The coup story keeps unfolding day by day.
At this time, Trump is pulling out from under by degrees but hasn’t defeated his foes yet. His followers remain loyal, and this support is growing. This is alarming to Democrats in office. Some of them, seeing the political liability, are saying to move on and away from the Russia issue. Jared Kushner’s published statement is detailed and open. Its detail is plausible and realistic, hiding nothing. The collusion angle has no legs in this instance. The hacking attribution to Russia has been degraded and demoted repeatedly, most recently by the coalition of retired intelligence professionals named VETS. The counterattack against the coup has gained some steam, its main spear pointing at the instigators of the infamous dossier. John Brennan remains at the center of that; more on his shifty position below. The issue of “unmasking” is cutting against Brennan, Rice and Power. Loretta Lynch is in trouble. Comey’s political machinations have been aired, bringing him down several notches. Calls for investigating Hillary Clinton and the Foundation still have legs.
Brennan now calls for government employees to disobey the orders of their boss, Trump, under certain conditions (43-45 minutes in). This is a new direction for the coup. But he’s very nervous about coming out into the open in this way. He’s breathing heavily. He’s not used to being in the public eye. He’s propagandizing and he knows it. He’s actually showing weakness, being on the defensive to resort to such a suggestion. Brennan’s exact statement: “First of all, I think it’s the obligation of some of these Executive branch officials to refuse to carry out some of these orders that, again, are inconsistent with what this country is all about.”
This statement’s legal grounding is that government officials have a right to disobey so that they do not support war crimes or other high crimes and misdemeanors or treason. Brennan’s belief is an accusation against Trump of extremely serious crimes, but he has nothing concrete to say as to what these crimes are. If he has something to say along these lines, why not say it? If the matter is so serious, why not tell the public now? Why hold back if you really know of or suspect some serious crimes that warrant disobedience in the chain of command? Brennan’s beefs with Trump have been aired before; but they are nowhere near the status of high crimes except in the eyes of a man with a one-sided view of Russia. Sure, Russia cannot be accorded blind trust, but does that mean one cannot find grounds for cooperation, as many past administrations did when differences were far greater? Brennan’s now doubling down in this poker game while Trump’s hand has strengthened. But unless Brennan has an ace in the hole, he’s going to lose.
Brennan can look to Mueller, who remains an obstacle to Trump. There is going to be a spat over Trump’s tax returns. However, whatever Mueller does or threatens, he is basically grinding his wheels and he knows it because Trump has waved the power to pardon in his face. Furthermore, as long as Mueller keeps at it, Trump can keep calling for the investigation of Clinton’s, Brennan’s, Comey’s, Rice’s, Power’s, and Lynch’s misdeeds. Trump can keep scoring points against Democrats and making people like Schumer nervous.
Michael S. Rozeff [send him mail] is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York. He is the author of the free e-book Essays on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book The U.S. Constitution and Money: Corruption and Decline.