Former Attorney General Eric Holder said President Donald Trump’s administration is doing nothing to stop Russians from interfering in the 2018 election cycle, comparing the lack of action on the part of the president to the 9/11 and Pearl Harbor attacks that killed thousands of Americans.
“This country was attacked. It was electronically attacked,” Holder told a crowd gathered at The Washington Post’s D.C. headquarters Tuesday. “It was hacked. The most basic part of who we are as Americans—our electoral system—was attacked. What have we done to prepare ourselves for what will be an inevitable attack in this year, 2020 and off-year elections in 2019. They (the president and GOP leadership) have done absolutely nothing.”
The Trump administration has been largely derelict in trying to thwart potential Russian interference in the upcoming 2018 election cycle, Holder said. Holder also hit the administration for failing to acknowledge Russian interference and how the president has characterized special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election.
The former attorney general compared what he perceives is a lack of action and leadership on the part of Trump to former Presidents George W. Bush and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s handling of national tragedies.
“There are sanctions this dysfunctional Congress has passed overwhelmingly that this president has made the determination he will not impose. This is absurd. This is a dereliction of duty,” Holder said.”This is Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor saying, ‘Ok. Take it easy, we go this,’ and doing nothing. This is George W. Bush after 9/11 doing nothing. We were attacked. It is responsible, it is incumbent upon both Congress and the people in the executive branch to do something. They have done nothing.”
Holder is likely referencing that both the Bush and Roosevelt administration’s were likely tipped off to the attacks, but did nothing to prevent them from happening.
There is some speculation about whether or not Roosevelt was actually warned. Roosevelt’s Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson wrote in a diary passage that he brought up that there was a chance of a Japanese attack on the U.S., but the passage does not mention Roosevelt or quote him directly, The National Archives notes.
Many point to an August 2001 briefing Bush received as evidence he was aware of a potential attack on the U.S., claiming the president and his administration received briefings about al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden’s intent to attack.
Bush did a lot in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, creating new federal agencies, deploying troops and stepping up the surveillance capabilities of the U.S. government.
The Bush administration created the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), signed the Patriot Act and waged a war on terrorism in the Middle East in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
For his part, Roosevelt passed away before he had to make a decision of whether or not to drop atomic bombs on Japan. Former President Harry Truman made the call, unleashing two atomic bombs on the nation that devastated large swaths of territory and caused generations of Japanese civilians to suffer from birth defects.
Former President Barack Obama’s administration received similar warnings about the possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian agents were trying to interfere with the 2016 election.
The Obama White House received an intelligence report from the CIA in August 2016 that Putin was trying to influence the election. Specifically, the report detailed the possibility that Russians were attempting to hurt former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign while trying to bolster Trump’s candidacy.
Obama’s administration chose not to act publicly because they did not have a consensus opinion among intelligence agencies. The admin also feared Republican backlash and that any public action could look as if the administration was trying to influence the election results.
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