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A Soft Coup, or Preserving Our Democracy?

We Americans have long regarded coups as undesirable political turmoil afflicting nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America in which governments are changed by force rather than through the ballot box. During the past several weeks, political commentators are beginning to use the word when describing the series of events that began last summer with the claim that Russia was somehow interfering in our national election on behalf of one candidate. To be sure, no one expects the country’s armed forces to march on the White House and force Donald Trump out, but some commentators are suggesting that a political environment is deliberately being created that will either make it impossible for Trump to govern or, if the pieces fall together nicely, will provide grounds for impeachment. As those who might be promoting that kind of regime change are civilians who will not be resorting to armed insurrection, it might be most correct to refer to the possible coup as “soft” or even “stealth.” Conservative radio host and author Mark Levin refers to it [1] as a “silent coup.”

Coup or legitimate political pushback depends on which side of the fence one is standing on. There are two competing narratives to choose from and there is inevitably considerable gray area in between depending on what turns out to be true. One narrative, coming from the Trump camp, is that President Obama used the nation’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies plus judicious leaks of classified information and innuendo to the media to sabotage Trump during and after the campaign. This was largely done by spreading malicious claims about the campaign’s associates, linking them to criminal activity and even suggesting that they had been subverted to support Russian interests. As of this date, none of the “Manchurian candidate” allegations have been supported by evidence because they are not true. The intention of the Obama/Clinton campaign is to explain the election loss in terms acceptable to the Democratic Party, to hamstring and delegitimize the new administration coming in, and to bring about the resignation or impeachment of Donald Trump. It is in all intents and purposes a coup, though without military intervention, as it seeks to overturn a completely legal and constitutional election.

The contrary viewpoint is that team Trump’s ties to Russia constitute an existential national security threat, that the Russians did steal information relevant to the campaign, did directly involve themselves in the election to discredit U.S. democracy and elect Trump, and will now benefit from the process, thereby doing grave damage to our country and its interests. Adversarial activity undertaken since the election is necessary, designed to make sure the new president does not alter or eliminate the documentary record in intelligence files regarding what took place and to limit Trump’s ability to make serious errors in any recalibration with Moscow. In short, Trump is a dangerous man who might be in bed with an enemy power and has to be watched closely and restrained. Doing so is necessary to preserve our democratic system.

This is what we know or think we know described chronologically:

The sources all agree that in early 2016 the FBI developed an interest [2] in an internet server in Trump Tower based on allegations of possible criminal activity, which in this case might have meant suspicion of involvement in Russian mafia activity. The interest in the server derived from an apparent link to Alfa Bank of Moscow and possibly one other Russian bank, regarding which the metadata (presumably collected either by the Bureau or NSA) showed frequent and high-volume two-way communications. It is not clear if a normal criminal warrant was actually sought and approved and/or acted upon but, according to The New York Times, the FBI somehow determined that the server did not have “any nefarious purpose” [3] and was probably used for marketing or might even have been generating spam.

The examination of the server was only one part of what was taking place, with The New York Times also reporting [2] that, “For much of the summer, the FBI pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats….” The article also noted that, “Hillary Clinton’s supporters…pushed for these investigations,” which were clearly endorsed by President Obama.

In June, with Trump about to be nominated, some sources claim that the FBI sought a warrant [4] from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court to tap into the same Trump Tower server and collect information on the American users of the system. FISA warrants relate to investigations of foreign intelligence agents but they also permit inadvertent collection of information on the suspect’s American contacts. In this case the name “Trump” was reportedly part of the request. Even though FISA warrants are routinely approved, this request was turned down for being too broad in its scope.

Also in the summer, a dossier on Trump compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele that was commissioned initially by a Republican enemy of Trump and was later picked up and paid for by the Democratic National Committee began to make the rounds [5] in Washington, though it was not surfaced in the media until January. The dossier was being worked on in June and by one account was turned over to the FBI in Rome by Steele in July [6]. It later was passed to John McCain in November and was presented to FBI Director James Comey for action. It contained serious but largely unsubstantiated allegations about Trump’s connection to Russia as a businessman. It also included accounts of some bizarre sexual escapades.

At roughly the same time the Clinton campaign began a major effort to connect Trump with Russia as a way to discredit him and his campaign and to deflect the revelations of campaign malfeasance coming from WikiLeaks. In late August, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wrote to Comey and demanded that [6] the “connections between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign” be investigated. In September, Senator Diane Feinstein and Representative Adam Schiff of the Senate and House intelligence committees respectively publicly accused the Russians of meddling in the election “based on briefings we have received.”

In October, some sources claim that the FBI resubmitted its FISA request [7] in a “narrowed down” form which excluded Donald Trump personally but did note that the server was “possibly related” to the Trump campaign. It was approved and surveillance of the server on national security grounds rather than criminal investigatory grounds may have begun. Bear in mind that Trump was already the Republican nominee and was only weeks away from the election and this is possibly what Trump was referring to [8] when he expressed his outrage that the government had “wiretapped” Trump Tower under orders from the White House.

