Opinion

WHITON: Trump Should Do More Than Cut Security Council — He Should Gut Bureaucrats At CIA, State, Pentagon

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Christian Whiton Fmr. State Dept Sr. Advisor
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You can be forgiven if the impeachment push against President Trump gives you a sense of deja vu. It’s the second time national security bureaucrats have attempted a coup against this president, whose foreign policy they dislike.

As Karl Marx wrote, history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

The first effort was orchestrated by bureaucrats trying to smear President Trump as having colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. It was led by senior officials at the FBI, including lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, with the likely involvement of Obama-era CIA director John Brennan.

Recently, James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, implied former President Obama himself was involved. The effort was debunked after the two-year, $32-million Mueller investigation died with a whimper.

At least that first attempted coup — the “tragedy” — was run by the varsity team of the national security bureaucracy. The newest coup via attempted impeachment — the “farce” — seems to have been concocted and sustained by the junior varsity team.

These include a smattering of Foreign Service officers from the State Department, many of whom will testify before the House publicly this week.

One is George Kent, the deputy assistant Secretary of State who oversees Ukraine matters. In his previous testimony, Kent whined that Trump wasn’t deferring to the bureaucratic inter-agency process that serves mainly to elevate bureaucrats to pursue their own agendas. Kent complained that he was “cut out” of decisions about Ukraine.

But Kent is three administrative levels down from the Secretary of State. He sits in the European Affairs Bureau that been ineffective in implementing Trump’s agenda for Europe, especially getting something for our massive aid to Ukraine such as a reduction in corruption of the sort that led to a no-show sinecure for Joe Biden’s son. Why do unhelpful and feckless bureaucrats expect presidents to care what they think? Is ignoring the Foreign Service, which all presidents do sooner or later, an impeachable crime?

Kent also alleged that a “campaign of lies” was waged against fellow Foreign Service officer Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, whom the State Department recalled. But Yovanovitch was incompetent and weak. She seldom spoke with the media and did little to put pressure on Russia publicly for taking Ukrainian sailors hostage in the Black Sea. She also failed to stand up to Russia and Germany publicly by trying to stop the Nordstream 2 pipeline that will make Europe more dependent on Russian energy and undermine Ukrainian security. She deserved to be fired, but will whine to Congress about her predicament, imagining that it is the result of impeachable conduct rather than her own failings.

Another farcical, junior varsity player is Alexander Vindman, the Army lieutenant colonel who is detailed from the Pentagon to the National Security Council. Vindman is an immigrant from Ukraine and was put in charge of Ukraine policy, an obvious conflict of interest. Vindman testified that he was “deeply troubled” about Trump’s alleged efforts to “subvert U.S. foreign policy.”

That would be a neat trick, considering it is the president who establishes America’s foreign policy. His power to do so comes from the Constitution. If Vindman and these other bureaucrats were working against the president, it was they, not Trump, who were subverting our foreign policy.

To those who know the games our national security bureaucracy plays to undermine Republican presidents, it is not a surprise they would help Democrats fabricate an impeachment push. When one goes out into the field and meets our FBI agents, diplomats, and spies at the working level, one overwhelmingly finds patriotic Americans doing their duty to advance our national interests regardless of who is president.

But back at headquarters, the snakes are the ones who seemingly rise to the top. They often have an establishment, globalist view of the world. This was particularly true coming off of eight years of leftwing governance under Obama. They think themselves best suited to run the government, rather than the president elected to do the job. And they have now been behind both attempts to undo the 2016 election.

It’s time to cut these bureaucracies down to size. Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, reaffirmed in an interview that he intends to reduce the National Security Council staff to the size it was before Obama bloated the organization. That hopefully means “detailees” who pursue their own agendas from State, the CIA and the Pentagon can be relegated back to their own bureaucracies rather than doing damage at the White House.

Better still would be to hand out significant budget cuts to those bureaucracies’ headquarters, which could be cut significantly — and ought to be for their recent actions. Trump has proved that they aren’t necessary to conduct foreign affairs.

Christian Whiton (@ChristianWhiton) was a State Department senior adviser in the Donald J. Trump and George W. Bush administrations. He is a senior fellow at the Center for the National Interest and is the author of “Smart Power: Between Diplomacy and War.”


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.