opinion

The Officials

Law Enforcement Turns on the Law and Order President

Hey, ‘law-and-order’ conservatives: You do realize that it’s the protectors of our laws who are trying to send this president to an early retirement, right?

opinion

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

Every time a new story breaks that moves the Russia story down the field, there’s an inevitable eruption from the right and alt-right about the liberal media trying to bring the great man down. It never fails. And given that the stories are generally appearing in the New York Times and The Washington Post, it’s easy enough for conservative commentators to make the charge and for the rank-and-file to accept it.

Time for a reality check. The Times and the Post may be running these stories. But ask yourself: Where are they getting them? The official answer is that we don’t know, because they’re anonymous sources. But basically, we do know. These sources, often identified as “current and former U.S. officials” or “current U.S. officials” or maybe even just “officials,” are in law-enforcement and intelligence. They’re FBI, CIA, and so on.

In other words: It’s not the liberal media that’s out to destroy Trump, although make no mistake, the media generally hate the guy. (And why shouldn’t they? Remember “enemy of the people”?) It’s law-enforcement. It’s intelligence. That is, it’s the protectors of our laws who are trying to send this president to an early retirement.

Let conservative readers ponder that one.

The Republicans, of course, used to be, or at least used to call themselves, the party of law and order. And that they are, when it comes to, you know, black people. But if you’re rich and right-wing and the lawlessness is on a grandiose-enough scale and committed in the name of doing battle against manifestations and protrusions of liberalism, then there is no such thing as crime.

This is the lesson to take away from these contemptible defenses of Greg Gianforte by Matt Drudge, Laura Ingraham, and others. It was appalling, and telling, that Gianforte put the phrase “liberal journalist” in his campaign’s dishonest statement about what transpired with Ben Jacobs (note: Jacobs is my friend, just like he’s friends with loads of people here in Washington, because he’s a nice and smart guy). The signal Gianforte was sending was that because Jacobs is a “liberal,” his own law-breaking was OK. Justified. Indeed—courageous!

So it was with Trump. For a while, he had the FBI at least in his corner. The agents are mostly Republicans, and Hillary Clinton had few admirers in the bureau even before she set up her private server. So they helped Trump. Jim Comey seemed to be helping Trump, with his ninth-inning reopening of the Clinton investigation. Rudy Giuliani’s buddies in the New York field office certainly seemed to be helping Trump. He was arresting liberalism’s march, slaying the Hillary dragon.

Then two things happened, or maybe three. First he started attacking the FBI (actually he’d already started that last summer, but back then he was still the far-lesser evil as far as the bureau was concerned). Then he set about subverting the FBI by trying to get Comey to quash the probe into his campaign’s Russia ties, and ultimately firing Comey over it (which, remember, he himself admitted to Lester Holt).

And the third thing that may have happened—we don’t know this yet—is that the FBI may have turned up hard evidence of a crime or a conspiracy to corrupt the election. As I say, we don’t know that yet. But you can be sure that if the FBI has those goods, we’ll know them in due course. The people leaking to the Times and the Post will make sure we know. They want Trump’s onions on a platter. There’s obviously a strong revenge factor here, but I’d like to think it’s also the case that the Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn’t want a gang of criminals running the country.

You can complain about anonymous leaks all you want, if you’re a Trumpster. But I doubt you were complaining about them when it was investigators from Trey Gowdy’s Benghazi committee, or whoever it was, leaking stuff (also to the liberal Times) about Hillary’s emails. And anyway, anonymous sources are necessary. Woodward and Bernstein would never have cracked Watergate without Deep Throat. All manner of governmental and corporate crimes would remain unknown to us if someone didn’t go to the press.

So these leaks are going to keep coming. And the next time you hear someone on the right complain about the liberal media trying to get poor Donnie, just remember how and why and from what sources all those juicy stories are emerging in the first place. Most regular people don’t give any thought to how a story got in the newspaper; they just take it at face value that an enterprising reporter dug it up. No knock on those reporters, who’ve developed the sources to get these stories, and pursued them doggedly. But the stories are coming to them.

The people who are looking to bring Trump down aren’t the people with press passes. They’re the people with badges.