Trump has a point about being “tapped” because the NSA basically records nearly everything. But as president he should already know that and he presumably approves of it.

Several other sources dismiss the wiretap story as it has appeared in the media. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper “denied” on March 5 that there had been a FISA warrant authorizing surveillance of the Trump Tower server. He stated that there had never been any surveillance of Trump Tower “to my knowledge” [9] because, if there had been a FISA warrant, he would have been informed. Critics immediately noted that Clapper has previously lied about surveillance issues and his testimony contradicts other evidence suggesting that there was a FISA warrant, though none of the sources appear to know if it was ever actually used. Former George W. Bush White House Attorney General Michael Mukasey provided a view contrary to that of Clapper, saying that [4] “there was surveillance, and that it was conducted at the behest of the… Justice Department through the FISA court.” FBI Director Comey also entered the discussion, claiming in very specific and narrow language [10] that no phones at Trump Tower were “tapped.”

The campaign to link Trump to Russia also increased in intensity, including statements by multiple former and current intelligence agency heads regarding the reality of the Russian threat and the danger of electing a president who would ignore that reality. It culminated in [2] ex-CIA Acting Director Michael Morell’s claim that Trump was “an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” British and Dutch intelligence were apparently discreetly queried [11] regarding possible derogatory intelligence on the Trump campaign’s links to Russia and they responded by providing information detailing meetings in Europe. Hundreds of self-described GOP foreign policy “experts” signed letters stating that they opposed Trump’s candidacy and the mainstream media was unrelentingly hostile. Leading Republicans refused to endorse Trump and some, like Senators John McCain, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, cited his connections to Russia.

President Obama and the first lady also increasingly joined in the fray as the election neared, campaigning aggressively for Hillary. President Obama called [12] Trump’s “flattery” of Vladimir Putin “out of step” with U.S. norms.

After the election, the drumbeat about Trump and Russia continued and even intensified. There was a 25-page report issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on January 6 called “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections. Four days later, this was followed by the publication of the 35-page report [13] on Trump compiled by British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. The ODNI report has been criticized as being long on conjecture and short on evidence while the British report is full of speculation and is basically unsourced. When the Steele dossier first appeared, it was assumed that it would be fact-checked by the FBI but, if that was ever done, it has not been made public.

Also on January 6, two weeks before the inauguration, Obama reportedly [11] “expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 18 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.” This made it easier for derogatory or speculative information on individuals to be shared or leaked. The New York Times interpreted this to be a move intended to “preserve” information relating to the investigation of the Trump campaign’s Russian ties. In this case, wide dissemination was viewed as a way to keep it from being deleted or hidden and to enable further investigation of what took place.

Two weeks later, just before the inauguration, The New York Times reported [14] that the FBI, CIA, NSA and the Treasury Department were actively investigating several Trump campaign associates for their Russian ties. There were also reports of a “multiagency working group to coordinate the investigations across the government.”

Leaks to the media on February 8 revealed that there had been late December telephone conversations between national security advisor designate Michael Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak. The transcripts were apparently leaked by senior intelligence officials who had access to such highly restricted information, presumably hold-overs from the Obama Administration, and Flynn was eventually forced to resign [15] on February 13 for having lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the calls. For what it’s worth, some at the CIA, FBI and State Department have been openly discussing and acknowledging that senior officers are behind the leaks. The State Department is reported to be particularly anti-Trump.

One day after Flynn resigned The Times cited [16] “four current and former officials” to claim that Trump campaign associates had had “repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials,” but admitted that there was no evidence that the campaign had in any way been influenced by the Russians.

The Attorney General Jeff Sessions saga, which appeared in the media on March 1, is still ongoing. Sessions is being accused of lying to Congress over two contacts with the Russian ambassador. No one is claiming that he did anything inappropriate with Kislyak and he denies that he lied, arguing that the question was ambiguous, as was his response. He has agreed to recuse himself from any investigation of Russia-Trump campaign ties.

Soon thereafter, also on March 1, The New York Times published a major article which I found frightening due to its revelation regarding executive power [11]. It touched on Sessions, but was more concerned with what was taking place over Russia and Trump. It was entitled “Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking.” It confirmed the previous European intelligence service involvement in the Trump-Russia investigation and also exposed the long-suspected U.S. intelligence agency interception of telephone communications of Russian officials “within the Kremlin,” revealing that they had been in contact with Trump representatives.

The Times article also described how in early December Obama had ordered the intelligence community to conduct a full assessment of Russian activity relating to the election. Soon thereafter the intelligence agencies acting under White House instruction were pushing Trump-Russia classified information through the system and into analytic documents so it would be accessible to a wide readership after the inauguration while at the same time burying the actual sources to make it difficult to either identify them or even assess the reliability of the information. Some of the information even went to European allies. The State Department reportedly sent a large cache of classified documents relating to Russian attempts to interfere in elections worldwide over to Senator Ben Cardin, a leading critic of Trump and Russia, shortly before the inauguration.

