Aki Peritz

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Politics is a fluid business but never have more Americans learned to swim in unfamiliar waters than over the last year when, for instance, evangelicals accommodated their faith to the white-supremacist stylings of a debauched casino dealer and serial groom.

Sean Hannity likewise had an opportunistic apostasy. Judging by his past remarks about Bill Clinton, the Fox opinion-giver hated accused sexual predators until, that is, he met Donald Trump and Julian Assange, and now it is love sweet love.

Hannity, who previously called for Assange’s arrest, just interviewed the leaker, who’s become a darling of the far-right wing of the GOP, currently the overwhelmingly dominant faction. That he conducted the conversation in support of a President-Elect who trashed our POWs and encouraged Russia to hack our campaign is the U.S.A. reaching a degree of next-level nuttiness. 

Trump has only doubled down on his Putin-pumping comments since the election, trashing the D.C. intelligence community and discouraging hearings on the Kremlin’s machinations in regard to our democracy. Someone with a degree of sense must have cornered him, as the soon-to-be Commander-in-Chief has backed off his troubling statements for the moment, but his stance is established, the damage done and the future clear: The President-Elect will continue to attack truth and facts of all kind because nihilism, not clarity, favors him.

The opening of a well-written Politico piece by former CIA analyst Aki Peritz:

We are through the looking glass now.

The next president of the United States is siding with Julian Assange, a man who wears his anti-Americanism proudly and acts like the textbook definition of a Russian asset, over the U.S. intelligence community – thousands of smart, patriotic people who work long hours for middling pay, some risking their lives to keep the rest of us safe.

I was once one of them, and I can only imagine how my former colleagues are feeling now. Never in our history has a U.S. president openly chosen to trust the word of a foreign adversary ahead of his own analysts.

Never, that is, until Donald Trump—who last night began a series of astonishing tweets expressing skepticism about U.S. intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia had hacked into Democratic Party institutions.

“The ‘Intelligence’ briefing on so-called ‘Russian hacking’ was delayed until Friday,” Trump began, “perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!” He followed up this morning with some positive vibes about Fox News’ Sean Hannity puff interview with Assange, including this gem: “Julian Assange said ‘a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta’ – why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!”

And he’s gotten support or silence from far too many Republican members of Congress, including New York Rep. Peter King, who suggested last month that “some rogue person behind a desk somewhere” had leaked the CIA’s conclusions to influence the Electoral College.

As Trump himself might say, something’s going on here.•

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