Thursday, March 02, 2017
Drip, Drip, Drip
Donald Trump regularly boasts that he's the product of an Ivy League education. Very, very smart. He knows all the best words. There's a story about how DJT was allowed to transfer into Wharton but that's for another day.
Whether he was Ivy League material or not, you might have thought that Trump would have learned a bit about his own government and its history, especially the stuff about perhaps its greatest president, Abraham Lincoln.
Abe actually had a priceless bit of advice for Donald when he said, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."
Trump is demonstrably good at fooling people. Ask his creditors, especially the tradesmen he stiffed on his development projects. The American voters, they were pushovers to a guy like the Great Orange Bloat.
Trump's problem is time. He operates on quick, in and out deals. Only not this time, not the Russia business. He's going to have to carry that millstone around his neck for a good long time and it's just going to keep getting heavier and heavier.
Think of it as the Obama administration's inauguration gift to Donald Trump. Not Obama personally but "senior officials" in the former administration. Joe, what in hell have you been up to?
In the closing months of the Obama administration, a wave of intelligence and analyses poured in detailing the close involvement of the Trump campaign with top Russian officials. There was also intelligence about extensive business dealings of Trump senior officials, Paul Manafort, Rex Tillerson, Wilbur Ross, with Vlad Putin and various oligarchs, suggestions of dirty money, rubles, laundered into US dollars and buried in curious real estate deals in America. There was intelligence from American agencies, intelligence from Britain, intelligence from Germany.
They didn't trust Donald Trump to investigate himself and his closest aides and the Obama team didn't have time to do it before they left office. They faced the prospect that the Trump team might bury the intelligence, make it disappear. They weren't about to let that happen.
And so they gave the stuff the lowest security classification they could which meant the greatest possible number of government officials could be given copies of the intelligence. They "seeded" the federal bureaucracy with the information.
Trump doesn't know, even his top officials don't know just who has the intelligence. The genie is out of the bottle. It's no wonder Trump has been raging about government leaks, especially from the intelligence/security agencies including the FBI. He's under investigation and he knows it. Now if Trump and his besties were clean they would probably want this all out in the open so they could get out from under this cloud just as fast as possible. Only that's the last thing they seem to want. Where there's smoke, there's fire.
The first aide to spontaneously combust was ex-general and conspiracy theorist, Mike Flynn, toppled from his perch as national security agency chief in less than a month. Drip.
Now, before Flynn's chair is even cold, it's Jeff Sessions' turn. Sessions is an order of magnitude different than Flynn. He's an old hand, a pro. After a stint in the state government in Alabama, Sessions logged twenty years in the Senate. And now he's trapped, having given sworn evidence at his confirmation hearing that he had no involvement with the Russians during the Trump campaign even though he met twice with the Russian ambassador, once in a closed door meeting in his Senate office.
Flynn out, Sessions gored, possibly fatally. Drip, drip.
How did the Washington Post learn of Sessions' dalliances with the Russian ambassador? Best guess is that was a leak and it probably came from the intelligence documents spread wide and far by Obama officials.
Trump was getting out from under the Flynn fiasco but Sessions has really put the millstone around Donald's neck. It's the weight he's going to have to carry and it could get a lot heavier as this investigation continues.
Sessions was the exception to the Trump team. There's not a lot of political depth in the Trump White House, especially not when it comes to federal politics. Mike Pence had a dozen years in the House before he went home to Indiana to serve as governor. As for the rest, Trump included, there's little to no "hands on" government experience.
The Trump junta (there are a curious number of generals) is slowly turning toxic. Recruiting A-list talent is getting ever tougher. When Trump had to fill the Flynn vacancy his first two choices, retired Navy admiral, Harward, and controversial former Army commander, Petraeus, both turned him down. The guy who did take the job (he was still on active duty, pretty hard to say "no"), general H.R. McMaster has moved to sanitize the National Security Council, removing Flynn's operative inside the agency.
This is giving Congressional Republicans a coronary. With their hold on the House and the Senate at stake in the mid-term elections, they're as vulnerable to leaks as the White House. They can't thwart a full investigation into the Russia scandal. They've also got a powerful faction of senior Republicans who are willing to offer Trump no quarter, none.
Drip, drip, drip.
The Sessions leak shows how powerful this information might be and how vulnerable it leaves both the White House and Congress.