The Times article claimed, relying on anonymous sources, that President Obama was not directly involved in the efforts to collect and disseminate the information on Trump and the Russians. Those initiatives were reportedly directed by others, notably some political appointees working in the White House. I for one find that assertion hard to believe.

The turmoil on Capitol Hill is matched by street rallies and demonstrations denouncing the Trump administration, with much of the focus on the alleged Russian connection. The similarities and ubiquity in the slogans, the “Resist” signs and the hashtags #notmypresident have led some to believe that at least a part of the activity is being funded and organized by progressive organizations that want Trump out. The name George Soros, a Hungarian billionaire and prominent democracy promoter, frequently comes up [17]. Barack Obama is also reported to be setting up a war room in his new home in Washington D.C. headed by former consigliere Valerie Jarrett [18] to “lead the fight and strategy to topple Trump.” And Hillary Clinton has been engaged in developing [19] a viable opposition to Trump while still seething about Putin. Two congressional inquiries are pending into the Russian connection and the FBI investigation, insofar as can be determined, is still active.

If one were to come up with a summary of what the government might or might not have been doing over the past nine months concerning Trump and the Russians it would go something like this: FBI investigators looking for criminal activity connected to the Trump Tower server found nothing and then might have sought and eventually obtained a FISA issued warrant permitting them to keep looking on national security grounds. If that is so, the government could have been using the high-tech surveillance capabilities of the federal intelligence services to monitor the activity of an opposition political candidate. Additional information was undoubtedly collected on Trump and his associates’ dealings with Russia using federal intelligence and law enforcement resources, and NSA guidelines were changed shortly before the inauguration so that much of the information thus obtained, normally highly restricted, could then be disseminated throughout the intelligence community and to other government agencies. This virtually guaranteed that it could not be deleted or hidden while also insuring that at least some of it would be leaked to the media.

The actions undertaken by the lame duck Obama administration were certainly politically motivated, but there also might have been genuine concern over the alleged Russian threat. The Obama administration’s actions were quite likely intended to hobble the new administration in general as Trump would be nervous about the reliability of his own intelligence and law enforcement agencies while also being constantly engaged in fighting leaks, but they might also have been designed to narrow the new president’s options when dealing with Russia. Whether there is any intention to either delegitimize or bring down the Trump White House is, of course, unknowable unless you had the good fortune to be in the Oval Office when such options were possibly being discussed.

It should also be observed that all of the investigations by both the government and the media have come up with almost nothing, at least insofar as the public has been allowed to see the evidence. Someone, widely presumed but not demonstrated to be in some way associated with the Russian government, hacked into the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The factual information was then passed to WikiLeaks, which denies that it came from a Russian source, and was gradually released starting in July. There has been a presumption that Moscow was either trying to influence the outcome of the election in support of Donald Trump or that it was trying to somehow subvert American democracy, but no unimpeachable evidence has as of yet been produced to support either hypothesis. The two senior Trump officials – Flynn and Sessions – who have been under the gun have not been pummeled because they did anything wrong vis-à-vis the Russians —they did not — but because they have been accused of lying.

So, whether there is some kind of coup in progress ultimately depends on your perspective and what you are willing to believe to be true. I would suggest that if there continue to be damaging leaks coming from inside the government intended to cripple the White House the possibility that there is a genuine conspiracy in place begins to look more attractive. And the possibility of impeachment is also not far off, as Trump is confronted by a hostile Democratic Party and numerous dissidents [20] within the GOP ranks. But if nothing comes of it all beyond an extremely rough transition, the whole business might just be regarded as a particularly nasty bit of new style politics. If, however, it turns out that the intelligence agencies have indeed been actively collaborating with the White House in working against opposition politicians, the whole tale assumes a particularly dangerous aspect as there is no real mechanism in place to prevent that from occurring again. The tool that Obama has placed in Trump’s hands might just as easily be used against the Democrats in 2020.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

40 Comments (Open | Close)

40 Comments To "A Soft Coup, or Preserving Our Democracy?"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 13, 2017 @ 11:10 pm

“Soon thereafter the intelligence agencies acting under White House instruction were pushing Trump-Russia classified information through the system and into analytic documents so it would be accessible to a wide readership after the inauguration while at the same time burying the actual sources to make it difficult to either identify them or even assess the reliability of the information.”

How sickening it all is, as it must always have been to all those others subjected to it elsewhere, when these particular chickens come home to roost.

#2 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On March 14, 2017 @ 12:47 am

“political environment is deliberately being created that will either make it impossible for Trump to govern or, if the pieces fall together nicely, will provide grounds for impeachment”. exactly, and the ‘environment’ is being ‘created’ by the White House. in many ways, it would appear the 45th POTUS is (ironically) an “asset” to the deep state. when one throws out the highs and the lows (conspiracy theories, and whatnot), what we are seeing is the struggles of an individual who repeatedly demonstrated a lack of the experience, temperament, intelligence, character, and gravitas necessary to perform as POTUS. the fact that folks like McConnell, Ryan, Bannon, et al felt they could ride his coattails to further their bankrupt agendas is the real “silent coup” being executed.

