“Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” These words, uttered by English King Henry II put in motion the killing of Sir Thomas Beckett, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had questioned the authority of his sovereign. What significance could this event have to today’s news?
The dynamics of human politics are eternal – little has changed since that day almost 800 years ago. The minions of the King, retained for their fealty to their monarch, had overheard Henry’s musing – and had interpreted this as a royal command. Archbishop Beckett was then set upon and slain by the King’s men.
Although I believe it unlikely that like Beckett, President Trump will be a candidate for canonization, I believe this growing Trump Tower Wiretap scandal has former President Obama in the role of Henry II. The former Obama cabinet has the role of the sycophant royal minions.
So far, regarding this purported act in the latter days of the 2016 election, Obama has denied any input to any independent Justice Department decision to investigate alleged ties between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. “Independent” Justice Dept. Let that sink in for a moment. Does anyone seriously think that Loretta Lynch has any less allegiance to Obama than the loyal knights had to Henry II?
Would it not have been utterly clear to someone like Lynch or a subordinate, who owes everything to former President Obama, that they could curry favor with her boss by using her Department to target the Trump campaign – remember, by that time Wikileaks had revealed humiliating details of Democratic party machinations – and Obama’s entire circle was likely seething for some sort of “payback”. Would Lynch have had to receive a direct command in order to pursue investigation… or would Obama’s rhetorical utterance, much like that of King Henry in Buckingham Palace, have been sufficient? To ask the question is to answer it.
As a retired CIA Operations Officer who served more than a decade abroad, many as a Station Chief in Eastern Europe, a large part of my job was to observe similar political intrigues in my host countries and obtain clandestine reporting for Washington. My mission was to understand political dynamics, study the players and manipulate them for “insider information”. These same Ops skills have come in very handy domestically in observing our increasingly fractious US politics.
The ostensive reason, of course, for the wiretap was to investigate Trump campaign ties to Russia. The New York Times on 20 January even reported such wiretapping directed against the Trump campaign – which they now have the temerity to deny! As a Russian expert and Ops officer, it’s pretty clear there is nothing there. Meeting with participants in a political campaign is expected and commonplace – Obama’s 2008 campaign not only did the same, but also met with Iranian officials – with whom we don’t even have diplomatic relations. President Trump’s campaign met with at least a score of foreign representatives – and any foreign Ambassador worth his salt would have made sure to do it.
In short, this burgeoning scandal cries out for aggressive investigation. The American people need to see the purported initial FISA Court wiretap application, and the court order denying it. Then the second FISA application must be examined, and the order that approved it. The White House needs to identify the Obama officials who signed the applications, examine them under oath, and find out who put them up to it.
An investigation would also need to identify what judges denied the first application, and what judges granted the second one. All details of this gambit need to be uncovered. In my intelligence career, I saw many time how national leaders used their power to sideline/sabotage their political rivals. This used to be the provenance of Third World politics; unfortunately it seems to have come home to roost.
I believe that the unwinding of this scandal will add yet more tarnish to the dingy “armor” of former President Obama’s unctuous inner circle. The fulcrum of this drawn-out Democratic-touted “Russiagate” are the Democrats themselves.
Scott Uehlinger is a retired CIA Operations officer who spent more than twelve years abroad working in the former Soviet Union. He has extensive experience working against the Russian, Iranian, Terrorist and Proliferation targets. A Russian speaker, Scott retired from the CIA’s Clandestine Service as well as the Naval Reserve in late 2014. Scott teaches an Intelligence course at NYU and frequently appears on television, radio and online discussing Intel and National Security issues. His weekly podcast can be found at thestationchief.com, and he is on Twitter as @thestationchief.