- - Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Hercules cleaned the Augean Stables by diverting the course of two rivers through the gates to carry off the grunge and dreck. Donald Trump will need more than a river to collect the dreck as he drains the swamp that is Washington.

Shadowy imposters have claimed their first victim with, to be sure, a little help from the victim himself. Michael Flynn was forced to resign after he misled Vice President Mike Pence about whether he had held conversations with a Russian diplomat, before Mr. Trump’s inaugural, about lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia. The Democrats, in a fit of conspiracy mongering, say Mr. Flynn’s misdeed was part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s scheme to sink Hillary Clinton and elect Mr. Trump. Hillary sank her campaign herself, but Democrats have yet to come to terms with that.

Mr. Flynn could, the Democrats say, have run afoul of the Logan Act, which bars private citizens from conducting diplomacy. It’s not at all clear that “conducting diplomacy” was what Mr. Flynn was doing, but it makes a perfect bookend to the Trump-Putin conspiracy tale.

The larger offense was not what the leaks said about Mr. Flynn, but the fact that the intelligence agencies leaked the information in behalf of a shadow administration of Obama loyalists who think they can bring down a president and the government. That’s nothing short of a coup. A president, this one or any other, would have no choice but to ask for the resignation of an aide who betrays trust. Donald Trump must unravel this authentic conspiracy. The United States is not a banana republic, and the top bananas in the conspiracy must be exposed and severely punished.

“The real story here,” the president tweets, “is why are there so many leaks coming out of Washington?” It’s a good question. Transcripts of Mr. Trump’s telephone conversations with Mexican and Australian leaders were leaked as well, and the deceit and dark ambition of intelligence professionals are more than merely troubling. The damaging leaks were known by the Obama administration, and were obviously meant to blow a hole in the Trump White House. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has asked the FBI to investigate.

Americans learned a lot about how media bias works through the painful experience of the 2016 presidential election. Hostility toward Donald Trump was on full display. Less evident, but no less real, is the politicization of intelligence. As unethical reporters cast aside objectivity to shape events to their imagined higher moral standards, the spooks are tempted to exploit an unexpected opening.

President Trump’s vow to “drain the swamp” set the teeth of Democrats on edge, and Mr. Flynn’s deep knowledge of what has been going on, given his past experience as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, made him an inevitable target. He understands what Iran is up to, and the fact that he wouldn’t keep quiet about the aims of radical Islamic terrorism eventually led to his dismissal at the Defense Intelligence Agency.

When Mr. Trump disputed an intelligence report last month that Russian hackers tried to influence the presidential election, Sen. Charles Schumer, the leader of the Democratic minority in the U.S. Senate who likes the swamp just the way it is, darkly warned the new president. “You take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” They will fight to preserve the swamp by any means necessary. That’s the true lesson, with a warning, of what happened to Mike Flynn.

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