#3 Comment By FL Transplant On March 14, 2017 @ 1:01 am

1. Any impeachment and conviction within the next two years will require the active support of Republicans. That requires Trump to not only lose the support of his own party but to engender its active action to remove him.

2. No one knows what’ll happen in the 2018 mid-terms. If Rs maintain their majority, see (1) above. If Ds gain the majority that’ll indicate a massive shift in voters, indicating widespread dissatisfaction with Trump’s Administration.

3. Beyond (1) and (2), the concept that there’s some hidden group of individuals secretly plotting to overthrow Trump is humorous. In the Obama Administration the Rs were upfront and publicly working to undermine his Administration is everything it did. Not to mention the repeated calls for impeachment and criminal conviction in the conservative media–The Washington Times, Fox News, Brietbart, and talk radio–you’re arguing that somehow the Ds are working behind the scenes to accomplish what the Rs were openly trying to accomplish, but for some reason the Ds are working to engender a silent coup while the Rs were protecting the interests of the Republic.

4. Trump is doing a great job of providing unforced errors for the Ds to take advantage of. The secrecy of his operations (not providing his tax returns after promising to do so, not establishing any meaningful firewall between his business interests and his day job as President), coupled with the pathetic performance of his reps (Conway talking about “alternative facts? Saying she’s not there to provide facts–so what’s her job then?) and his remarkable statements unsupported by any facts (“wire tapping”) make attacking him the political equivalent of clubbing baby seals–not pretty but high effective.

#4 Comment By Gil On March 14, 2017 @ 3:45 am

You don’t really believe Trump’s nonsense, do you, Philip?

#5 Comment By Junior On March 14, 2017 @ 5:31 am

WHAT IN THE HELL IS THIS, GIRALDI?!

How in the HELL am I supposed to get my daily brainwashing if you FAIL to present me with a completely biased partisan opinion that uses a barrage of unnamed sources, tons of baseless facts, and heaps of innuendo to push a narrative?! This article contains NONE of what I need!

And how DARE you write a highly balanced article KNOWING how many Americans might read it who’ve been taught using Common Core! Obviously Common Core People don’t have the attention span to understand anything not in meme form with a picture, but that’s not the point! The point is that you might confuse their partisan programming if they have someone read it to them using sock puppets! Have you no decency, sir?! Have you NO decency?!

Shame on you for trying to give me both sides of an argument and allowing ME to decide which one I believe with the implications of if I’m wrong! And shame on TAC for publishing this type of nonsense that doesn’t push a partisan narrative! How the hell are we to have a civil war if this keeps up?! Shame on the both of you!

Looks like I’m going to have to go back to the MSM if I’m to be told what to think. Now WHERE did I put that TV remote? All this critical thinking is hurting the pink squishy thing in my skull and I need the three stooges of Neo-Journalism (Wolf, Rachel, and Shep) to sedate me again. 😉

AKA Thanks for writing a great even-handed article that made me look at things from a different angle with implications that I hadn’t previously considered because it’s to the point that I don’t trust ANYTHING the MSM is pushing, especially this Russia nonsense. It was interesting delving into the implications of both narratives. Soros being called a “democracy promoter” LITERALLY made me cringe in horror and I had to read it twice to make sure that bit of lunacy was really what it said but if that isn’t a timeline with both narratives, then I don’t know what is. Again, thanks for the perspective and my thanks to TAC for presenting it. 🙂

#6 Comment By JonF On March 14, 2017 @ 6:07 am

At worst, Trump would be impeached and Mike Pence would assume the presidency, with the GOP maintaining their current congressional majorities at least until the 2018 elections.
It’s an odd coup that leaves the governing party intact and in office.

#7 Comment By Jim D On March 14, 2017 @ 8:15 am

Are not charges of foreign influence against Flynn more accurately about Turkey rather than Russia? I wonder if Flynn’s ties to Turkey were known during the campaign but neglected because they were not relevant to the “main story” of Russian interference.

#8 Comment By rhine-gold cowboy On March 14, 2017 @ 8:31 am

“We Americans have long regarded coups as undesirable political turmoil afflicting nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America in which governments are changed by force rather than through the ballot box.”

Obviously not all that undesirable, since our representatives, in the form of the CIA, have been behind a great number of those coups.

#9 Comment By Kurt Gayle On March 14, 2017 @ 9:53 am

Philip Giraldi raises the frightening possibility (the bold type below is mine) that the Obama administration may have intervened against Trump in a way that has opened a Pandora’s Box of “particularly dangerous aspect[s]” for which “there is no real mechanism in place to prevent…from occurring again”:

“FBI investigators looking for criminal connected to the Trump Tower server found nothing and then might have sought and eventually obtained a FISA issued warrant permitting them to keep looking on national security grounds. If that is so, THE GOVERNMENT COULD HAVE BEEN USING THE HIGH-TECH SURVEILLANCE CAPABILITIES OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO MONITOR THE ACTIVITIES OF AN OPPOSITION POLITICAL CANDIDATE…If…it turns out that the intelligence agencies have indeed been actively collaborating with the White House in working against opposition politicians, the whole tale assumes a particularly dangerous aspect as there is no real mechanism in place to prevent that from occurring again. The tool that Obama has placed in Trump’s hands might just as easily be used against the Democrats in 2020.”

