Unintelligent Intelligence

Recently, Congressman Devin Nunes of California, chair of the Intelligence Committee, revealed that Donald Trump’s team was caught up in incidental surveillance conducted during the election cycle. While this development was reported as a seeming vindication of President Trump’s controversial tweet alleging that Former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, President Trump’s tweet remains nothing more than hot air. Representative Nunes even admitted that there was no illegal act committed through this surveillance, debunking Trump’s claim of wide scale conspiracy against him. A far more insidious trend lies beneath this shameful twisting of the truth.

Representative Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee. https://flic.kr/p/oDoHeK

Representative Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

In the fallout of this revelation, yet another administration scandal emerged, calling into question Rep. Nunes’ ability to investigate Trump objectively. Despite chairing the House Intelligence Committee, a job involving national security issues that should be placed above partisanship, Rep. Nunes puts his party first in his investigation into Trump’s campaign. Instead of bringing forth the documents he received from the White House regarding Trump surveillance, he withheld this information from committee members to show it to President Trump first. This represents a gross violation of Nunes’ role to look into campaign dealings and calls into question his allegiance. This revelation, though, perhaps should not come as a surprise. Nunes was named in November of last year as a member of President Trump’s transition team, keeping him in close contact and friendship with the administration. Nunes clearly demonstrated with his intelligence document fiasco that a clear conflict of interest exists. How can the Trump team be properly investigated when the Intelligence Committee chairman goes to Trump with knowledge before he consults other members of the investigation?

Like any Trump administration fiasco, this scandal has layers to it. Two White House staffers, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, and Michael Ellis, reportedly leaked the documentation to Rep. Nunes. This stinks of a political powerplay implicating Nunes and the Trump administration. What better way for the president to save face than to leak information to a chief investigator, who happens to be a Trump ally? Suddenly, the media is no longer focusing on FBI Director Comey’s bombshell March 20th revelation of investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. As I have noted in previous posts, this administration seeks to distract at every occasion. The difference now is that this process involves politicizing the nation’s intel and security apparatus.

This administration has already shown contempt for national security on countless occasions. Even before he took the White House, Donald Trump blatantly ignored regular intelligence briefings. These briefings are meant to inform the president of developments in the ever changing realms of security and foreign policy. To keep America safe, it is imperative that the commander in chief pay attention to the newest information.

General Michael Flynn stepped down from his post as Russia tie allegations emerged. https://flic.kr/p/RSVSYh

General Michael Flynn stepped down from his post as Russia tie allegations emerged.

Another, even more perilous incident is the ongoing case of General Michael Flynn, Trump’s disgraced former National Security Adviser. Flynn contacted Russian officials numerous times throughout the transition process and lied about the nature of his conversations, claiming they were just Christmas calls while in reality, Russia sanction discussions occurred. Considering the aforementioned potential Russia connection, this contact seems sketchy. Now, called to testify in front of a committee, Flynn is seeking immunity from prosecution. Flynn makes this demand despite the fact that he stated last year about Hillary Clinton, “When you are given immunity that means that you’ve probably committed a crime.” While Flynn is innocent until proven guilty, there should be a number of red flags going up in your head now. Add to that irony the emerging revelations that Flynn failed to disclose a number of Russian speaking engagements, and there is potentially another huge scandal on Trump’s hands. In regards to Flynn, the Trump administration demonstrates every day that it has no regard for national security or the intelligence community’s investigation process, possibly because it has something monumental to hide.

In the Trump White House, intelligence is not a non-partisan element of protecting the American people. Instead, it is a political tool to back up Tweets, be ignored when inconvenient, and cover up potential cooperation with a geopolitical rival. Representative Nunes’ actions provide a look into the Trump administration’s insidious, unintelligent approach to intelligence. Representative Nunes should recuse himself and investigations should proceed in an objective, fair fashion. Trump should be more attentive. Michael Flynn should not receive immunity. Don’t let this elaborate, dangerous game of hide and seek fool you.