Republican Senator Mitt Romney is the punching bag through which President Trump is conveying his mob-like message that anyone who dares to cross him by cooperating with investigations or voting in accordance with their oath to the United States will be dragged, pummeled, and relentlessly attacked from all sides until they learn their lesson that Donald Trump is King.
“So the brutalization of Romney is also about telegraphing what awaits Republicans who express any such misgivings,” Greg Sargent concluded at the end of an opinion piece in the Washington Post, in which he included quotes from former CIA official and NSC Spokesperson Ned Price about the possible reasons the Trump White House appears to be directing the NSA to withhold information from Congress.
Price is referring to the Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff’s suggestion that the NSA – and possibly the CIA – withheld evidence pertinent to Trump and Ukraine from the House, and that Schiff believes the information was withheld on direction from the White House.
So, two things: Why would this information be withheld, and what does it mean if Donald Trump now has the power to order our intelligence community to refuse to share pertinent information about our national security and election security with Congress, which is a violation of its statutory obligation.
WHY: Price told Sargent “… one plausible scenario is that this information comprised intercepted conversations among Ukrainian officials about Trump’s shakedown.”
If the Ukrainians felt pressured to announce a bogus investigation into Biden, Price explained, that would demonstrate that they “understood a direct link between the two.”
Sargent continues with Price’s observation that it is likely the White House counsel who directed the NSA not to comply:
“This would have been very pertinent information,” Price told me.
Price noted it’s likely the White House counsel — who led Trump’s impeachment defense — could have instructed NSA officials not to cooperate with House demands.
“By law, the NSA is required to provide pertinent information to congressional overseers,” Price told me. “Blocking that would require a deliberate intervention from the White House.”
Ned Price is the person who quit the CIA in 2017, writing “Despite working proudly for Republican and Democratic presidents, I reluctantly concluded that I cannot in good faith serve this administration as an intelligence professional.”
WHAT IT MEANS: Not only did the House not have all of the information about Trump’s Ukraine extortion plot, but more broadly, this would be a huge power grab and attempt to undermine the few foundations of our democracy that have clung to reality as Trump gaslit the nation.
Price warned in 2017 that the Trump administration “has little need for intelligence professionals who, in speaking truth to power, might challenge the ‘America First’ orthodoxy that sees Russia as an ally and Australia as a punching bag. That’s why the president’s trusted White House advisers, not career professionals, reportedly have final say over what intelligence reaches his desk.”
Price explained then that intelligence is supposed to inform policy, that is how it always worked in the past. “Intelligence informing policy — this is how the system is supposed to work. I saw that up close for the past three years at the White House, where I worked on loan from the CIA until last month.”
The details are unclear for a variety of reasons, but when respected officials are warning that our intelligence community has been or is being poisoned by Trumpism, it deserves all attention. (Price worked for both Democrats and Republicans, but did donate to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Adam Schiff is the Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a Democrat with a history of backing his claims up with facts.)
The intelligence community, the free press, and a Democratic-led House have been the only institutions upholding reality and the rule of law under Trump. Without the intelligence community, we are left only to the limited powers of the House and the rather easily dismissed reporting of investigative journalists in the age of “Fake News.”
Trump has managed to undermine all tenets of reality and truth-telling, in order to fashion a staged atmosphere that centers around his conspiracy beliefs and refusal to concede to reality, let alone his complete disregard for what has always made the United States great.
The Trump cult fever is reaching an all time high, infecting every part of our institutions. Only time will tell if they will hold under such pressure, but make no mistake, Donald Trump is attacking the fundamental buttresses of our democracy.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.