#10 Comment By Johann On March 14, 2017 @ 10:04 am

There is at least a remote possibility that Kim Dotcom (Kim Schmitz) was the Podesta hacker. Way back in May 2015, in an interview with Bloomberg, he alluded that he and Assange were after Clinton, as payback for Clinton’s persecution of them.

#11 Comment By Rich On March 14, 2017 @ 10:05 am

Wow. Mr. Giraldi just gave us an A+ example of what should be considered proper journalism. In my mind, this is how the free press was meant to operate.

#12 Comment By collin On March 14, 2017 @ 10:14 am

Great now that Trump is struggling, TAC goes completely Mark Levin on us. Several points:

1) There is a lot of smoke from Trump’s campaign team, Manafort, Stone and Carter.
2) Some of the worst evidence comes from Trump’s statements, like the Putin listening and all the chants for Wikileaks in the campaign. And it was Trump that accused Obama of ordering the wire tap WITH NO EVIDENCE.
3) If Trump was not guilty at all, maybe he should have investigated Wikileaks instead of calling Democrats LOSERS. For a incoming President that was an unusual tactic to win the support of voters that did not support him.

4) AINT it cute that it was the DEEP STATE that endlessly leaked against HRC during the campaign. So play that tiny violin here.

Maybe Trump’s struggles are because he was not popular coming into the Presidency and has done little to improve his position since January 20th. Going all-Levin like is going to improve his popularity here.

#13 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 14, 2017 @ 10:31 am

Look,

the implications here are so negative, I am not even sure how to express it.

There’s a line in the movie TopGun,

“Not good Mav, not good.”

The aircraft was in a “flat spin”.

#14 Comment By Jimbo On March 14, 2017 @ 1:14 pm

I would remind the author that the definition of coup d’etat is when you replace the governor of a state with another of a same kind – trading king for king, etc.

Your entire article is a violation of Occam’s Razor and can be dismissed easily – you suggest the existence of a rather large conspiracy which could be easily sniffed out if real, whilst ignoring the far more logical conclusion: A small group of simple men were put in charge of the large and sophisticated machinery of state. Being unprepared for the job, they then proceeded to make a real hash of it. You don’t need a vast conspiracy to explain why he’s having a hard time with leaks, either. They’re coming from the administrations senior aides, just like they did during his campaign – the Trump campaign leaked information to the press like a sieve.

Mr. Trump is his own worst enemy; and in the White House he has finally pinned himself down so that he can no longer run away from, buy off, sell off, or sue away his problems. If or when his supporters realize he’s a snake oil salesman on track to dethrone James Buchanan as the worst President in our republic’s history, he’ll get neutered as his already half-hearted Congressional support melts away.

#15 Comment By John S On March 14, 2017 @ 1:37 pm

Why use the word “coup”? If it’s a legitimate impeachment, it’s not a coup.

#16 Comment By Dakarian On March 14, 2017 @ 2:20 pm

@Jim

“Jim D says:
March 14, 2017 at 8:15 am
Are not charges of foreign influence against Flynn more accurately about Turkey rather than Russia? I wonder if Flynn’s ties to Turkey were known during the campaign but neglected because they were not relevant to the “main story” of Russian interference.”

The matter of Turkey came out after Flynn was out. Flynn’s original issue was that he hadn’t been truthful about his speaking to Russia before the election. In particular, he convinced Price that he didn’t do it, which caused the VP to defend him to the public.

Similar to Sessions, the actual meeting itself is questionable but not ruining as of this point. Flynn was off by a few weeks before he would’ve been legally allowed and Sessions was in a position where such talks could’ve happened legally.

The issue is that they hid.. or forgot about it.. with no documentation or idea on what was actually talked about, while firmly declaring that they didn’t do anything for sure under oath.

Sort of similar to walking out of a bank on a Monday then, when it was found out that thieves broke into the bank some time in the same week, you promptly burn all of your bank notes, deny ever knowing the bank existed, then promptly jumping out of the window and taking a plane for Canada once it’s found out you were there that day.

You’ll understand if the conversation shifts from “Well he could just have an account” to “WTF!”

A LOT of this administration works that way, situations that seem odd but have valid reasons for occurring combined with enough oddball behavior that makes even Occam decide to grow a beard.

#17 Comment By The Other Sands On March 14, 2017 @ 2:36 pm

All of these questions sound like ample justification for a thorough, independent, nonpartisan investigation into all aspects of the matter. Now who could disagree with that? ….and why?

#18 Comment By Fran Macadam On March 14, 2017 @ 2:46 pm

“It’s an odd coup that leaves the governing party intact and in office.”

