Ok, so this is highly amusing.
As you’re aware, the Trump administration is in panic mode right now amid an increasingly aggressive Special Counsel probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
Trump and some members of the GOP have been keen on running interference all year, but that deflection effort has gone into overdrive lately as the President and his surrogates (both on the Hill and in the media) bombard the masses with tales of uranium conspiracies and a renewed effort to pretend like anyone still cares about Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server.
You can read our entire take on that charade here, but do note – and this is important – that we’re certainly not opposed to people following the truth wherever it leads. If there’s evidence to support some kind of nefarious activity involving uranium or aliens or [fill in the blank], well then by all means go and investigate it, but please don’t pretend like you can’t understand why everyone cares more about Donald Trump right now. The reason everyone is focused on Trump is because he’s the goddamn President. I mean sure, it doesn’t help that a large percentage of America despises him, but if you’re out there pretending like this is, as he describes it, “a witch hunt”, please at least acknowledge that when you are the President of the United States, people do have a tendency to focus on you – especially when there’s rampant speculation that you might have done something sneaky.
I really think that’s a pretty honest take on it and I don’t think it’s asking too much to suggest that Republicans at least let us figure out if the President conspired with Russia to rig the election before we go chasing down uranium-lined rabbit holes. Plus, remember that not everyone who supports Mueller’s probe wants Trump to be guilty. There’s no shortage of Republicans who believe the investigation should continue but are keeping their fingers crossed that it will turn out well for the President.
Well anyway, now The Intercept is out reporting that, in yet another example of Trump grasping at straws, the President actually compelled CIA Director Mike Pompeo to meet late last month with William Binney, the former NSA official who, along with several other former intel officers, has variously suggested that the DNC hack was not in fact a “hack”, but rather a “leak.”
Apparently, this meeting took place on October 24. Here’s The Intercept:
In an interview with The Intercept, Binney said Pompeo told him that President Donald Trump had urged the CIA director to meet with Binney to discuss his assessment that the DNC data theft was an inside job. During their hour-long meeting at CIA headquarters, Pompeo said Trump told him that if Pompeo “want[ed] to know the facts, he should talk to me,” Binney said.
A senior intelligence source confirmed that Pompeo met with Binney to discuss his analysis, and that the CIA director held the meeting at Trump’s urging.
Obviously, this is highly irregular and it comes across as particularly egregious in light of the multiple investigations into Russian interference in the election. Of course the real problem with this is that it effectively represents the President of the United States explicitly trying to undermine the country’s intelligence apparatus.
And it gets worse. Here’s The Intercept again:
It is possible Trump learned about Binney and his analysis by watching Fox News, where Binney has been a frequent guest, appearing at least 10 times since September 2016. In August, Binney appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox show to discuss his assessment that the narrative of Russia hacking the DNC during the 2016 campaign is untrue, stating that “many people are emotionally tied to this agenda, to tie the Russians to President Trump.” Binney said he is not sure how Trump found out about his analysis.
However the meeting came about, the fact that Pompeo was apparently willing to follow Trump’s direction and invite Binney to discuss his analysis has alarmed some current and former intelligence officials.
“This is crazy. You’ve got all these intelligence agencies saying the Russians did the hack. To deny that is like coming out with the theory that the Japanese didn’t bomb Pearl Harbor,” said one former CIA officer.
Right. It’s batshit crazy. And although Dean Boyd, director of the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs, insists that Pompeo “stands by, and has always stood by, the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment,” the piece goes on to remind you that this isn’t the first time the Director has appeared willing to go out on a limb for Trump. Here’s one more excerpt:
Yet indications of Pompeo’s willingness to support Trump at the risk of tainting the intelligence process have occasionally broken into the open in recent months. In August, the Washington Post reported that Pompeo had taken the unusual step of having the CIA’s Counterintelligence Mission Center, which would likely play a role in any inquiries by the agency into Russian election meddling, report directly to him. That move has raised concerns within the agency that Pompeo is seeking to personally control the CIA’s efforts to investigate accusations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
It is impossible to do the piece justice here and you’re (more than) encouraged to read the entire thing if you’ve got some time to spare, but suffice to say that in addition to representing yet another attempt to undermine the multiple investigations into Russian meddling, and on top of being yet another egregious attempt to discredit the nation’s intelligence apparatus, this is just the latest bit of evidence to support the contention that Trump is literally trying to turn government agencies into his own personal Gestapo.
In the space of the last three weeks alone, he’s all but threatened to fire Jeff Sessions if the DoJ doesn’t go after Hillary, made similar threats to the FBI (on Twitter no less), and now we learn that he’s sending the Director of the CIA to meet with conspiracy theorists.