The Slatest

NSA Director Testifies Trump Has So Far Refused to Protect American Democracy From Future Russian Interference

Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the United States Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency and chief of Central Security Services, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee February 27, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Navy Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the United States Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency and chief of Central Security Services, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee February 27, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Director of the National Security Agency Mike Rogers’ testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday was notable for its candor, while somehow simultaneously telling us something we already knew—that President Trump has done very, very little to correct past security flaws in order to protect the U.S. against future Russian election meddling. It gives you a sense of the level of deception and disinformation coming from the Trump White House that simply stating or confirming what is largely public knowledge at this point is considered a refreshing act of truth-telling.

Mike Rogers’ testimony was extraordinary in that it confirmed the sky is blue and the presidential malpractice of Donald Trump when it comes to addressing and correcting past election vulnerabilities. There were several statements by Rogers, who is retiring in April, and notable back-and-forth exchanges with senators Tuesday that left the unmistakable impression that the president—either out of self-interest or self-delusion or something else—has refused to take significant steps to investigate and eliminate Russian efforts to undermine the American electoral system.

• “Have you been directed to [go after the Russian attacks at their origin], given this strategic threat that faces the United States and the significant consequences you recognize already?” Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island asked Rogers. “No, I have not,” Rogers replied.

• “I believe that President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion there’s little price to pay here, and that therefore I can continue this activity,” Rogers said.

• “Everything, both as the director of NSA and what I see on the cyber command side, leads me to believe that if we don’t change the dynamic here, this is going to continue and 2016 won’t be viewed as something isolated,” Rogers said. “This is something that will be sustained over time.”

• “They haven’t paid a price at least that is sufficient to get them to change their behavior,” Rogers said. “It hasn’t changed the calculus, is my sense … It certainly hasn’t generated the change in behavior that I think we all know we need.”

• “I believe they’re attempting to undermine our institutions,” Rogers said of Russia’s strategic objective.

• “Clearly, what we’ve done hasn’t been enough,” Rogers said.

There’s no other way to read this other than a staggering dereliction of duty by the president.

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