The point of the coup is to remove the person who operates outside the duopoly status quo consensus, or at the very least, to reassert control over what can actually be done in defiance.

Trump’s really not a partisan of either party, and that’s a threat to the status quo if he tries to operate outside the Beltway Bubble.

#19 Comment By Zooey Glass On March 14, 2017 @ 3:21 pm

A reasonably balanced article pointlessly sullied by one paragraph – the one starting with “The turmoil on Capitol Hill.” As a conserva-lib who makes an effort to get news from many perspectives, that was not worth including, if the gist of the unverified, and inflammatory, message was based on nothing/little more than Zero Hedge and Breitbart.

#20 Comment By JonF On March 14, 2017 @ 8:05 pm

Fran, you are endorsing classic Cult of Personality BS.
Pay some attention to what is really going on. Daniel Larison now has a piece up here pointing out that Trump is “caving” to the GOP leadership yet again (on foreign policy). He has also “caved” on the ACA, endorsing a horrible plan that even many conservatives are panning as worse than the ACA. You need to face reality here: Trump is not some knight in shining armor. He’s a typical Republican hack pursuing typical GOP goals but who was especially good at dangling populist, and often racist, bait in front of the low information voters. He’s not going to do (as opposed to say) a single thing that annoys the GOP donor class.
Donald Trump is not your savior. He’s yet another political con-man taking the country for a ride.

#21 Comment By Kenpuck On March 14, 2017 @ 10:33 pm

Democrats — or communists, if you prefer — are what you scrape off your the soles of your shoes when you take a walk in the park.

#22 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 14, 2017 @ 11:03 pm

There are a series of interesting responses here. The author goes through great lengths to support his position. He does not praise the Pres. He does pledge any allegiance to the Pres views on issues. The primary sources are the presidents.

He simply lays out a case with volumes of data sets. The data suggests that there was or is a considerable effort to derail the candidacy and the subsequent tenure of the duly elected president. The burden of proof is overcome by the evidence and subsequent prudent analysis.

And for the years that I have attended this author he has rarely, if ever indicated some accompanied by some personal emotion. And since that comment jumped out at me, I guess I found a seed corn hint, that what transpired by public and private entities regarding Mr. Trump had every shell of a shape to a coup.

Now whether there were many actors or but a few in control of infrastructures large enough to orchestrate the effort against Mr. Trump, now Pres. Trump, in immaterial. The findings and the suggestion are troubling because we claim to be a nation governed by the rule of not for sake of rule of law, but for a just and fair playing field. And here we have agents of the government, who by appearance are subverting the very foundation upon which we exist. it is for anyone familiar with actual discrimination – the mist sinister form, because is takes the mechanisms to ensure fair play and manicals them to personal and professional methods and agendas not in accord with our republic.

That is why this is troubling.

One’s feelings, thoughts and attitudes about Mr Trump are immaterial. Mr. Trump’s policies positions (unless so related are immaterial).

I do not agree with everything the current executive says or advocates. However, the idea that I would support abusing power and hiding that abuse behind legal mechanisms cannot be condemned in strong enough terms.

#23 Comment By TrumPutin On March 14, 2017 @ 11:56 pm

Trump has a long history of committing fraud and sexual assault. He’s a pathological liar. He’s a text book sociopath. He would absolutely sell us out to Putin.

Every minute he spends in office he puts the country in danger.

#24 Comment By Bet Mulligan On March 15, 2017 @ 2:24 am

With apologies to James Carville,”It’s the money, stupid”.

This sordid saga may have it’s ending in influence peddling, real or attempted, but it almost certainly started with the billions in dirty money sloshing around out there. Trump and family seem to have gotten and are getting richer doing deals with some of the planet’s scummiest kleptocrats.

My prediction? Trumps tax returns will start appearing in public with accompanying schedules attached. They’ll show zero due diligence concerning the origination of the cash flowing in and out of the 500 Trump corporations and attached pockets. In other words, Trump will be shown to be as dirty as the money.

That and $1.89 will get you a decent coffee.

#25 Comment By VikingLS On March 15, 2017 @ 10:04 am

@Fran

Funny how Trump can manage to be a loose canon, just another Republican hack, and a Russian puppet all at the same time isn’t it?

And of course you’re getting told by people who utterly failed to predict Trump’s victories, that you need to listen to their version of reality.

#26 Comment By Lord Koos On March 15, 2017 @ 12:15 pm

Notice to Kenpuck — it’s not the 1950s anymore, calling people “commies” has never been that helpful. People are becoming tired of those (on both sides) who can find nothing more constructive to do than to insult the other party (who are their fellow Americans, I would remind you. Following the divide and conquer playbook is not going to move us forward.

