"Corn and Ponnuru on Russia probe indictments, Florida school shooting" PBS NewsHour 2/16/2018
SUMMARY: Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn and National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including criminal charges against Russian operatives for interfering in the election, the politics of gun control after another mass shooting at an American school and a standstill in Congress’ work to pass immigration reform and DACA protections.
Judy Woodruff (NewsHour): And that brings us today to the analysis of Corn and Ponnuru. That is David Corn, Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” and an analyst for MSNBC, and Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor at “The National Review” and a columnist for Bloomberg View.
Both Mark Shields and David Brooks are away this week.
And we thank you both for being here.
So, I am going to ask you in just a moment, Ramesh, about Ronan Farrow’s reporting.
But I want to start with our lead tonight, and that is this extraordinary set of documents that have come out from the special counsel, Robert Mueller, indicting 13 Russian operatives, individuals, in a systematic effort to overturn or to affect the outcome of the election in 2016.
What do you make of it?
Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review: Well, I think that one of the things that gets ignored is just how much a surprise this was.
This didn’t leak beforehand, which I think is an impressive thing, since so many things do leak in Washington, D.C. It shows you that Robert Mueller is running a very tight ship and he knows things that the press doesn’t know. He knows things that the people that he’s investigating don’t know that he knows.
And that’s something that we all have to keep in mind as we follow the twists and turns of this story.
Judy Woodruff: Where do you — do you think, David Corn, that we are now — that there is any doubt in people’s mind that the Russians were doing everything they could to affect the outcome?
David Corn, Mother Jones: I think in Donald Trump’s mind and in his die-hard champions’.
I mean, people forgot Robert Mueller’s instruction, his task, is not just to investigate associations between Trump people and Russians, but to find out exactly what happened during the campaign in terms of what the Russians did.
They had three aspects to it. One was what we learned about today, the social media thing. The other was the hacking and the dumping, you remember, putting out the e-mails from the DNC and John Podesta.
And the third was probing state election systems to see what they could do. They didn’t do anything on Election Day, but that worried people a lot.
And all these things are crimes. So when Donald Trump, for the last year-and-a-half, says there is nothing to this, he’s helping Putin actually cover up criminal activity.
Judy Woodruff: Well, and he’s saying, again, as we reported, Ramesh, no collusion, you know, more evidence, no collusion.
And yet is the White House paying enough attention to the facts on the ground about Russian interference in the election?
Ramesh Ponnuru: Well, these indictments may not prove collusion, but they’re also not evidence against collusion. They’re just about a different aspect of these Russian operations.
One thing that we have not seen from President Trump is any degree of urgency or concern expressed about these Russian efforts. He seems to regard all of the talk of that as an attempt to delegitimize his election, and to reject all of it as a result.
Judy Woodruff: And that’s understandable, isn’t it?
David Corn: Well, no.
David Corn: His number one job is to protect…
Judy Woodruff: For the sake of argument.
David Corn: … is to protect the country. That’s what he is, as commander in chief.
And this very week, the intelligence chiefs appeared before Congress, and they all said (yet again) that the Russian effort, which was to help him, succeeded in 2016, and they expect the Russians to do it again in the midterm elections.
So this is a pressing national security threat that Donald Trump, as Ramesh says, doesn’t seem to even acknowledge, let alone do anything about.
Reminder: In 'Trump World' it is ALWAYS about Trump and nothing else.