The NINE agencies Trump is using to corrupt the election
Over the past six months, Trump has been making increasingly false, absurd, and dangerous claims – from saying the “only way” he’ll lose in November is in a rigged election to claiming his opponents illegally “spied” on his campaign.
However, not only is he making spouting these falsehoods, the president and his cronies are corrupting the power of government to inflate his lies to the level of truth and oppress any evidence to the contrary. With the help of loyalists atop every federal agency, Trump has perverted the government to serve his own re-election desires.
This list is nowhere near comprehensive. There are many more examples that could be given, but I tried to keep it short so it is still readable.
ODNI and Intelligence Community
Limit disclosure of knowledge of Russian sabotage.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, led by Trump loyalist John Ratcliffe, canceled future in-person briefings on election security issues to the congressional intelligence committees. Instead, the ODNI will provide written briefings only.
The change came after a classified briefing in which top counterintelligence official Bill Evanina told House members that Russia is again trying to boost President Donald Trump’s reelection and denigrate his opponent, Joe Biden. Trump was enraged after details of the briefing leaked to the public, revealing that his own administration’s intelligence officers contradict his repeated assertions that Russia is not interfering on his behalf.
Reminder: Trump fired the previous DNI, Joseph Maguire, after learning that one of Maguire’s staff members gave a 2020 election security briefing to the House Intelligence Committee. In the briefing, Maguire aide Shelby Pierson alerted committee members that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign in an effort to tip the election in Trump’s favor. In firing Maguire, Trump sent a warning to the entire intelligence community: Trump’s opinion and electoral prospects must be prioritized over facts.
Department of Homeland Security
Twist intelligence to support campaign and personal motives.
Former acting Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis Brian Murphy filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf interfered with intelligence assessments in order to benefit Trump politically.
In May 2020, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told Murphy to “cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference in the United States, and instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran.” Wolf told Murphy those instructions came directly from the White House.
In July 2020, DHS chief of staff John Gountanis intervened to stop publication of an intelligence bulletin warning about a Russian disinformation plot to “denigrate” the mental health of Joe Biden. On July 8, Murphy said, he met with Wolf, who told him that the intelligence notification should be “held” because it “made the President look bad.”
Trump not only attempts to hide intelligence that contradicts the false narrative he continues to push about China actively interfering to boost Biden, according to Murphy Trump’s officials directed him to prioritize intelligence on China and Iran.
It’s disturbing enough for a president and his allies to distort intelligence assessments for political gain, but Murphy’s account suggests something more nefarious—that intelligence authorities and positions of public trust might have been used to engineer the narrative from the outset.
Murphy’s complaint also details that Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli ordered him to modify intelligence assessments to make the threat of white supremacy “appear less severe” and include information on violent “left-wing” groups and Antifa. The reason given was “to ensure they matched up with the public comments by President Trump on the subject of ANTIFA and ‘anarchist’ groups.”
Trump has spent months fear-mongering about imagined mobs of far-left activists coming to attack the suburbs. On Saturday, the Trump campaign sent out an “ANTIFA ALERT” text message to supporters, saying “they’ll attack your homes if Joe’s elected. Pres Trump needs you to become a Diamond Club Member.”
Customs and Border Patrol
Cause unrest in Democratic-cities to assist in fear campaign.
Border Patrol agents were among the federal forces sent to Portland to confront and arrest protestors over the summer.
Gil Kerlikowske, former commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection under President Barack Obama, said BORTAC, the unit dispatched to the city, is chiefly trained to pursue fugitives and criminals. “They’re clearly the wrong group to be doing this.”
“Trump has ratcheted up political ties to border patrol to another level,” Todd Miller, the author of Empire of Borders, said. “He based his whole 2016 campaign around this, and it is now at the core of his 2020 re-election bid. These are his people.”
Most recently, the Border Patrol produced and published a dramatized video showing a Spanish-speaking attacker stabbing and killing a man in a dark alley after escaping from U.S. agents – “a clip apparently created to dramatize President Trump’s depiction of migrants as fearsome criminals.”
Weaponize the law to harm opponents and save himself.