#27 Comment By Michael Kenny On March 15, 2017 @ 1:23 pm

For there to be a “coup”, there has to be something illegal. There is no such thing as a “soft”, “stealth” or “silent” coup. If Trump chooses to resign, I don’t see how he could later challenge his own resignation on the basis that it had been obtained illegally. I don’t see what court would have jurisdiction to entertain such an application. Equally, the process of impeachment by the House and removal from office by the Senate, which everyone calls simply impeachment but which are, in law, two seperate procedures, are at the absolute discretion of the members of Congress and are not subject to appeal before any court of law. If either resignation or impeachment were obtained by criminal means, for example, blackmail or perjury, then the blackmailer or prejurer would be subject to prosecution under the ordinary law, but it would not invalidate the resignation/impeachment. If Trump beleives that someone is trying to force him to resign by illegal means, all he has to do is refuse. If that person publishes defamatory material, Trump sues them for defamation and if they can’t prove their case, they lose. If the matter goes before Congress, it is for Congress to assess whether the allegations are proven.

#28 Comment By EliteCommInc. On March 15, 2017 @ 3:46 pm

“Trump has a long history of committing fraud and sexual assault. He’s a pathological liar. He’s a text book sociopath. He would absolutely sell us out to Putin.”

This has been attempted with no small effort – it failed. And as for this,

“Every minute he spends in office he puts the country in danger.”

Nonsense.

“Trump and family seem to have gotten and are getting richer doing deals with some of the planet’s scummiest kleptocrats.”

Anyone doing business overseas is making deals with people, whose practices are not in line with our hoisted standards. Whether its in Asia, Eastern Europe Africa, the Middle East, its pretty clear that the means of getting it done are not laced with our expectations of fair play. Their ways in many places are standard — patronage is not a immoral, its moral – as a means of caring for family , friends, rewarding loyalty. It is the hazard of doing business. And what any military operation doling out cash in far away places will tell you — that’s just how it’s done. Unless the Trump family themselves have encouraged, organized and so engaged by their initiation, I am not going to blink much and no one should, lest, we cease doing any business overseas at all.

None of that seems warrant for has transpired as described.

#29 Comment By Richard Steven Hack On March 15, 2017 @ 4:25 pm

There is a slight problem with the notion that the DNC or Podesta was “hacked”.

There is literally ZERO evidence that either were “hacked” in the technical sense, and absolutely ZERO evidence that Russia was involved in any way, either on the hacking end or the Wikileaks end.

Podesta was “hacked” because he had a ridiculous password on his email account. Literally ANYONE could have read his email with a few guesses as to his password. This doesn’t constitute much of a “hack” if at all.

As for the DNC, there is good reason to believe that “hack” never took place. First of all, we know from Craig Murray and Wikileaks that this was a LEAK from a Washington (possibly DNC) insider, not a “hack” at all.

Second, what is most likely to have occurred is that the Clinton campaign and the DNC became aware of these leaks, and then attempted to deflect the damaging aspects of the leak by turning it into a “hack”.

The suspects in this case turn out to be Alexandra Chalupa and the Ukrainian Embassy, who in turn are connected to right-wing nationalist Ukrainian politicians and from there to Ukrainian hacker collectives who bear no good will toward Russia.

What likely happened is that the DNC and the Clinton campaign were pitched the idea from Chalupa to blame the leaks on “Russian hacks.” They then brought in CrowdStrike, a computer security company, headed by an anti-Russia Russian expatriate, to find (or plant) “evidence” of a “Russian hack.”

The “evidence” presented barely provides any indication of a “hack” and if there was one, it clearly was not done by anyone competent, let alone Russian intelligence agencies. The “evidence” appears to be “planted” either by Ukrainian hackers or CrowdStrike itself.

The likelihood is that the DNC and the Clinton campaign colluded with Chalupa, Ukrainian politicians, CrowdStrike and possibly others to either completely fake a “hack” or to hire Ukrainian hackers to conduct a fake “false flag” hack to blame on Russia.

The fact that the DNC never allowed the FBI to forensically examine the alleged “hacked” servers pretty clearly proves that the “hack” never existed.

THIS is what Trump’s administration should be investigating. Because if a Ukrainian-American national colluded with the Ukrainian Embassy and Ukrainian politicians and hackers to influence the US election against Trump by conducting a false flag “Russia hack”, then the notion of Russia influencing the election must be replaced by Ukraine influencing the election.

And if the DNC and the Clinton campaign knowingly colluded with this false flag operation, then at the very least they are guilty of interfering with a Federal investigation with national security aspects.

Which means those involved – possibly including Hillary Clinton – should be serving time in Federal prison.

Phil should be investigating and covering that aspect of the story.

#30 Comment By Jake Murrin On March 15, 2017 @ 4:33 pm

Everyone, including me, thought that President Trump had jumped the shark with his tweet claiming that President Obama wiretapped him during the latter stages of the 2016 campaign. But it looks like Trump may be vindicated after all.

You may recall that Robert Hannigan, the former head of Britain’s NSA–the GCHQ–abruptly resigned on January 23, 2016–three days after Trump’s inauguration. There was widespread speculation in the British press that this was no coincidence, but the exact connection was difficult to discern. Giraldi previously speculated ( [21]) that perhaps the Obama administration reached out to British intelligence for information that would justify initiating an otherwise transparently partisan FBI investigation into Michael Flynn–if this came back to haunt them, they could simply disclaim responsibility by noting that the British had no stake in U.S. domestic politics. But there was no evidence to support that guess.

