Big Brother is now stage centre in American political life. The recent appearance in the Washington Post of the transcript of a private conversation between President Trump, flying back from Germany on July 8, and his son Donald Trump Jr. is a case in point. If the president of the United States, ensconced in the exorbitant security of Air Force One, cannot feel free to speak his mind, then who can?
For most of the anti-Trump brigade, with some honourable exceptions, Big Brother in this case is doing America a favour. President Trump happens to be the enemy of all things good, from open borders, unfettered immigration, PC orthodoxy, Black Lives Matter, the Muslim Brotherhood, Rosie O’Donnell, CNN, Obamacare, the Paris Climate Agreement, Transgender Troops and so on ad infinitum. As CNN’s Senior White House Correspondent, Jim Costa, put it last week: ‘…this White House has an unhealthy fixation on what I call the three Ms, the Mexicans, Muslims, and the media.’ The Xenophobe-in-Chief needs to be taken down and if Big Brother can lend a hand that would be just fine.
There is, as most people now acknowledge, nothing untoward in the Air Force One transcript. At the time, though, the Washington Post made the breathless case that it might somehow provide ammunition for Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to use as evidence of obstruction on the part of President Trump in the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election campaign. The father/son conversation related to a statement Trump Jr. was preparing as a response to the disclosure that during the 2016 election campaign he briefly and inconsequentially met with a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, in Trump Tower. Veselnitskaya, as it turns out, has no Kremlin connections and over the years her lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. were overwhelmingly with Democratic players and not Republicans.
Not that these minor details were allowed to hamper the Russian collusion-delusion narrative perpetrated by those experiencing Trump Derangement Syndrome. After all, the Red-Scare-Without-the-Reds hoax has provided Special Counsel Bob Mueller with a free hand to investigate any possible indiscretion committed by the president in his life as a businessman. And whether or not that is related to Russia and the 2016 campaign no longer seems to be of concern. As Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) recently made clear in an appearance on CNN: ‘Any kind of crime is fair for the special prosecutor to pursue. If the special prosecutor finds a violation of law, he can pursue it himself, or he can turn it over to another prosecutor.’
Proof, if proof were required, that the investigation is a prosecution in search of a crime.
There is an irony in the progressive side of politics enlisting, or at least aiding and abetting, Big Brother’s intrusion into the domestic political landscape. It was the Left, during the era of the 1950s Red Scare and even more so in the aftermath of JFK’s assassination in 1963, that so ardently denounced the advent of the Deep State. The contemporary Left, in contrast, appears quite sanguine about Big Brother spying on their head of state and disclosing his every rumination for the world to study. For partisans of this calibre, it is as if the very notion of treason has been expunged, and that the United States (and the West in general) no longer faces rivals or enemies that might be advantaged by the full disclosure of President Trump’s phone calls with the Prime Minister of Australia or the President of Mexico.
The short-sightedness of this is obvious. The seventeen intelligence agencies in America, from the FBI to the CIA, should be above party politics. For it to be otherwise is to confirm Julian Assange’s maxim that they are less concerned with ‘national security’ than ‘political security’. To treat former FBI Director James Comey, an unelected official who admitted to divulging the contents of private discussions with the president, as a political martyr is absurd. A publisher has allegedly advanced him $2 million for a tell-all memoir. Did this guy never sign up to some kind of oath of silence? If Edward Snowden’s account of the electronic surveillance carried out on ordinary citizens happens to be even one-tenth true, then the least we should expect from an ex-spook is discretion. That, however, would not be in keeping with our latter-day J. Edgar Hoover who insinuated himself into the 2016 presidential election campaign not once, not twice, but three times.
State agencies pursuing ‘political security’ rather than ‘national security’ is not new in America. In 2013, for instance, President Obama had to sack Steven T. Miller, Acting Commissioner of the Inland Revenue Service, after a damning report accused the IRS of singling out people with links to conservative organisations, such as the Tea Party, for ‘inappropriate extra scrutiny’.
The emergence of Trump’s populist movement, which might be characterised as Tea Party 2.0, appears to have alarmed the Washington establishment in the same way its political forerunner did.
The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes (R-CA), disclosed in a letter last week to the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coates, that his team was actively probing the possibility that members of the Obama administration may have used sensitive intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign to ‘achieve partisan political purposes, including the selective anonymous leaking of such information’. The Obama administration, in other words, used Big Brother to spy on candidate Donald Trump.
We are, for the moment, presented with two opposing and irreconcilable narratives. In the first storyline, Trump is guilty of colluding with the Kremlin in order to steal the election, a crime so grave and, at the same time, so stealthy that no effort should be spared, no national security leak disregarded, until Trump’s ignominy has been unmasked. The alternative scenario, the one being explored by the House Intelligence Committee, is that as soon as candidate Trump announced his intention to ‘drain the swamp in Washington’, the swamp decided to drown Donald Trump, its modus operandi the fabricated Russian ‘scandal’. As Steve Bannon has explained: ‘If you think they will give you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.’
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