Investigate Trump’s rivals
Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr are reportedly pressuring U.S. Attorney John Durham and his team to release the results of their probe before the November election. Durham was appointed by Barr to investigate the origins of the Mueller investigation and the FBI’s Russia probe. Last week, a highly respected and experienced prosecutor, Nora R. Dannehy, resigned as a senior aide to Durham due to concern over this improper political pressure.
Trump has publicly expressed impatience with the Durham investigation, saying there should be more prosecutions and disclosures of information that would damage his political rivals. Last month, Barr indicated the DOJ would not respect an informal policy against taking investigative steps 60 days before Election Day.
In a speech on Wednesday, Barr essentially rebuked the Mueller investigation and the cases it spawned: “Smart, ambitious lawyers have sought to amass glory by prosecuting prominent public figures since the Roman Republic. It is utterly unsurprising that prosecutors continue to do so today to the extent the Justice Department’s leaders will permit it. As long as I am Attorney General, we will not.”
Assist Trump’s allies
Attorney General Barr has explicitly interfered in at least two criminal cases against Trump’s allies, helping the president promote the narrative that the Obama administration (in which Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden served) acted inappropriately. In February, Barr overruled career federal prosecutors in order to recommend the former Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone receive a lesser prison sentence. The entire team of prosecutors resigned from the criminal case due to the Justice Department’s interference. Trump ultimately commuted Stone’s 40-month sentence, much less than the original recommendation of seven to nine years in prison.
Then, in May, the Justice Department filed a request to drop the criminal case against Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, despite the fact that Flynn twice – before two separate judges – admitted to lying to the FBI. In response, nearly 2,000 former DOJ employees called for Barr’s resignation, saying he had “assaulted the rule of law.”
Barr reportedly told prosecutors to explore aggressive charges against people arrested at recent demonstrations across the US, even suggesting bringing a rarely used sedition charge, reserved for those who have plotted a threat that posed imminent danger to government authority.
The AG asked prosecutors in the Justice Department’s civil rights division to explore whether they could bring criminal charges against Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle for not acting immediately to disrupt the police-free zone created by protestors over the summer. According to the Associated Press, charges were also explored against city officials in Portland, Oregon, for the continued protests in the area.
The Justice Department is targeting Democratic governors for coronavirus outbreaks in state-owned nursing homes. The four governors – PA’s Tom Wolf, MI’s Whitmer, NJ’s Murphy, and NY’s Cuomo – are frequent targets of Trump for not lifting pandemic restrictions as fast as he’d like. Republican-run states have very similar rules about nursing home admissions yet are not under DOJ investigation.
Just yesterday, Barr publicly bashed states that still have restrictions in place, saying that “stay at home orders” are “like house arrest.” Incredibly, Barr added: “Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.”
- More: In April, Barr issued a memorandum directing the nation’s U.S. attorneys to be on the lookout for public health rules that might, among other things, constitute “undue interference with the national economy.”
CDC and FDA
Rush coronavirus treatments to save his election chances.
At the end of March, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to allow hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for coronavirus COVID-19 treatment after weeks of pressure from Trump. For instance, eight days before the EUA, Trump tweeted that hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin could be “one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine” and should “be put in use immediately.”
Ultimately, the FDA revoked its EUA in June after more evidence revealed hydroxychloroquine can cause “serious cardiac adverse events.”
Experts say the FDA again caved to political pressure when it approved an expanded use of convalescent plasma to treat covid patients, the night before the Republican National Convention. Despite concerns over plasma’s effectiveness, Trump called Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the N.I.H., to tell him: “Get it done by Friday.” When it wasn’t, Trump took to Twitter to accuse those at the FDA of being part of the “deep state” withholding an approval “to delay the answer until after November 3.” The next day, the FDA announced its approval.
Finally, and most obviously, Trump has pressured the FDA to approve of a coronavirus vaccine before the November election. Experts across the board have said there is no way our government and existing infrastructure will be ready to distribute, administer, and track doses by November.
Trump, Sept. 2: “[It’s] going to be done in a very short period of time — could even have it during the month of October… We’re going to have a vaccine very soon, maybe even before a very special date. You know what date I’m talking about” (clip 1 and clip 2.
Just yesterday, Trump contradicted CDC chief Robert Redfield’s timetable for the vaccine, saying the doctor was “confused” in his congressional testimony.
