Several intelligence insiders have come forward over the past few days to describe a “shadow government” of Obama holdovers leaking information to derail the Trump presidency, with National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s resignation their first great success.
There are even allegations that former President Barack Obama himself is actively involved, citing his establishment of a command center in Washington and continuing involvement with activist organizations.
Retired Lt. Colonel Tony Schaffer, formerly a CIA-trained defense intelligence officer, said in a Fox Business appearance on Wednesday: “I put this right at the feet of John Brennan, and Jim Clapper, and I would even go so far as to say the White House was directly involved before they left.” He also mentioned Ben Rhodes:
Schaffer said it was clear that sensitive information that could compromise U.S. intelligence-gathering methods was divulged to the media as part of the campaign to bring down Flynn, by people who had access to beyond Top Secret material. That should narrow the list of suspects considerably.
The Washington Free Beacon quoted “multiple sources in and out of the White House” on Tuesday to describe a “secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump’s national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran.”
Since all news coverage is now driven by leaks of dubious accuracy from anonymous sources seemingly above evaluation, it seems only fair to entertain some insiders who wish to leak on the leakers.
According to the Free Beacon’s sources, the Obama loyalists are highly organized, under the direction of former Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, famed for his ability to sell false narratives about Iran to credulous reporters. His critique of media types as young “know nothings” whose only experience “consists of being around political campaigns” would seem validated by a press corps that eagerly runs with just about anything an anonymous source hostile to Trump feeds them.
Rhodes shoveled a lot of manure to cultivate the Iran nuclear deal, and he is not going to let it go without a fight. According to the Free Beacon’s sources – one of whom is identified as a “veteran foreign policy insider who is close to Flynn and the White House” – Flynn was targeted because he was preparing to “publicize many of the details about the nuclear deal that had been intentionally hidden by the Obama administration as part of its effort to garner support for the deal.”
Another official who purportedly sits on the National Security Council said “the drumbeat of leaks of sensitive material related to General Flynn has been building since he was named to his position,” and his resignation was “not the result of a series of random events.”
“Last night’s resignation was their first major win, but unless the Trump people get serious about cleaning house, it won’t be the last,” warned a third source, suggesting these Obama loyalists are just getting warmed up.
The American people don’t get to vote on shadow governments or Deep State hierarchies, we don’t get to evaluate their credibility, and we don’t get to ask them follow-up questions. A good follow-up question for the Free Beacon’s unnamed sources would be how knocking out Flynn could guarantee the continuing secrecy of the damaging Iran deal information he was intent on divulging. Won’t the next National Security Adviser, or maybe President Trump himself, spill those beans if rolling back the Iran deal is still a presidential priority? Or is Flynn’s demise supposed to intimidate others from messing with the Iran deal?
Appearing on Breitbart News Daily Wednesday morning, retired Lt. General William “Jerry” Boykin said he didn’t think a “coup” from the Deep State was in progress, but he was quite comfortable with the idea of an organized group of Obama holdovers working to undermine the new administration. He suggested the actions that led to President Trump firing Acting Attorney General Sally Yates were part of the “setup.”
Boykin said it was not surprising that officials left over from a prior administration would be “up to no good,” and would work “preserve the legacy of the last president” by making trouble. Like the Washington Free Beacon’s sources, he thought Flynn’s resignation was just the beginning of their efforts unless President Trump weeds them out.
The difference between Boykin’s view of nearly inevitable mischief from holdovers, and the WFB’s more conspiratorial account of an aggressive cell of saboteurs, boils down to organization and scope. It’s the difference between a few relics of the past presidency who will be gone soon, and a persistent shadow government with designs on anything from advancing a few policy preferences to destroying the legitimacy of the new administration.
It’s easy to imagine players in a shadow government sticking together, imagining themselves as brave resistance fighters against the Trump tyranny, which only exists because Russia stole the election from Hillary Clinton. That’s a fantasy that has become absolutely pervasive in left-wing culture today.
Furthermore, these are holdovers from an administration that believed it was on a messianic mission to “fundamentally transform America,” as the former president famously put it. They can easily make common cause with longtime bureaucrats who disdain “populist” crusades against unaccountable Big Government. Very little sinister collusion is necessary when everyone is already on the same page.
Other common theories say the leaks came from career intelligence officials who believe Trump is dangerous and must be undermined to protect national security, or the entrenched bureuacrats of a “Deep State” protecting their turf from Trump’s “Drain the Swamp” agenda. Those theories could be true as well. Rogue intel officers and Deep State warriors would be natural allies for the Obama holdovers.
Paul Sperry at the New York Post takes the shadow government idea even further and suggests Barack Obama himself is still actively running the show, which includes not just whisper campaigns in Washington, but street theater across the nation:
When former President Barack Obama said he was “heartened” by anti-Trump protests, he was sending a message of approval to his troops. Troops? Yes, Obama has an army of agitators — numbering more than 30,000 — who will fight his Republican successor at every turn of his historic presidency. And Obama will command them from a bunker less than two miles from the White House.
In what’s shaping up to be a highly unusual post-presidency, Obama isn’t just staying behind in Washington. He’s working behind the scenes to set up what will effectively be a shadow government to not only protect his threatened legacy, but to sabotage the incoming administration and its popular “America First” agenda.
He’s doing it through a network of leftist nonprofits led by Organizing for Action. Normally you’d expect an organization set up to support a politician and his agenda to close up shop after that candidate leaves office, but not Obama’s OFA. Rather, it’s gearing up for battle, with a growing war chest and more than 250 offices across the country.
Sperry points out that Obama is still very actively involved in OFA, which has piled up $40 million in contributions since it formally ceased to be “Obama for America” in 2013 – and it’s just one of a network of Obama organizations.
It doesn’t take a lot of manpower to keep the Beltway leak machine running. News coverage leading up to Flynn’s resignation referred to anonymous sources dozens of times, but it is likely the same people were leaking to multiple news organizations. We’re probably looking at a fairly small group of highly motivated loyalists with extensive media connections.
Their work is made far easier by active collusion from Big Media, of course. One of the most curious details about the final round of anti-Flynn stories is that much of what they revealed was old news, and the material tucked away deep inside the stories helped Flynn’s cause, no matter what the alarming headlines said.
A few people tried to point this out on social media, but their voices were drowned out by the deafening stampede to destroy Flynn and smear the rest of the Trump administration:
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) February 15, 2017
Why isn't the headline: "Officials Say No Evidence of Cooperation Betw Trump campaign and Russia"- as story states. https://t.co/8WleU06Tig
— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) February 15, 2017
With that kind of help from partisan media, it doesn’t take much of a “conspiracy” to undermine the White House. The media won’t think of it as a conspiracy at all. It’s just people they’ve known for years, fellow travelers they socialize with, slipping them a little juicy gossip about a president they mutually loathe.
The reality of a “shadow government” is much less dramatic than the name would imply – just a handful of people with lots of reporters in their address books, using strategic leaks to twist the dials on the Beltway media pressure cooker. Until the White House can find them and neutralize them, it should be very careful about giving them anything to work with.