Democratic Fundamental Degradation: President Trump’s Attacks on the Intelligence Community and the Media

Devin Reeves

Editors: Sam Tritt, Tyler Hiu
Thursday, February 1st, 2018
Dr. Trevor Hoag
ENGL 123

Timeline

In the months that have followed the election of President Donald J. Trump, many of the largest and most prestigious intelligence agencies in the United States have taken to the possible collusion between the President and Russia. This is due, in part, to the intelligence community’s affirmation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, as well as many unearthed ties between the Trump campaign itself and Russian officials. However, there have been several instances in which the President has personally detracted the high integrity which a president should promote and uphold, and that an agency, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, should be given.

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Along the way, the President has had to inquire upon whether some appointed officials are on “[his] team” of the investigation into his alleged crimes (Brown, Perez and Jarrett). The official specifically questioned was Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the highest-ranking Justice Department official involved with the Russian collusion investigation. Pamela Brown, Evan Perez, and Laura Jarret of CNN write of the interaction, as well as actions leading to the account, in an exclusive article. The report addresses Rosenstein’s appeal for the President’s assistance in fighting off classified “document demands from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes” (Brown, Perez and Jarrett). However, the President was more interested in determining whether or not Rosenstein was “on [his] team” (Brown, Perez and Jarrett). The article goes on to introduce the idea a source suggested “Trump had suggested questions to members of Congress that they could ask Rosenstein” (Brown, Perez and Jarrett). The piece is written in a moderate manner as to not accuse the President of wrongdoings; rather, CNN reports findings suggesting there may have been malcontent in Trump’s actions. For example, the article alludes to previously confirmed actions by the President, such as “Trump [asking] Comey for loyalty,” to address current situations as a possible correlation between those actions and his most recent display in looking for his own answers (Brown, Perez and Jarrett).

Contrary to the previous piece’s moderate stance, a Fox News post by Alex Pappas, a known conservative news writer, proposes the releasing of a memo from the House Intelligence Committee, “that purportedly reveals government surveillance abuses,” is in important step for informing the American public (Pappas). The report continues to say that “Trump, who has the ability to stop the memo’s release, was overhear telling a GOP lawmaker … that he’s ‘100 percent’ supportive” of the move to release the memo (Pappas). Pappas goes on to address the opposition’s (Democrats) concern, which D-Rep. Adam Schiff says is seeking “to declassify highly sensitive information for political reason” (Pappas). This is rebutted later in the piece by stating examples of GOP lawmakers accounts of the FBI’s behavior in investigating claims of collusion, essentially siding with the release of the memo because, only, majority member stated the actions were “‘shocking,’ ‘troubling,’ and ‘alarming,’ … likening the details to accounts of KGB activity” (Pappas).

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Although another conservative source, this RedState writer clashes in interests on Trump’s actions towards Russia and the sanctions passed in congress with a super-majority in each chamber. Author, Jon Street, starts his piece with the aggressive title “It Sure Looks Like Mr. ‘America First’ is Putting Russian Interests Ahead of U.S.,” blatantly stating his opposition to fellow conservative, President Donald J. Trump (Street). Street goes on to address the findings of the intelligence community “that yes, Russia interfered in American elections,” yet despite this fact the “administration indicated it would not go along with lawmakers’ … sanctions” (Street). This, alongside stating Trump should sign the legislation if there is “nothing to this Russian collusion,” show the fractures within his own party due to his lack of regard for the intelligence resources in the United States (Street).

Image: Rep. Devin Nunes Briefs Press On House Intelligence Cmte Russia Investigation

An equally critical piece is written by Steve Benen; however, it is from the other end of the spectrum from a more liberal source known as The MaddowBlog from MSNBC. The piece criticizes Trump’s advantageous and hasty move to go ahead and release the aforementioned House memo, although being forewarned of its possible consequences by both the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation. A statement from Trump caught by his mic after his State of the Union address captures him saying “Don’t worry. One hundred percent,” referring to his stance on releasing the memo (Benen). Benen’s take on the President’s stance is clearly shown through his rhetorical choice in describing Trump’s decision, such as claiming “Trump … sees political value in the Nunes memo, so concerns about compromising the FBI’s intelligence-gathering techniques were easily cast aside” (Benen). He then goes on to claim this “doesn’t make the President’s casual carelessness … any easier to accept,” showing Benen’s clear liberal view of the situation, and overall Russian scandal (Benen).

On the other side of the Nunes memo in the House Intelligence committee is the democratic statement of the FBI’s handling of “sensitive information in the Russia investigation” (Demirjian). In a piece written by Karoun Demirjian on Washington Post’s PowerPost, a liberal view of the handling of the Nunes memo is addressed to show the possible shut out of House Intelligence democrats by the majority of the committee to hinder the release of the democrats own memo. Demirjian shows her liberal view of the topic when stating: “Democrats contend that the Republican effort to criticize federal law enforcement is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the probe overseen by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III,” asserting the critical nature of the piece is intentional based upon her personal view, alongside an ethical ideal shared by the FBI and DoJ (Demirjian).

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Aside from the Nunes memo and party-line articles is a piece by NPR’s Philip Ewing on the reports that “Trump … tried to fire Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller last year” (Ewing). The move by Trump is immensely shocking as shown by when Ewing states that “Many members of Congress and others, including the Justice Department, said nothing at all” (Ewing). Ewing shows his non-partisan take to the matter by not singling out any single group, rather, he focuses on how the account itself could impact Trump individually. By offering multiple different hypotheses, Ewing shows he has thought how it could affect Trump in multiple way, not necessarily always in a negative way. In the end, by concluding that “it could mean Mueller is close to the end of his discovery or investigation phase” shows Ewing took no stance other than what the statement itself shows: Mueller is almost finished (Ewing).

Overall, there is a major coverage of the investigation across the entire spectrum, and it can be taken different way by different people on the same point of the spectrum. However, it shows that an event this widespread will almost always be covered everywhere due to its sheer impact to the public, but it does not eliminate the possibility of biases. These biases are the primary reason to research the topic as thoroughly as possible to determine falsities and accuracies on how it is covered across the spectrum. Although, it is good to know that bias does not imply fallacy, it is just the reason to see all opinions as to form one’s own opinion.

Benen, Steve. The MaddowBlog. 31 January 2018. 31 January 2018. <http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/live-mic-catches-trump-commenting-nunes-memo>.

Brown, Pamela, Evan Perez and Laura Jarrett. CNN Politics. 31 January 2018. 31 January 2018. <https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/31/politics/donald-trump-rod-rosenstein-december-meeting/>.

Demirjian, Karoun. PowerPost. 24 January 2018. 28 January 2018. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/house-democrats-plan-memo-to-counter-gops-as-calls-to-declassify-files-grow/2018/01/24/3161b48c-0146-11e8-bb03-722769454f82_story.html?utm_term=.30c8576dd1a1>.

Ewing, Philip. Nation Security. 27 January 2018. 28 January 2018. <https://www.npr.org/2018/01/27/581148823/the-russia-investigations-trump-reportedly-wanted-to-fire-mueller-d-c-dumbstruck>.

Pappas, Alex. Fox News Politics. 31 January 2018. 31 January 2018. <http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/31/house-intel-committee-releases-transcript-contentious-meeting-over-surveillance-memo.html>.

Street, Jon. RedState. 30 January 2018. 30 January 2018. <https://www.redstate.com/jon-street/2018/01/30/460738/>.

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