‘All the president’s nerds’: A plausible plot

‘All the president’s nerds’: A plausible plot
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In 1962, Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey published the Cold War thriller, “Seven Days in May.” Later made into a movie, it tells of a right-wing plot by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to overthrow a liberal president for what now might be called “colluding” with the Russians. The coup attempt fails, though not before the United States is pushed to the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, a scenario that seemed entirely plausible at the time.

Suppose a similar plot were hatched today. Not by the Pentagon but by left-wing forces wanting to depose a conservative president for, say, “colluding” with the Russians. And suppose those forces included officials at the highest levels of the FBI and Justice Department, the CIA and State Department, with help from journalists and lecturing late-night TV comedians.

It’s not hard to imagine, since it’s been going on for almost two years.


At the center of everything are coup-plotters direct from central casting — if you were remaking “Seven Days in May” as “Revenge of the Nerds.” (Cue James ComeyJames Brien Comey3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 Barr predicts progressive prosecutors will lead to 'more crime, more victims' James Comey shows our criminal justice system works as intended MORE, Peter Strzok, Rod RosensteinRod Rosenstein10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall Why the presumption of innocence doesn't apply to Trump McCabe sues FBI, DOJ, blames Trump for his firing MORE and Company.)

The 2016 election was supposed to make Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama'Forever war' slogans short-circuit the scrutiny required of national security choices Which Democrat can beat Trump? Middle East scholars blame Trump for an Iran policy 40 years in the making MORE’s leftward legacy Washington’s permanent way of doing business; staying in town following his second term was how Obama planned to have a direct hand in the process. Donald TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE’s victory changed that, and more. Along with losing the White House, Democrats working in the previous administration lost their cover for any crimes they may have committed to make sure Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Polls flash warning signs for Trump Polls suggest Sanders may be underestimated 10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall MORE would be the next president.

The Clinton campaign, with a commanding lead in every poll, hired the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which then subcontracted retired British spy Christopher Steele to work on the infamous anti-Trump dossier. An admitted Trump hater, Steele claimed the information he collected came from contacts inside Russia. (Doesn’t that make the dossier a product of Russian collusion?) Or was Steele, as some suspect, only lending his name to material supplied by Sidney Blumenthal, for years the Clintons’ go-to purveyor of dark PR?

In a recent New Yorker profile, Steele comes off sounding less like a crack secret agent than a deep-state dweeb. One associate noted his nervous reaction to the dossier uproar; another called him “a little naïve about the public square.”

The presidential fix was in for Hillary Clinton ever since Obama appointed her secretary of state, a position she used to turn the State Department into a pay-to-play cash cow. The FBI gave her a pass on everything, from setting up a private server (thereby endangering national security) to destroying evidence. No questions asked; after all, Hillary was scheduled to be the next president.

But as we learn from internal FBI emails, there were discussions, even at an early stage, about needing an “insurance policy” in case Trump pulled off the unthinkable. Which is where the dossier came in.

Once he had shopped the bogus document to a half-dozen friendly pundits, Steele had a chorus of unsuspecting wonks singing its praises. When the FBI applied for a series of FISA court warrants to spy on Trump, it was one of Steele’s planted stories that helped close the deal.

In “Seven Days in May,” the military’s principal tool for taking over the government is a force called Emergency Communications Control (ECOMCON), designed to seize operation of the nation’s media. Today, with most news outlets already active participants in the effort to oust the president, ECOMCON might be redundant.

Trump’s upset win put all the president’s nerds on high alert, presenting Democrats with two immediate problems: 1) explaining Clinton’s election loss without bringing up the real reason —  Hillary Clinton; 2) hiding possible criminal activity aimed at beating Trump by launching a coordinated effort to remove him from office.

John Podesta and Robby Mook, Clinton’s failed campaign bosses, decided to blame the defeat on Russian interference, as described in the Steele dossier they paid for. At the same time, the lame-duck Obama administration set in motion a plan to use FBI surveillance data and a nonstop media offensive to destroy Trump’s presidency. The “poison pill” chosen for the job was the same suspect dossier repurposed to justify the appointment of special prosecutor Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE.

After nearly a year of trying, Team Mueller’s investigation has yet to uncover any evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians. But that hardly matters. If the futile effort can be drawn out for eight more months, taunting Trump with leaks and subpoenas, congressional Democrats think they can take back the House and begin impeachment proceedings.

In the movie version of “Seven Days in May,” the attempted coup falls apart when President Jordan Lyman, played by Fredric March, confronts General James Mattoon Scott, played by Burt Lancaster, with proof that he and the joint chiefs have been plotting his overthrow:

President Lyman: “You say I duped the people, general ... You accuse me of having lost their faith … shut my ears to the national voice.”

General Scott: “I do.”

President Lyman: “Well, where the hell have you heard that voice? How did that voice seep into a locked room of conspirators? That’s not where you hear the voice of the people. Not in this republic. You ask for a mandate, general, from a ballot box. You don’t steal it at midnight when the country has its back turned.”

The country may not have its back turned, but it has been misled. Russia had nothing to do with Trump’s election, although that doesn’t mean something very Russian wasn’t going on.

Never before in a U.S. presidential race has the White House used government intelligence agencies to spy on a political opponent, or used those same agencies to subvert the peaceful transfer of power. The Kremlin is all about this sort of treachery and revenge. Under Barack Obama, so was Washington.

Democrats must have thought they would be running the country for years to come. Understandable, given the circumstances. With Obama and Clinton both claiming to be on the right side of history, what could go wrong?

Two words:  Trump won.

Bill Thomas is the author of “Club Fed: Power, Money Sex and Violence on Capitol Hill” and other books. He is co-author of “Red Tape: Adventure Capitalism in the New Russia.”