Tim Naftali writes: It’s worth noting that the vast majority of intelligence abuses unearthed by the Watergate and Church investigations and by investigations after 9/11 were not the product of an unelected state; they were the product of secret activities ordered by elected officials, namely our Presidents.
Even Richard Nixon, our most conspiracy-minded President before Donald Trump, understood this distinction very well. After the Senate Watergate investigation turned up evidence in May 1973 that Nixon had ordered wiretaps on 17 members of the National Security Staff and the press between 1969 and 1971 without seeking a court order, Nixon wanted “all the wiretaps of previous administrations revealed.”
“I wanted everything out on the Democrats,” he wrote, convinced that the secret records of previous domestic wiretaps would put him in the better light. On June 1, Nixon told National Security Advisor Henry A. Kissinger to “let your [liberal] assholes know” that the White House would soon be publishing the list of wiretaps by Democratic presidents.
Less than a week later, he reminded White House Chief of Staff Alexander M. Haig, Jr., that he wanted the names from the FBI of all the individuals tapped between 1961 and 1964, “Give us the names — that’s all we need.” And on June 21, he discussed with White House Counsel J. Fred Buzhardt, Jr., the list provided by the FBI of all wiretaps after 1960.
In his memoirs, Nixon didn’t suggest any doubt that in 1973 he possessed a full record of wiretaps ordered by his predecessors. Such is the power of the presidency. If he wanted to know such things, all he had to do was ask. The intelligence community works for him. In other words, he is the mythic “Deep State.”
So, Donald Trump, when he heard the media speculation of Obama wiretaps, could have simply asked for a list, as Nixon once did. Trump could also have asked for all of the FISA warrants — something that did not exist in Nixon’s time — requested by the Bureau. This would tell him right away if the Obama Justice Department had ever overreached.
Perhaps Trump has already done this. After all, for over a week, some Congressional heavy hitters, like Senator John McCain and Roy Blunt, have been advising the President through the media to investigate the matter himself.
And maybe Trump hasn’t been happy with what he learned. If so, he is reliving the Nixon experience. Nixon tried his best to spin what the secret documents told him to his advantage, to no avail. [Continue reading…]