Did President Trump bungle the moment in Helsinki by casting doubt on American intelligence findings that Russian agents “meddled” in the 2016 election? His critics, including some Republicans, say so – and on Tuesday, Trump said he had misspoken when he expressed doubt about Russian culpability – but several things need to be kept in mind.
The first is that Russia and the United States have been meddling with, or spying on, each other for decades. That is hardly a secret. Second, according to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, no votes were altered and the election outcome was not affected by the alleged meddling. Third, the fealty most Democrats and some Republicans are showing for the credibility of U.S. intelligence today was lacking after it was discovered that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction.
Every intelligence agency in the U.S. and Britain swore – some under oath – that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. It was the rationale President George W. Bush used to invade Iraq, topple Saddam and install a government more to his liking.
Some older history might serve to prove that U.S. intelligence findings are not always accurate, or worth taking at immediate face value.