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Trump moves to silence critics

The president's threat to tear security releases from some of the nation's most decorated former intelligence officials may turn out to be a classic Trumpian distraction game that spews out a media tower and spills stories that damage the White House. [196592002AlthoughtheWashington'spowertopunishprominentcriticswoulddangerouslybringthisWhiteHousedangerouslyunderthreatofexecutiveauthority-perhapsonterritorysinceRichardNixonwasnolongertestedbyacommander-in-chief

"Weeding out" different former civil servants in this way , is a norm-destroying power game that may seem tame in political systems dominated by the Russian Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping, which Trump admires. But it would be nourished by the strong instinct of a strong man whom both leaders could recognize.

A political test for the release

  Trump, citing politics, looking for security clearance

The idea that a president pass a political test for the hundreds of thousands of Current and former government employees conducting security screening, including in the upper reaches of the undercover world, could cause significant damage to vital institutions. The possibility that he could use such a test to suppress criticism of his actions is almost unthinkable.

"It sounds like Donald Trump building a list of enemies for me," said Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront."

Such a claim is valid because Susan Rice, the Obama administration's second term adviser, was on television just recently on Sunday, criticizing Trump and questioning his ties to Russia – and a day later she found herself on the list the White House again. Perhaps the most astounding aspect of the controversy was that the White House made no secret of the fact that Trump was considering revoking the clearances for individuals, including former CIA directors Michael, Hayden and John Brennan and ex-director of National Intelligence James Clapper for criticizing him

"Making unsustainable allegations of inappropriate contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia The President is extremely inadequate, and the fact that people with security checks make these unfounded charges provides undue legitimacy for them Accusations without evidence, "said the White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders.

Sanders & # 39; comment reiterated the president's extreme sensitivity to allegations that he or his campaign collaborated with a Russian intelligence effort in 2016 to bring him into office, which has been his respectful attitude towards Putin in Helsinki Last week, amidst an amazing public debate about whether he was, has become even more acute

Sanders had an apparent justification for the president's plan – which barely survives the laugh test.

"The president is investigating the mechanisms for lifting the security clearance because they politicize their policies and, in some cases, monetize public service and security clearance," Sanders said.

Ironically, Trump criticizes others for politicizing the secret services or profiting from public service, in fact, they are rich. After all, he once accused the intelligence services of behaving as if they were in Nazi Germany and relentlessly attacked the FBI and the subsequent investigation into alleged electoral arrangements with Russia as a "witch hunt".

Ethics experts have benefited from the presidency's Trump family, and his tenure has included several scandalous episodes of Cabinet officers lavishly using government money

Unparalleled Times

  Security clearance: What exactly can Trump do?

Trump's threat to revoke security checks is unprecedented, as are the times. In no previous period have former senior intelligence officials been so public on television that they openly criticized a seated president.

There is an argument that some of the comments from former high-ranking intelligence officers have certainly crossed the boundaries of their predecessors, many of them were content to remain in the shadows.

Many of Trump's supporters, who are receptive to the president's months-long campaign against the Russia probe and the attacks on the "deep state" in conservative media in Washington, probably will not share the shock that has been inflaming since Trump's threat to Washington rages.

Some of Brennan's criticisms of Trump, which contained an indictment that the President had "treacherous" with Putin last week, surprised some former colleagues with his vehemence, doubting that he is sincere in his criticism.

The former rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who led the House's intelligence committee, said Trump's t The story was worrying, but also questioned Brennan's openness.

"It's petty-it's certainly under the stature of the United States President's office," said Rogers CNN's Jake Tapper about "The Lead." "It's also not common for the former CIA director from the reserve comes wherever he is. "

Hayden and Clapper, both of whom now work for CNN as commentators, have also voiced their criticisms of Trump, although they are usually more moderate in their language. Each man worked for Republican and Democratic presidents and never wanted to enter politics – but both said they felt compelled to say something because they saw the country's institutions in danger.

Clapper has publicly wondered if the Russians have anything to do with Trump. Hayden wrote that the president is the epitome of a post. Truth era in politics.

"It's pretty obvious what the reason is: why we were singled out for this contemplated act is because of the criticisms we have expressed and reservations that we have expressed about the president," Clapper said Monday opposite CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

The former DNI also said he never dreamed of revoking the security clearance of former Trump electoral and short-lived national security adviser Michael Flynn for "vitriolic". Criticizing Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration

Some voters may be wondering why former national security officials need security checks anyway – as many of them take lucrative security and media jobs.

One justification is that the status allows former high-ranking officials to be questioned by their successors on questions of vital national security interest, where their experience and their institutional knowledge can provide priceless context.

Trump's belief that he can prevent spy chiefs from being kept up to date is misleading as such officials build vast networks at home and abroad.

Trump's On-Brand Outrage

Eve When the furor of Monday raged, it was clear he had similar features to many other Trump administration controversies.

It reflected the desire to attack anyone associated with the Obama administration, for which the President has bitter contempt, of which those on the list were non-political appointed presidents of both parties.

The announcement was also haphazard and may not have been fully thought through. Two of the people on the list – fired former FBI director James Comey and former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe – do not even have such releases.

But it's a Useful Drama for Trump for Bringing It Up against the Washington Establishment (19659002) In a darker sense, the desire to censor former intelligence officials fits in with the president's long, obvious predilection for overcoming the limits of his power B. Checking down the traditional walls between the FBI and the White House to isolate the Political Intervention Bureau.

On Monday, Sanders ominously hinted that Trump may need to be more "involved" in the Russia investigation because he considered it a "witch hunt"

The idea of ​​canceling the security clearances seems to have come from a proposal by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, a former Trump ally, had developed that Brennan should be singled out. But it has been a frequent topic in conservative media. The president has a habit of picking up ideas from the Fox News swirl and turning them into political feed.

Ultimately, developments on Monday are another test of America's institutions that have largely kept Trump's autocratic instincts in check. But they also raise the question of what's next. If a president can use his power to obtain political retribution, could the freedoms that have been taken for granted for decades be jeopardized?

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