Newly-minted Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer went on television last night to tell President-elect Donald Trump to quit the “really dumb” tweeting about his boundless affection for his “little friend Putin” and his infinite contempt for the intelligence community for discovering Russia’s interference with the election on his behalf.
In his first interview since he officially became the most powerful Democrat in Republican-occupied Washington, Schumer blasted Trump’s selection of Marc Short, a key adviser to Vice President-elect Mike Pence and a former operative for billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch to serve as legislative affairs director. He said the choice is yet another indication that Trump “has been totally captured by the hard right” since his election, in contrast with his campaign attacks against the Democratic and Republican establishments.
Schumer blamed this turn on Trump’s detachment from his responsibility—asserting the president-elect, who spent weeks refusing routine intelligence briefings, just “sits back and tweets things” and that the country cannot “afford a Twitter presidency.”
“I said, for instance, he can tweet about his little friend Putin but if he doesn’t get the intelligence briefings, how is he going to know the bad things Putin are doing?” Schumer said on MSNBC, referencing Trump’s frequent expressions of admiration for Putin. “And you know, you can tweet about saving 800 jobs in Carrier, I’m glad he saved them. What about the 1,300 that are going to Mexico, the 500 down the road…and the thousands every week that we lose? You can’t tweet a policy.”
Indeed, he believes that these habits could “make [Trump] a failure.” On the other hand, Schumer admitted he was personally “distraught right after the election,” but now feels reinvigorated by “our ability to succeed in this challenge.”
“So the combination of the hard right running the show—even though Trump didn’t campaign as a hard right guy, he campaigned as this populist, sometimes with very bad and racist and bigoted overtones—and then him just out there tweeting,” Schumer said. “It’s not gonna work, and we have an opportunity as the Chinese say, danger is opportunity.”
President Barack Obama recently hit Russia with sanctions and expulsions due to its interference in the presidential election. The U.S. government determined that it was Kremlin agents who hacked the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and shared compromising correspondence with the site Wikileaks.
Trump alleged on Twitter yesterday—without evidence—that intelligence officials had delayed a briefing on the Russian hacking, possibly because they needed more time to come up with proof. Authorities said no meeting was planned for Tuesday and that the meeting was always scheduled for Friday.
Schumer—who himself had pushed for a Congressional commission into Russian election interference—said has been told leaders in the Central Intelligence Agency are “very upset with how he has treated them and talked about them.” He noted that without the intelligence community, the country would not have known about the Russian hacking.
“You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday of getting back at you,” Schumer said, taking a jab at Trump’s business acumen. “So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”
Asked whether Trump has an agenda to attempt to dismantle the intelligence community, he said that politicians across the political aisle would likely be opposed to such a move.
“Whether you’re a super liberal Democrat or a very conservative Republican, you should be against dismantling the intelligence community,” Schumer said.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.