In the last month, leak after leak about President Trump’s calls with foreign leaders and other doings in the White House have poured from print and digital media. In covering these stories, the media left the public with the strong impression they had gained access to this information due to the high volume of turmoil within the White House.Every day was a new crisis, we were informed, as one White House faction leaked against another to gain power. This drumbeat of daily crises created its own cycle of unease.
“The leakiness of the Trump White House,” wrote The Hill.com, “has been a boon to the press corps, who find themselves feasting on the juicy insider details that were hard to come by during the ‘No Drama Obama’ years.” Indeed, the discipline of the White House under Obama and all its agencies was notable. Leaks were not tolerated and information was controlled tightly.
Now, however, in mid-February, there was has been a critical revision to this story. The media explanation for their bounty of leaks turns out, instead, to be, in part, a tactical diversion, a purposeful leading astray to shield the sources of the more important leaks. It was its own form of “Fake News,” purposefully sowing distrust in the new administration to hide what was more troubling. We now know more about who the specific leakers are. Not infighters amongst the Trump team, but rather Obama supporters still in place in various agencies, particularly the intelligence agencies, to throw bombs from the inside and help destroy nascent Trump policies before the groundwork for them could even get laid.
As case in point, we have the resignation of national security advisor Michael Flynn. On Feb. 14, Adam Kredo, wrote in the Free Beacon, “The resignation of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump’s national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who described a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.” Among these officials, Kredo named Ben Rhodes, Obama’s “foreign policy guru,” notorious for a New York Times interview where he discussed how easy it was to manipulate “know nothing” Washington reporters. Apparently, he is now the ringmaster behind the scenes, still manipulating the Washington press, three weeks after the country has transitioned to a new president. He was also the man who personally created the Iran narrative and sold it to the Washington press.
So, why the necessity for the campaign to take out Flynn? Flynn, who vehemently opposed the Iran deal during the Obama administration, was intent on publicizing its secret details. Instead, he ended up resigning despite the fact, as NPR reported on the day after the resignation, that “a current intelligence official” who saw the transcript of National Security Advise Flynn’s call says “there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing within them.”
There is a French expression that sums up the effectiveness of this kind of campaign-pour encourager les autres-meaning, in order to encourage the others.
It certainly puts a damper on personnel to know that there is a group of partisan intelligence officials in place, which is emboldened to manipulate public opinion by insinuations and classified information bomb throwing, the latter of which is illegal. You cannot have a coordinated putsch, led by former officials of Obama and anonymous officers deep inside intelligence agencies – known as the deep state – working to retain the agenda of the previous president. In fact, this is unpresidented™ in American history. President Trump, let us recall, ran specifically against the unpopular Iran deal and has been quite open and articulate about his desire to replace it with a better deal.
In early January, Senator Charles Schumer reacted on national television to one of then-President-elect Trump’s comments criticizing the leadership of the intelligence agencies by stating: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” People wondered, at the time, whether this comment was a threat. In hindsight, it might be more accurate to read it as a tell, suggesting that Schumer had information about this effort. If so, it would also explain why Schumer has been so adamant about his efforts to delay the approval of every single one of President Trump’s Cabinet appointments. He knows that these departments will not run smoothly without leadership from the top. And that many of the people left in place are Obama holdovers, some of them working on negating new policies directed by the new administration. Apparently, he wants to help create chaos and then exploit that narrative. What a shining example of a public servant for the rest of us to admire!
This morning I awoke to a New York Post story titled, “It’s a bloodbath at the State Department.” After this week’s drama, I consider this a very good thing. For I am in no doubt now that as we go on we will find out that there are more Obama holdovers leading strenuous resistance from deep inside to delay Trump’s policies and to continue to delegitimize him.
Mara Schiffren is a writer and health coach who lives in North Salem