Over the last few days a series of firings in the Defense Department and the National Security Agency have roiled Washington. Fears of a coup abound. But there are compelling reasons to see these firings as part of a coverup, not a coup.
First, what is being hidden is very, very big and goes to the heart of the Trump-Russia scandal. As detailed in my piece in the Byline Times, Trump, as a candidate, as President-Elect and as President tried to deliver a pro-Russian peace in Ukraine during the first months of the Trump Administration.
Other events demonstrate the GOP’s intense interest in deflecting from revelations yet to come. Today former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe faced yet another grilling before Senator Lindsey Graham’s Judiciary Committee. There, he told the senators that he believed that the President may have “posed a danger to national security.”
But the most compelling evidence comes from the troubling personnel moves at Defense and the NSA. These recent personnel changes have one thing in common–they involve putting extreme Trump loyalists in positions of power. Three of these loyalists were directly involved in disinformation operations to hide the attempt to press Ukraine into a disadvantageous peace with Russia and to defend the President from the investigations that swirled around the President from the beginning of his single term.
Take Ezra Cohen-Watnick. Cohen-Watnick provided Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) with the highly-edited evidence that the GOP congressman used to launch the so-called “unmasking” scandal.
Kash Patel, a Nunes staffer, was the point man for all of Nunes’ efforts to discredit the Russia Investigation and its sequel, the impeachment of President Trump.
And the appointment of former National Security Council lawyer Michael Ellis to be the General Counsel of the National Security Agency, over the objections of its head, General Paul Nakasone is another tell. Ellis, is also a Nunes loyalist who helped Cohen-Watnick get the intelligence documents on the infamous “midnight ride” that spawned the “unmasking scandal.”
Ellis also played a role in hiding the record of Trump’s “perfect phone call” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a secret server–providing key advice to Deputy White House Counsel John Eisenberg.
Taken together, these appointments appear to be more about about putting the evidence of Trump’s misdeeds beyond the reach of Biden officials who will be taking over the government soon. Expect more moves to come.