While Impeachment Talk Grows, Trump Is Gaining Control of U.S. Intelligence

This is what White House control of the U.S. intelligence apparatus looks like: the acting director of national intelligence, Adm. Joseph Maguire, quashed the finding of his inspector general that a still-unnamed whistleblower had made serious allegations about President Trump that urgently need to be addressed by Congress. Its preview of how the president will seek to use U.S. intelligence agencies to keep himself in office.

Joseph-Maguire
Joseph-Maguire, acting director of national intelligence

Advocates of impeachment are emboldened. Partisans of the president are blaming the Bidens, never mind the lack of evidence. Less noticed is the fact that Trump’s demonization of the intelligence community—what he calls  “a Crooked and Demented Deep State”–is paying dividends in time for the 2020 election.

Thanks to Maguire, Congress has yet to see the whistleblower’s complaint, while Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Guiliani have many news cycles to confirm (and deny and confirm) that the matter involves the government of Ukraine and Hunter Biden, the son of the Democratic presidential candidate. Earlier this year Giuliani traveled to Ukraine in an apparent bid to have Hunter Biden scrutinized for the large financial payments he received from a Ukrainian natural gas firm that has been suspected of corruption. Anti-corruption activists in Ukraine say Joe Biden supported their efforts as vice president and that there is no evidence that Hunter Biden did anything other than give a veneer of respectability to Ukrainian oligarch. Trump wants the Ukrainian government to provide the “evidence” he wants

Maguire is now playing the role at ODNI that Attorney General Bill Barr plays more openly at the Justice Department: enabler of White House spin and enforcer of the president’s whims. Shane Harris of the Washington Post told Slate he believes Maguire is “not a partisan” and not “not really a big fan of the president.” Harris suggests Maguire is not happy with the position he is in. Nevertheless, Maguire followed the dubious legal opinion of Barr’s Justice Department that he cannot forward the complaint to Congress, as the whistleblower law clearly mandates.

Bill Barr
Attorney General Bill Barr (Credit: Department of Justice)

And that is what White House control of U.S. intelligence means heading into an election year. Even a senior official who wants to present himself a non-partisan, nonetheless enables a White House scheme to enlist a foreign government dependent on U.S. aid, in his election campaign. The same official is not publicly disputing the administration’s claim that it need not disclose a whistleblower’s allegation. The arguments against impeachment are collapsing along with the independence of the intelligence community.

The details of Trump’s latest abuse of office are important but so is his bureaucratic means evading accountability. The Office of National Intelligence is an obscure entity, among the youngest of the secret U.S. intelligence agencies. Created after 9/11, the ODNI is less an intelligence agency than a clearinghouse. It is supposed to synthesize and harmonize the work of 16 other U.S. intelligence agencies.  Because the ODNI has limited statutory and budgetary authority over the other agencies, the position has been regarded as something of a figurehead that is less important as the CIA director.

Trump is out to change that. He forced out the previous DNI, Dan Coats, because he publicly supported CIA findings on Iran and North Korea at a hearing in January. The next day Trump cancelled his intelligence briefing with Coats and CIA director Gina Haspel and tweeted “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school.”  From that day forth, Coats was a dead spy walking. He quit in July.

Maguire, director of the counterterrorism center at ODNI, was named as an interim director in August after Capitol Hill Republicans spurned Trump’s original nominee, Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas, as a lightweight.  So while Trump’s brazen bad faith obsesses his critics, left and right, his presidential authority still commands loyalty in the ranks of the agencies he demonizes.

Is Maguire privately unhappy with Trump? Or is he campaigning to win a permanent appointment? It’s hard to tell from his actions. Whatever his personal feelings, Maguire’s refusal to pass the whistleblower’s complaint to Congress gave the president a big tactical advantage over opponents who are encumbered with respect for ethics, procedure and norms.  

Just as Barr’s prejudicial summary of the Mueller report enabled Trump to frame the special prosecutor’s nuanced findings as complete exoneration, so Maguire’s suppression of the whistleblower complaint has given Trump  a week to frame the unsubstantiated insinuations about Hunter Biden as a gargantuan pseudo-scandal on the scale of Hillary Clinton’s emails or Uranium One, or the Comey memos, or the Carter Page FISA warrant–none of which have been found to involve the violation of any law. (Barr’s Justice Department is still investigating the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation).

Maguire’s scheduled appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday will be a test of his character, Congress’s backbone, and the independence of U.S. intelligence agencies in 2020. Whether the Maguire is allowed to testify remains to be seen. Either way, Trump’s intention to use the U.S. intelligence community to stifle his critics and promote his own reelection has already enjoyed an early success.


5 Replies to “While Impeachment Talk Grows, Trump Is Gaining Control of U.S. Intelligence”

  1. Do you think that the intelligence community has been after Trump since before he got elected?

    This all has become even stranger.

    I though Maguire did a pretty damned good job during his testimony when you consider the B.S. we have gotten from so many other from his administration.

    Barr is obviously a mouth piece for the right.

  2. While I myself loathe Trump, I do wonder if the intelligence community is indeed out to get him. It seems unlikely to me that the whistleblower, who is a CIA officer, would pursue his complaint against Trump without at least the permission of his superiors. Also, from where did the latest leak come from that Trump told Lavrov and Kislyak in 2017 that he didn’t object to the Russian interference in the 2016 election. Not many people would have known that. Mueller, for one, did not.

    Maguire is a slick character with lots of bureaucratic experience. Which is to say he knows just how to lie. Rumors of his integrity turn out to be greatly exaggerated. But then folks said as much about Barr.

