President Donald Trump is in Israel, but back home, the Washington Post just released the latest anonymously sourced takedown. This time, the paper is alleging that Trump also asked two of his own appointees, National Security Agency head Mike Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, for help "pushing back" against the Russian investigation, in other word, obstructing justice.
Once again, the report relies on anonymous “current and former” officials who were writing down notes of their convesations with Trump in real time in personal notebooks. WaPo reports:
“Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intellifence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.”
Trump sought their assistance after former FBI Director James Comey testified to the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 that the FB was investigating any links between the Trump campaign and Russian government, WaPo noted.
Trump’s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials.
It is unclear if a similar memo was prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to document Trump’s conversation with Coats. Officials said such memos could be made available to both the special counsel now overseeing the Russia investigation and congressional investigators, who might explore whether Trump sought to impede the FBI’s work.
Coats and Rogers both deemed the request “inappropriate” and “refused to comply,” WaPo noted, citing two current and two former officials - who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president.
The editors at WaPo are probably celebrating their latest scoop that will likely be confirmed by the NYT and CNN in short order, and it is clear that the implications of WaPo's allegations are that Trump is impeachable.
But we maintain that these anonymously-sourced, second-hand stories are a problem, and just the other day Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi explained why in a compelling column for the magazine. There are some major inconsistencies in terms of what the public knows about this investigation, Taibbi noted.
Whether or not Trump is guilty, somebody should come forward with more evidence, or at least some information from an identifiable and credible source about the exact nature of the charges being pursued, because the public deserves to know.
Our legal system was constructed with the aim of not allowing someone to linger under a cloud of suspicion, but remain uncharged. Trump deserves that much at least.