In his press conference Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump responded to recent attacks against him by the intelligence community by saying that leaking “information that turned out to be so false and fake” was “something that Nazi Germany would have done.” His remarks were in reference to an unsubstantiated “dossier” added to the intelligence community’s report of alleged Russian interference in recent U.S. elections.
But how culpable is the intelligence community in its handling of this dossier? Do intel's actions rise to the level of “something that Nazi Germany would have done,” as Trump charges? And do those actions include not only fake intel against Trump but also giving him “fake briefings” (more on this below)?
The intelligence community had previously released first one, and then another, report alleging that Russian president Vladimir Putin directed a campaign to influence the U.S. presidential election for the purpose of discrediting Hillary Clinton and assuring Trump’s election. Last week, the intelligence community appended a spurious document purported to be a “dossier” of Trump’s connections with Russia to the most recent of those classified reports. The document — which even Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted has not been verified — alleges that Russian agents have compromising information on Trump that could be used to blackmail him, including a litany of freakish sexual misbehaviors supposedly committed by Trump while in Moscow.
Trump immediately denied the allegations of the less-than-reliable document and has maintained that denial. In his press conference Wednesday, the president-elect took the opportunity to publicly address his attackers, saying:
I think it was disgraceful. Disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it's a disgrace, and I say that's something that Nazi Germany would have done — and did do. I think it's a disgrace that information that was false and fake and never happened got released to the public.
The intelligence community, which had not only maligned Trump by including the unsubstantiated and inflammatory document in its official report, but had claimed to have provided him with a two-page synopsis of it (which Trump and others deny), wasted no time in responding to Trump’s remarks. The Los Angeles Times quoted Glenn Carle, a former senior CIA officer who spent more than two decades as a spy, as saying, “Kill the messenger and divert attention: That is the only trick Donald Trump has, and he does it viciously.” Carle added, “The relationship is essentially damaged beyond the possibility of repair before it has even begun.”
It may well be true that “the relationship is essentially damaged beyond the possibility of repair,” but blaming that damage on Trump’s reaction to his mistreatment at the hands of professional liars and propagandists is a classic case of confusing cause and effect.
Any objective and informed person looking at this case would have little trouble placing the blame on the intelligence community. Consider the following points:
• The unsubstantiated document that is purportedly a “dossier” of Trump’s connections to, control by, and misbehavior in Russia is not only so far-fetched that it stretches the imagination past the breaking point, it is also rife with misspellings, errors, and poor grammar.
• After including the document — despite all of the above reasons to doubt its veracity — in the official report, the intelligence community failed to keep the classified full version of the document from leaking to the press.
• Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted in a statement that the intelligence community “has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable.”
• Clapper — who famously lied to Congress under oath and on camera in March 2013, when he said that the NSA does not collect any data on American citizens — and other intelligence officials claimed to have given Trump a two-page summary of the document, but Trump, a member of his transition team, and a government source all say that never happened.
It appears the intelligence community, which has no love for Trump, is working to delegitimize his presidency before it even begins. In fact, the intelligence agencies’ actions may actually be following the advice offered by former Senator Harry Reid (D–Nev.) when he said the best way for them to deal with Trump would be to “Fake it, pretend you’re doing a briefing, but you can’t give the guy any information.” Reid’s comments were made in July when he was still the Senate minority leader, and Trump was a the GOP nominee in the presidential race. In a video interview, Reid told the Huffington Post:
How would the CIA and the other intelligence agencies brief this guy? How could they do that? I would suggest to the intelligence agencies, if you’re forced to brief this guy, don’t tell him anything, just fake it, because this man is dangerous. Fake it, pretend you’re doing a briefing, but you can’t give the guy any information.
Reid went on to say about Trump, “This guy, he’s part of a foreign power. We knew he liked Putin before this, but this is quite ridiculous.”
Ah, the obligatory reference to Russia that has played such an important role in this poorly scripted drama.
Reid repeated his advice in another video interview — this time with CNN correspondent Manu Raju, saying, “What I’ve suggested is now — because he’s the nominee for the party and he’s entitled to briefings from the CIA for example — I said publicly, ‘Give him fake briefings. Pretend you’re briefing him. Don’t tell him anything that you don’t want to get out.'” Raju asked Reid, “But as the Republican nominee, isn’t he entitled to get those briefings?” Reid responded, “Give him fake briefings.” Raju asked, “What does that even mean?” Undeterred, Reid answered, “It means they’ll tell him stuff; he won’t know the difference.” With obvious shock, Raju said, “You’re basically telling the intelligence community to lie to him!”
Reid did what so many liberals do without even realizing it. He shifted gears and pretended that he never suggested any such thing. “No. No, you don’t lie. I’m not going to lie to you, that’s why I have to tell you everything.”
It now appears that whether or not the intelligence community lied to Trump in his briefings as the nominee, it is certainly lying both to and about him now. If — and this is not a big if — the relationship between Trump and the intelligence community is damaged beyond repair, it is because the intelligence community is a dysfunctional group of liars and manipulators, and Trump — whatever his other faults may be — is standing up to them.
As this writer noted in a previous article:
From their perspective, Trump's enemies in politics, the intelligence community, and media have good reason to hate and fear him. For instance, he has promised to derail the globalist agenda of so-called free trade so loved by political insiders on both sides of the aisle, has said he will shake up the intelligence community — which he has accused (both before and since this recent debacle) of corruption and ineptitude, and has blasted the liberal mainstream media as tools of the establishment. Now, all three are coming after him with everything they've got.
But as his “Nazi Germany” remarks go to show, Trump appears ready to give as good as he gets. Which is a good thing for America since there are only two possibilities in this case: The intelligence community is so stupid that they can't tell what to include in an official report; or they are so corrupt that they intentionally included spurious content for their own political purposes. Neither of those possibilities is acceptable.