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Fri May 26, 2017, 11:33 PM

Who Spies on Presidents

It's interesting to consider “who spies on US presidents?” in a historical context. Let's look at two examples, both of which can be found in books of White House tapes. The two are Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. It's worth comparing how both of them responded, compared with Donald Trump.

For LBJ, we'll look at “Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson's Secret White House Tapes, 1964-1965,” (Simon & Schuster; 2001), the second of Michael Beschloss's series. On March 29, 1965, LBJ calls Nicholas Katzenbach, the Attorney General. It has become obvious that Johnson and others in his administration have had their phones tapped.

“I'm a red-hot, one-million-two percent civil liberties man, and I'm just against them I guess you've got to have them in treason or something,” Johnson tells him, but he demands – repeatedly – that the Attorney General shut down other FBI taps.

Katzenbach tells LBJ that he thinks the CIA taps phones, but not within the United States. Time would prove him to be wrong on that. He also notes that military intelligence is the likely source of the White House taps. Johnson is only mildly surprised, but it is evident he will not challenge the military on this issue. (See pages 251-256)

In a too frequently overlooked chapter in the Nixon administration, we look to Douglas Brinkley & Luke Nichter's “The Nixon Tapes,” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2014), the first of two volumes of Nixon tapes. On December 21, 1971, Nixon speaks with Erhlichman and Mitchell, after learning that the Joint Chiefs had placed a spy in Kissinger's office.

Nixon calls this “a federal offense of the highest order.” He demands an immediate investigation. However, he soon decides he does not want to go after military intelligence, and opts to merely reassign the spy to a different location. (See pages 331 – 339.)

There are, of course, other examples of presidents being spied upon and/or investigated by various intelligence agencies. And there were other presidents who had strong disagreements with the military and/or intelligence agencies. Yet Trump is the first who has openly attempted to do battle with them in a very public way.

I'm used to scoring boxing matches, round by round, until either it goes to a decision, or there is a knockout. Thus far in the Trump presidency, I think it's fair to say the Trump administration is losing every minute of every round. And the president and his buds are looking tired, bruised, bloody, and hurt. Though I'm still keeping score, I think that a knockout is coming very soon.

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Arrow 27 replies Author Time Post
Reply Who Spies on Presidents (Original post)
H2O Man May 2017 OP
moondust May 2017 #1
H2O Man May 2017 #2
malaise May 2017 #3
H2O Man May 2017 #4
malaise May 2017 #5
H2O Man May 2017 #6
coeur_de_lion May 2017 #7
H2O Man May 2017 #9
coeur_de_lion May 2017 #10
H2O Man May 2017 #13
coeur_de_lion May 2017 #15
H2O Man May 2017 #16
coeur_de_lion May 2017 #17
H2O Man May 2017 #19
coeur_de_lion May 2017 #23
Me. May 2017 #25
H2O Man May 2017 #26
Me. May 2017 #27
eleny May 2017 #8
H2O Man May 2017 #11
eleny May 2017 #22
coeur_de_lion May 2017 #12
H2O Man May 2017 #14
coeur_de_lion May 2017 #18
H2O Man May 2017 #20
coeur_de_lion May 2017 #21
Me. May 2017 #24

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat May 27, 2017, 12:09 AM

1. Obama!

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
5:35 AM - 4 Mar 2017


Makes me wonder if this was somehow connected to the Kushner back channel story, maybe preemptively trying to deflect/set himself up as the victim of secret scheming rather than the perpetrator.

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Response to moondust (Reply #1)

Sat May 27, 2017, 09:49 AM

2. Interesting.

I suspect that Trump et al recognized that the FBI investigation was getting very close, and the infamous splatter of paranoid tweets resulted.

