Trump’s war against our intelligence services is now being wrapped into his defense against impending impeachment charges. He’s sending Attorney General William Barr around the world to ask our allies, including Australia, Italy and England, to help them undermine the credibility of our own intelligence services to help in his impeachment defense.
The attorney general is focusing on the theory, aired on far-right conspiracy sites, and raised by Trump and Giuliani, that Ukraine framed Vladimir Putin over the US election in a complex triple-cross operation by impersonating Russian hackers.
Trump and Barr have also been asking other foreign governments for help in investigating the FBI, CIA and Mueller investigators. The US president has called on the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison for assistance, while the attorney general has been on similar missions to the UK and Italy.
And the information being requested has left allies astonished. One British official with knowledge of Barr’s wish list presented to London commented that “it is like nothing we have come across before, they are basically asking, in quite robust terms, for help in doing a hatchet job on their own intelligence services”.
The UK, in particular, has been viewed by Trump followers, especially far-right conspiracy theorists, as a deep source of woes for the president…Two weeks ago Giuseppe Conte, the Italian prime minister, revealed that Barr had visited his country twice in the previous two months, alongside John Durham, the Connecticut attorney he had appointed to lead his investigation, and had pressed for information about the activities of the US intelligence services…
The Trump followers’ counternarrative is that US intelligence and security services had deliberately, and wrongly, concluded that the Russians were behind the hacking. The real culprit, they allege, was a private company, Crowdstrike, which is run with an anti-Russian agenda…
According to the conspiracy theories, Crowdstrike has a Ukrainian base, and its founder Dmitri Alperovitch is a Ukrainian who set up Putin in revenge for invading his homeland. But Alperovitch, in real life, is of Russian extraction and is a US citizen whose family came to America in the Soviet era. Crowdstrike is based not in Kiev, but California.
So we have an attorney general going around the world chasing a disproved conspiracy theory and asking our allies to help him undermine the credibility of our own intelligence agencies, including the FBI, which is actually part of the DOJ and under his control. To call this all bizarre is the understatement of the century. Trump has so destroyed our usual political norms that many will look at this and just kind of shrug their shoulders, but this is a truly disturbing and unprecedented development. Our own president asking other countries to undermine the credibility of our own intel agencies? Reality has become truly surreal with Trump at the head.