by Ray McGovern, Consortium News:
The current kerfuffle began a week ago when the director of national intelligence dropped a bombshell on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Home alone yesterday evening, and apparently emboldened by the steroids he is now taking, President Donald Trump sent out a storm of Tweets that included a unprecedentedly bold challenge to the FBI and CIA to stop their foot dragging and declassify documents related to Russiagate and Hillary Clinton.
It was probably his plummeting poll numbers as much as the steroids that accounted for his rhetorical forcefulness, but Trump has now openly thrown down the gauntlet to the National Security State.
Yes, he is the president, but he is not likely to prevail.
What the president-elect didn’t know on Jan. 3, 2017, when Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer publicly warned that the intelligence community “has six ways to Sunday” to thwart a president, he does know now.
Trump understands that taking on the FBI and CIA is inherently risky. His public upbraiding and instructions to them on Twitter should be seen as a sign of desperation.
Trump is likely to come across as impulsive and impotent in the weeks remaining before the election because — if past is precedent — the security agencies will probably double-down on slow-walking his declassification demands.
The stakes are high for senior officials of the FBI, CIA and Justice Department. Remember: they fully expected Hillary Clinton to win in 2016; they took liberties with the law to make sure she did; and, when she didn’t, they had to hustle to hide their tracks.
On Tuesday night Trump tweeted:
I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions! https://t.co/GgnHh9GOiq
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 7, 2020
“I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!”
In a subsequent tweet (now apparently deleted) the president added:
“All Russian Hoax Scandal information was Declassified by me long ago. Unfortunately for our Country, people have acted very slowly, especially since it is perhaps the biggest political crime in the history of our Country. Act!!!”
“Long ago?” A president, of course, has the authority to declassify virtually all classified intelligence-related information. Senior Republican congressmen have begged him again and again to use that authority.
During a TV interview Sunday, for example, Republican Devin Nunes, ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, visibly agitated and angry, said:
“Every Republican senator and member of Congress should be saying… we want every damn bit of evidence that every intelligence agency has or it’s maybe time to shut those agencies down.”
Tilting Trump’s Tweets
Standard practice in recent years has seen the heads of the FBI and CIA take their own sweet time to comply — the more so, when the data to be declassified puts themselves in a negative or even criminal light.
The heads of the National Security State bureaucracy have shown considerable adroitness in finding ways to delay or simply not comply (as though invoking their Fifth Amendment rights regarding self-incrimination).