There are presently two diametrically-opposed explanations of what’s going on in Washington today. One explanation is that President Trump won the election through collusion with the Russians and is a traitorous, incompetent criminal. That explanation is epitomized by E. J. Dionne’s column in the Washington Post today:
NEW YORK — Let’s not mumble or whisper about the central issue facing our country: What is this democratic nation to do when the man serving as president of the United States plainly has no business being president of the United States?
The Michael Flynn fiasco was the entirely predictable product of the indiscipline, deceit, incompetence and moral indifference that characterize Donald Trump’s approach to leadership.
Even worse, Trump’s loyalties are now in doubt. Questions about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia will not go away, even if congressional Republicans try to slow-walk a transparent investigation into what ties Trump has with Putin’s Russia — and who on his campaign did what, and when, with Russian intelligence officials and diplomats.
According to this view Trump’s chickens are coming home to roost and he should resign or be impeached sooner rather than later.
The opposing view is that Trump is being subjected to a relentless campaign of disinformation, opposition, and subversion by Democrats, journalists, and employees of federal agencies (including the intelligence agencies). That view is exemplified in this article by Richard Pollock at The Daily Caller:
The talk within the tight-knit community of retired intelligence officers was that Flynn’s sacking was a result of intelligence insiders at the CIA, NSA and National Security Council using a sophisticated “disinformation campaign” to create a crisis atmosphere. The former intel officers say the tactics hurled against Flynn over the last few months were the type of high profile hard-ball accusations previously reserved for top figures in enemy states, not for White House officials.
“This was a hit job,” charged retired Col. James Williamson, a 32-year Special Forces veteran who coordinated his operations with the intelligence community.
Noting the Obama administration first tried to silence Flynn in 2014 when the former president fired him as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Williamson called Monday’s resignation, “stage Two of ‘Kill Mike Flynn.”
Former intelligence officials who understand spy craft say Flynn’s resignation had everything to do with a “disinformation campaign” and little to do with the December phone conversation he had with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
They charge officials from America’s top spy counsels leaked classified government intercepts of Flynn and President Trump’s conversations with world leaders and had “cutouts” — friendly civilians not associated with the agency — to distribute them to reporters in a coordinated fashion.
Can these views be reconciled? I don’t see how. What I believe we’re seeing is a low-level civil war—a cold war, played out domestically. Something that needs to be recognized is that ordinary Americans don’t see things quite the same as activists, news junkies, and politicians do. Based on the RealClearPolitics composite index of polls, President Trump’s approval rating is actually better than it was on election day. That may explain why he’s reaching out so supporters.
I recognize that my view is distinctly a minority view (possibly a minority of one) but I support the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the emerging allegations against President Trump with the charter of making as much public as it can as quickly as it can. That’s based on the rubric of more light and less heat.
My concern is that heat could turn a cold war into a hot one.