I may have mentioned on occasion here in the shebeen that one of the most unnerving things about the reign of El Caudillo Del Mar-A-Lago is that it's making me trust the high priesthood of the intelligence community more than my experience tells me is a smart thing to do.
My entire adult life has been spent watching America's spooks screw up in spectacular ways all over the world with millions of innocent people being put at risk. I was born a week after the Shah of Iran slapped into prison Mohammad Mosaddegh, the democratically elected president who'd been deposed by Operation Ajax, a CIA-backed coup that had been dialed up at the request of western oil interests. I watched with grisly fascination the Church committee hearings and read the Pike report. I thought the whole FISA court business was a tepid response to the horrors therein.
But even at my most skeptical, I never believed that a president* of the United States would declassify intelligence material in order to assure the Fox News Channel would have programming options for the next year. Also, of course, as a distraction to help save his own ass.
From The New York Times:
Mr. Trump decided to declassify text messages about the Russia inquiry from a handful of law enforcement officials, summaries of interviews in the case and documents related to the surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide investigated for his links to Russia. For months, Mr. Trump and some of his most fervent congressional supporters have clamored for the material’s release against the protests of the intelligence and law enforcement communities.
The move is all but certain to further deteriorate Mr. Trump’s relationship with law enforcement officials. As part of their monthslong attacks on the Russia investigation, the president and his allies have accused law enforcement officials of improperly obtaining a secret warrant to wiretap the campaign adviser, Carter Page. Little evidence has emerged to back the Republicans’ assertions, and Democrats have accused them in return of politicizing a legitimate inquiry with major national security implications.
Make no mistake. The material being released is cherry-picked in order to keep the rubes riled and to throw sand in the gears of the ongoing investigations. (The release also may be timed to take some of the heat off Brett Kavanaugh, but I think that's a minor consideration. This is about the president*'s chestnuts being in the fire.) It is a release tailored to fit the specifications of the increasingly febrile presidential base. I'm surprised they didn't have Sean Hannity or Alex Jones do the vetting.
Former and current F.B.I. officials have expressed concern that the Republican efforts to out the materials could have long-lasting consequences, making it harder to recruit informants willing to help with investigations who are the lifeblood of law enforcement. But without the president’s backing, the protracted fight over the materials has left the Justice Department and F.B.I. with little recourse to protect the materials from being made public.
Good. The president* is at war with his intelligence and law-enforcement agencies. That always works well for the country as a whole.
Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and one of the president’s most ardent supporters on Capitol Hill, praised Mr. Trump’s decision in a statement and said it came in the face of “unnecessary delays, redactions and refusals.”
“These documents will reveal to the American people some of the systemic corruption and bias that took place at the highest levels of the D.O.J. and F.B.I., including using the tools of our intelligence community for partisan political ends,” Mr. Gaetz said.
See? Congressman Gaetz, who is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, already knows what's in there. He's been inventing the stuff in his head for two years and now he will have The Proof. And, make no mistake. This is a thoroughgoing operation aimed at bringing down the entire Legion Of Supervillains that has been spoon-fed through their radios, their favorite TV news programs, and over the Intertoobz, to various audiences of angry shut-ins since January of 2017.
In addition to parts of the application, Mr. Trump also ordered the director of national intelligence and law enforcement officials to declassify F.B.I. interviews about the case with Bruce G. Ohr, a Justice Department official who has been caught up in Mr. Trump’s attacks on national security officials. Mr. Ohr, a veteran prosecutor who fought Russian organized crime for years, met repeatedly with a British spy who specialized in Russia, Christopher Steele, who compiled a dossier of explosive, unverified claims about Mr. Trump during the 2016 campaign. Mr. Steele was also an F.B.I. informant, but agents ended that relationship in late 2016 because he had spoken to journalists about the work he did for the bureau. Mr. Steele investigated ties between Mr. Trump and Russia for the same research firm, Fusion GPS, where Mr. Ohr’s wife was a contractor.
To be sure, the president* needs the rubes aflame more now than he ever has before. Michael Flynn will be sentenced this week. Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen are doing their Righteous Brothers karaoke act for the special counsel's office. An electoral catastrophe is looming in November, and his Supreme Court nominee, the only real bona fides he has with the Bible-bangers, is in serious trouble. His administration* is in the trash compactor and he knows it. So it's time to feed the loyal fans some Top Secret Stuff about the Deep State that they can chaw over at the cafes and diners in Zitoville, Ohio. It's time to give Hannity some Hot Stuff he can toss around with Sheryl Atkinson, Tomi Lauren, and other veteran gumshoes. And Robert Mueller, with no expression on his face, reaches across his desk for another document.
Respond to this post on the Esquire Politics Facebook page here.
('You Might Also Like',)