Friday, February 9, 2018

Memo Demo

My next newspaper column: 
By ignorance or premeditation, Donald Trump, who, as did Stalin, defines treason as failing to applaud him, damages the United States and its institutions beyond Soviet Cold War dreams. Khrushchev said they needn’t invade America, they’d take us down from within. With aid and comfort of today’s Republican party, as they attempt to derail investigations into potential sabotage, it’s happening. “When you don’t have facts, sow doubt.” That’s a Russian thing, too. (So is Trump ordering a military parade for himself.)  
The FBI, CIA, and DOJ have hardly been exemplary throughout history. FISA resulted from the Church committee’s investigations of their excesses, requiring specific justifications for surveilling American citizens. Warrants aren’t handed out like sausage samples at Costco; they are, in fact, extensively prepared and subjected to critical judicial review. 
Around the same time as FISA’s creation, rules were written to prevent federal law enforcement agencies from becoming instruments of presidential imperium. (Ironically, given Republican claims, current FBI recruits are required to visit the Holocaust Museum, to see what follows when they do.) Trump, unchecked by capitulating Congressional Republicans, looks to undo them. That should frighten everyone, especially what’s left of conservatives in what’s left of that party. This, not Nunes, shows where the conspiracy is, and reveals the motives behind the “memo” and those defending it. Spoiler alert: it’s about abrogating Constitutional checks on unbridled power.  
For years, Carter Page, self-described “Kremlin adviser,” had been suspected of being a witting or unwitting Russian agent. And maybe – who knows? – Trump himself, considering his dodgy dealings with Moscow’s wealthy kleptocrats. One assumes former KGB interrogator Putin knows how to weaponize patsies. 
Having previously given the White House info from his intelligence committee and lied about it, Devin Nunes admitted to Fox “news” that he hadn’t read the FISA application to which his deceptive memo refers, relying instead on summaries provided by Trey “Benghazi” Gowdy, who, interestingly, admits the memo “in no way” discredits Mueller’s investigation. In fact, with its footnotes and final point, it negates itself.  
Democrats on Nunes’ “intelligence” committee requested all documents related to the application. Republicans refused. If they’re truth-tellers, why not allow examination of the supposedly deep-state-plot-revealing records? Answer: Nunes, et al, have a narrative they want the public to swallow and messengers eager to spoon it out, counting on the power of Foxification to obscure the dangerous implications. 
Republicans’ defense of Trump’s authoritarianism amounts to explicit rejection of Constitutionally established system of checks and balances. Support for the mechanisms for America to repel dictatorship or subversion by a hostile foreign power ought to be universal and bipartisan. That it’s not raises serious questions about what’s happened to the Republican Party, and what, or who, is behind it. Questions Trumpists doggedly want neither asked nor answered. 
Mere months ago, Republicans agreed Vladimir Putin was a mortal enemy, toward whom President Obama was dangerously weak. Then came Trump (whose lawyers fear he can’t testify without lying), heaping praise on the man and hiring people with deep ties to him. If there’s no “there” there, why the desperation to defame the investigation and the people and institutions carrying it out? 
Consider who benefits from causing Americans to distrust agencies dedicated to preventing illegal foreign influences. Why are those who claim to love America more than people like me rallying around attempts to be rid of Robert Mueller? Why not let him report? If it reveals threats to America, shouldn’t all Americans want to know? If he finds nothing, wouldn’t that be a good thing for everyone, including Trump? If it’s full of falsehood, won’t our fair-minded right-wing media be able to tear it apart with Hannitoid verisimilitude? 
It’s self-evident how TrumPutin benefits from silencing Mueller and the FBI. What side deals Nunes, Ryan, Hannity, ad prevaricatum, have made, and with whom, remains a vital unknown. Whatever their motivation, they’d have us believe the FBI investigating possible treason is “politicization,” when what it is, is doing their job.  
The “worse than Watergate” crowd are right: this obstruction of justice from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue makes Richard Nixon look like Eliot Ness. Devin Nunes’ cynical stunt and Trump’s lies about it lay bare their contempt for established rules of law, while Trumpists and the Republican Party remain slavishly indifferent or actively complicit. 
Meanwhile, Rex Tillerson says we’re as vulnerable to Russian treachery as we were in 2016. 
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