Even by the ever-stretching standards of the president-elect, Donald Trump’s response to the accusations of Russian interference with the election is somewhat puzzling.
On the side that believes Russia is to blame, and ought to be punished, are the White House; the Republican leadership and most of the rank-and-file in both houses of Congress; and the intelligence community. They point to a plausible motive, which is the Kremlin’s hatred of Hillary Clinton, and a plausible precursor, which is the Kremlin’s pattern of interfering with other governments’ elections. Opposing them are Trump, his inner circles of aides, the Kremlin, which denies responsibility, and WikiLeaks, which insists it did not receive the documents from Russia-linked hackers.
While there is some principled skepticism about attributing the hacks to Russia, Trump’s mockery of the intelligence community has not cited specific concerns. And if, as his adviser Kellyanne Conway suggests, Trump is receiving information from other sources, it’s unclear why it would be more credible or accurate than that provided by the intelligence community. Moreover, neither Trump’s record of being either misinformed or simply uninformed about policy matters foreign and domestic, nor his choice of Mike Flynn, who has a penchant for lending credence to unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, as his national security adviser, provide much reason to believe him over the consensus view of the intelligence community.