Speaking today at the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D – MA) asked Defense Secretary James Mattis to reveal no classified information, but to assume that last week’s report in CNN that Russia had used “fake news” to start the controversy was true, and to elaborate on their motives for that.
Mattis appeared only too eager to make that assumption, as requested, insisting that the he believed this reflected Russia’s “shortsighted way” of thinking, and that they want to disrupt all alliances across the planet, not just alliances involving the US, or even just alliances related directly to Europe.
The narrative blaming Russia for the Qatar split does not have any evidence to substantiate it, and Sen. Warren went out of her way to ensure none might be revealed today. It is worth pointing out, however, that President Trump personally took credit for the split himself when it first happened, crediting it to his visit to Saudi Arabia just days prior.
Rather, it originates from Qatari state media having quoted the Qatari Emir saying something the Saudis didn’t like, and subsequently attributing the quote to “hackers.” US media outlets saw the word hackers, and naturally assumed Russia, and it appears that as with everything, this has quickly become something everyone is willing to assume is the case.
Mattis went on in the course of his testimony to insist he’s seen “no indication” that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to have a positive relationship with the United States, apparently taking no note of the several times when Putin literally said that around the 2016 election, and was openly courting diplomatic normalization with the US. Rather, Mattis insists Putin has “chosen to be competitive.”
The Senate is said to be moving forward on a new round of sanctions against Russia, and some legislation to prevent the Trump Administration from easing the sanctions in any way. There appears to be little interest in gathering actual evidence against Russia to justify this move, and rather seem confident that they can just keep everyone assuming allegations in the media are true.