CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testified at a hearing Tuesday of the Senate Intelligence Committee. They spoke with authority, command of the facts and precision. They put forth what many Americans know to be true: The Islamic State is not defeated, North Korea isn’t giving up its nukes and Iran is in compliance with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Even as Russia faces a weakening economy, the Kremlin is stepping up its campaign to divide Western political and security institutions and undermine the post-WWII international order. We expect Russia will continue to wage its information war against democracies and to use social media to attempt to divide our societies. Russia’s attack against Ukrainian naval vessels in November is just the latest example of the Kremlin’s willingness to violate international norms to coerce its neighbors and accomplish its goals.
We also expect Russia will use cyber techniques to influence Ukraine’s upcoming Presidential election. The Kremlin has aligned Russia with repressive regimes in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela, and Moscow’s relationship with Beijing is closer than it has been in many decades.
The Kremlin is also stepping up its engagement in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia, using weapons sales, private security firms, and energy deals to advance its global influence.

No happy talk about Russian President Vladimir Putin, no suggestion that we can have a great relationship with the Kremlin. Coats and the others displayed — to the extent they are able, given national security concerns — the shape of the world. It bears little resemble to the world inside President Trump’s head, which explains his multiday tweet rage against these professionals.

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Former acting CIA director John McLaughlin told me during the week that officials really prepare for these hearings. “Every word matters,” he said, not only because the hearings are a way to inform Congress and the American people, but also because our adversaries listen as well.

It’s not just Trump who should be chastened. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo consistently has spewed Trump’s nonsense, be it on the “crisis” on the southern border, the Saudi crown prince’s involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi or “progress” in the North Korea talks. The three officials should cause Pompeo to reflect on whether he is serving the country and improving his reputation or merely cementing his legacy as a Trump lackey.

In speaking truth, showing how professionals see the world and refusing to provide a megaphone for Trump’s lies, we can say to Wray, Coats and Haspel, well done.

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