Ever since Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, the media and the left have been in full crisis mode. They’ve suggested that every Trump action amounts to a Constitutional crisis. They’re now suggesting that the ouster of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn represents a scandal worse than Iran-Contra or Watergate, a cataclysmic event along the lines of 9/11.
There is a Constitutional crisis taking place, however. And it’s taking place within the intelligence community.
During the election cycle, many leftists thrilled to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement that Hillary would not be prosecuted, based on shoddy evidence and worse legal reasoning. Then, too many conservatives thrilled to the FBI’s James Comey publicly announcing developments in his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. Leaks from the intelligence community obviously undercut Hillary’s already-untenable claims of honesty; that made conservatives happy, and so conservatives cheered Wikileaks and celebrated Comey for his forthright willingness to bust open an incomplete investigation in the press.
Now, the intelligence community, high on its own fumes, has begun leaking to the press. It’s now no longer a leak – it’s a flood. And the media have taken those leaks and run with them, slapping the most inflammatory headlines available on the leaks. President Trump is absolutely within his rights to complain about the intelligence community’s obvious attempts to destroy those within his administration.
Two stories over the past 12 hours demonstrate the intelligence community-media matrix determined to take down the Trump administration in its nascent days.
First, on Tuesday night, The New York Times ran an insanely juicy headline: “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence.” That makes it sound as though Flynn and others were working with the Russians during the campaign to take down Hillary Clinton. The piece cites intelligence information, without mentioning sources. But as James Barrett notes:
[B]y the third paragraph of the 1300-word article, the Times admits that its sources "said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation." In other words, the Grey Lady acknowledges that there's "no evidence" for any collusion with the Russians regarding the election, the essential premise of the piece. Later in the article, the team of writers acknowledge that the contact that did allegedly take place between Trump's associates and Russian intelligence was quite possibly done so "unwittingly."
Then, this morning, CNN parroted The New York Times. Their headline: “Trump aides were in constant touch with senior Russian officials during campaign.” The piece quotes “multiple current and former intelligence, law enforcement and administration officials.” But then CNN reports, “Officials emphasized that communications between campaign staff and representatives of foreign governments are not unusual.” So what the hell is the report supposed to mean? It’s a bunch of implication, and not much in the way of factual basis for that rather inflammatory headline.
The intelligence community has become a gushing pipeline of weak information to the press, and the media then run with that information with excitement, drooling every step of the way. Trump’s firing of Flynn merely sets the media’s salivary glands working overtime, and the intelligence community leaking even more steadily. But when those with access to private information for national security purposes begin purposefully undermining an elected government without any evidence of criminal wrongdoing, we’ve got a serious crisis in government on our hands. Who watches the watchmen? Will Trump start an internal investigation into leaks, tearing apart the intelligence apparatus? Will Congress begin such an investigation? What happens when the intelligence community becomes its own shadow government, working to undermine those who are elected?
This is certainly a crisis. And that’s not Trump’s fault.