Donald Trump wants a complete travel ban on Muslim countries, but his administration is happily welcoming spies from the very country that tried to rig our election.
Russia is feeling pretty good about things these days.
In addition to trying to lift sanctions specifically imposed in retribution for Russia’s election meddling, Trump’s State Department is also continuing to grant “temporary duty visas” to Russian intelligence officers.
In other words, spies. Nearly 150 of them, according to current and former intelligence officials, are now in the United States.
That’s quite a generous gift to the country that tried to hijack our election. As CNN reports, Russian spies have increased their efforts since the election, and current and former intelligence officials say it’s likely because Russia feels “emboldened” by both its success during our election and the lack of response.
That Trump continues to defend Russia while trashing his own intelligence agencies probably doesn’t hurt either.
Neither the State Department nor Homeland Security would comment, though DHS offered a statement defending its vetting process for issuing visas:
The visa process involves multiple security checks, including screening of applicants against a wide array of criminal and terrorist databases to verify the individual’s identity and to detect derogatory information that might lead to an inadmissibility determination, as well as an in-person interview with the applicant.
Presumably, this is the same vetting process Trump and his fellow Republicans have repeatedly criticized as insufficient — at least when it comes to considering visas for immigrants and refugees.
In fact, just this week, the State Department issued guidelines that would ban entry for any refugees — a blatant violation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that only partially lifted the stay on Trump’s travel ban.
It’s a disturbing but not surprising reality that Trump believes refugees fleeing war-torn countries should be broadly blocked until his administration can invent its own process of “extreme vetting.” For spies from the very country that interfered in our election — and is intent on doing it again — it seems no such extreme vetting is necessary.
And that is a very disturbing reality indeed.