Gov. Scott Walker on Monday compared possible Russian influence to help Donald Trump win the presidential election to a Scottish leader endorsing Hillary Clinton.
“I don’t think we want any foreign government trying to influence our election,” Walker told reporters during a briefing about his trip to the Middle East last week.
Walker was responding to a recent Washington Post report that a senior CIA official said there was a consensus in the U.S. intelligence community that individuals with connections to the Russian government gave hacked documents from the Democratic National Committee to WikiLeaks to help Trump win.
“Conversely you had the leader of Scotland endorsing Hillary Clinton, and I don’t think leaders from other countries one way or the other, whether it’s for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or any other candidate — I think it’s best left to Americans to make those decisions,” Walker said.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon broke with international protocol when she wrote days before the election that she hoped Clinton would win. Trump is projected to win 306 Electoral College votes compared to Clinton’s 232.
Trump has criticized the suggestion of Russian influence in the U.S. election.
Jenni Dye, research director for liberal group One Wisconsin Now, called Walker’s comparing the two scenarios “simply jaw-dropping.”
“Declaring one of these actions was not dramatically more serious than the other is either incredibly naive or the most disturbing example yet of Gov. Walker’s blind partisanship,” Dye said.
Walker also voiced support for keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan, noting the number of troops still stationed in Germany decades after World War II. He noted that the 8,400 troops expected to remain after President Barack Obama leaves office is higher than the 5,500 Obama said would remain in October. Obama, who won election amid widespread opposition to the Iraq War and on promises of ending the war in Afghanistan, had talked about reducing U.S. presence to only an embassy.
Walker said those he talked to in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan were encouraged by Trump’s pick of Gen. James Mattis for defense secretary, because it signaled that he would be making decisions based on military needs and not politics.
“One of the observations you get by being over there is you realize more troops doesn’t necessarily mean more people in danger, in fact in some ways it might mean the opposite,” Walker said. “If you want to minimize the risk, having a higher force capacity is actually a better thing.”
Walker said the benefit of his trip to several Air Force bases and hospitals was building morale among Wisconsin National Guard and Reserve troops and showing that the people who represent them “are willing to come and see them and understand what they’re going through.”
He said it also gave him a greater appreciation of how Wisconsin’s servicemen and servicewomen are integrated into the U.S. foreign deployment.