During the final presidential debate, Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump a puppet of Vladmir Putin. Trump's statement in response to a conclusive secret CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the election to help him proves she was right.

We now know with certainty that “Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system.” We now know that one of the very foundations of our democracy was attacked by a hostile foreign power.

Yet Trump refuses to stand up to that hostile foreign power. 

Instead, he hearkens back to the pre-Iraq War debate over weapons of mass destruction:

As Jonathan Chait reminds us:

[T]he overheated claims of imminent danger, and the ticking bomb of a nuclear program, came not from the CIA’s own analysts but from political pressure exerted by Dick Cheney and the Bush administration… Trump’s statement is a replication of that same debacle, substituting his own politicized judgments for the analysis of career staff.

Perhaps if he really had won “one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history” (he did not — not even close), he would not be so defensive. Perhaps if he could have gotten elected without unprecedented interference from a hostile foreign power that wants to see him in office, he would not be so cowardly.

Trump’s ego is so brittle that he will refuse to acknowledge the meddling of a foreign government in our elections if it would simultaneously require him to acknowledge that he may not have won without such interference. In prioritizing his pride over the protection of our democracy, he is spectacularly failing one of the primary responsibilities of the president.

During the final presidential debate in October, Hillary Clinton called out Trump as a “puppet” of Vladimir Putin:

TRUMP: Putin, from everything I see, has no respect for this person.

CLINTON: Well, that’s because he’d rather have a puppet as president of the United States.

TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet!

CLINTON: It is pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyber attacks against the United States of America. That you encouraged espionage against our people. That you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do. And that you continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race. So I think that this is such an unprecedented situation. We’ve never had a foreign government trying to interfere in our election. We have 17, 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber attacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin. And they are designed to influence our election. I find that deeply disturbing.

She was right then. And she is right now.

Only now, Trump is just weeks away from being sworn in as President of the United States.