Former US Homeland Security chief: 'Trump talks about winning -- right now, Putin is winning'

Tom ridgeMark Wilson/Getty ImagesFormer Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge speaks during a discussion focusing on the upcoming 15th anniversary of the 911 attacks, at the Ronald Reagan Building, September 8, 2016 in Washington, DC.

Former Bush Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge said the rhetoric surrounding the investigation into Russia’s election meddling is playing right into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“President Trump talks about winning? Right now, Putin is winning,” Ridge said in an interview with The Hill published Thursday.

Ridge said that partisan squabbling in Congress has turned the investigation into a distraction — a dream scenario for a leader like Putin, who he said thrives on “destabilization.”

“Let’s create chaos, let’s create uncertainty, let’s destabilize the political environment. [The Russians] have done a wonderful job. If that was their goal, they have done it,” Ridge said.

Amidst the chaos, he argued, US lawmakers have lost sight of key domestic issues.

“We see evidence every day. Instead of focusing in on the actor, we’re pointing accusatory fingers at each other about politics. We are the victim of this process to delegitimize our self-governance, Ridge said.

“This accusatory finger pointing has been a major distraction to other important issues — we’ve got a Supreme Court nominee. We’ve got a health care bill. There are conversations about tax reform. But look what we are talking about all of the time?”

Ridge, a former Republican Congressman and Pennsylvania governor, served as the first Secretary of Homeland Security after the department was formed under President George W. Bush. He now leads the cybersecurity firm Ridge Global.

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