I'm still thinking about Sally Yates. She was fired the day after her two visits to the White House to warn them about Flynn. He, of course, wouldn't be fired for another 18 days. I appreciated her recent public testimony, but recognize that she could not address all the reasons she determined that Flynn was compromised. The administration claimed they fired him because he lied to Pence. It seems highly unlikely the Russians could pressure Flynn by saying they would expose a lie to Pence -- if, indeed, Flynn had actually lied to him. There is, I am sure, a heck of a lot more to it than that.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat May 27, 2017, 09:57 AM

3. Yep a knockout is coming soon

Follow the money

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Response to malaise (Reply #3)

Sat May 27, 2017, 10:05 AM

4. I think so.

Once the Treasury started following that money, things have come into sharper focus.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #4)

Sat May 27, 2017, 10:09 AM

5. 666 5th Avenue

Perfect address

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Response to malaise (Reply #5)

Sat May 27, 2017, 10:14 AM

6. There you go!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun May 28, 2017, 10:34 AM

7. I watched "All the President's Men" last night

And I got curious about what Bob Woodward might be thinking about Trump's Russia scandal.

So I googled him and found this article:
[link:https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/05/10/bob-woodward-on-trump-watergate-comparisons-lets-see-what-the-evidence-is/?utm_term=.8b409d58ca23|

What do you make of this H?

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #7)

Sun May 28, 2017, 10:55 AM

9. I've tried

the link, but each time, the article fades before I can read more than the headline, and an attempt to get me to pay for it pops up. So I can only speculate on the content.

I've always had far more respect for Carl Bernstein than for Woodward. I remember in the post-Watergate era, when he exposed the extent of intelligence agents in the mainstream media -- though he didn't mention Bob by name. And Carl has spoken out numerous times on the Trump-Russian scandal. He doesn't hesitate to identify it as an extremely serious scandal.

I've listened to Bob speak at a public forum on Trump-Russia, and I think he was saying that we should be patient, and let the investigation unfold. Yet, I recall his less-than-honest coverage per the Plame scandal.

If you could "copy & paste" specific parts of the article, I'd be happy to address them.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #9)

Sun May 28, 2017, 11:00 AM

10. Here you go, hope I am not breaking any rules

Fix: What was your first thought when you heard the news that President Trump fired FBI Director Comey?

Woodward: My first reaction was, “Wow,” and my second reaction was, “But of course!” There's a certain logic to it. Now, Trump says it's about the email investigation. As many people have said, that doesn't seem quite plausible. That's like settling an issue that is gone — and in many ways Trump won, because he won the presidency. Comey certainly was the aggressive one, the fact gatherer. There's a story today that just recently he was asking the Justice Department for more money and resources to increase the effort in the Russian investigation, and a couple of days later he's out the door.

Fix: President Trump has repeatedly called the Russia investigation “fake news” and suggested that it's a witch hunt more than a legitimate investigation. Is it?

Woodward: It's clearly a legitimate investigation, and Trump doesn't like it. We'll see. Some people think it's a coverup already. Others think there's no evidence, and let's see. And what's worrisome to a reporter interested in getting facts is, this is so polarized, this is so emotional. This is driven by tweets and assertions from people who don't really know. It's too bad we live in this Internet culture of impatience and speed, and it does not set us on the road to gathering facts.


Fix: In that same vein, are people rushing to the Watergate comparison too quickly? Are Trump's opponents so alarmed by his presidency in general that they want to see it that way?

Woodward: Lots of people are alarmed by the Trump presidency, some people for partisan reasons; they're probably hyping this up. But this is pretty extraordinary. Don't dilute the moment when the president, kind of out of left field, says, “I'm firing the FBI director, who has a fixed term, can only be fired for cause.” Trump has decided he has cause, and I guess Comey is at home now. He's no longer at FBI headquarters. I think it's very important — I was listening to Sen. Lindsey O. Graham this morning, and he said, okay, let's take it one step at a time. We can afford to do that. I'm for that. I'm for the media, which I think now has a quadruple responsibility to work hard on this — the various investigations, the FBI, the Senate, the House, to dig in and be patient.

Fix: The central question seems to me to be, is it an abuse of power for the president to fire the FBI director who is investigating him?

