- - Tuesday, May 29, 2018


Clandestine activity in the CIA is designed to promote U.S. interests abroad and when occasion warrants undermining governments hostile to our interests and to the local populace. Who would have guessed that this organization would use its assets to undermine a president of the United States perceived as a threat to its interests? In a manner unprecedented in American history, the CIA and the FBI conspired to undermine the presidency of a duly elected figure who captured 57 percent of the electoral vote.

It is instructive that Elizabeth Warren, noting that Hillary Clinton received 2 million more popular votes than Donald Trump and is still not the president, believes this factoid threatens our democracy. Apparently, Ms. Warren, a potential Democratic candidate for the presidency, does not know we live in a republic, not a democracy. Moreover, didn’t she have occasion to read the Federalist Papers?

When candidate Donald Trump argued his campaign had a mole or spy spinning news releases against him, he was described as a paranoid fool. Well, that contention has been put to bed. In fact, there appears to be sufficient evidence of misconduct for a thorough investigation. As of this moment, it appears that the Obama administration used at least one confidential informant to snoop into the Trump presidential campaign in February 2016. Attorney General Jeff Sessions responded to the president’s agitation by referring the matter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz. It remains to be seen whether this matter fits into the category of an egregious abuse of power. Mr. Trump may be right in his assertion that this is “bigger” than Watergate.

What Mr. Trump may not be able to calculate is the political effect of this episode. The 2018 elections are around the corner. The president would like to use this gross abuse by deep state Democratic officials to show the opposition as morally bankrupt. But if the charge has little effect, Mr. Trump would be denounced yet again for promoting fake news, which he deplores. As always, the stakes are high and the outcome unknown.

If Mr. Trump is right, and that appears to be the case, this will go down as a conspiracy of conspiracies. There is nothing quite like it in our history books. This is very much on the order of a Hollywood film in which a small group assumes authority because the president doesn’t pass the mental stability test implicit in the 25th Amendment. There is little doubt these assertions march close to a constitutional crisis with a president’s authority from one administration carrying over inappropriately to the next. If there is a party culpable of constitutional malfeasance it is President Obama. Most in the Justice Department are reluctant to make that call, but none of this clandestine activity would have been possible if the president in office at the time had firmly rejected it.

To tie a former president to a criminal act is indeed a difficult thing to do on many fronts. That, in my opinion, is why the wheels of justice have moved so slowly. It is difficult to connect the dots and ignore the role of the erstwhile president.

The United States is and has been a nation of versatility. This great land has faced many tests, including war, depression, urban woe, but this constitutional crisis falls into a different and more complicated realm. My belief is we will survive this judicial episode, but I am also convinced we will not be the same nation after the judgment is rendered.

Is a coup d’etat possible in the land of the free? It certainly would appear that way.

• Herbert London is president of the London Center for Policy Research.

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