News & Politics

Colonel Mustard's Revenge: What Was Done to Undermine Trump

Colonel Mustard's Revenge: What Was Done to Undermine Trump
A journalist watches a live telecast of the U.S. presidential election standing at portraits of U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

You all may recall my piece on General Flynn and Colonel Mustard not long ago. It ended with this:

So now, like Colonel Mustard with a lead pipe in the library, pieces have come together: this has to have been authorized under the Obama administration, by someone pretty high up (or else they wouldn’t have access to the compartmented information), and leaked by someone pretty high up, also, almost certainly, either a civil service permanent employee held over from the Obama administration or a political appointee very high in the intelligence community. One who was pretty confident they also have friends in high places.

Why? It seems it must have been to make trouble for the incoming Trump administration.

This is going to get a lot more interesting.

Sure enough, it has gotten interesting. Over the weekend Trump tweeted:

Immediately afterward, in the immortal words of Roger Zelazny, “the fit hit the Shan.” The New York Times immediately hyperventilated with the headline “Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones,” promptly followed by pretty much all the rest of the legacy media.

The problem was, of course, that the Times itself had repeatedly reported that wiretaps had provided information about Trump’s supposed close relationship with the Russians. There are a number of useful reviews of the bidding, so I’ll assume that you all are familiar with the basic story.

The Times, trying to square the circle, made the following notably stupid and disingenuous defense:

[A]s The Times (and others) has made clear, these investigations have been conducted by the F.B.I., intelligence agencies and Congress, not by Obama himself. The Times has also said Obama administration officials sought to spread intelligence about a possible link between Trump and Russia to ensure a trail of evidence for investigators, but it said Obama himself was not involved.

So, let’s get something straight: no one with half a lick of sense thinks Obama himself went out, like Barney in Mission Impossible, with a portable handset and wires on alligator clips, to listen in on phone conversations that Trump or Trump insiders were having. In fact, the phrase “wire tapping” is an archaism — phones don’t work that way any more. The use of “Obama” here is a pretty obvious — and extremely common — synecdoche where the president’s name is used to refer to the executive branch, which includes both the FBI and the intelligence agencies. (Michael Hayden, ex DIRNSA and DCIA, tries the same lame argument, doubly so since part of the reporting had been that there is a FISA warrant.)

As the saying goes, I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night.

Of course, it wasn’t too long after that that that the denials started: General Flynn didn’t say anything notably wrong, there were no wiretaps “of Trump Tower” and that there was no evidence of any collusion between Trump and the er, Russians.

The thing is, then, if you don’t believe he was tapped, then you’re asserting that a half dozen press reports, or more, that he WAS tapped were lies. Now, I’m kind of agnostic on that: I’m perfectly willing to believe that multiple highly placed sources in the previous administration were simply making stuff up about what had been obtained by wiretapping the Trump organization.

There really are only two possible explanations here: (1) all those inside sources leaking stories about the wiretaps before the inauguration were honest — and necessarily, since it was before the inauguration, they were within Obama’s executive branch. In fact, they were in all probability political appointees, since those are who get highly placed jobs in ANY administration.

Of course, we also know that at least one Trump insider was intercepted, and the transcripts of that intercept leaked.

In any case, under this assumption, we must therefore infer that after the election, the Obama administration was not only using national security resources to intercept the communications of the president-elect and his team, but were then using selective leaks to cooperative press outlets to damage that incoming administration. Oh, and also committing federal felonies in the process.

Or, (2) in fact all those leaks about wiretaps were lies, planted by members of the Obama administration with cooperative press outlets, in order to damage the Trump administration.

Given the recent outright denials on the record by the ex-DNI and others, maybe that’s the more likely explanation — in which case, we know that members of the Obama administration were perfectly happy to lie to damage their successors, no matter the consequences.

In either case, however, given the number of open stories about how Trump’s insiders were being tapped before Trump complained about it, the assertion that there is no evidence behind Trump’s tweet is transparent nonsense.

And the evidence against Colonel Mustard is piling up.

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