Marvin Kalb Says Trump’s First 100 Days “Noted for Confusion”

President Trump is closing in his first 100 days in office, and everyone is seeking to assess the early progress of the country’s 45th president. Marvin Kalb, distinguished journalist and current senior fellow at Brookings, believes that “the learning curve has been very dramatically on the upside for this president.”

With the American Health Care Act failing to receive a vote on the House floor and tax plans and infrastructure bills yet to be completed, the president is set to finish this period without any major legislative accomplishments. Kalb is among the opinion that it is too early to judge President Trump, but he believes that the president is coming to realize that governing is much different than running a successful campaign.
“I think that Trump will, with each week and month that passes by, he’s gonna run up against the reality of governing,” Kalb said. “And he’s going to learn that in a campaign you measure success by the number of votes you get. In governing, you can only measure success on the basis of what you have achieved for the American people.”
Kalb, who oversaw “Meet the Press” during the part of the Reagan administration, believes that comparisons to Reagan are unjustifiable. This is due to the fact that Trump has never held elected office before this.
On last week’s “Meet the Press,” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said that he believes the situation in North Korea will prove to be the first “real test” of the Trump presidency. Kalb agrees, and says that the administration is doing a lot of talk regarding North Korea and Syria, but there is not a policy emerging from this.
In his visit to South Korea this week, Vice President Mike Pence said that “the era of strategic patience is over” in North Korea. Kalb sees North Korea and Syria, as well as Russian active measures, to be the most pressing matters facing our country today.
President Trump has been a frequent critic of the media, and for Kalb, someone who has spent the better part of 60 years in news, this is particularly concerning.
“If you want to curtail the freedom of the press, if you want to humiliate the press, if you want to emasculate the press, that may serve your immediate political interests, but you will hurt our democracy, and that is what I worry about,” Kalb said.

Russian Active Measures Go Beyond 2016 Election

Experts in Russia and cybersecurity revealed that deliberate distribution of false news on social media by Kremlin-funded news source RT was part of Russian active measures throughout the 2016 presidential election. Though an investigation by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees is looking into Russia’s interference during this period, active measures go beyond that timeframe.

Fake personas on social media, some operated by bots, were engaged in a major effort to push fake stories to the top of social media trending topics. Clinton Watts, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, said during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday, March 30 that Russian active measures include cybersecurity hacks and were not limited to the 2016 presidential election.

“We have accounts dating back to 2009 that are tied to active measures,” Watts said. “2016 was the push into the U.S. audience landscape to build audience. ”

Russia developed their influence campaigns in 2014 and began combining “hacking and influence together for the first time, specifically during the [Democratic National Committee] breaches,” Watts added.

Russia also hacked emails of former Hillary Clinton aide John Podesta during the 2016 campaign. Watts said he was also a cyber attack target in November 2015.

Robert Orttung, Associate Research Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University, emphasized that the severity of such active measures was heightened due to the current polarization of the American public, particularly during this contentious election season.

While lawmakers from both parties find common ground to further investigate Russian active measures in the recent years, people in Washington D.C. expressed varying degrees of concerns on this issue.