This Washington Post story is called “At CIA, a watchful eye on Mike Pompeo, the president’s ardent ally.” It sounds like the CIA is spying on its own director. If there is such a thing as the “deep state,” I think we have sighted it.
According to Post reporter Greg Miller, “Mike Pompeo has taken a special interest in an agency unit that is closely tied to the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, requiring the Counterintelligence Mission Center to report directly to him.” That’s one way of putting it. A more honest way would be to acknowledge that the investigation in question is actually a broad counterintelligence probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The media and its Democratic allies would have us believe that Russian interference in that election is the greatest, most ominous intelligence caper of all time. Even if it falls somewhat short of that billing, as it almost certainly does, why shouldn’t the head of the CIA take a “special interest” in the matter?
The Post and the Democrats can’t have it both ways. Russian interference in the 2016 election can’t be both an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a hostile foreign power’s intelligence operatives and a matter as to which the CIA director should take little interest.
I’m sure the Post, as well as Trump’s enemies in the CIA, would like Pompeo to recuse himself from the investigation, as Jeff Sessions recused himself at the Justice Department. But there’s no reason why he should.
Sessions recused himself because of testimony he gave regarding the Russian ambassador and, perhaps, because he was part of the Trump campaign team. Pompeo has given no problematic testimony about Russia and was not part of the Trump campaign.
Unlike Sessions, he did not even provide Trump an early endorsement. Even when Trump became the presumptive nominee, Pompeo would say only that he would “support the nominee of the Republican Party because Hillary Clinton cannot be president of the United States.”
That was then. Now, Pompeo works closely with President Trump, as one should want a CIA to do. But does this mean he is going to compromise the investigation into the 2016 election in order to help Trump politically?
There is no reason to think so. The anti-Trump, anti-Pompeo leakers at the CIA acknowledge that Pompeo has not impeded the investigation. However, they express concern “about what he might do if the CIA uncovered new information potentially damaging to Trump and Pompeo were forced to choose between protecting the agency or the president.” The fear, as one of them put it, is “that if you were passing on something too dicey [to Pompeo] he would go to the White House with it.”
The fear is absurd. If the Trump’s enemies in the CIA, the FBI, or the Mueller dream team ever come up with anything damaging to Trump, the president will read about it in the Washington Post and the New York Times before anyone has time to “go to the White House with it.”
Moreover, executive-order guidelines prohibit the CIA from passing information to the White House “for the purpose of affecting the political process in the United States.” Neither the Post nor its sources offers any reason to believe that Pompeo would violate this order. In lieu of such evidence or analysis, the Post’s Miller ends up whining about Pompeo’s social conservatism, as if it is somehow relevant.
Miller’s piece contains this bit of unintended irony: In addition to the importance of the Russia investigation, the other reason the CIA has given for Pompeo’s active participation in the matter is concern about leaks. The fact that CIA officials are smearing the director in the pages of the Washington Post, going so far as to say he can’t be trusted to follow executive-order guidelines, strongly suggests that Pompeo’s concern about leaks is well-founded.
If CIA employees are going to keep a “watchful eye” on their director, they shouldn’t object if their director keeps a watchful eye on them.