When White House counsel Pat Cipollone opposes something Donald Trump is intent on doing, you know it’s got to be bad. But it’s exactly where Cipollone stands on Trump’s deep desire to declassify U.S. intelligence on Russian interference in the 2016 election, which would be incredibly damaging to national security and U.S. intelligence-gathering moving forward.
Trump has always viewed the Russia investigation as a cloud hanging over his tenure from Day One, delegitimizing his big triumph in 2016 as impossible without the help of foreign interference. It may be the one instance where he’s right. But his intention to declassify U.S. intelligence on Russia to support his pet project at any cost to national security has met with stiff opposition from CIA Director Gina Haspel and divided Republicans into two camps, according to The New York Times. You’re either a Trumpist or a traitor.
Trump also remains miffed at the CIA over the agency’s failure to neutralize the whistleblower complaint regarding the July 2019 call with Ukraine that ultimately led to his impeachment. But releasing the intelligence on Russia appears to be the main motivation behind Trump’s fixation on axing Haspel, who has shared her concern with congressional members.
The Times writes that GOP lawmakers “came subtly to Ms. Haspel’s defense” Tuesday when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invited her to a meeting at his office—a signal of support for her, however weak. Of course, McConnell isn’t willing to do something more overt because he’s too busy kowtowing to Dear Leader so Republicans can get Trump’s help in the upcoming Georgia runoffs, which will decide the fate of the Senate majority.
Trump has already moved to consolidate power in the intelligence community, installing loyalists this week at key intelligence posts at the Defense Department and National Security Agency. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who oversees the 17-agency intelligence apparatus, is already a tried and true Trumpist. So the only major barriers to Trump’s near-total takeover of the intelligence community are Haspel and FBI Director Chris Wray, who reportedly have both been on Trump’s post-election chopping block.
Just imagine what Trump would have done if he had won.