Why is Trump firing top Pentagon officials? The Resistance thinks it’s the first step in a slow-motion coup, but the guys at the National Security Law Podcast say that’s unlikely because Trump is firing only civilian officials, not military officials. They point to a David Ignatius column that could explain it, however. Trump wants to declassify information that would put sources at risk, but might arguably burnish his contentions about Russian election interference:
President Trump’s senior military and intelligence officials have been warning him strongly against declassifying information about Russia that his advisers say would compromise sensitive collection methods and anger key allies.
An intense battle over this issue has raged within the administration in the days before and after the Nov. 3 presidential election. Trump and his allies want the information public because they believe it would rebut claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin supported Trump in 2016. That may sound like ancient history, but for Trump it remains ground zero — the moment when his political problems began.
Even Bill Barr agrees that the declassification would endanger sources, but the folks being installed feel differently.
The issue may have played a role in Trump’s surprise decision on Monday to fire Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper. According to the senior defense official, Esper wrote a letter last month to John Ratcliffe, the director of national intelligence, strongly endorsing Nakasone’s position and “urging that the information not be released due to the harm it would do to national security, including specific harm to the military,” the senior defense official said.
. . . .
At the NSA, the Trump team just installed as general counsel Michael Ellis, a former chief counsel to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a locus of pro-Trump arguments that the Russia investigation was poisoned fruit. As the spy agency’s chief legal officer, Ellis could be an ally in a Ratcliffe-led campaign to declassify intelligence that would otherwise be tightly held because it might reveal sources and methods.
In a battle between what is good for the country and what Trump thinks is good for Trump, which do you think wins?
Speaking of Trump and his supporters putting Trump’s interests ahead that of the country, most Republicans are still going along with the charade that the pending recounts and frivolous lawsuits might change the election result. Even the one lawsuit that I think may have merit — the one challenging the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision to allow ballots to be counted after Election Day when the Legislature did not authorize it — will not swing that state. But folks are still pretending. The candidates in the Georgia Senate runoff have bowed to Trump’s demands that they call for the resignation of the state’s Republican Secretary of State, for no reason other than failing to do so would get them a nasty tweet from Trump.
And in my favorite news to date, the Senate majority leader in Pennsylvania, Jake Corman, is softening on the issue of upending his state’s vote and simply calling the election for Trump. He and the majority leader of the state House of Representatives assured voters on October 19: “We have said it many times and we will happily say it again: The Pennsylvania General Assembly does not have and will not have a hand in choosing the state’s presidential electors or in deciding the outcome of the presidential election.”
But on November 6, he hedged:
When asked Friday to confirm if the state legislature will award the state electors to the party that wins the popular vote, Corman said he does not like “to get into hypotheticals” but outlined his understanding of the election code.
“We will follow the law,” Corman said. “That’s all we’ve asked for in this process all along.”
“Under normal circumstances,” the legislature plays no role in selecting electors, he said.
To do that would be a coup. The fact that people are even worried about this is astounding. But I think that’s Trump’s game plan. Throw enough dust in the air to make it sound like there’s fraud everywhere, and get local hacks to disregard the election results.
Good for Trump, very very very bad for the country. Which wins?