Regular readers know I try to follow Sean Connery’s advice when it comes to the Trump-Russia investigations and its satellite issues. But I do have a speculative theory about those theories I can share.
To recap briefly: There is a group of people who believe Pres. Trump — or people associated with his campaign, really — colluded with the Russians in some fashion to boost his presidential campaign. There is also a group of people who have come to believe that the investigation into this issue was really the result of the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton’s campaign to politicize the intelligence community, and that Trump has been the target of a soft coup masterminded by people in these orbits, as well as by bureaucrats in the “deep state.”
The latter group is currently focused on declassifying a memorandum authored by Rep. Devin Nunes of the House Intell Cmte that reportedly purports to summarize wrongdoing by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and former FBI Director James Comey. If — but more likely when — said memo is made public, folks in this second group, particularly within populist media, will escalate their call for heads to roll.
Meanwhile, stories are getting planted in the media about about White House Counsel Don McGahn threatening to quit rather than carry out Trump’s directive to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and FBI Director Christopher Wray threatening to resign after being pressured by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire McCabe.
In the grand tinfoil tradition of the conspiratorialist, I question the timing. I would speculate that these stories are being shopped by people associated with the special counsel’s office — or with McGahn and Wray — to raise the specter that any attempt by Trump to remove people at DOJ or the FBI might result in the resignation of people like McGahn and Wray who cannot be easily characterized as partisans of the deep state. These stories could be true or a bluff; it really doesn’t matter.
Some of those who believe in the deep state coup undoubtedly have speculated similarly. But I think many in that group see these stories as a sign of panic by swamp creatures, rather than the threat the leakers intend them to be.
The two different groups are operating from fundamentally different assumptions about what Trump’s election means for a wide variety of American political norms. The collusion folks think Trump is a highly unpopular and vulnerable figure who can ultimately be tamed by traditional political forces; the deep state coup folks do not.
As a result, you have these two groups fueling a potentially large political collision in the near-future because the members of each group believe they will be the ultimate beneficiaries of that collision. And the odds escalate further when you consider that each group not only believes that it is correctly assessing today’s political climate, but also has grown to feel righteous in their position.
I could be wrong about all of this, of course. But at least I’m considering that I could be wrong about all of this.
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