Decoding the leaks

With a little help from the publisher of RealClearPolitics, I would like to note Lee Smith’s analysis of the trail of evidence in the media of the campaign from within the government using illegal leaks of classified information to undermine President Trump — and then to thwart congressional investigators investigating the disclosures. Lee’s new RCP column is “How Anti-Trump Leakers Moved From Offense to Defense.” In it Lee reports:

• The anti-Trump leaks fall into two broad categories, or phases. Initially the leaking was an offensive operation aimed at disrupting Trump’s agenda, especially through leaks alleging connections between his campaign and the Russians. The second phase – which began roughly a year into the Trump administration – has been more defensive, pushing back against congressional oversight committees that had uncovered irregularities in the FBI’s investigation of Trump.

• Notable in the second phase is the surfacing of a dubious episode involving George Papadopoulos as the new starting point of the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe – after the so-called Steele dossier funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign was discredited.

• This second phase has also included articles and opinion pieces – some written by journalists who have published illegal leaks – dismissing suspicions of an orchestrated “echo chamber” campaign mounted by Obama partisans against Trump as a “conspiracy theory,” to use the phrase invoked in a recent New Yorker article.

• The template for the leak campaign can be traced back to the Obama administration’s efforts to sell the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Obama adviser Ben Rhodes told the New York Times in 2016 that “we created an echo chamber” of compliant media that “helped retail the administration’s narrative.” Lee quotes former Bush administration official Michael Doran: “That same configuration, the press, political operatives, newly minted experts, social media validators—was repurposed to target Trump, his campaign, transition team, then presidency.”

Closely related: “Anatomy of a Fusion smear: Restatement and finale.”

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