Now Trump's casually accusing Democrats and longtime intelligence officials of breaking the law.
After the world pointed and laughed at Donald Trump’s claim that the Republican smear memo “totally vindicates” him in the Russia probe, the White House rolled out a coordinated strategy to attack top-ranking Democrats and former intelligence chiefs.
Over the weekend, several Republicans directly contradicted Trump’s claim of vindication. Soon, the White House had all but abandoned that laughable message. In its place, however, was a new strategy to target Democratic leaders on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as non-partisan intelligence veterans like former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah appeared on “Fox & Friends” Monday and walked back Trump’s claim of vindication, stating only that the memo showed a “pattern” of “allowing politics to influence decision-making.”
But Shah also made the extraordinary claim that Brennan and House Intelligence Committee members Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) had leaked classified information, which is a felony.
“I’m sure those three individuals, or their staffs, have been involved with leaking classified information themselves,” Shah said.
Brennan has served Republican and Democratic presidents, and is a political independent.
Minutes later, Trump himself echoed that accusation in a tweet that took particular aim at Schiff, but also took swipes at Brennan, Clapper, and former FBI Director James Comey.
“Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper!” Trump wrote. “Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!”
Setting aside the irony that Trump himself just ramrodded the release of a classified memo against the objections of the Justice Department and the “grave concerns” of the FBI, Trump’s attacks on Clapper and Brennan are shameful and potentially slanderous smears for the obvious purpose of trying to save face after the supposedly explosive memo flopped all inspired by a segment on Fox News.
Clapper and Brennan have both been critical of attacks by Trump and the GOP on the intelligence community, and just last week, Brennan said he’d “never witnessed” such “reckless partisan behavior.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s attack on Schiff, the ranking member of a a committee charged with investigating Trump and the Russians and his insistence that Schiff “Must be stopped!” appears to be yet another attempt by Trump to obstruct the investigation.
This coordinated strategy raises the possibility that the memo embarrassment has forced Trump to back off of his plot to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Republicans and Democrats should not wait to see what he’ll do when he’s backed further into a corner. It’s time to impeach Trump.