There are two classes of spies in the White House. There are those spying on President Trump to protect him from himself, and the ones spying on those spies, trying to take Trump down. Until now, the anti-Trump spies have only run directly to the press or to Congress. But they’ve figured out a better way.
I think Erick’s “CIA conspiracy” theory is as good as any out there. Possibly he gives too much credit to people working together, but that’s a small criticism. There probably is no conspiracy at all, only a collection of individuals who can’t stand the president and will do what they can to bring him down–but over time it gelled into a conspiracy.
The conspiracy we know about is that Democrats in Congress are all about getting and staying elected. That means they want to harm Trump, but not necessarily impeach him (yet). If they do impeach, they want it to be at the hands of Republicans. This is how it always is–even going back to President Nixon, who resigned only when his own party turned on him.
As long as there are enough Republicans in the Senate to keep him from being convicted in an impeachment trial, Trump will remain. Democrats are just fine with that, because it keeps them in office, while they drag out the witness list and the ever-growing demands for documents and discovery.
In the White House, there are two garden variety government workers. There are the ones who found their position by dint of party loyalty or Trump’s inner circle, or by their commitment to government service and protecting the institution serving the president. These are the ones who protect Trump by doing things, frequently without his knowledge, to end-run scandal.
Trump is a walking scandal because he doesn’t know the definition of “bright line” between abuse of office and being the MAGA man of “his people.” He walked in with no political or government experience, and believes he can just do as he pleases. Therefore, he makes no distinction between asking James Comey for his loyalty early on in his presidency, turning on Jeff Sessions and Rex Tillerson for not offering full-throated support of his worst impulses, and disclosing classified information to the Russian ambassador, versus signing bills, writing executive orders, or appointing Supreme Court justices.
To Trump, it’s all in the spectrum of doing business in the White House. He has the morals and demeanor of a Queens real estate developer who pretended to be “John Barron” on the phone to a reporter. We all knew that he’d walk into the White House and wreak havoc.
Few people can work with Trump, but the ones who are loyal do so either because they’ve become trapped by his statements and their defense of them (I think Rudy Giuliani, to some extent, is in this category), or because they believe his presidency should be successful because of the lasting impact of his judicial appointments and his generally-good agency picks. Some, like Generals Mattis and Kelly, believed simply that the presidency is too valuable to let Trump tarnish it, and therefore they were loyal to the man through their own sense of honor of the position (at least I think so).
Some in the White House are longtime Trump associates or acquaintances (Rudy Giuliani is in this category also) who believe many of his attitudes are correct, if publicly barbaric. Some in the White House are just scared because there are knives out on all sides, and getting on the right side of someone on the wrong side of The Boss is career suicide.
The whistleblower’s existence seems inevitable. Someone somewhere realized that continually leaking to the press only makes Trump more paranoid, and drives out good people like Kelly. They realized that Trump uses the media, and Congress as useful frenemies, so those attacks never get anywhere. Using the government itself against Trump became the best way to deal with him. That meant betraying people who genuinely wanted to protect the president.
I’m implying here that those who moved transcripts, and covered up embarrassing statements and abuses of office by Trump did so to protect him, not because they had some strong political reason to do so, but to protect the presidency and integrity of the executive branch. Trump is not a despot seeking power. In his mind, he’s a statesman, but his own lack of discipline, coupled with his compulsion to be the black hole consuming all media, spoils any opportunity he has to accomplish things.
What will now happen is those spies who protected Trump will be hauled in front of Congressional Democrats and forced to spill their guts under oath. Some will end up facing criminal charges (I’m certain of this). Some will expose their efforts to protect the president on many levels (remember the entire USS John McCain fiasco?). Some will turn on Trump and join the other side.
The president will now become even more paranoid about who he deals with, but won’t limit what he says or does, again, because in his mind he’s got the right to do it–including asking a foreign leader to pursue an investigation into his political rivals. Let me be clear here: I don’t care what the investigation turns up, or what the truth is of Joe or Hunter Biden and the Ukrainians. It was totally improper and abusive of the Office of the POTUS for Trump to ask Zelenskyy for a “favor” on a telephone call, or to bring in Giuliani as his front-man.
Even if Biden is totally ruined as a result of Trump’s actions, and even if Biden deserves it, that doesn’t make Trump’s action justified. The ends do not justify the means. Not ever.
We are entering the endgame of the spy vs. spy era. Either Trump will prevail and the Intelligence Community, as Erick wrote, will be damaged for many years in their own opposition to him; or the current plot (and it is a plot) to drive Trump out of office will succeed and the IC will “feel its oats” again. Neither is a good outcome. America doesn’t need the mandarins at the White House, NSA or CIA to feel like they are in charge.
I say expose the whole lot of them, and let the spies who spy on their own government hang on their own petards, or from the (figurative) highest yardarm we can summon.