Sunday, October 13, 2019


Matt Taibbi has written a long post in which he argues that, oh, sure, President Trump is awful, but not nearly as awful as the U.S. intelligence community, which is the most malign force on the planet and which is attempting to remove Trump by means of a coup. I don't have the strength to rebut this point by point, but I would like to address this:
Four intelligence chiefs in the FBI’s James Comey, the CIA’s John Brennan, the NSA’s Mike Rogers, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, presented an incoming president with a politically disastrous piece of information, in this case a piece of a private opposition research report.

Among other things because the news dropped at the same time Buzzfeed decided to publish the entire “bombshell” Steele dossier, reporters spent that week obsessing not about the mode of the story’s release, but about the “claims.” In particular, audiences were rapt by allegations that Russians were trying to blackmail Trump with evidence of a golden shower party commissioned on a bed once slept upon by Barack Obama himself.

... For the next two years, the “claims” of compromise and a “continuing” Trump-Russian “exchange” hung over the White House like a sword of Damocles....

Imagine if a similar situation had taken place in January of 2009, involving president-elect Barack Obama. Picture a meeting between Obama and the heads of the CIA, NSA, and FBI, along with the DIA, in which the newly-elected president is presented with a report complied by, say, Judicial Watch, accusing him of links to al-Qaeda. Imagine further that they tell Obama they are presenting him with this information to make him aware of a blackmail threat, and to reassure him they won’t give news agencies a “hook” to publish the news.

Now imagine if that news came out on Fox days later. Imagine further that within a year, one of the four officials became a paid Fox contributor. Democrats would lose their minds in this set of circumstances.
There's a simple rebuttal to this: Taibbi hypothetical Judicial Watch dossier would be one big lie, and would be very easily debunked. Barack Obama doesn't have links to al-Qaeda. No intelligence report that would be even remotely credible to anyone outside the Fox/talk radio/GOP cult could possibly demonstrate that Obama has such ties. By contrast, the Steele dossier is full of accurate information -- on Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, on previously unacknowledged contacts between Trump associates and Russians, on efforts to do business in Russia that Trump tried to conceal, and so on. There are incorrect and unproven assertions in the dossier, but it's not the massive collection of untruths that Taibbi's Judicial Watch dossier would have been.

But if you're Matt Taibbi, you think Russiagate is a lie, and while you think Trump is guilty of the Ukrainegate charges, you assert that "the issue is how guilty, in comparison to his accusers."
I don’t believe most Americans have thought through what a successful campaign to oust Donald Trump would look like. Most casual news consumers can only think of it in terms of Mike Pence becoming president. The real problem would be the precedent of a de facto intelligence community veto over elections, using the lunatic spookworld brand of politics that has dominated the last three years of anti-Trump agitation.
Taibbi concludes:
CIA/FBI-backed impeachment could also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Donald Trump thinks he’s going to be jailed upon leaving office, he’ll sooner or later figure out that his only real move is to start acting like the “dictator” MSNBC and CNN keep insisting he is. Why give up the White House and wait to be arrested, when he still has theoretical authority to send Special Forces troops rappelling through the windows of every last Russiagate/Ukrainegate leaker? That would be the endgame in a third world country, and it’s where we’re headed, unless someone calls off this craziness. Welcome to the Permanent Power Struggle.
If this does happen, I assume Taibbi will say that, while it's awful, it's an outcome preferable to impeachment and removal, because the Great Satans of the U.S. intelligence community will have been thwarted.



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