Now, according to Judge Andrew Napolitano ( [22]), “‘Three intelligence sources have informed Fox News that President Obama went outside the chain of command […] He didn’t use the NSA, he didn’t use the CIA, he didn’t use the FBI, and he didn’t use the Department of Justice.’ Instead, Napolitano said, Obama used GCHQ, a British intelligence and security organization that has 24-7 access to the NSA database. ‘There’s no American fingerprints on this,’ Napolitano said. ‘What happened to the guy who ordered this? Resigned three days after Donald Trump was inaugurated.’”

#31 Comment By Native Daughter On March 15, 2017 @ 7:45 pm

And once again, the specter of GEORGE SOROS raises its ugly head, based on the ubiquity of slogans such as “resist.” I’ll give you a hint: Look to Facebook (which by the way, is free). That’s where the organizing against Trump is being done. It’s really from the ground up, with groups of likeminded people discovering each other through social media. We are all irritated by the same things, including the Trump family kleptocracy, scapegoating of Muslims and Mexicans, gutting of the environmental regulations, and the demonization of transgendered people–who just a few years ago weren’t even on the radar (cause guys, ladies rooms have stalls, so no one sees that tranny-male to female junk that you are so worried about us seeing). Oh, and Trump is just crude and vulgar. On a personal basis, I am tired of opening up news sites and reading the daily atrocity. Trump is an easy man to despise, which is why it’s easy to organize against him. I do wish that George Soros would offer me money, but alas, I know of no one who has reaped that bounty.

#32 Comment By peanut On March 15, 2017 @ 7:59 pm

“And how DARE you write a highly balanced article KNOWING how many Americans might read it who’ve been taught using Common Core! Obviously Common Core People don’t have the attention span to understand anything not in meme form with a picture, but that’s not the point! The point is that you might confuse their partisan programming if they have someone read it to them using sock puppets! Have you no decency, sir?! Have you NO decency?!

The odds that Junior knows what Common Core is are rather slim.

#33 Comment By peanut On March 15, 2017 @ 8:02 pm

“Democrats — or communists, if you prefer — are what you scrape off your the soles of your shoes when you take a walk in the park.

Plus, they are full of contempt for their political opponents, and so, so, uncivil.

#34 Comment By peanut On March 15, 2017 @ 8:05 pm

“And of course you’re getting told by people who utterly failed to predict Trump’s victories, that you need to listen to their version of reality.”

How does one flow from the other exactly? Someone could be wrong about electoral predictions (I was!), and be right about policy.

#35 Comment By KA On March 15, 2017 @ 9:35 pm

Can somebody explain how the Russians made American voters vote for Trump? Did the voters take into account of WikiLeaks! What message did they get from it? Did they go to polling both repeating some hymns that tie Putin and Trump into one sentence or into one religious verse of some Kind?
How did the Russian do it?

#36 Comment By Al Strickland On March 16, 2017 @ 12:42 am

Very smooth. The Supreme Court once talked about defining pornography. It went something like “I can’t define it but I know it when I see it”. “The sources all agree”, “Some sources claim”, “Reportedly”, “If one were to come up with…”, “Clapper has previously lied…” Very good. The readers should look at this article with a clear and critical mind. This is a world class piece of propaganda. If I were teaching a “how to” college class on propaganda I would definitely use this article.

#37 Comment By Rick On March 16, 2017 @ 1:07 am

“We Americans have long regarded coups as undesirable political turmoil afflicting nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America in which governments are changed by force rather than through the ballot box.” Is this an attempt at humor?

#38 Comment By R. Huss On March 16, 2017 @ 4:55 am

Would Trump sort out the mess for himself and overcome this artificial Russian activity against U.S. democracy? In my opinion he is unable to look through anything, much less to remedy any grievance. Living in a pompous environment and spending many years of his life benchmarking the ass of barbie dolls, he is not the one who could help improve the world. Moreover, being under domestic establishment fire is not where you could develop the spirit and vision for world improvement. If the fire goes on, this guy will be struggling for his presidency more than anything else.

The U.S. could best lead the world under a leadership with composure and ingenious stance, qualities which are absent in Washington D.C.

#39 Comment By Forbe On March 16, 2017 @ 9:11 am

“The similarities and ubiquity in the slogans, the “Resist” signs and the hashtags #notmypresident have led some to believe that at least a part of the activity is being funded and organized by progressive organizations”

This is only plausible to someone who has never heard of Twitter.

#40 Comment By LondonBob On March 16, 2017 @ 6:44 pm

The Democrats and the global left really haven’t come to terms with Trump’s election yet, poor dears. Of course these people are idiots, even if useful ones, there are more sinister folk I worry about. Still I expect all will come to naught and Trump will serve a second term.