By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag
Is Trump barreling towards a high-stakes confrontation with the FBI and Department of Justice?
A confrontation that could unfold within the next several days is about to overtake the news cycle and signal yet another abuse of power move by Trump. But this one could be the trigger – as FBI Director Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – decide how to respond to the president’s latest attempt to subvert the investigation into whether the Russian sabotage of the 2016 election included Trump and his people.
Did you miss the memo on the latest installment in the continuing American constitutional crisis?
While you were being distracted, on Monday Trump ordered the FBI and the DOJ to release – without redaction – all text messages pertaining to the Russia investigation from former FBI director James Comey, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, and current DOJ official Bruce Ohr. Trump also ordered “the immediate declassification” of parts of the FBI’s application to surveil Carter Page, as well as FBI reports of interviews connected to Page and Ohr.
Adam Schiff, Democratic congressman from California and the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, denounced Trump’s order as a “clear abuse of power” and stated the FBI and DOJ had previously told him that the release of some of the materials would be a “red line” that must not be crossed as their release could compromise sources and methods.
It was FBI Director Wray and Deputy AG Rosenstein, Schiff said who told him the release of the Russia documents Trump would be considered “a red line”.
Trump’s order is a direct attempt to undermine the investigation into his possible collusion with Russia – and the order itself is part of his efforts to cover-up the outrageous scandal his administration has been tagged with for the last year and half.
Schiff asserted Trump’s move is meant to “intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative.”
Trump is the subject on an on-going criminal and national security investigation – the most serious investigation into a sitting president the country has ever experienced. Releasing confidential documents about the investigation serves no purpose other than Trump pushing the federal government’s apparatus into partisan politics, using the power he has to help his defense team and to undermine the prosecution – and the rule of law, we have to add.
And in his daily Orwellian concoction, Trump said he made the decision to order the declassified documents released for transparency purposes. For transparency purposes. Quite ironic wouldn’t you say, to have the least transparent administration in modern times to call out “transparency” as its reasons to undercut an on-going and confidential investigation?
Trump – as he deploys the federal government as his personal servants – has personally attacked every individual whose text messages he wants to be released to the public.
Schiff also added:
“This is coordinated between the President and his allies. And the precedent, and policy, and the norm we’ve had since Watergate that a President does not interfere in specific cases of justice, let alone one in which the President himself is implicated is shattered.”
“In the process, important sources and important precedent to protecting those sources may be violated by a President who cares little about national security.”
Schiff called on both Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to “to stand up to this president and say ‘no.’ They are not going to release material that they have committed to keep confidential to protect people.”
Over the course of the next few days, as noted, Rosenstein and Wray and Coats will have to respond. And their response could very well cause a severe confrontation and division within the executive branch. Rosenstein and Wray could refuse the order – and then could be fired. This would certainly push the constitutional crisis into a much deeper and dangerous mode. They could refuse and then resign. Another trigger. Or they could compromise – which Rosenstein has shown he is adept at – and release just certain pages.
What’s clear is we’re still in uncharted waters as a nation and the ship of state is having holes punched in its hull below the water-line – by the captain. It could be time for a mutiny.