I bet you thought that Trump was responsible for this, but it’s actually Chaffetz. Let me walk you through my thought process. I read this story yesterday, concerning the war that our intelligence community has declared on Trump. I’m not sure that we needed a formal declaration, since they had just finished taking down Michael Flynn. The war was pretty clearly underway, and probably just getting started. Thus my despair for the state of our democracy continues to grow.
Let me start with a recap of the events that we’re all familiar with at this point: it all started last summer when we learned that the Russians hacked the DNC as part of their efforts to influence our elections. This happened in conjunction with Putin’s army of internet trolls pushing out pro-Trump propaganda. At the time, we had no real evidence that Trump was working with Putin on any of this, but we did have plenty of reasons to suspect that was the case.
Let’s start with Paul Manafort, who had to resign as Trump’s campaign chairman back in August because we found out that he was lobbying for a foreign government, without having formally registered as a lobbyist for that foreign government (as he’s legally obligated to do). That foreign government was of course, Russia. Manafort got a giant pile of cash from Ukranian Prime Minister (and Putin puppet) Viktor Yanukovych.
So that was weird.
A month later, one of Trump’s foreign policy advisors (Carter Page) had to leave the campaign because we learned that he was talking to senior Russian officials about lifting the Obama sanctions on Russia.
So that was weird.
Actually at that point, it had gone way beyond weird when you combined those two resignations with Trump’s effusive and persistent praise for Putin. And yet, Trump supporters and die hard Bernie-or-busters soldiered on with their denial of the kremlin connections and all played their parts in giving Trump (and Putin) the White House.
And then we had the pee-tape leak, which was information gathered by a well respected former MI6 operative who was hired by republicans to gather everything he could find on Trump. Do I know for sure that there’s a pee-tape? I don’t. Do I believe there’s a pee-tape? I believe it’s possible, but I’m waiting for the actual tape to appear on Youtube. The only thing I’m certain about is that if it exists, I will end up on my computer. I do strongly suspect that Putin is blackmailing Trump with something. Nothing else explains all of this.
And then we get to Flynn last week. He was the third person close to Trump who had to resign over improper (and very likely seditious) conversations with Russian officials.
Now, I know that it’s easy to get caught up in the scandals. I did. But when I took a step back and reflected on the events, I realized that our intelligence agencies are basically running the country right now, and that’s terrifying. They are responsible for all of the information that we know about Trump and Putin, and they let us know by leaking to the press for the better part of a year.
That’s not how this is all supposed to work. When I start thinking about what we don’t know, I become flat out terrified for this country. I don’t know if the intelligence community briefed the Obama administration on what they knew last summer. I don’t know if Loretta Lynch was given the opportunity to investigate. I don’t know if the DOJ knew the full extent of all of this. If they did know, why didn’t they gear up to prosecute? Was the house oversight committee briefed? I don’t know what the fuck happened while Obama was still in office.
I do know that the FBI have been battling themselves in an internal civil war where the NY bureau went rogue in doing their best to put Trump in the white house, which has left the DC bureau steaming mad. I do know that the intelligence leaks that have been coming from the FBI are coming from the DC bureau. I don’t know if the CIA and the NSA are also leaking, or if this is all coming out of the FBI.
I do know that all three agencies have a lot more information than what they’ve leaked so far. It would be completely inconceivable to assume otherwise. Remember the story about Trump turning off the recording during his call with Putin a couple of weeks ago? Well, I’m pretty certain that our intelligence agencies, Germany’s intelligence agencies, the UK’s intelligence agencies, and every other intelligence agency in the world didn’t stop their recordings.
Here’s what I know beyond a reasonable doubt: there is no chain of command left for the intelligence communities to follow with this information. We do know that they did went to the Justice Department with the information they had on Flynn back in January. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Our intelligence agencies don’t have the power to prosecute anybody. The intelligence agencies investigate things and then bring the results of their investigation to the Justice Department. The Attorney General then decides if a prosecution is warranted. Our current Attorney General is Jeff Sessions, who was appointed by Trump. That doesn’t seem like a viable route for the intelligence community to take if they want to expose treason on the part of the president and his staff.
There is another avenue. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform can investigate. Unfortunately, the head of that committee is a republican tool, who has announced that he’s not willing to do his fucking job. Now, Jason Chaffetz is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He’s a lot like a lobotomized bulldog who bypasses any thinking and goes straight to attacking democrats, just because he can.
That half-wit bulldog is the only hope we have of salvaging the small slivers of democracy we have left. I want to believe that if he decides to earnestly investigate Trump’s relationship with Putin, the intelligence community wouldn’t have to leak like a sieve to the press. We can’t keep going down this dangerous road, where random spies and analysts are basically running the country with raw intelligence information that hasn’t been vetted and reviewed. I know that it’s tempting to be grateful for these leaks right now but trust me, this is not going to turn out well for any of us if we embrace this as the new normal.
I am unfortunately convinced that Chaffetz is entirely too dimwitted to realize that what he’s doing isn’t actually protecting his beloved party, but rather blowing up our democracy. Trump is going down either way. I just don’t see how he can turn any of this around for himself.
So why do I put our fate in Chaffetz’s hands rather than in Jeff Sessions? Because Chaffetz needs to win an election in less than two years. We have some leverage on him. Sessions isn’t directly accountable to a single American Citizen, since he sits in an appointed position.
Chaffetz’s offices in both DC and Provo need to be surrounded by thousands of concerned citizens every single day until he relents. I know that this isn’t likely to work, since Chaffetz has historically demonstrated a complete and utter lack of concern for public opinion, but we have to do something. Our democracy is literally falling apart before our very eyes, and anyone who isn’t in full blown panic mode about this doesn’t fully understand what the big picture looks like.