Trump has not ordered disruption of Russia election meddling: NSA chief Adm. Rogers

The president and his spokesperson insisted last week that “the facts” proved he had been tougher on Russia than his predecessor, Barack Obama, but experts say the facts show otherwise, pointing, among other things, to the fact that Trump is yet to implement to sanctions which Congress overwhelmingly passed last August to punish Russia for its 2016 meddling. The deadline for imposing the sanctions was 29 January, but the administration has failed to implement them, and the president and his secretary of the treasury refuse to say whether and when the sanctions will be imposed.

Administration’s officials also say that Russia has been warned in private about meddling in the 2018 midterms.

RFE/RL reports that Adm. Rogers, however, told lawmakers that the Russians “haven’t paid a price, at least, that has significantly changed their behavior.”

Rogers specifically referred to Trump’s decision in January to delay the implementation of new sanctions against Russia that Congress passed on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis last year.

Rogers told Congress that he thought a more aggressive response is needed, but that he didn’t want to tell the president what to do.

“I believe that President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion there’s little price to pay here, and that therefore I can continue this activity,” Rogers said.

“Everything, both as the director of NSA and what I see on the cyber command side, leads me to believe that if we don’t change the dynamic here, this is going to continue and 2016 won’t be viewed as something isolated.

“This is something that will be sustained over time.”

“We’re watching them intrude in our elections, spread misinformation, become more sophisticated…and we’re just, essentially, just sitting back and waiting,” said Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island), the ranking Democrat on the committee.

Rogers said he did not fully agree with the characterization that the United States was just sitting back and waiting. But he said, “It’s probably fair to say that we have not opted to engage in some of the same behaviors that we are seeing” from Russia.

Rogers said he didn’t have the day-to-day authority to try to deter Russian activities at their source. He said that authority was held by Trump and Mattis. “There are some things I have the authority to do and I’m acting on that authority,” he said.

Trump’s refusal to order that meaningful actions against Russia be taken is at odds with the assessment of all top U.S. intelligence officials, who told lawmakers two weeks ago that Moscow was seeking to disrupt the 2018 midterm elections.

Dan Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana and now director of national intelligence, has told lawmakers that he expects Russia to again spread disinformation and use social media to disseminate fake news, “to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States.”

Mike Pompeo, former Republican Congressman from Kansas and now CIA director, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the CIA has already “seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle here.”

Congress last August passed sanctions legislation to punish Russia for its meddling in the 2016 election and its actions in Ukraine. Some of the sanctions Congress voted for were new, but some were already in place, imposed by Obama’s executive orders. Members of Congress were worried that Trump would use his power to end those sanctions, so, in addition to voting for new sanctions, they also made Obama’s executive-order-sanctions into congressional acts, making it impossible for Trump to end them unilaterally.

The Trump administration initially objected to both the new sanctions and to the change in the character of the Obama sanctions, and then tried to weaken the legislation, but overwhelming majorities in both houses rejected the president’s pleas, forcing him to sign the measures into law.