Are U.S. spies staging a “soft coup” against the Trump administration?

6357759479_0d038eded2_oPresident Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn lost his job because someone leaked records from his phone being monitored, recording him telling the Russian ambassador that sanctions against his country would be eased.  Such phone intercepts are the work of U.S. intelligence agencies or possibly the FBI.  They are top secret.  It’s a crime to release bugging transcripts.  Nevertheless, someone in the intelligence bureaucracy gave them to a reporter.  Something similar evidently happened with the President of the United States, no less, with the leak of phone conversations between Donald Trump and world leaders, such as the embarrassing account of his spat with the Prime Minister of Australia.

Evidently, our national intelligence agency–or at least some individuals that work for it–are working to undermine our elected president and his administration.

Whatever you think of Donald Trump, this is dangerous.  At least two reports have come out on the subject, excerpted and linked after the jump.  Eli Lake calls what happened to Michael Flynn a “political assassination.”  He says that while the FBI might have been tapping his phone as part of the larger investigation of the Russian connection with Trump’s administration, Flynn was planning to reform the intelligence bureaucracy, which would be a motive for trying to get rid of him.  Damon Linker, who opposes both Trump and Flynn, nevertheless is highly concerned about the usurpation of an elected government by our shadowy spy world, accusing it of trying to stage a “soft coup” that is a threat to our democracy. [Read more…]

Trump’s labor secretary pick withdraws

Andrew_Puzder_by_Gage_Skidmore_(cropped)President Trump’s pick for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, withdrew, after several Republicans in the Senate said they would not vote for him, making his confirmation impossible.  This is Trump’s first setback in putting his cabinet together.

Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which operates the fast food chains Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

Though a Trump defeat, Puzder’s failure to get confirmed can be seen as a victory for Trump’s ideas.  Puzder has a history of hiring illegal immigrants, both in his company and in his personal house-keeping.  He has been an advocate for increased immigration and had been a supporter of the “Gang of Eight” style immigration reform with its amnesty provisions.   As labor secretary, he would not seem to embody the interests of the American workers who have been casualties of globalism and who put Trump in office.  See this for a conservative case against his confirmation.

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Trump’s national security advisor resigns

Michael_T_FlynnMichael Flynn, President Trump’s national security advisor, has resigned.  He was caught negotiating with the Russian ambassador over sanctions before taking office.  It is illegal for a private citizen to do so.  Flynn also lied to Vice-President Pence about it.

The pressure for him to leave evidently came from Trump himself.

Embattled White House national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned Monday night, two sources tell CNN.

His departure came just after reports surfaced the Justice Department warned the Trump administration last month that Flynn misled administration officials regarding his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States and was potentially vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians. [Read more…]

Immigration chaos

21119109388_2166cdaed9_oPresident Trump’s executive order blocking entry into the United States of citizens of seven nations has created chaos at airports around the world, as Iraqis with green cards, visas, and airplane tickets were suddenly not allowed to get on flights or to go through passport controls, leading to people being trapped in airports and demonstrations breaking out worldwide.

The chaos also broke out within our government:  The acting attorney general said the Justice Department will not defend the president’s executive order in court, despite the many legal challenges that have been filed.  How could she do that?  Because President Trump’s nominee for attorney general has not been conferred.  So the Justice Department, including the acting attorney general, remain in the hands of Obama appointees!  So President Trump has fired her.

Meanwhile, even those who agree with the president’s immigration policy are saying that the roll-out was bungled.  The implementation of the policy needed to be thought through more and planned, with border officials given clear instruction as to what to do.  Some aspects have been adjusted–green card holders, who by definition are “legal” residents, will be let through, as will dual citizens of certain allied countries, and immigrants who helped the U.S. military.  But the way the policy was implemented shows the inexperience of the new administration.   [Read more…]

No, Trump isn’t censoring government agencies

8073618443_4369aee552_zThe media is aghast that President Trump is requiring approval for website posts, clamping down on the use of social media,  freezing grants, and forbidding federal agencies from issuing news releases.  Censorship!  Information control!  Orwellian thought police!

Well, it turns out, as even the New York Times now admits, this is routine practice during the transition from one administration to another.  The same orders were handed down when the Obama administration replaced that of George W. Bush. As veteran federal workers are trying to explain, when new leadership comes into an agency, until it gets settled in, you hold off on your operations.  Orders to do so have been coming not from Trump but from Obama-appointed agency heads.

But what about Trump coming down on the National Parks Service for the tweets about how his inaugural crowd was smaller than Obama’s?  Read the whole story about that and how agency transitions work after the jump. [Read more…]

Trump’s moderating cabinet

319px-thumbnailSo far the confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s cabinet picks suggests that his administration will be staffed by fairly moderate Republicans.  In fact, the nominees are mostly saying they disagree with their future boss when it comes to Russia, Iran, torture, climate change, banning Muslim immigration, and other topics that Trump made a big deal of in his campaign.

Do you think this will mean that the Trump administration will be more moderate than both his supporters and critics expect?  Or does it mean that Trump picked individuals he liked without carefully attending to their views?  Will Trump be at war with his own cabinet?  Will he run roughshod over them, or will they be a moderating force on him?  Is he all that committed to his signature issues after all?  Or are the cabinet nominees just telling their Congressional interrogators what they want to hear?  Or what?

NOTE:  Both the Senate and the House passed a waiver of the law requiring Defense Secretaries to have been civilians for seven years to allow newly-retired Marine General James Mattis to fill that office. [Read more…]