Jake Tapper at CNN has the exclusive:
White House officials rebuffed efforts by their colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security for more than a year to make combating domestic terror threats, such as those from white supremacists, a greater priority as specifically spelled out in the National Counterterrorism Strategy, current and former senior administration officials as well as other sources close to the Trump administration tell CNN.
“Homeland Security officials battled the White House for more than a year to get them to focus more on domestic terrorism,” one senior source close to the Trump administration tells CNN. “The White House wanted to focus only on the jihadist threat which, while serious, ignored the reality that racial supremacist violence was rising fast here at home. They had major ideological blinders on.”
The National Counterterrorism Strategy, issued last fall, states that “Radical Islamist terrorists remain the primary transnational terrorist threat to the United States and its vital national interests,” which few experts dispute. What seems glaring to these officials is the minimizing of the threat of domestic terrorism, which they say was on their radar as a growing problem.
The former senior administration official noted Monday’s remarks following the El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, shootings were read from a teleprompter. “You don’t hear the President mention white supremacists when he’s speaking extemporaneously.”
The senior source close to the Trump administration acknowledged the President’s reluctance to criticize white supremacists was part of “an overlay” of all these discussions.
“You know it will trigger the boss,” the source said. “Instinctively you know he’s going to be averse to mentioning that.”
But, the official said, “primarily the people with their pen on the document,” were motivated by something else. “The last administration was too politically cautious in calling out the threat of Islamist terrorism,” the official said. “But that doesn’t mean we needed to overcorrect and ignore what was a surging domestic threat.”
The sources tell CNN that the one paragraph about domestic terrorism was the best the Department of Homeland Security officials could get. DHS went with an “all forms of terror” approach and “restructured offices and experts to be ideologically agnostic but focused on the threat wherever it morphed,” said the senior source involved in the discussions. “When it became clear the White House was going to say little if anything on domestic terrorism we asked that they at least say in the Counterterrorism Strategy that there would be a subsequent domestic terrorism strategy.”
But the White House would not agree to that, either, sources tell CNN.
During the lengthy back and forth, the senior source tells CNN, one White House official proposed that the National Counterterrorism Strategy focus radical Islamists and foreign drug dealers, since that would please the President.
“But those things don’t go together,” the source recalled. “That was part of the warped worldview they had there.”
The head of #DHS says he needs to triple the staff in charge of identifying and stopping domestic terrorists. Trump CUT FUNDING to investigate and stop domestic terrorists who seek to massacre Americans on US soil.— The Real Susan Pai (@susanpai3) August 8, 2019
Once again, the Trumpsters place more value on the world as they think it is, rather than the facts of the world as they are. You can’t correct problems if you deny that they exist.