Think about this. As the New York Times reports today, Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney actually warned Kirstjen Nielsen not to bring up Russian efforts to interfere in the 2020 election -- because it was like saying he didn't really win. What a delicate little baby this guy is.
"The Times reports Mick Mulvaney made it clear this was not a great subject for the president. It should be kept below his level. Joining us now to talk about this and more, we have Charlie Dent, a CNN political commentator. great to have you here.
"Look, we knew before this that the president is not a fan of dealing with Russia and their attempts to influence the upcoming election. He doesn't like talking about what happened in the last election or dealing with the upcoming election. We didn't know how much the chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was shutting down Secretary Nielsen. She was tasked with how to fix this and we didn't know just how bad it was -- she was being shut down.
"In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign, she tried to focus the White House on one of her highest priorities, preparing for new and different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election. But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear Mr. Trump equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of the victory. Mick Mulvaney said 'it wasn't a great subject and should be kept below his level.' What does this mean when you hear it?" Camerota asked.
"It's incomprehensible the chief of staff would keep the information away from the president. If election interference from a hostile foreign power doesn't warrant the attention of the president, I don't know what does," Dent said.
"Kirstjen Nielsen spent her time working on cyber issues. I'm flummoxed as to why the administration would want to minimize Russian interference. The president should be talking about preventing this and sending a signal to the Russians that there would be retribution and retaliation. We're better at this stuff than they are. Those guys over at Fort Meade, the NSA can flick the lights in Russia, do all sorts of things to back the guys off. I don't know what they're afraid of," Dent said.
"I can tell you. We know from the reporting that the president thinks any suggestion that he had help from the Russians and the Russians preferred him --though Vladimir Putin said it in front of him, threatens the legitimacy of the win," Camerota said, calling it a "third rail" for him.
"He won't touch it. He won't deal with it. What we didn't know was that the people around him were trying to do things and have been stymied.
"It speaks to a culture of fear in the White House. It seems to me they are afraid to confront the president with this type of information. They know they should do it, they're simply afraid. Back to the title of Bob Woodward's book 'Fear.' The place is operating on fear. In a functional White House, the president of the United States ordinarily would want to know what the major threats are to the country and then develop a plan to counter them. Again, it speaks to the chaos, dysfunction, and in this case, fear to do what needs to be done."