For Monday’s edition of our seismic evening political news, The Washington Post reports that President Trump asked two top intelligence officials to push back against the FBI’s investigation into collusion between members of his campaign and Russia. He asked both the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers to publicly deny that there was any collusion leading up to the 2016 election. They refused on the grounds that the request was inappropriate.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
But another revelation, buried deeper in the Post piece, indicates “inappropriate” might not be a sufficient description.
Every day the case for obstruction of justice builds. Previously, we learned Trump asked for FBI Director James Comey’s loyalty, and for him to drop his investigation into Michael Flynn. (Trump disputes this.) Eventually, he fired Comey, admitting soon enough that it had to do with “this Russia thing.” Previously, the White House interfered in the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation through Devin Nunes and tried to prevent Sally Yates from testifying before a Senate committee.
But this revelation is alarming in a whole new way, by the Post‘s account:
A senior intelligence official said that Trump’s goal was to “muddy the waters” about the scope of the FBI probe at a time when Democrats were ramping up their calls for the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel, a step announced last week…
…Trump’s effort to use the director of national intelligence and the NSA director to refute Comey’s statement and to say there was no evidence of collusion echoes President Richard Nixon’s “unsuccessful efforts to use the CIA to shut down the FBI’s investigation of the Watergate break-in on national security grounds,” said Jeffrey H. Smith, a former general counsel at the CIA. Smith called Trump’s actions “an appalling abuse of power.”