Politics & Policy

The Forgotten Foot Soldiers of the ‘Resistance’

Then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power in 2016 (Darren Ornitz/Reuters)
The same old, same old faces

We are still trying to fathom the apparent but transient palace-coup attempts of Rod Rosenstein and Andrew McCabe. No one has gotten to the bottom of the serial lying by McCabe and James Comey, much less their systematic and illegal leaking to pet reporters.

We do not know all the ways in which James Clapper and John Brennan seeded the dossier and its related gossip among the press and liberal politicians — only that both were prior admitted fabricators who respectively while under oath misled congressional representatives on a host of issues.

The central role of Hillary Clinton in funding the anti-Trump, Russian-“collusion,” Fusion/GPS/Christopher Steele dossier is still not fully disclosed. Did the deluded FISA court know it was being used by Obama-administration DOJ and FBI officials, who withheld from it evidence to ensure permission to spy on American citizens? Could any justice knowingly be so naïve?

Do we remember at all that Devin Nunes came to national prominence when he uncovered information that members of the Obama administration’s national-security team, along with others, had systematically unmasked surveilled Americans, whose names then were leaked illegally to the press?

One day historians will have the full story of how Robert Mueller stocked his legal team inordinately with partisans. He certainly did not promptly disclose the chronology of, or the interconnected reasons for, the firings of Lisa Page and Peter Strozk. And his team has largely used process-crime allegations to leverage mostly minor figures to divulge some sort of incriminating evidence about the president — none of it pertaining to the original mandated rationale of collusion.

These are the central issues and key players of this entire sordid attempt to remove a sitting president.

But we should remember there were dozens of other minor players who did their own parts in acting unethically, and in some cases illegally, to destroy a presidency. We have mostly forgotten them. But they reflect what can happen when Washington becomes unhinged, the media go berserk, and a reign of terror ensues in which any means necessary is redefined as what James Comey recently monetized as a “Higher Loyalty” to destroy an elected president.

Here are just a few of the foot soldiers we have forgotten.

Anonymous
On September 5, 2018 (a date seemingly picked roughly to coincide with the publication of Bob Woodward’s sensational tell-all book about the inside of the Trump White House), the New York Times printed a credo from a supposed anonymous Republican official deep within the Trump administration. In a supposed fit of ethical conviction, he (or she) warned the nation of the dangers it faced under his boss, President Trump, and admitted to a systematic effort to subvert his presidency:

The dilemma — which he does not fully grasp — is that many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations. I would know. I am one of them.

Anonymous elaborated:

Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis. So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over.

We do not know whether Anonymous was describing the coup attempt as described by Andrew McCabe that apparently entailed Rod Rosenstein at the Justice Department informally polling cabinet officials, or marked a wider effort among Never Trump Republicans and deep-state functionaries to ensure that Trump failed — whether marked by earlier efforts to leak confidential calls with foreign officials or to serve up unsubstantiated rumors to muckrakers or simply slow-walk or ignore presidential directives.

In any case, Anonymous’s efforts largely explain why almost daily we hear yet another mostly unsubstantiated account that a paranoid, deranged, and dangerous Trump is holed up in his bedroom with his Big Macs as he plans unconstitutional measures to wreck the United States — and then, by accident, achieves near-record-low peacetime unemployment, near-record-low minority unemployment, annualized 3 percent GDP growth, record natural-gas and oil production, record deregulation, comprehensive tax reform and reduction, and foreign-policy breakthroughs from the destruction of ISIS to cancellation of the flawed Iran deal.

James Baker
In the course of congressional testimony, it was learned that the FBI general counsel, James Baker, for a time had been under investigation for leaking classified information to the press. Among the leaks were rumored scraps from the Steele dossier passed to Mother Jones reporter David Corn (who has denied any such connection) that may have fueled his sensational pre-election accusation of Trump–Russian collusion.

Nonetheless, about a week before the 2016 election, Corn of Mother Jones was writing lurid exposés, such as the following, to spread gossip likely inspired from the Christopher Steele dossier (italics inserted):

Does this mean the FBI is investigating whether Russian intelligence has attempted to develop a secret relationship with Trump or cultivate him as an asset? Was the former intelligence officer and his material deemed credible or not?

An FBI spokeswoman says, “Normally, we don’t talk about whether we are investigating anything.” But a senior US government official not involved in this case but familiar with the former spy tells Mother Jones that he has been a credible source with a proven record of providing reliable, sensitive, and important information to the US government. In June, the former Western intelligence officer — who spent almost two decades on Russian intelligence matters and who now works with a US firm that gathers information on Russia for corporate clients — was assigned the task of researching Trump’s dealings in Russia and elsewhere, according to the former spy and his associates in this American firm.

What does “assigned” mean, and by whom? That Fusion/GPS (which, in fact, is a generic opposition-research firm with no particular expertise in Russia) hired with disguised Clinton campaign funds a has-been foreign-national spy to buy dirt from Russian sources to subvert a presidential campaign?

Those leaks of Christopher Steele’s dirt also did their small part in planting doubt in voters’ minds right that electing Trump was tantamount to implanting a Russian asset in the White House. Baker has been the alleged center of a number of reported leaks, even though the FBI’s general counsel should have been the last person to disclose any government communication to the press during a heated presidential campaign. And there is still no accurate information concerning what role, if any, Baker played in Andrew McCabe’s efforts to discuss removing the president following the Comey firing.

