Listen: President, President Trump And Clint Watts discussed on P&L With Pimm Fox and Lisa Abramowicz
"We are broadcasting from the bien y Mellon Pershing insight conference. One question, people have is about President Trump and heading into the twenty twenty elections. The democratic candidates, President Trump sat down with ABC news chief anchor George Stephanopoulos yesterday. He said that it would he would take foreign information on twenty twenty opponents saying it's not an interference if they have inter information, I think I'd take it if I thought there was something wrong. I'd maybe go to the F B if I thought there was something wrong. Joining me now is Clint watts distinguished research fellow for the foreign policy research institute, also senior fellow at the center for cyber and homeland security at the George Washington University. A he is outside the capitol in Washington DC. Currently Clint, what did you make of those comments that President Trump made yesterday on ABC news? It seems to affirm what we've always suspected that. The president isn't worried about foreign interference on our elections. He might even welcome opposition research. Is he calls it or what we would call data dumps a hacking release into when we look at twenty twenty it looks like we might look to a replay of twenty sixteen. It sends a signal to adversaries that they can pretty much maneuver in the way that Russia did twenty sixteen I think for allies. Now they have to question should they start backing candidates that they prefer in an election? But they wanna provide opposition research. It's also dangerous because the president hasn't entirely divested from his businesses. And so if you're a foreign adversary, or an ally or just want to influence, the election, you know, information about the residents businesses what his relationships are overseas with other entities. Why not dump that out of the opener trying on the election towards whichever candidate to one? I think the final. Thing is if the I has gone to great measures with the foreign impose task force to try and go to democratic campaigns and embrace him. Give them a counterintelligence, brief and tell them, what the rules of the road are heading into twenty twenty and the president basically said that the FBI director was wrong, and that he didn't necessarily think he needed to do that. So it's puts her entire election in your context where it seems that everything's out the window anything go, and our institutions are really incapable of protecting us because even at the leadership level, they're getting mixed messages was was President Trump saying this in that format, somehow a signal or recognition that there is a foreign entity or more than one that is looking to have one of these data dumps in have perhaps him on the receiving end. But I don't think it was a clear invite. I mean my context white came up yesterday because his son was at the Senate committee. You know behind closed doors talking about what was his contacts. What was his relationship? What was the information he'd relate based on that Trump Tower meeting? And so I think he was trying to rationalize what is son did what he might do to try and essentially exonerate themselves for many scrutiny? But at the same time, it does the question is the president opening up to anyone out there that might wanna help them. Hey, I'm open for business. I would love any research on my, my opponents, and it really just puts American a position of weakened weakness to any authoritarian adversary that wants to pack a candidate or hacking institution. Maybe even a hack one of our, our Intel agencies and try and drive a narrative that undermines, the greater good of, of the country to Clinton, your, former FBI special agent. You've worked in the US army, he's been when you were in the FBI, you're part of the terrorism task force. You've written this book messing with the enemy surviving in social media world of hackers. Terrorists, Russians and fake news. And I'm wondering whether there's any precedent for a president of the United States to accept information on, perhaps an opponent political opponent from foreign governments. Is there precedent history? Not that I'm aware of it is violating the law. It was something that came up in the molar, or to specifically said that the only reason that they did not pursue charges against the Trump campaign members because they were unaware, basically, the stipulation that you can't take Orrin help or foreign contributions in order to win the election. This clearly suggests that the president does know this, but doesn't care, you know, in his willing to violate that and it is without president. And I also think speaks the degradation norms where if you remember back out gore received a briefing book, which George Stephanopoulos actually brings up in that discussion with the President Al Gore's campaign called the F. Why? Because they do it was either stolen or pill for materials and that was kind of the rules of the road that everyone accepted and it just shows. How far we've changed in terms of our country about what we see is acceptable in order to win an election. And by winning. What are we really saying about our country's a whole so Clinton just to just sort of push back here? What would you say to someone who said, well, why does it matter? Right. I mean, more information is better. And you know why should we self-censor, regardless of what the source is the information if it's accurate? Why shouldn't it be go because in the case of foreign adversaries, they are trying to pursue something inside the United States? So let's look back to twenty sixteen. They gave us information about one candidate to detract from one candidate. We don't really know the full spectrum of it. And the goal was essentially advanced, Russian interests inside the United States and abroad, and they were successful in that they've been quite successful barring sanctions relief. Russia's got most of the what they wanted internationally. So this incentivizes every country around the world to do criminal activity against the United States in, in the form of hacking to go at political candidates, and even link up to political candidates, and possibly give him false information to create chaos inside of our country which suits their deep really sets us up in a position of weakness rather than a position of strength with our adversaries client, just real quick here since you do specialize in hackers and terrorists, and fake news. What are you expecting heading into the twenty twenty elections? I mean, we're getting any indications of just how rampant fake news. And some of the foreign interference might be. The big change is really that most of the inauthentic accounts and information on seeing pop up right now. I think the best origin or the foreign and what, what are you really going to see I think, from Russia and others is a cost benefit calculation. They will try and edge Ford and push for the candidates that they prefer, which are largely populist candidates, whether you're on others either side of the political aisle, and they're probably waiting to see how aggressive to be because they also don't want to provoke a negative reaction from afar. So if your China Iran or Russia, which are the big ones, where it was talking about, but even other countries like Saudi and Israel that want influence US politics. They're making calculations right now going and doing off into packing the way Russian G are you did twenty sixteen could provoke or even force like President Trump to take retaliatory action to have to mobilize do something, and they may not see the need to go that far this time if they think he's getting the outcome they want. They're pretty happy. Right now about us fighting each other. Clint watts thank you so much for being with us Clinton. Watts distinguished research fellow at the foreign policy research institute. He's also a senior fellow at the center for cyber and homeland security at."