Donald Trump’s new threat against former intelligence officials is much worse than it looks.
It’s not just an effort by the president to silence a group of his critics. Instead, it could be an attempt to undermine the credibility of witnesses in the ongoing Russia investigation.
As MSNBC’s Ari Melber pointed out on Monday, the figures now being targeted by the White House aren’t just former members of the U.S. intelligence community that don’t approve of Trump’s job performance. They are also witnesses in Mueller’s criminal investigation of Trump and his campaign’s ties to Russia.
“This may be even worse than potentially punishing them for what they have said,” Melber explained on Monday. “This may be an attempt, out in the open, to discredit them over what they saw.”
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) July 23, 2018
Melber explained why Trump’s threat is so dangerous:
Here are six of the former national security officials the White House is targeting. There are intelligence and FBI officials, plus former CIA director Brennan who, full disclosure, is now an analyst for NBC news. But the most important thing here that those people may have in common is they are all witnesses against the president in an open criminal probe. Comey, McCabe and Brennan, for example, involved in critical Russia meetings during Donald Trump’s transition. So this move may actually be even worse than potentially punishing them for what they have said. This may be an attempt, out in the open, to discredit them over what they saw and what they could potentially tell prosecutors.
Trump is abusing his power
It’s frightening enough that a president would use his authority to target those who disagree with him, whether they are activists, journalists or former government officials.
But using it to threaten and undermine witnesses in an ongoing criminal probe is something much worse.
Trump isn’t just petty and thin-skinned – a man who likes to bully others but isn’t tough enough to withstand criticism. He’s also a guy clearly in a state of panic over the direction each of these investigations is taking.
From Mueller’s criminal probe to Cohen’s secret tapes, Trump is in big trouble, and now he’s trying to abuse his power to get out of it.