Over Memorial Day weekend, Donald Trump asked why both the Justice Department and the FBI failed to warn him about the “Russia problem” during the campaign in 2016. Without paying close attention to this story, it may have seemed like the President had a potential point.
Ari Fleischer, former Press Secretary of the White House replied, “This is a good question that deserves an answer.”
The problem is, NBC News already addressed the question months ago in this December 2017 report:
In the weeks after he became the Republican nominee on July 19, 2016, Donald Trump was warned that foreign adversaries, including Russia, would probably try to spy on and infiltrate his campaign, according to multiple government officials familiar with the matter.
The warning came in the form of a high-level counterintelligence briefing by senior FBI officials, the officials said. A similar briefing was given to Hillary Clinton, they added. They said the briefings, which are commonly provided to presidential nominees, were designed to educate the candidates and their top aides about potential threats from foreign spies.
The candidates were urged to alert the FBI about any suspicious overtures to their campaigns, the officials said.
A couple angles to this are important to consider. First, Trump’s latest complaint that federal law enforcement failed to warn him about the “Russia problem” as Russia attacked our political system can’t be taken seriously considering he received a counterintelligence briefing in 2016.
Second, the President reminding us of this is particularly stupid since Trump did more than simply ignore the warning; he and his team failed to volunteer helpful information at the to the FBI.
There is a large roster of Russians linked to Putin’s government who kept contact with Trump’s campaign or Trump’s transition approaching the presidential inauguration.
However, neither Trump nor anyone from his campaign mentioned anything to federal law enforcement, despite the FBI warning Trump about Russians potentially infiltrating his political operation.
Indeed, by the time the President got his first classified intelligence briefing, a month after the warning from the FBI, over half a dozen staffers from Trump’s campaign, including his family members, had already held high-level meetings with Russians as well as individuals the Russian government sent as emissaries.
They didn’t tell intelligence officials any of this. The FBI requested, “Let us know about suspicious overtures to your campaigns,” and after Trump World spoke to a bunch of Russians wanting to run the Republican campaign, they remained silent.
It’s possible the campaign’s discussions with the Russians were harmless. But if this were true, why not show U.S. officials the contacts, especially when the FBI specifically pressed Trump and his campaign members to report foreign overtures?
The real question is, why did Trump think bringing this all up now was a good idea?