  3. Consortiumnews.com has insights that put the whistleblower story in an important new light. First, Joe Lauria points out that:

    “… what’s not being talked about in the mainstream is the context of this (whistleblower) story, which shows that, politics aside, Biden should indeed be investigated in both Ukraine and in the United States.

    “We know from the leaked, early 2014 telephone conversation between Victoria Nuland, then assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and Geoffrey Pyatt, then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, that then Vice President Biden played a role in “midwifing” the U.S.-backed overthrow of an elected Ukrainian government soon after that conversation.

    “That’s the biggest crime in this story that isn’t being told. The illegal overthrow of a sovereign government.

    “As booty from the coup, the sitting vice president’s son, Hunter Biden, soon got a seat on the board of Ukraine’s biggest gas producer, Burisma Holdings. This can only be seen as a transparently neocolonial maneuver to take over a country and install one’s own people. But Biden’s son wasn’t the only one.”https://consortiumnews.com/2019/09/26/what-isnt-mentioned-about-the-trump-ukraine-scandal-the-routine-corruption-of-us-foreign-policy/

    Then Caitlin Johnstone blows it wide open by noting that, “So there you have it. A mysterious stranger from the lying, torturing, propagandizing, drug trafficking, assassinating, coup-staging, warmongering, psychopathic CIA was working in the White House, heroically provided the political/media class with politically powerful information out of the goodness of his heart, and then vanished off into the Langley sunset. Clearly there is nothing suspicious about this story at all.

    “In all seriousness, even to call this spook a “whistleblower” is ridiculous on its face. You don’t get to call someone from U.S. intelligence a whistleblower unless they are actually whistleblowing on U.S. intelligence agents. That’s not a thing. A CIA officer who exposes information about government officials is an operative performing an operation unless proven otherwise, because that’s what the CIA does; it liberally leaks information wherever it’s convenient for CIA agendas while withholding all other information behind a veil of government secrecy.

    “A Spook Doing Spook Things

    “A CIA officer who exposes information about CIA wrongdoings without the CIA’s permission is a whistleblower. A CIA officer who exposes information about someone else is just a spook doing spook things. You can recognize the latter by the way the mass media supports, applauds and employs them. You can recognize the former by the way they have been persecuted, imprisoned, and/or died under mysterious circumstances.”https://consortiumnews.com/2019/09/27/msm-defends-cias-whistleblower-ignores-actual-whistleblower/

    Trump is as sleazy as it gets, but there’s grave danger IMHO if we place our hopes in the laps of our home grown intelligence thugs and war criminals.

  4. Right O Gary. CIA was in Ukraine long before Biden or Cofer Black, former CIA himself.

    The problem the CIA presents all Americans at this point is the desire by CIA to SURVIVE. Above all else. Their Corporate Nationalist Socialist leaders demand it.

    CIA stuck it’s nose in the 2016 election because they panicked I believe. Once Hilary looked to lose CIA had multiple problems and I’m beginning to wonder if it was because they already had a “book” on Trump. If CIA did they never blinked hell we will just get him thrown out of office. See Gary that leaves them with options, one being a total government takeover.

    Don’t roll your eyes son, you ever hear of the Patriot Act?

    Calculating intelligence types get themselves into trouble the very same way DEA does when they don’t bust some worthless bastard because they feel they have bigger fist to fry. They let them run and then after something really bad happens then they look terrible to the public and rightly so.

    So could it be that CIA was waiting to drop the net on Trump but then he got elected?

    Like I keep saying this has all gotten very strange. To Gary I say this I’m kinda doubting you are as old as I am. I’m pushing 70 and I been watching CIA for yeas and years and I’ve seen enough of the CIA to last me a life time and my time grows shorter every day.

    Organizations are like fish the head rots first and this happened to CIA early on I believe. See the troubling history of one James Jesus Angelton.

    Gary your last sentence, in my opinion is seminal, except for this, which deals with your perception a view that is correct but it’s belated.

    If Truman could have written it in his Op-Ed about CIA he would have been ahead of the game, but he couldn’t do so at the time and keep any credibility.

    So you are 100% correct hopes got dropped into the wrong lap!

    When a nation’s leaders get lazy or become intimidated bad things happen and they did. The congress early on turned over the reins of power to CIA by not exercising their over sight role vigorously.

    According to Loch K. Johnson in his book “SEASON OF INQUIRY REVISITED” University Press of Kansas, re-released in 2015, congress was slyly fooled by the CIA into believing they really didn’t want to know what CIA did, call laziness or malfeasance or naivete`, most likely all the above, at this point the result is the same.

    Remember the old line, “If I tell you what I know I’ll have to kill you.” Nuff said.

    After CIA stood by and allowed the murder of JFK the congress, most anyone who had not been intimidated became true believers.

    We placed our hopes in the laps of our home grown intelligence thugs and war criminals but not maybe as you would think.

    CIA is controlled by the Deep State those evil doers who use their wealth and connections world wide to direct CIA and the State department and DOJ are complicit in that they support CAI’s lying as a right that CIA acquired after it’s inception by bull shitting the courts about its source and methods being some anointed edict.

    So “we” didn’t screw up congress didn’t do it’s job and now the likes of CIA and NSA will fight like hell to stay on top of the heap.

    BTW IMHO if it’s wrong it’s wrong and who else is in the best position in the inside of the governments filthy underbelly than CIA officers. We all need to hope they come forward and say something.

    Several CIA agents in critical positions knew well in advance of the JFK murder that CIA knew about Lee Harvey Oswald and no one of them came forward. If they had we might have ridded ourselves of this trouble some CIA bunch long ago.

    You see CIA became pro-active in a domestic plot and it resulted in a duly elected sitting presidents murder.

    So much for CIA’s storied history of patriotism.

    Heyzus Dog you cannot make this shit up;

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