“If you’re asking me when is it going to be generally available to the American public, so we can begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life, I think we’re probably looking at third, late second quarter, third quarter 2021,” Redfield told a Senate appropriations subcommittee.
“I think he made a mistake when he said that. It’s just incorrect information,” Trump said about Redfield’s vaccine timeline. Following Trump’s repudiation, a CDC spokesman walked back Redfield’s statements to be in line with the president’s. “He was not referring to the time period when Covid-19 vaccine doses would be made available to all Americans,” the spokesman said.
Department of Health and Human Services
Convince the public that the pandemic is gone.
DHS is bidding out a more than $250 million contract to a communications firm as it seeks to “defeat despair and inspire hope” about the coronavirus pandemic. Among the goals of the contract: “sharing best practices for businesses to operate in the new normal and instill confidence to return to work and restart the economy.” In other words: exactly what Trump has tried to project onto the nation despite his failure to effectively contain the spread of the coronavirus.
As the House Oversight Committee has expressed, “rather than focus on planning and executing a national strategy to contain the coronavirus, the Trump Administration is using a quarter of a billion dollars in taxpayer money to fund what appears to be a political propaganda campaign just two months before a presidential election.”
Remember, the pandemic crisis still gripping America is Trump’s own creation. Olivia Troye, Pence’s top aide on the White House coronavirus task force, went public yesterday with her firsthand experiences. She relays that throughout the pandemic, Trump was consumed by himself and his prospects in November. “For him, it was all about the election,” Troye said.
Instead of trying to help Americans and slow the spread, Trump is spending 250 million taxpayer dollars to try to convince us not to believe our own eyes and ears.
US Postal Service
Discredit vote-by-mail and suppress the vote.
President Trump on Thursday continued his months long campaign against mail-in voting this November by tweeting that “MAYHEM” will occur in states that send ballots to all registered voters. In another tweet, Trump falsely asserted that “the Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED” due to nine states running universal mail-in voting.
By casting doubt on mail ballots and the election results, Trump is trying to accomplish two things: (1) persuade voters not to participate in the election, and (2) claim victory prematurely, or even after a decisive loss.
To this end, Postmaster DeJoy – a big donor to Trump’s campaign – has sent confusing misinformation to voters in these states that automatically send registered voters ballots by mail.
DeJoy has also implemented changes at USPS that significantly slowed the delivery of mail, making it harder for people to vote by mail with confidence and, likely, scaring some people away from voting at all in the middle of the pandemic. Trump is betting on these changes having a bigger impact on Democrats than Republicans, especially considering the fact that he has spent nearly the entire year downplaying the threat of the coronavirus to his base.
- Note: Barr is also cranking out false public statements to discredit vote-by-mail, whether it’s falsely claiming it’s vulnerable to a massive foreign-engineered conspiracy or blatantly misrepresenting actual domestic cases of fraud.
National Park Service
Assist in taxpayer funded staging of campaign events.
Yes, even the National Park Service has been corrupted by Trump, via former oil industry lobbyist and Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. Most recently, the NPS produced what appears to be a campaign ad, with no other purpose than promoting Trump. In fact, the words “PRESIDENT TRUMP” in all caps are the first words to appear on screen. The video likely breaks the law:
The federal Anti-Deficiency Act prohibits the use of federal funds for purposes other than those Congress has authorized… if Congress has not authorized the Interior Department to use our money to create campaign ads (and it hasn’t), then the Interior Department cannot legally create campaign ads. In addition to this general prohibition against using funds for unauthorized purposes, there is an express prohibition against propaganda.
Additionally the NPS allowed Trump to take over Mount Rushmore National Memorial for an air and fireworks show ostensibly to celebrate Independence day. In reality, Trump used the event to rail against Democrats, promote his statute-protecting executive order, and warn of a “left-wing cultural revolution.” Put differently, it was a campaign event in the middle of a national park.
In June, U.S. Park Police (officers of the NPS) took part in forcibly removing peaceful protestors with tear gas and rubber bullets from the area in and around Lafayette Park, a national historic landmark and public place, for the president’s photo-op with a bible. And in 2019, the Park Service used $2.5 million in fees paid by national park visitors to fund President Trump’s “Salute to America” celebration in the National Mall.