Every week, I offer a glimpse of the kind of intelligence assessments that are likely to come across the desk of the President of the United States. Modeled on the President’s Daily Briefing, or PDB, which the director of national intelligence prepares for the President almost daily, my Presidential Weekly Briefing focuses on the topics and issues the President needs to know to make informed decisions.
Here’s this week’s briefing:
A Russian win, any way you cut it
Lawyer, informant, consultant — or something else — Natalia Veselnitskaya and her admission of ties to the Russian government grabbed headlines. But whatever the nature of her relationship with the Kremlin is, the real focus shouldn’t be on Veselnitskaya, but rather on Vladimir Putin.
Even if (and it’s a big if) Putin didn’t sanction Veselnitskya’s outreach to the Trump campaign or her recent TV interview with NBC News, he’s undoubtedly benefiting from the confusion and chaos she’s creating.
Putin’s no PR novice, and has long been using all tools in his toolkit to make the United States look weaker.
Earlier this year, the director of national intelligence said publicly that, even after the 2016 election, Russia has continued to use social media, propaganda and “other means of influence” to “exacerbate social and political fissures.” This is why the Russians use their bot and troll armies to spread extreme views on all sides of the political and social spectrum — from Parkland propaganda to fake news about the Syria strikes.