Back in September I wrote:
Given how easy it was in hindsight to wrest the presidency from the grasp of America’s complacent political elites, we should perhaps reflect on how fortunate we are that it was a 70 year old multi-millionaire New York playboy that stumbled upon the gaping hole that led straight to the levers of power.
Consider for a moment who might have got in. What if it had been a young, charismatic unknown who harboured greater ambitions than Trump and a far more ruthless streak that appeared on stage and said all the right things?
Somebody far worse than Trump could have trodden the path he took to power, and Twitter outbursts and trannies in the military would be the absolute least of our worries. Hillary really could be in jail instead of flogging her book of excuses, and the leaders of Antifa and BLM lying in hospital contemplating life in a wheelchair. If you think the decency of the American people and the robustness of the political system would prevent such an outcome, think again. In an era of Executive Orders, a weaponised IRS, politicised appointed judges, and a president with a pen and a phone, there’s an awful lot resting on the decency of Trump. Now there’s a thought.
Now let’s consider the state of affairs implied by the infamous Nunes memo:
So, the Clinton campaign/DNC worked with a foreign spy to develop a salacious and phony dossier on Donald Trump, gave the dossier to the FBI and they used it to open an investigation and obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign members. Unreal.
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) February 2, 2018
Perhaps this is hyperbole, so let’s look at what National Review has to say:
[The memo] does make a persuasive case – pending any detailed rebuttal by its partisan Democratic critics – that flimsily-corroborated Democratic Party campaign opposition research succeeded in influencing law enforcement to spy on a U.S. citizen involved in the political process at the height of a presidential campaign. That may not be an enormous scandal in size, but it is, if true, a scandal.
And Streetwise Professor:
But one thing that this entire sordid episode has demonstrated is that the bureaucracy generally, and the intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies in particular, consider themselves an independent power, a co-equal–superior actually–branch of government, the Constitution be damned. Trump is deemed the usurper. Indeed, it is clear that many senior members of the FBI, DOJ, and the intelligence community considered it their right to intervene in the election in order to prevent Trump’s election, and failing that, to kneecap his presidency. And virtually all of the political class in the US is on their side. This is the real Constitutional crisis.
This is not the end. This is at most the end of a beginning. For the acknowledgement that the FBI and DOJ–and the Obama administration–used under false pretenses a dossier paid for by a political campaign and assembled by rabid partisans to obtain permission to spy on an American just raises other questions. Who other than Page was spied on? Were their names unmasked? What use was made of the information obtained from the Page surveillance? By whom?
So far, Trump’s response to the combined efforts of the DoJ, FBI, Democratic Party, and apparently Barack Obama to derail his presidential campaign has been rather benign, preferring to let the wheels of justice turn slowly, assuming they’re turning at all. What few people are willing to acknowledge is that, if Trump were a lot more ambitious and as dangerous as people say, he would have a handy excuse to start rounding people up and throwing them in jail by the hundred, if not thousand.
When malevolent authoritarians take charge of a country, they often need to fabricate a reason to start arresting their political opponents en masse. Consider the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey which, whether it was genuine or not, handed Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the perfect excuse to jail thousands of opposition figures including politicians, journalists, judges, and military personnel replacing them with steadfast loyalists. Sure, this is mostly banana republic stuff but then so is what is going on in the USA. What else to call it? Imprisoning or murdering political activists is a lot harder to justify if they aren’t actively conspiring to overthrow a sitting president, or scuttle their election campaign using illegal methods. Once it’s been demonstrated that they are…well you’re taking your chances on the decency of the man at the top. Consider this:
Former CIA counterterrorism official Phil Mudd: The FBI people “are ticked” and they’ll be saying of Trump, “You’ve been around for 13 months. We’ve been around since 1908. I know how this game is going to be played. We’re going to win” https://t.co/5x39x20g3e pic.twitter.com/fByOLNrh0I
— CNN (@CNN) February 2, 2018
How do you think Putin or Erdogan (or even Macron) would react to a challenge like this? If the FSB were brazenly threatening to bring down the Russian president, having been caught red-handed trying to stop him getting elected, heads would be rolling, the prisons would be rapidly filling up, people would be fired, and loyalists installed before the week was out.
I suspect the head honchos in the FBI, DoJ, and other branches of the “permanent government” or Deep State believe they can count on the loyalty of their members to oppose Trump on all fronts, sabotaging any attempt to bring about reform. If so, this puts them on dangerous ground. Trump is meeting resistance only because the people concerned feel safe to mount it; if they saw a few senior people being dragged away at the end of a gun and a new boss they don’t know immediately telling them to get in line or else, the resistance would melt like snow in the spring. How many activist judges or defiant mayors would remain once a few of their number had been arrested and replaced in the middle of the night, their families cast into the street? But they know Trump isn’t going to have anyone jailed or shot, so they act with impunity.
For anyone doubting whether Trump could conjure up a band of loyalists ready to do his bidding consider this: James Mattis inspires a loyalty and following which nobody in Washington could even hope to match. If he called on some former colleagues to take over as head of the FBI, DoJ, and any other branch of the government they’d crawl over hot coals to do so, and do exactly what they were told from thereon. Not that I think Mattis would go along with such a programme but again, we’re relying on the decency of Trump and his key staff members. Anyone who thinks Trump & Co. couldn’t find enough willing servants to do their dirty work should they want to is deluded. Hell, I’d bet 90% of those praising Obama would switch allegiance in a heartbeat if promised greater pay and prestige under a new regime which wasn’t taking any prisoners.
In my previous post, I made the point that the state of US politics in 2016 left the door wide open for some seriously nasty bastard to take charge. Now we’ve learned that the winner was not only handed a government structure thoroughly corrupted and open to obscene manipulation, but he was also provided with a rather tempting excuse to engage in a massive purge which would see hundreds of senior government figures in prison for life. Americans ought to be on their knees praying in gratitude that the person who stumbled into this was a billionaire New York playboy in his seventies with a supermodel wife and a penchant for tweeting and playing golf. Instead, most people seem to be labouring under the impression it was the worst outcome imaginable. This is why they might not dodge the next bullet quite so successfully. If they don’t, they can’t ever look back and say the warning signs weren’t there.