Woodward: Look, the president has that power. Go to the Constitution. It's very clear. Article 2: The executive power of the United States is vested in one person, the president. Not the National Security Council, not the Cabinet, not the White House staff, one person. He can do whatever he wants, within perhaps reasonable limits, so he's got the power. You could argue he shouldn't do this, it's abusive. I don't know until we get evidence — if we ever get evidence — where this is going, and if the climate of the times is impatience, we're not going to get the evidence because to do that, you have to really launch, as you do in the media, a full-scale inquiry with lots of people working on it, trying to talk to everyone who might know something.

Fix: Some of the specific comparisons that have been made today are between Trump's decision to fire Comey and the “Saturday Night Massacre” during the Watergate scandal. Is that a fair comparison?

Woodward: The Saturday Night Massacre was a giant, seismic event in Watergate. But that was in October 1973, and what happened is, the attorney general then, Elliot Richardson, had been appointed by Nixon. Elliot Richardson, “Mr. Clean,” had agreed to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would appoint a special prosecutor in Watergate.

At the time of the Saturday Night Massacre, John Dean, Nixon's lawyer, had already testified — a devastating four days of nationally publicized testimony — and Alexander Butterfield, a Nixon aide, had disclosed the taping system, so by the time you got to the point where Nixon fired the special prosecutor, there were voluminous accusations against Nixon and there was a path to getting the evidence, getting the tapes.


Fix: So while the rumors surrounding the Trump investigation are pretty vague, the accusations were very specific in this situation.

Woodward: It's so important to understand what John Dean was saying: specifics, dozens of calls, meetings saying the president orchestrated and was the leader of an illegal obstruction of justice. Dean testified to his own motive, which he said was corrupt, and that the president was corrupt. So you had a firsthand witness, and in the Trump case, there's a lot of suspicion — genuine, well-founded suspicion, but no John Dean testifying with the kind of specifics, “On March 21 we met and I said we need maybe a million dollars to pay the Watergate burglars for their silence,” and Nixon says, “Well, I know where we can get a million dollars.” Nothing like that. Nothing comparable. Maybe there will be at some point. No comparable evidence trail, where there were suggestions of a secret taping system or suggestions of absolutely foolproof evidence.

So you get to the Saturday Night Massacre. Nixon's not firing the FBI director, he's firing the boss, the special prosecutor, Archibald Cox. There was such a firestorm, dozens, as I recall, of resolutions introduced in the House of Representatives to introduce an impeachment investigation, so what did Nixon do? He blinked. He said, okay, we'll have a new special prosecutor — it turned out to be Leon Jaworski, and the second thing — at that moment, there was an order from a federal court of appeals saying he had to turn over a group of tapes, and he said, “Okay, I'll do it.” And so he turned over evidence that turned out in itself to be quite incriminating to him. So you have a very different situation.


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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #10)

Sun May 28, 2017, 11:16 AM

13. Thanks for this.

I like the idea that history does not repeat, it rhymes. This scandal isn't exactly Watergate, but it rhymes with Watergate; it's not Iran-Contra, but it rhymes with Iran-Contra.

I think that is a pretty fair opinion expressed by Woodward. Patience is important ....although things are unfolding faster than anticipated. The public is being informed of things that used to be kept under the surface, and out of sight. But there is a heck of a lot that is absolutely being kept under that surface ....the federal grand jury, etc.

The more pressure is applied to the administration, the more mistakes they make in their reactions. Nixon is no doubt looking down from hell, thinking, "What a bunch of amateurs!"

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #13)

Sun May 28, 2017, 11:28 AM

15. This article from WaPo was a bit more balanced

than others I've seen where Woodward was quoted as saying reporters need to stop being so smug.

To me this scandal is so much worse than Watergate so to read that Woodward wants to downplay Russiagate compared to Watergate is ludicrous.

In this article he says Trump will be around a long time and it worries me.

[link:https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/05/24/bob-woodward-digs-at-smug-media-weighs-in-on-president-trump-odds-finishing-first-term/22107194/|
]

Legendary Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward spoke out against "smug" media on Wednesday, saying too many members of the media treat President Trump's White House tenure as a "try out."

The comments from half of the team that broke the Nixon Watergate scandal in 1973 came during a News Shapers interview with Axios' Mike Allen.

