Intelligence Community Getting Its Revenge on Trump
The Republican National Convention’s most enduring speech may have come from Richard Grenell – the former acting Director of National Intelligence. On national television, he threw his former employees under the bus. I predicted that would come back to haunt him.
Finally, and I think most seriously, would be the fact that Grenell basically threw the intelligence community under the bus. Lest we forget, it was someone in the intelligence community who blew the whistle on Trump for trying to strong-arm Ukraine into smearing Joe Biden. Many within the IC will recoil at Grenell’s nonsense – and some of them will respond the way angry IC personnel always do … with a well-timed leak.
Less than two months later, the Trump apparatus – via Rudy Giuliani and the New York Post – attempted an October surprise reprise. They even brought back the oldie-but-goodie method (in theory): purloined emails. Of course, in 2016, the “Clinton email” issue roiled the Democrats in the final weeks of the campaign, with no resistance from the IC.
They’re not so quiet this time. In less than 48 hours, “four former officials familiar with the matter” told the Washington Post that the NY Post‘s source (Giuliani) “was the target of an influence operation by Russian intelligence.”
The warnings were based on multiple sources, including intercepted communications, that showed Giuliani was interacting with people tied to Russian intelligence during a December 2019 trip to Ukraine, where he was gathering information that he thought would expose corrupt acts by former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
The intelligence raised concerns that Giuliani was being used to feed Russian misinformation to the president, the former officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information and conversations.
The warnings to the White House, which have not previously been reported, led national security adviser Robert O’Brien to caution Trump in a private conversation that any information Giuliani brought back from Ukraine should be considered contaminated by Russia, one of the former officials said.
But O’Brien emerged from the meeting uncertain whether he had gotten through to the president. Trump had “shrugged his shoulders” at O’Brien’s warning, the former official said, and dismissed concern about his lawyer’s activities by saying, “That’s Rudy.”
As if that wasn’t enough, “two people familiar with the matter” went to NBC News with the following:
Federal investigators are examining whether the emails allegedly describing activities by Joe Biden and his son Hunter and found on a laptop at a Delaware repair shop are linked to a foreign intelligence operation, two people familiar with the matter told NBC News.
Those of you who read me regularly can guess my view on the accusations and “evidence” presented by Giuliani (for those who don’t read me regularly, I consider them bunk). What the events of this week have shown beyond that is more important. So many guardrails have gone by the wayside in the Trump assault on our democracy that the president and his allies probably felt they could get away with this as they did in 2016.
What Trump et al have clearly forgotten is the accidental assist given to them by then-FBI Director James Comey, who informed Congress on 28 October 2016 that the Clinton email investigation had been reopened. Leaving aside the question of whether or not Comey did the right thing (and I still believe he did), it certainly had an impact on the election that was well beyond Trump’s control.
There is no equivalent to Comey in 2020, but the closest thing to it are those folks in the intelligence community “familiar with the matter.” They have made it abundantly clear that they weren’t happy with Grenell throwing them under the bus (among other things from Trump-world), and they’ve done it by taking aim at the latest attempt from the Kremlin to assist Trump.