AL put the signal up earlier for some analysis on what is going on with the leaks regarding the Russians placing bounties on US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Here’s what I think is going on:
First, someone or several people who are significantly senior enough to have access to the information that is being leaked, meaning that they have access to the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) are leaking. And they’re leaking A LOT! Most likely because they either have had enough or because they’re worried something even worse is coming, likely because they are read onto that compartment or special access program, and these leaks are their version of the Bat-Signal. What they are doing is not without significant personal and professional risk. They have not gone through regular channels. They are not whistleblowers in the legal sense of the term. So they have no legal protections should they be caught. But they appear to have a strategy and they are following it. Every time the President, the White House Spokesperson, a Republican member of Congress, and/or one of the President’s senior national security appointees releases a new explanation or excuse or tries to spin the reporting, a new and more damaging leak is fed out to one of several reporters who cover national security.
This brings us to the response of the President, his senior appointees, Republican members of Congress, and his surrogates in the media, which is basically that everyone knows the President doesn’t read anything, so if it was really important someone would have told him. Senator Johnson tried his hand at this, but he’s not exactly the sharpest knife in the plastic chop stick drawer, so…
“Nobody felt it was verified enough to even raise it to the level of the president,” Johnson said, adding that despite reports suggesting that info about the bounties was included in Trump’s daily briefing book, senators were told Tuesday that Trump was not orally briefed on it.
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) June 30, 2020
Despite Senator Johnson failing to stick the landing, the play, for now, is “he doesn’t read, whatcha gonna do?” Among the president’s base, reading is something elites do. Real people, and especially real men, make decisions based on gut instinct. This leaves them with something along the lines of “the President wasn’t told, everyone knows he doesn’t read, if it was important someone should have said something, and that’s why he had to get rid of Coates and MacGuire at DNI and Bolton, etc because they know if something is really important they have to tell it to him. The President didn’t let down the troops, they did.”
The second response is what we saw from the Republicans briefed yesterday. According to Congressman Banks, and other Republican members of Congress, the real crime is that someone highly ranked has anonymously leaked to The New York Times and a number of other reporters. Now that the info is out, the leaker has screwed up the intelligence, as well as the intel process, harmed sources and methods, and really put Americans at risk.
I expect the third response will be AG Barr announcing a federal investigation to find the leakers. This will flow into the fourth response, which will be an attempt to link the leaker or leakers to Vice President Biden. This will be a replay of what the President, the Republican members of Congress, and the President’s surrogates tried to do with the IC whistleblower all the way through the impeachment trial in the Senate. Here too they will try to link whomever they identify as the leaker or leakers back to Vice President Biden.
This seems to be the playbook they are using now. I expect that they will eventually roll the search for whomever leaked to CNN about the President’s phone calls with foreign heads of state into their response.
I don’t think this is going to go away any time soon. What I don’t know is whether it will be overtaken by the next scandal and just become part of the background noise of the President and his administration.