"I think there's so many people treating the Trump presidency as if it's a try out, as if it's provisional," Woodward said. "Odds are, he's probably going to be president for a full term, four years, maybe even more."

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #15)

Sun May 28, 2017, 11:44 AM

16. He's wrong.

Trump will not serve out the full term. And he ONLY could have won an election in 2016.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #16)

Sun May 28, 2017, 11:45 AM

17. Why only in 2016?

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #17)

Sun May 28, 2017, 11:51 AM

19. The synergy

of economic-social-political issues allowed for the weakest candidate ever to win. He surfed the wave of hatred that was infecting -- and still infects -- our culture. And the Russian influence, of course. This allowed his campaign to to take advantage of the 50 state election contests that make up the national election.

PeeWee Herman would beat him in 2020.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #19)

Sun May 28, 2017, 12:52 PM

23. Very interesting!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #9)

Sun May 28, 2017, 02:44 PM

25. "Yet, I recall his less-than-honest coverage per the Plame scandal"

Not just that. Until recently he was giving 45 a pass on everything. It wasn’t until Scarborough turned that he has begun to.

While I’m at it (replying to this thread), has Obama been listened to…what do you think?

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Response to Me. (Reply #25)

Sun May 28, 2017, 04:13 PM

26. Oh, yes. Of course.

He also was spoken directly to. The prime example is that he was sincere about campaign pledges to end the US war in Afghanistan. And he definitely took steps to try to do so, as president. But he learned some of the limitations of presidential power. The generals let him know, in an unfriendly manner, that this decision did not involve him.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #26)

Sun May 28, 2017, 04:36 PM

27. They May Now Find

That no decisions are up to them

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun May 28, 2017, 10:45 AM

8. Interesting that you posted about this today

Last night I fell asleep wondering how many in the administration and of White House staff are being surveilled, especially now. Not just having their phones tapped but being followed for their activities. What I call, "real spy stuff".

I don't mean this in a joking way. After watching Malcolm Nance and Jack Rice on Joy's Saturday broadcast the serious nature of all this came home to me very hard.

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Response to eleny (Reply #8)

Sun May 28, 2017, 11:04 AM

11. I think that the

only "funny" thing about it is that several people in the White House are becoming aware that not only are a number of people within the administration "leaking" to journalists, but that the intelligence community -- specifically, military intelligence -- has a resource embedded inside the White House. This is causing extreme paranoia. It is creating tensions within the plans to create a "war room."

Mr. Nance is a very serious man. He speaks for the intelligence community when he addresses the very serious dangers that the Trump-Russian scandal poses.

I absolutely agree that all of this must be approached in a most serious way. But I admit that there are times when Trump et al make me laugh out loud!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #11)

Sun May 28, 2017, 12:48 PM

22. Well, their hypocrisy is humorous - to a point

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun May 28, 2017, 11:05 AM

12. I also wonder if

we should do as we did during the Plame investigation and have one thread where we keep track of all the best articles and speculation.

You may recall that we developed a series of Plame threads and numbered them.

Of course the atmosphere on DU is not the same now as it was then. Then it seemed more like us against the world but these days DU is more popular with lots more frequent participants.

Might be fruitless to try and unite everyone.

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #12)

Sun May 28, 2017, 11:20 AM

14. If we had the

same DU community that we had then, there would definitely be such a collection of threads. I do not know if such a project could be accomplished today, which really is too bad. As one of the members of that core group that organized the Plame threads, I am fully aware that I could not do so in the current circumstance. But, I'd be happy to contribute......

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #14)

Sun May 28, 2017, 11:49 AM

18. Well lets just put it out in the Universe

Maybe someone will also want to be more organized in the runup to Trump's impeachment.

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Response to coeur_de_lion (Reply #18)

Sun May 28, 2017, 11:53 AM

20. Right.

I'm aware that some of the OP/threads are -- same as with Plame -- being read by people who are not DU members. And I do not mean the "trolls."

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #20)

Sun May 28, 2017, 12:09 PM

21. Who spies on presidents?

Who spies on members of DU?

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun May 28, 2017, 01:14 PM

24. Bookmarked For Reading After

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