Monday, September 17, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He interfered in an active federal investigation into himself.

Today, Trump ordered the complete and unredacted declassification of specific pages of the FBI's application for a surveillance warrant on Carter Page. Page is the Trump campaign "foreign policy advisor" with ties to the Russian government and who the FBI believes was recruited as an intelligence agent by the Putin regime. Page was described in the redacted version of that FISA warrant application as an "agent of a foreign power."

Page has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before the Senate.

The portions of the warrant that Trump is ordering declassified will apparently reveal confidential sources and intelligence-gathering methods that the FBI used to counteract Russia's attempts to recruit Page and others. Current and former national security officials have reacted with horror.  

Trump also ordered the release of text messages sent by five investigators into the Russian attack that he considers political enemies: former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.

The reasons for Trump's decision are murky, other than that he apparently thinks there is a political advantage in releasing just specifically these documents or pages of documents. But it does follow the pattern he has established since being elected of a scorched-earth attack on anyone, even his own Justice Department and intelligence community, who looks too closely at Russia. 

Trump did not order the release of other pages in the warrant detailing how Russia is believed to have recruited Page prior to his joining the Trump campaign.

Why should anyone care about this?

  • No one has the right to obstruct justice or interfere with national security.
  • It's more important that the United States be able to conduct intelligence operations than it is that Donald Trump score political points.
  • Just because a president can abuse power doesn't make it right or legal.
  • The FBI and the intelligence community serve the country, not Donald Trump.