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Watergate by Any Other Name

Familiarity, it is said, breeds contempt. It also breeds indifference. For almost three years now, the intelligence services and police apparatus of the deep state have worked tirelessly to undermine Donald Trump. Beginning sometime in the late winter of 2016, when Trump’s presidential campaign was showing unexpected signs of strength, John Brennan—the Communist-voting apparatchik turned media mouthpiece whom it pleased Barack Obama to appoint as director of the CIA—began ringing alarm bells about Trump’s possible relations with the Kremlin. His concern was based on two things. One was a report, spurious as it turned out, about “contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians.” The other was that brittle sense of entitlement, fired by paranoia, that membership in the higher echelons of the deep state’s nomenklatura breeds.

Brennan convened a “working group” at CIA headquarters that included Peter Strzok, the disgraced FBI agent who was head of counter-intelligence, and James Clapper, then director of national intelligence (now, like Brennan, another mouthpiece for the left-wing media), in order to stymie Trump’s campaign. It was Brennan, too, who first alerted James Comey, the disgraced former director of the F.B.I., to the fantasy of possible “collusion” between the Trump Campaign and “the Russians.”

Then came the infamous “Steele Dossier,” the agglomeration of malicious gossip about Trump that was surreptitiously commissioned by and paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. This fantastical piece of “opposition research” was essentially the sole warrant for opening secret FISA investigations against Carter Page, a low-level Trump campaign advisor, and others.

All this provided sensational pabulum for the anti-Trump press, who spent countless hours peeling back the complex, hypertrophied onion that the CIA, the FBI, and various figures within the Obama administration had built up to destroy the candidacy of Donald Trump without quite seeming to target Trump himself.

Mirabile ditctu, it didn’t work. Still, it was impossible that Trump could actually win the election. Nancy Pelosi told us that we could “take it to the bank” that Donald Trump was not going to be president. Many other politicians and talking heads made fools of themselves emitting similar pseudo-certainties right up to the afternoon and early evening of election day.

But win he did, and that changed everything. Now it was not a candidate who had to be stopped but a duly elected president of the United States who had to be kept from knowing exactly what lengths the government—soon to be his government—had gone to destroy him. From November 9, 2016, to January 20, 2017, the reins of government were still in the hands of Barack Obama. The apparatus to stop Trump the candidate was already in place. Now it would be deployed against Trump the president-elect and, later, Trump the president.

Over the last few days, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other anti-Trump outlets have revealed, and reveled in, something that many observers suspected for a long time. That the investigation into various figures associated with the Trump campaign—not only Carter Page, but also George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Michael Cohen—was just a pretext. The main target all along was Trump himself. As Andy McCarthy observed, “following the firing of FBI director James Comey on May 9, 2017, the bureau formally opened an investigation of President Trump.”

The Times breathlessly frames its story as the revelation that Trump might have been “secretly working on behalf of Russia.” Right on cue, the anti-Trump fraternity went into full-swivet mode. Probably the most comical contribution to this almanack of rhetorical incontinence was written by Max Boot, who offered “18 Reasons Why Trump Could Be a Russian Asset.” Reason number one: that Trump, the head of a multi-billion dollar real-estate development company with interests all over the world, had business dealings with Russia. Excellent, Max!

In fact, though, what the Times story revealed was simply that, pace repeated assurances by James Comey, Trump was the target of the investigation from the beginning. As McCarthy notes, “the only thing the story shows is that the FBI, after over a year of investigation, simply went overt about something that had been true from the first. The investigation commenced during the 2016 campaign by the Obama administration—the Justice Department and the FBI—was always about Donald Trump.” Moreover,

The FBI and DOJ knew this would be controversial—the incumbent administration spying on the opposition campaign in the absence of corroborated evidence of a crime.

Let’s pause to ponder that last bit: “spying on the opposition campaign in the absence of corroborated evidence of a crime.” “Controversial”? You think? How about nefarious and probably criminal? Richard Nixon is unavailable for comment.

In a way, you have to admire the cunning of the Obama minions. Faced with exposure of their “controversial” tactic, they went to work. “[T]hey designed the investigation,” McCarthy explains,

in a way that allowed them to focus on Trump without saying they were doing so. Before Trump was elected, they papered the files to indicate that they were focusing on the Trump campaign or people connected to it, like Page and Papadopoulos. This way, they could try to collect evidence about Trump without formally documenting that Trump was the target.

In other words, we are staring into the bowels of the biggest political scandal in the history of the United States. Americans pride themselves on living in a republic in which the peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of our political life. But what we have here is an effort by one administration to thwart that process. Remember: there was no crime. There was always only the Steele Dossier, that rancid pile of slander that was paid for by Trump’s political opponents. That was the stated basis for the FISA warrants: uncorroborated rumor instigated and circulated by the Clinton campaign.

Naturally, the anti-Trump chihuahuas are yapping once again that this is—finally, at last—the revelation that will bring down the Trump administration. Chris Matthews, feeling another frisson tingling up his appendage, excitedly announced that the president is “at the end of the rope.” But we’ve been down this street before. From before Donald Trump assumed office, we’ve been repeatedly assured that some “bombshell” had been released that harbingered “the beginning of the end” for the Trump presidency. It’s actually quite amusing to watch a few of these hysterical prognostications back to back.

Back on planet earth, however, two things are happening. First, Donald Trump piles up victory after victory for the America people: jobs, economic growth, a revitalized military, constitutionalist judicial appointments, a more rational regulatory environment, border security and immigration reform -- the list is long and astonishingly impressive. He has also, by the way, stymied his suppose best-buddy Vladimir Putin by aggressively pursuing an energy policy that has made America the world’s largest producer of energy, sending lethal weapons to Putin opponents in the Ukraine, thwarting the Russians in Syria, and many other initiatives.

But in the parallel universe occupied by the John Brennans, James Comeys and Robert Muellers of the world, the effort to unseat the democratically elected leader of the free world continues apace. The entire investigation, conducted at first under cover of a counter-intelligence inquiry, was always deep down a criminal investigation. The great, insuperable problem that the would-be inquisitors have faced from the beginning is that this was never an investigation of a crime. Rather, it has been an exploratory probe that was bent on discovering a crime, much as a deep space probe is deployed in an endless search for intelligent life on the fringes of the galaxy.

Asked recently by Fox News host Jeanine Pirro whether he is or has ever been working for Russia, Trump responded, “I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.” Quite right, too. For the rest of us, though, it’s more than insulting. It’s been going on so long that we are tempted to forget what this travesty really is. Familiarity has bred indifference. It is time that we woke up to the truth. What we have been witnessing is a blatant and nefarious effort to repeal the results of a lawful election and undermine the integrity of our democratic institutions. The fact that this attempted coup is being undertaken not by wild-eyed revolutionaries but well-accoutered bureaucrats high up the feeding trough of the deep state makes the assault on our freedoms more, not less, frightening.