Sunday, August 19, 2018

In Plain Sight


Let's be clear here: the revoking of John Brennan's security clearance in and of itself is not going to affect American intelligence's ability to keep the nation safe. Once he left his position, Brennan, like many former intelligence officials, played no vital role in the apparatus of the overall community. Would his expertise have been helpful in the event of another 9/11 attack? Sure, but, seriously, if that's the basis for your argument to keep your security clearance, that's not much of an argument.

No, the real concern here isn't whether John Brennan continues to have access to classified intel; the real concern is that, once more, this president is going after his political opponents by threatening to take away something of value if they don't stop criticizing him. And he's not going to stop with just Brennan. Within the next few days he will likely take away the security clearance of Bruce Ohr, who currently works for the Justice Department, and whose wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS, a consulting firm that was initially hired by a conservative website to do opposition research on Donald Trump on behalf of then GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio; a little known factoid that most conservatives almost always leave out.

If Ohr's clearance is stripped, his job will ostensibly come to an end. And that is the grave threat that should alarm all of us. A president who can silence his critics by depriving them of the tools necessary to do their jobs is a president who can wield power virtually unchecked. Who's to stop Trump from revoking the security clearance of Robert Mueller? Don't think for a moment the thought hasn't crossed that pee brain of his. The closer Mueller gets to him, the more irrational his behavior gets and the more determined he becomes to end this investigation. He has already publicly commented on the Paul Manafort trial by calling it "very sad." This while jury deliberations are ongoing. At this point would it really shock anyone that if Manafort is found guilty Trump ends up granting him a pardon? Frankly, I'd be shocked if he didn't.

John Brennan was correct when he wrote that Trump's claims of no collusion are "hogwash."
Mr. Trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he made the politically motivated decision to revoke my security clearance in an attempt to scare into silence others who might dare to challenge him.
But beyond the specter of being able to purge the intelligence community of people he perceives as threats to him lies an even greater dilemma; one that could seriously imperil the security of the country. When a president refuses to accept the advice of his officials because it contradicts his preconceived notions and assumptions, or, worse, when those officials tell him only the information he wants to hear, it limits their ability to protect the homeland from a would be attack. In short, Trump's desire to shield himself from criminal prosecution could put millions of lives at risk.

What we are witnessing is a corrupt president subverting the rule of law to his own end, and, in the process, obstructing a legitimate investigation charged with probing the conduct of him and his administration. And he is doing it all in plain sight. He is not unlike the owner of a bank, who after being discovered in the vault, has the nerve to say that it was empty, and even if it hadn't been, there was no crime because he was the owner and thus legally entitled to its contents.

Astonishing doesn't quite sum up what's going on here; more like incredulous. The sheer gall of what Trump is doing is unparalleled in American politics. Not even Nixon would've attempted it, and Nixon, it should be pointed out, also went after the media for what he called their "Watergate obsession." That "obsession" eventually forced him to resign his presidency.

Whether Trump will suffer a similar fate remains to be seen. That is why I reiterate my call for Mueller to issue his report as soon as possible, while he is still able to do so. If Trump's malfeasants are apparent to anyone with half a brain, two good eyes and two good ears, then how much more apparent must they be to a trained prosecutor like him.

The longer this drags out, the more Trump and his surrogates can muddy up the waters and turn what should be a fairly easy case to make into no more than a tossup in the court of public opinion. And if that happens, if Trump gets away with this, we are finished as a Republic.

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