We now have proof that the FBI was actively plotting a coup d’etat against President Trump even before he was elected.
Despite my libertarian skepticism when it comes to the nature and ultimate fate of American democracy, that’s a sentence I never expected to write. After all, are we living in some banana republic out of a Graham Greene novel, or the republic founded by Jefferson, Madison, Washington, and Adams? Given the most recent revelations surrounding the Mueller investigation, and the behavior of the FBI both before and after the 2016 presidential election, the answer to that question is not at all clear.
The publication of the text messages and emails of one Peter Strzok – a top FBI official intimately involved the Mueller probe as well as the Hillary Clinton server investigation and the Michael Flynn case – gives us a fascinating inside look at the politics of the country’s most powerful law enforcement agency. Not the rank and file, but the upper management, which – as the Strzok data dump shows – constituted the militant wing of the Clintonian movement, and I mean that literally. For the word “militant” is routinely used to describe a political extremist of one sort of another, and that is precisely what Strzok’s midsummer 2016 text message to his DOJ lawyer girlfriend conveys:
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
Andy is FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe: I wonder who else was at that little powwow in his office. Was it just FBI, or were representatives of the intelligence community also present?
In reply, the girlfriend – FBI lawyer Lisa Page, also part of the Mueller team – wrote:
“Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.”
Strzok’s answer is a pledge to “protect the country on many levels.”
Over 350 of his text messages and emails to Page were released, I believe due to a FOIA request by the heroic Judicial Watch. They are filled with vitriol, much of it obscene, aimed at Trump, and slavish devotion to Mrs. Clinton, whom both Strzok and Page fully expected to win. But Strzok, and apparently McCabe and others, weren’t taking any chances: Hillary’s supporters inside the Obama administration had a contingency plan just in case lightning struck.
When the smoke cleared, Russia-gate, the Mueller investigation, and what amounts to a regime-change operation of the sort the CIA pulled off in Chile, in 1973, and in Guatemala, in 1954, went into high gear. The goal: to obstruct the incoming Trump administration at every turn, and, in effect, achieve a condition of dual power despite the election results.
Their strategy appears to be working. Aside from the well-publicized activities of #TheResistance within the solidly pro-Clinton federal bureaucracy, the anti-Trumpian agitation coming from within the circle of his own advisors and appointees – the leaks, the outright insults, and the public displays of dissent – raise the question of “Who’s in charge?”
President Trump’s demand that the Saudis end their morally indefensible blockade of Yemen’s ports “immediately” was directly contradicted by UN ambassador and former NeverTrumper Nikki Haley, who seems to be conducting her own foreign policy. In what surely achieved some sort of record in the annals of moral degeneracy, Haley’s endless UN peroration openly supported the Saudis/UAE invasion of Yemen without mentioning the famine, the Saudi bombing of civilians, or even the President’s call to end the blockade.. Instead, she dragged out some wreckage purported to be an Iranian missile which fell harmlessly in the desert somewhere near Riyadh.
Here, again, we have to wonder: Is anybody really in charge, at this point?
This radical uncertainty is the oil that greases the wheels and cogs of the contingency plan hatched in McCabe’s office: the lubricant that eases and excuses an otherwise unthinkable assault on the Constitution and the rule of law. The very fact that the drama of Election Year 2017 is still playing out as 2018 dawns is in itself a propaganda victory for the coup plotters. Oh yes, everything’s going according to plan.
Is it me, or is the politicization of our federal law enforcement apparatus one of the truly frightening phenomena of our increasingly out-of-control era? And look at how the politics have inverted the historical tradition: I’m old enough to remember when conservatives stood by the FBI as a solid bulwark against criminality and communism, and liberals exposed and denounced the agency’s notorious spying on and hounding of American political dissidents. Today the tables are turned, with Sean Hannity railing nightly against the latest example of FBI misconduct, while the liberal media serves as a megaphone for what Hannity disdainfully refers to as “the Deep State.”
This has put old-fashioned liberals – those few who are still left – in the rather uncomfortable position of seeming to echo Trump and his defenders when they remind their leftist comrades that the Deep State is a) real, and b) not their friend. But then again hardly anyone remembers that history anymore.
Those progressive journalists with enough integrity to question the conspiracy theory at the heart of Russia-gate are routinely smeared as Putin’s “apologists,” when the real issue is the spectacular lack of evidence to support the case for “collusion.” These honest types are a distinct minority, however: #TheResistance has sucked up all the energy on what passes for the Left these days.
Longtime readers of this column will remember my theory of how the explosive power that felled that Twin Towers on 9/11 tore a hole in the space-time continuum and flung us into a Bizarro World alternate universe. Events continue to confirm my hypothesis. Look around and what do you see? A world where up is down, truth is fiction, and Fox News is the only “mainstream” voice being raised on behalf of liberty and sheer sanity.
As a sidenote, I want to underscore the irony of the strategic perspective proffered by “liberal-tarians” who propose an alliance with the Left at precisely the moment when the old quasi-libertarian leftism is practically dead and buried, and something quite ominous has taken its place. The old liberalism has been swamped by Michael Tomasky’s self-described anti-Trump “Popular Front,” which embraces liberals like himself standing shoulder to shoulder with Bill Kristol.
According to the Popular Frontists, readers of The Nation must lock arms with Weekly Standard subscribers in solidarity with the struggle against Trumpism. As to who will benefit from such an ideological shotgun marriage, and what sort of hybrid creature will be born of such a union, this is made all too plain by the sudden reappearance of Bush era speechwriter and neoconservative ideologue David Frum, who has been born again as a major figure in #TheResistance.
All sorts of opportunists and political con artists have jumped on the Trump-is-Hitler bandwagon. Discredited by the complete disaster of their pet project, the Iraq war, the neoconservatives have risen from the political grave and reincarnated as the right-wing of the anti-Trump Popular Front. The “liberal-tarians,” with considerable financial ties to the ultra-Clintonian Omidyar Network, are a potentially more palatable subset of this faction. Like their neoconservative allies, however, they are generals without an army – but with an impressive list of big donors, the sort who have never been known to contribute to ostensibly libertarian causes.
These are the activists, the ground troops, who together with the far left and the more traditional organizations that make up the Democratic party base, are part of an unprecedented and increasingly open campaign to reverse the results of a presidential election. We’ve seen this drama played out in the streets by the NeverTrumpers, but what the Strzok revelations do is give us a look behind the curtain at the origins and source of this movement – one initiated and directed by officials from within our own government. The “insurance policy” that Strzok and the McCabe cabal took out at that fateful midsummer meeting is playing out in today’s headlines, as the power elite exercises its right of veto when it comes to the question of Trump.
The McCabe conspiracy to topple Trump is really unprecedented, at least to my knowledge. This gang of self-appointed nation-savers, who have never been elected to anything, have fabricated a case of “collusion” and even treason against a President they plotted to unseat before he was even elected. The real treason is being committed by the coup plotters, who are undermining the very system they claim to be defending against the President.
In the end, this isn’t about Trump. It’s about whether the political class will be allowed to override the electoral process. If your answer is “Yes, but only this one time,” then you don’t understand what’s at stake in this fight – nothing less than the continuity of the constitutional order.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.