Evelyn Farkas
On March 1, 2017, just weeks after Trump took office, the New York Times revealed that. in a last-minute order, outgoing president Obama had vastly expanded the number of government officials with access to top-secret intelligence data. The Obama administration apparently sought to ensure a narrative spread that Trump may have colluded with the Russians. The day following the disclosure, a former Pentagon official, Evelyn Farkas (who might have been a source for the strange disclosure of a day earlier), explained Obama’s desperate eleventh-hour effort in an MSNBC interview:

I was urging my former colleagues, and, and frankly speaking the people on the Hill . . . it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can before President Obama leaves the administration.

Because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior people who left so it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy, um, that the [stutters] Trump folks — if they found out how we knew what we knew about their [the] Trump staff, dealing with Russians — that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we no longer have access to that intelligence.

So I became very worried because not enough was coming out into the open and I knew that there was more. We have very good intelligence on Russia, so then I had talked to some of my former colleagues and I knew that they were also trying to help get information to the Hill.

Despite media efforts to spin Farkas’s disclosure, she was essentially contextualizing how outgoing Obama officials were worried that the incoming administration would discover their own past efforts (”sources and methods”) to monitor and surveil Trump-campaign officials, and would seek an accounting. Her worry was not just that the dossier-inspired dirt would not spread after Trump took office, but that the Obama administration’s methods used to thwart Trump might be disclosed (e.g., “if they found out how we knew what we knew about their [the] Trump staff, dealing with Russians — that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we no longer have access to that intelligence”).

So Farkas et al. desperately sought to change the law so that their rumors and narratives would be so deeply seeded within the administrative state that the collusion narrative would inevitably lead to Congress and the press, and thereby overshadow any shock at the improper or illegal methods the Obama-administration officials had authorized to monitor the Trump campaign.

And Farkas was correct. Even today, urination in a Russian hotel room has overshadowed perjury traps, warping the FISA courts, illegal leaking, inserting a spy into the Trump campaign, and Russian collusion with Clinton hireling and foreign agent Christopher Steele.

Samantha Power
We now forget that for some reason, in her last year in office, but especially during and after the 2016 election, Power, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, reportedly asked to unmask the names of over 260 Americans picked up in government surveillance. She offered no real explanations of such requests.

Even stranger than a U.N. ambassador suddenly playing the role of a counterintelligence officer, Power continued her requests literally until the moments before Trump took office in January 2017. And, strangest of all, after Power testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Representative Trey Gowdy reported that “her testimony is ‘they [the unmasking requests] may be under my name, but I did not make those requests.’”

Who, in the world, then, did make those requests and why and, if true, did she know she was so being used?

And were some of those unmasking requests leaked, thus helping to fuel media rumors in late 2016 and early 2017 that Trump officials were veritable traitors in league with Russia? And why were John Brennan, James Clapper, Susan Rice, and Sally Yates reportedly in the last days (or, in some cases, the last hours) requesting that the names of Americans swept up in surveillance of others be unmasked? What was the point of it all?

In sum, did a U.N. ambassador let her name be used by aides or associates to spread rumors throughout the administrative state, and thereby brand them with classified government authenticity, and then all but ensure they were leaked to the press?

We the public most certainly wondered why the moment Trump was elected, the very name Carter Page became synonymous with collusion, and soon Michael Flynn went from a respected high-ranking military official to a near traitor, as both were announced as emblematic of their erstwhile complicit boss.

Ali Watkins and James Wolf
Watkins was the young reporter for Buzzfeed (which initially leaked the largely fake Steele dossier and erroneously reported that Michael Cohen would implicate Trump in suborning perjury) who conducted an affair with James Wolf, a staffer, 30 years her senior, on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Wolf, remember, systematically and illegally began leaking information to her that found its way into sensationalized stories about collusion. But as Margot Cleveland of the Federalist pointed out, Watkins was also identified by Buzzfeed “in court filings as one of the individuals who ‘conducted newsgathering in connection with the Dossier before Buzzfeed published the Article’ on the dossier. This fact raises the question of whether Watkins received information from Wolfe concerning the dossier and, if so, what he leaked.”

In other words, the dossier was probably planted among U.S. senators and deliberately leaked through a senior Senate aide, who made sure that the unverified dirt was published by the press to damage Donald Trump.

And it did all that and more.

The list of these bit players could be easily expanded. These satellites were not coordinated in some tight-knit vast conspiracy, but rather took their cue from their superiors and the media to freelance with assumed impunity, as their part in either preventing or ending a Trump presidency. And no doubt the Left would argue that the sheer number of federal bureaucrats and political appointees, in a variety of cabinets and agencies, throughout the legislative and the executive branches, all proves that Trump is culpable of something.

Perhaps. But the most likely explanation is that a progressive administrative state, a liberal media, and an increasingly radicalized liberal order were terrified by the thought of an outsider Trump presidency. Therefore, they did what they could, often both unethically and illegally, to stop his election, and then to subvert his presidency.

In their arrogance, they assumed that their noble professions of higher loyalties and duties gave them exemption to do what they deemed necessary and patriotic. And others like them will continue to do so, thereby setting the precedent that unelected federal officials can break the law or violate any ethical protocols they please — if they disagree with the ideology of the commander in chief. We ridicule Trump for going ballistic at each one of these periodically leaked and planted new stories that raised some new charge about his stupidity, insanity, incompetence, etc. But no one has before witnessed any president subjected to such a comprehensive effort of the media, the deep state, political opponents, and his own party establishment to destroy him.

Subversion is the new political opposition. The nation — and the Left especially — will come to regret the legacy of the foot soldiers of the Resistance in the decades to come.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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