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The Complicit Start to Turn on the President

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 05: U.S. President Donald Trump gestures on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trum... WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 05: U.S. President Donald Trump gestures on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 05, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump spent three days hospitalized for coronavirus. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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October 16, 2020 2:12 p.m.

There is an unfolding development which you can miss in the muddy onrush of campaign events but is nevertheless important to take note of. As President Trump’s electoral prospects appear increasingly dire, national security officials, intelligence officials and his own top political appointees are talking more openly and critically to the press about the President. There are many examples of this. But yesterday’s Washington Post article about intelligence warnings about Rudy Giuliani are a good example. If you read the article closely the sourcing seems to come either directly or with the okay of the President’s National Security Advisor, Attorney General and other top appointees. It’s not new information. It goes back almost a year. It’s new willingness to talk. The NYPost “emails” story is the peg. But the willingness is new.

This isn’t terribly surprising. As Trump looks more likely to face electoral defeat people with information are alternatively less fearful of retribution or more eager to distance themselves from his presidency. This is particularly the case with those who are the most deeply complicit in his abuses.

We can see a permutation of this in the rank opportunist Sen. Ben Sasse making a timely shift back to anti-Trumpism. There’s another version of it in stories like this in which campaign operatives start to blame the candidate (not at all unfairly in this case) for expected defeat. But blame shifting and recrimination is one thing. It’s the oldest story in politics. The willingness to talk about abuses of power and even criminal conduct is more relevant and meaningful for what comes after Trump’s defeat if that’s what happens on November 3rd. And that willingness appears to growing day by day.

People near the President are already trying to run.

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