President Donald Trump struck a decisive blow in his ongoing war against truth by effectively politicizing U.S. intelligence agencies.
He has attacked the intelligence community throughout his presidency, but Trump's ouster of a well-respected acting director of national intelligence in favor of an inexperienced partisan ally shows his intention to corrupt those agencies for personal gain, according to a pair of legal experts writing for The Atlantic.
"Trump moved decisively to politicize the intelligence community, beginning the process of transforming a group of agencies that produce apolitical analysis of regional and global trends and threats to the United States into a blunt tool of presidential power," wrote Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes, of Lawfare. "The changes will make it easier for the president to lie about matters of the gravest consequence. The move is objectively alarming—and yet, for some reason, has not generated the alarm it is due."
The president pushed out Joseph Maguire and his deputy in a dispute over a congressional briefing on Russian election interference, and replaced him with German ambassador Richard Grenell and Kashyap Patel, a former aide to pro-Trump Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
"The politics here were not subtle; the president’s own tweets on the subject made his concerns perfectly clear," Jurecic and Wittes wrote.
Trump had raged against Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, and baselessly accused him of leaking classified information and called for his prosecution, and the White House was also fighting the publication of a book by former national security adviser John Bolton.
"The politics don’t even have the shame to lurk beneath the surface," the pair wrote. "The president spent the week reshaping the intelligence community to serve his political needs, removing those who speak inconvenient realities, and using control over classified material to suppress criticism. And the result was, within a remarkably short period of time, exactly the sort of public abuse of intelligence one might expect from such conduct."