Our President made headlines Friday in his ongoing role as #TweetHeadInChief. @realDonaldTrump’s messages were startling for what they said and what they left out. Although this made his tweets hard to understand, I saw little explication in the NY Times and Washington Post.
Here’s what the President tweeted about his decision to temporarily rescind his order that what the Times called “documents related to the Russia investigation be immediately declassified and released to the public.”
“The [Justice Department] agreed to release them,” the President tweeted, “but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe.”
In other words, Trump revealed, advisers from the Justice Department told him that breaking all precedents protecting highly classified materials involving an investigation of him could easily be construed as an attempted obstruction of justice. Which would be another instance of one of the very not-yet-officially-alleged crimes at the heart of the case.
Keep in mind what the President did not mention — that his own top national security people argued that his proposed de-classification and release of the products of the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations might disclose to foreign enemies crucial “sources and methods” used by our national security agencies to protect the country.
Why this issue was absent from the President’s tweet should be clear, even if it was not made more clear in journalists’ accounts of his action.
“The [DOJ] Inspector General,” @realDonaldTrump continued, “has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis. I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at.) In the end, I can always declassify if it proves necessary.”
So, who, exactly would do the “reviewing,” and to what ends? Is the President authorizing only DOJ IG Michael Horowitz to check the evidence, or is he using conventional shorthand to unleash the DOJ OIG, the Office of the Inspector General to do the work?
If that’s the case — and in the Federal bureaucracy, this dispersion of responsibility is often standard operating procedure — that would mean some relatively anonymous Trump apparatchik might do the actual reviewing.
This would have the stunning result of granting “discovery” to someone operating on behalf of a defendant before a legal charge has been made against him. What defense team wouldn’t want that? What prosecutor would stand for it? And what court would consent to such an abrogation of legal procedures?
Here’s what the Times said were on Mr. Trump’s reveal list: the Justice Department’s application to the FISA Court “to wiretap Carter Page, his former campaign official, and all F.B.I. reports about the bureau’s interviews with Bruce G. Ohr, a Justice Department official who had knowledge of the Russia investigation.”
The President had also, the Times reported, originally “directed the Justice Department ‘to publicly release’ unredacted text messages relating to the Russia investigation that were sent by the former F.B.I. officials James B. Comey and Andrew G. McCabe, and by three department employees: Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Mr. Ohr.”
And what is the prize in this gigantic evidentiary Cracker Jack box?” Evidence of some “deep state” conspiracy against the President, one presumes.
If the review, as is quite possible, turns up little that lawyers think would bolster Trump’s accusations, then, the President proposes another solution: “In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary.”
Again, there is a word left silently implicit in Trump’s Tweet and unremarked in the coverage. The word is “selectively.”
“In the end,” sez the Prez, I can make public any official secret I think helps my case and keep everything else hidden.
As a NYC Fire Truck might say —“BWAHH! BWAHH! BWAHH!” Get out of the way, tyranny is coming, and not just tyranny, but tyranny clean out of its mind.