During a CNN panel discussion, national security expert Juliette Kayyem explained that all of the facts investigators have had for months also passed through the hands of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). Still, Nunes continued to develop conspiracy theories around the Russia investigation that he knew were false.
Republican commentator Jim Schultz explained away Trump’s turn back to agree with Russian President Vladimir Putin as “conflating” Russian meddling with hacking the election in his favor. But Kayyem said that Trump doesn’t get to be “confused” over a year into his presidency.
“A 5-year-old can figure out the distinction,” she continued. “I think people like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jim are trying to support and respect the law enforcement and intelligence agencies for what they found and also rightfully defend America’s democratic system in the election in 2018, but there is no reason now to believe that the president is confused. This is purposeful.”
She went on to explain that everyone should know that it is purposeful because the evidence continues to get more and more damning. She noted that from the evidence publicly available, there is not yet proof of conspiracy, “but every piece of evidence since this administration started is heading in that direction.” At this point, she said that it’s far too late for Trump to plea ignorance.
“Or maybe sensitivity,” proposed CNN host Ana Cabrara. “If the president is too sensitive to separate collusion and meddling, is our safety at risk, Juliette?”
“Yeah, I think it is,” Kayyem confessed. “I want to focus for a variety of reasons. One, of course, it’s just really hard at this stage to look at Trump’s behavior towards Putin in Russia and view it in anything but a nefarious light. I don’t think any rational person can look at what is going on — I don’t just mean Russia. I also mean Trump undermining the EU and NATO and others. There’s no reason, except for, I think, a bad one, for the president to lean so clearly towards Putin.”
From a homeland security perspective, Kayyem said that the 2018 election is a heartbeat away and the president doesn’t see the vulnerabilities, according to the Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
When it came to the release of the FISA application to monitor Carter Page, Kayyem wanted to reinforce what “a big deal” it was for the FBI to release the over 400 pages.
“Devin Nunes has tried to create a story that suggested this was all based on the dossier and the FISA application,” she recalled. “He knew that was not true when he made the statements. And when the House Intelligence Committee came out with the report, that to me is — that is on Paul Ryan at this stage. If Paul Ryan could have gotten rid of Devin Nunes as a head of a House Intelligence Committee, a committee that wants, in my world, you know, the fact that House Intel Committee is like this, is just shocking. You have never seen anything like this, and I think there is going to be political consequences.”
Watch her full take below: