This week’s dust-up between the U.S. and Russia started with the declassification and release on Monday of the National Intelligence Council’s “Intelligence Community [IC] Assessment – Foreign Threats to the 2020 U.S. Federal Elections.” The meddling of foreign actors and particularly Russia in U.S. elections of late has been well covered by Liberty Nation’s Mark Angelides.
The key finding in the IC intel report read:
“We assess that Russian President Putin authorized, and a range of Russian government organizations conducted, influence operations aimed at denigrating President Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party, supporting former President Trump, undermining public confidence in the electoral process, and exacerbating sociopolitical divisions in the U.S.”
Since the election results in November 2020 and the aftermath, many Americans would have told the Russians to save the effort. The Democrats more than did their part in “undermining public confidence in the electoral process…and exacerbating the sociopolitical divisions in the U.S.”
The intelligence report finding prompted a question to President Joe Biden by George Stephanopoulos during an interview on ABC News. Stephanopoulos asked about the report accusing Vladimir Putin of meddling in the 2020 election, Biden offered that he thought Putin “had no soul” and, for the meddling in the election: “He [Putin] will pay a price.” But Stephanopoulos didn’t stop there. He asked the president, “So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he’s a killer?” To which Biden replied, “Uh-huh. I do.” That did it.
The Kremlin described this completely gratuitous response as “very bad.” Russia recalled its ambassador to “analyze what needs to be done about the countries’ relations,” The New York Times reports. To add clarity to the Kremlin’s view of Biden’s gaffe, Konstatin Kosachev, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Upper House of Russia’s Parliament, wrote in a Facebook post: “This is a watershed moment. Any expectations for the new U.S. administration’s new policy toward Russia have been written off by this boorish statement.” Another Russian Parliament member, Pyotr Tolstoy, was more threatening when he said (the NYT described it as “thundered”) that “the only language” America understands “is, unfortunately, the language of force.”
Stephanopoulos pressed Biden on having said that Putin would “pay a price.” He asked: “So, what price must he pay?” The president’s response was, well, interesting. Biden explained:
“The price he’s gonna pay we’ll– you’ll see shortly. I’m not gonna– there’s– by the way, we oughta be able that ol’ — that trite expression “walk and chew gum at the same time,” there’re places where it’s in our mutual interest to work together. That’s why I renewed the start agreement with him. That occurred while he’s doin’ this. But that’s overwhelmingly in the interest of humanity, that we diminish the prospect of a nuclear exchange.”
The president apparently believes that being able to “walk and chew gum at the same time” means calling foreign leaders “killers” while attempting to negotiate with those same leaders on ways to keep the world safe from nuclear disaster.
Biden is referring to extending the negotiations on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) by five years, though the Russians had only requested a one-year extension. Liberty Nation explained the one-sided offer this way:
“As with so many U.S. treaties embraced by the left, symbolism is the only demonstrable value. True to form, the Biden administration does not disappoint, unilaterally offering a five-year extension on the current New START agreement without anything in return.”
For his part in all this drama, according to Troianovski, Vladimir Putin – when asked if he thought that President Biden “was somehow unwell,” – replied simply, “I wish him good health. I say this without irony, without joking.”
The ABC News unscripted interview with President Biden, to be fair, was an up-close-and-personal opportunity to get to know the new commander in chief and his views on many current topics. But one moment of mental inattention became the international story: a story that may come back to haunt Biden should a one-on-one with Putin opportunity present itself in the future.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
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