them change their behavior.
“All he needs is a presidential directive, the authority.”
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied:
“I disagree with the premise of the question. It’s not just one individual.”
Karl reminded Sanders:
“He’s in charge of Cyber Command! Why not give him the authority?”
A clearly defensive Sanders told Karl:
“Nobody is denying him the authority! We’re looking at a number of different ways that we can put pressure [on the Russians]. This president… has been much tougher on Russia than his predecessor. Let’s not forget that this happened under Obama. This didn’t happen under President Trump. If you want to blame somebody on past problems then you need to look at the Obama administration.”
There it is! The classic Obama distraction defense. But Karl was ready for it, and he fired back:
“This is not about the past! This is about preventing intrusion in the next election. He says he needs the authority and hasn’t been given it.”
Realizing she had no fallback position, Sanders could only respond:
“I can’t speak to that.”
What Sanders meant to say is this: I can’t speak to that without the express permission of the Kremlin.