Saturday, August 18, 2018


Thank you, Crank, Tom, and Yastreblyansky, for great posts while I was away.

I was gone when the John Brennan story broke, and now I see from The Washington Post that the president might revoke some more security clearances:
The White House has drafted documents revoking the security clearances of current and former officials whom President Trump has demanded be punished for criticizing him or playing a role in the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to senior administration officials.

Trump wants to sign “most if not all” of them, said one senior White House official....
When I read about Brennan, I assumed Trump's ultimate goal might be Robert Mueller's team -- a thought that also occurred to Senator Mark Warner a couple of days ago:
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned on Wednesday that President Trump revoking former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance could set a precedent for taking similar action against special counsel Robert Mueller.

"I worry whether this precedence will lead to the president trying to take away Mueller and his whole team's security clearances...," Warner said....
But the Post story says that there's only one currently serving official on Trump's list:
Trump [said] Friday that he intends “very quickly” to strip the clearance of current Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Trump, speaking to reporters as he left the White House to spend the weekend at his New Jersey golf club, called Ohr “a disgrace,” charging that he is tied to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of the Russia matter....

Ohr is the only current official on the White House list of clearances Trump wants to lift. The others are former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.; former CIA director Michael V. Hayden; former FBI director James B. Comey; Obama national security adviser Susan E. Rice; former FBI officials Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok; and former acting attorney general Sally Yates. Several of them have said they no longer have clearances.
I don't know why Trump isn't targeting Mueller in this way. I'm not sure Trump understands that Mueller and his team have security clearances. So he still attacks them on Twitter and in public statements, but he's not using this recently discovered executive power against them.

But Fox has been telling him that the others on the list are evil Deep State creatures who are abusing their security clearances. So he'll target them for clearance revocation.

A true tyrant would conduct a sweeping, massive purge of critics. What Trump is doing is terrible, but he doesn't quite have a real tyrant's broad vision. So he's revoking clearances slowly, and focusing on a list of people Fox has told him shouldn't have those clearances.

Trump would be a more effective tyrant if he weren't so obsessed with TV. Fox generated his target list. He's revoking clearances now, according to the Post, because another enemy is dominating TV:
The senior White House official acknowledged that the step against Brennan had been prepared in late July.... But the decision to take that step was made this week to divert attention from nonstop coverage of a critical book released by fired Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman.
And Trump is revoking the clearances slowly because that's how you'd do it on reality TV -- you'd want to prolong the drama.

No real tyrant would do that. But effective tyranny is bad television. So Trump is a slow-acting tyrant. That's why there's still a Mueller investigation at all.

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