By Michael Goodwin
It would be understandable if President Trump wakes up troubled these days by four words bouncing around his head: “Loose lips sink ships.”
Understandable — and advisable. The World War II warning against careless talk carries a personal meaning for the beleaguered president. Beset by a hostile media and a ruthless opposition party, Trump now must be careful about every word he says, privately and publicly.
The walls, including in the White House, have ears.
That was demonstrated in spades last week, most dramatically by the allegations from a CIA officer that Trump used a phone call with the president of Ukraine to solicit foreign help in the 2020 campaign. That allegation and others led to a fiery congressional hearing and spurred Democrats to quicken their pace toward impeachment.
A second instance of snooping made the “loose lips” point less sensationally but was still disturbing. Before he left the United Nations Thursday, Trump attended a private event to thank the new American ambassador, Kelly Craft, and her staff for their work during the General Assembly session.
Some privacy. The president said, “I want to know who’s the person, who’s the person who gave the whistleblower the information? Because that’s close to a spy.”
We know he said that and more because someone at the event, maybe more than one person, secretly recorded his remarks, both audio and video, and promptly leaked them to the media.
When it comes to brickbats, Trump is perhaps the most battle-tested occupant the Oval Office has ever known, yet the two incidents demonstrate that the war against him has entered a vicious new phase. Efforts to end his presidency, one way or another, have reached a fever pitch, and Trump would be foolish to assume they will fail. His margin for error is approximately zero.
Leaks to the biased media are a staple of his tenure, and he sporadically tried to plug the holes. Some heads have rolled, most recently that of his personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, after she apparently told a reporter she had a better relationship with the president than his daughters.
But such indiscrete gossip pales in comparison to what’s happening now. Indeed, Trump could be accused of understatement in describing anyone who participated with the so-called whistleblower as “almost a spy.”
There is nothing “almost” about it. The trained CIA officer used his trusted position in the White House to gather secret information from what he claims were “multiple US government officials.”
He retained Democratically connected lawyers and injected his allegations into the political bloodstream with one intent: to get Trump removed from office.
Among the hints the officer and his lawyers worked with Dems to shape his complaint are the early leaks to the hysterical anti-Trump media. The goal was to whet appetites and do the most damage despite the agent having no firsthand knowledge of events he described. Mission accomplished.
CIA agents are supposed to spy on foreign adversaries. This one spied on the president, then cloaked himself in whistleblower camouflage. His sources are presumably still at work and perhaps planning another run at the president.
The episode comes with a mountain of irony. The headline-grabbing charge — that Trump sought help from a foreign government — resonates because it is universally accepted that interference in our elections is wrong.
That’s why the left tried for two years to pin the false charge of Russia collusion on Trump and, having failed, is now making the same allegation about Ukraine. They believe it’s a kill shot among voters.
Yet they don’t have the same standard for their own party. Not a single Dem cared that Hillary Clinton hired a former British intelligence agent to get dirt from Kremlin-linked Russians on Trump. If that isn’t foreign interference, what is it?
And what would we know about former presidents if CIA officers had leaked the contents of their calls to foreign leaders? Imagine what Barack Obama said to Iranians before he secretly shipped $1.4 billion in cash to them.
Where were the whistleblowers then?
Still, for my money, CIA interference in politics is reprehensible.
Yet that is exactly what we are witnessing — for the second time in the Trump era.
Recall that CIA leaders worked with the FBI to spy on and derail Trump’s 2016 campaign. The then-head of the agency, the odious John Brennan, spread the discredited Russian dossier Clinton funded, and continues his anti-Trump jihad from the bunkers of MSNBC. This is the same Brennan who had agents spy on the US Senate, then lied about it before confessing.
While James Comey and other FBI trash were fired, Brennan has escaped even minimal accountability. One result is that some in the agency he headed are still abusing their position to play dirty politics.
Is it mere coincidence that the attack on Trump comes as the administration investigates what Brennan, Comey and others did in 2016?
Democrats, though they will never say so directly, believe that anything is kosher that damages Trump. Their hate for him has blinded them to any destructive consequences, and they already are hailing the CIA agent as a hero.
They echo the defense Comey used when he was caught breaking FBI procedures, that his rogue actions were justified by his opinion of Trump.
This strain of Trump Derangement Syndrome is contagious, with the editor of The New York Times, Dean Baquet, even blaming Trump for his decision to publicly identify the whistleblower as a CIA agent.
His lawyers argued the move could put the officer’s life in danger. That carried no weight with the Times, which hoped the CIA credential bolstered the charges’ credibility while hurting Trump’s. Anything for the cause.
Finally, credit of a sort is due Sen. Chuck Schumer. Way back in January of 2017, he warned Trump: “You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”
And so they have.
Never ending $queeze on NYers
With one hand, New York officials complain that the cost of living here is too high. With the other, they raise the cost of living here.
The latest wallet grab comes from the Port Authority, which is hiking tolls on the George Washington Bridge and other crossings from $15 to $16 for those paying cash. AirTrain fares will jump from $5 to $7.75 and black-car passengers will pay an extra $2.50 coming from and going to airports.
What do you get for the extra money?
Only the certainty that it will never be enough.
Driving lefties’ agenda
It’s truly amazing how quickly the city bureaucracy can move when it wants to.
Officials will close five blocks on Manhattan’s 14th Street to cars just five days after Friday’s court approval. And a bike lane on Central Park West was installed in what seemed like days after surprised residents learned of it.
The key in both cases was advocacy by small groups of well-funded, loud progressives. They run New York now.