It is an article of NeverTrump and Resistance faith that President Trump made a fatal mistake by picking a fight with the intelligence services and FBI, who would retaliate with a tsunami of leaks and investigations that wash the Trump presidency away. Their work to date hasn’t been very impressive. The leakers have done at least as much damage to America’s national interests as they have to Donald Trump.
We know where we can go to vote against Trump and his party in 2018 and 2020 if we are unhappy with their work. But tell us: where do we go to vote against the leakers, if we don’t approve of their methods or agenda? When will the Deep State, or the Leak State if you prefer, appear on the ballot?
“Sources: Russians Discussed Potentially ‘Derogatory’ Information About Trump and Associates During Campaign” shrieked the headline of CNN’s latest leak-based “bombshell” report. Trump critics went nuts over this ironclad confirmation that Russian puppet masters have “kompromat” dirt they could use to manipulate the American president.
Somehow these espionage experts missed the third paragraph of the article, in which CNN admits the whole thing is a fantasy, probably delivered to them by the same chummy “sources” from the Obama administration that peddled the last fifty or so phony stories:
Russian government officials discussed having potentially “derogatory” information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence during the 2016 election, according to two former intelligence officials and a congressional source.
One source described the information as financial in nature and said the discussion centered on whether the Russians had leverage over Trump’s inner circle. The source said the intercepted communications suggested to US intelligence that Russians believed “they had the ability to influence the administration through the derogatory information.”
But the sources, privy to the descriptions of the communications written by US intelligence, cautioned the Russian claims to one another “could have been exaggerated or even made up” as part of a disinformation campaign that the Russians did during the election.
In other words, the people pushing this story are the puppets helping Russia achieve its objective of destabilizing American politics. There are good reasons to avoid leaking partial details from incomplete investigations. It’s funny that so many people who are convinced Russia can play Trump like a fiddle are also willing to believe what Russian operatives say, provided it sounds bad for Trump.
One of the “sources” for CNN’s story speculates that the Russians caught in these communications intercepts might have been “overstating their belief to influence.” Another explanation is that they suspected they might be intercepted, so they made wild boasts that could shake up American politics if they were leaked. Mission accomplished!
A previous 72-hour media freak-out concerned President Trump supposedly divulging classified information to the Russians, in the course of warning them about an ISIS plot to blow up airplanes with laptop bombs. The public still doesn’t know exactly what Trump said to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which is the nature of sensitive conversations. But we do know the leakers divulged all kinds of sensitive information to the entire world, damaging our international relationships.
The leakers took it upon themselves to judge Trump’s Oval Office conversation with Lavrov unacceptable, sparking up a media firestorm that left some of America’s allies muttering about their reluctance to share intel with the United States in the future. Trump didn’t cause that — the Leak State did.
Maybe Trump said something to the Russians that they might potentially have used to compromise American intelligence-gathering or damage America’s relationship with other Western nations. Maybe not. We’ll never know. Before the Russians could decide what to do with whatever Trump said in the Oval Office, the leakers set off a media bomb and blamed all of the fallout on Trump.
Maybe the unnamed sources were right, and Trump screwed up, but the mistake he’s accused of making seems far less cataclysmic than what the leakers did in their zeal to take advantage of the incident for political gain. We the People cannot make an informed judgment about their motives because, as always, we know absolutely nothing about them.
A similar freak-out occurred when Trump supposedly divulged top-secret information about the location of U.S. nuclear subs off the North Korean coast in a phone call to the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. Major media outlets grimly intoned that this incredible blunder once again called Trump’s ability to handle sensitive information into question.
If you’re having trouble recalling this leak-based “bombshell” from less than two weeks ago, it’s because cooler heads quickly noted that Trump didn’t tell Duterte anything that wasn’t already public knowledge. None of the media outlets that tried to whip up impeachment frenzy with another story about Trump mishandling sensitive intelligence apologized to readers for misleading them or explained why they were so easily manipulated by agenda-driven leakers when ten minutes of Google research would have convinced any reasonably competent editor that SubGate was a non-story.
The media claims it was able to find anonymous sources within the defense community who were shocked by Trump’s conversation with Duterte. Will voters be told who those people were, so we can judge their competence? If we decide they are incompetent, how do we go about removing them from their positions?
We’re supposed to be in a perpetual state of outrage over Russian efforts to manipulate the American political process in 2016. “Resistance” types have been conned into thinking Russia actually hacked voting machines or used similar dark arts to steal victory from Hillary Clinton – aided and abetted by FBI Director James Comey, who is back to being the Devil again in Democrat eyes, now that his political usefulness to bash Trump has expired.
In truth, as the grand poobahs of the Leak State admit every time they’re put under oath, the actual concern is mostly about Russia using media manipulation to influence the outcome, including such tactics as pushing certain stories with state-controlled media sites and Twitter bots. (Who knew so many voters in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are avid readers of RT.com?) Shouldn’t we be suspicious of Leak Staters using similar media manipulation tactics to undermine the current administration? When do we get a chance to express those concerns to our political elite at the ballot box?
Speaking of Jim Comey, there is no shortage of criticism to level at the Trump White House for how it handled his termination, but there’s no actual crime involved in the president firing the FBI Director. It’s the leakers who blew the affair into a media mushroom cloud. The “Resistance” panted about impeachment for days, their hysteria fed by phony leak-based stories about sinister interference with the Justice Department’s Trump-Russia probe and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatening to quit.
Trump might have been wrong to fire Comey, but it was not illegal. Voters who question his judgment know where and when they will get a chance to pass judgment on the president. When and where can we vote against the people who created a brief but intense national crisis around the fiction that President Trump committed an impeachable offense by firing Director Comey?
If the permanent intel bureaucracy is at war with the Trump White House, the war isn’t going terribly well for them. Months of dedicated effort still hasn’t produced any evidence of collusion, as former Director National Intelligence James Clapper admitted for the umpteenth time on Tuesday. Do the American people ever get a say on how long this shadow war should be allowed to continue, deforming domestic politics and damaging international relations every leaky step of the way?
There is nothing wrong with energetic opposition. Disagreement with anything or everything President Trump or congressional Republicans do is fair enough. Legitimate political conflict is fair game too, although it’s understandably hard for voters to swallow when the representatives and president they voted for can’t get anything through Congress.
There is a profound difference between legitimate political conflict and what’s been happening in the first few months of the Trump administration. It has nothing to do with the “checks and balances” built into the American system. Irresponsible leaks that jeopardize our national interests aren’t “checks.” Phony stories cooked up by anonymous officials with axes to grind, served up the American people by media organizations that no longer care about their credibility, are not “balances.” Politically motivated leaks to the press have no role in legit investigations.
Where do we go to vote these dangerous, irresponsible leakers out of office? Will their names ever appear on a ballot somewhere? Will the American people ever be told anything about the identities and motives of the people who can distort our national conversation with a few emails to their favorite reporters at major media outlets?
If the media-leak complex is all tied to the Democrat Party and the previous administration… well, we did vote against them in the last election. Was all that jazz about celebrating the “peaceful transfer of power” just a theatrical performance for the rubes?
There might be a threat to American democracy afoot, but that threat is coming from the anything-goes opposition, not Trump. If his policies are wrongheaded and his political techniques sloppy, our system of representative democracy is perfectly capable of handling him. For all of the absurd wailing about “authoritarianism,” Trump and his party are looking to get walloped at the polls in 2018 because they couldn’t implement any major policy changes. It’s the “Resistance” that seems determined to break all the rules and make America pay any price to overturn the last election.