Day 36: Trump’s Fight With Intelligence Community Won’t End Well
As more Donald Trump and Russia ties are bubbling to the surface, the White House is getting increasingly concerned. The White House reached out to the FBI and asked them to dispute a story in The New York Times related to those connections.
The FBI declined that invitation. As CNN noted:
The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.
Even the mere appearance of impropriety is concerning in these types of situations. You may recall the outrage that many Republicans had regarding an Attorney General Loretta Lynch-Bill Clinton happenstance 30 minute conversation on a private airplane while the FBI was looking into Hillary Clinton’s email server. The outrage following an innocuous meeting — again, both parties denied speaking about the investigation — led to Lynch stepping away from the investigation and giving FBI director James Comey autonomy to determine whether charges should be brought.
The White House admitted that conversations between White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe took place. The former called the latter.
This morning, as the phone call news continued to develop, Trump unsurprisingly lashed out at the FBI.
Former NSA agent John Schindler has a prediction.
Schindler also issues a warning about the depth of knowledge known in intelligence circles.
The oldest trick in Trump’s playbook is discrediting something before, during or after they come after you.
Negative polls? Rigged.
Television segment is critical? Totally biased.
Newspaper writes an unflattering piece? Fake news.
The problem for Trump is that you can’t campaign and preside on a borderline police state platform — more border patrol, more checkpoints, The Wall, extreme vetting, stronger police and military, additional use of National Guard — while continuously disparaging the intelligence community. Those positions are fundamentally divergent.
The intelligence community has enough information that they can probably take Trump’s presidency down tomorrow if they so desired. The long-term effects of such an action could serve to implicitly politicize agencies which try to be fervently apolitical. In a vacuum, it’s not an ideal situation, but that’s a discussion for another day.
In terms of groups Donald Trump cannot afford to antagonize, the intelligence community is easily atop the list. While the press will dig and dig into stories, they’re largely limited by what information their sources have or want to share.
Trump improperly attempting to infiltrate and influence the FBI will only lead to more backlash and more leaks.
It’s a fight he cannot win.
36 days in, 1426 to go
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