Leaks And Taps

The Trump administration – which we can’t seem to turn the page on – is increasingly looking like a bad mob movie. My constantly referring to it as an organized criminal enterprise seems more appropriate with each passing day.

The latest revelations deal with Trump’s Justice Department seeking phone records of several journalists, Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell along with then-White House Counsel Don McGahn. The details of those requests and if they are the sum total (which they most likely aren’t) has yet to emerge but stitching together a pattern doesn’t take Dick Tracy.

Like most mobsters -even of the wannabe variety – Trump knew the less of what he was up to that was in the press the better off he was. He didn’t care about the transgressions – heck, he was the one committing or ordering them – he cared about who “called 911”. He even used the B grade mobster movie lingo of “Rats” and “Flippers”.

On March 4, 2017, less than 60 days into his term, he tweeted out that, “President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to the Election!” (Complete with an exclamation point – so Trump.) His Justice Department investigated the allegation and found it baseless. (No surprise there.) What it did reveal was that Trump was willing to, and on many occasions did, engaged in projection. Projection is the best word we have in the English language for the practice of accusing others of what you are engaged in. (The Chinese have a better word and I only learned that definition of projection from a comment made by good friend and frequent reader Jeff McKnight. Thanks Jeff!)

Based on currently available information the phone records secretly obtained by Justice were from CNN and New York Times journalists. They were committing the “sin” of telling the truth; which under Trump was unforgivable. Their sources, while not revealed, were obviously from within the upper echelons of the White House and/or people privy to extremely sensitive information.

That last factor – along with trying to discredit perceived political foes (remind you of Nixon’s Enemy List?) – was why Schiff and Swalwell were secretly spied on. They were two of his most outspoken congressional critics and seemed omnipresent on TV.
The order of exposure was the journalists, the House Democrats and then McGahn. When the McGahn revelations became public they puzzled some. McGahn was the White House Counsel. To me it is obvious that he fits the pattern of the others. The entire gambit was designed (and foolishly if you really knew how Washington and the DC press works) to find communication patterns in an effort to flush out the “rats”.

McGahn (who I don’t think is any boy scout) knew his job was to represent the Office of the President, not any temporary occupant of it (i.e. Trump). McGahn was and I think still is primarily concerned with covering his own behind; he wasn’t taking a “bullet” for Trump and Trump knew that. For whatever reason(s) Trump felt getting rid of McGahn would have been politically messy so he just wanted to keep him under watch but still on the job.

Any surveillance at levels as high as two members of Congress or the White House Counsel would have to be approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department (unless Trump had a complete rouge team at Justice). Am I the only one who finds it suspect that both Jeff Sessions and William Barr were quick to make public statements that they knew nothing of the spying?

I predicted that Trump scandals would keep coming out in 2021 and I will toot my own horn to date. Here is another prediction: It’s far from over and the leaks and taps will not be the headline in the long run.

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