The president spoke briefly with reporters yesterday and made a ridiculous claim about his motivations for interfering with the system of justice.
TRUMP: What I want is I want total transparency…. You have to have transparency.
Q: And Democrats?
TRUMP: Even they probably want transparency, because this issue supersedes a party…. We want transparency…. I think they want transparency too.
If this sounds a little familiar, it’s not your imagination. Earlier this year, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), a sycophantic ally of the White House, prepared a “memo” with classified information he wanted to release in order to help Trump. Ignoring the concerns of his own FBI director, the president endorsed the release of the document.
And at first blush, some might find the “transparency” pitch persuasive. After all, isn’t sharing pertinent information with multiple parties an inherently good thing? If the investigation is being conducted in an above-board fashion, there’s no reason to hide key details, right?
Wrong. There are three problems with the argument.
First, Trump and his team are the wrong people to make it. The president may tout the virtues of transparency when it suits his purposes, but this is the same Republican who hides his tax returns and the White House visitor logs, among other things. Trump may have said yesterday, “You have to have transparency,” but it’s apparently a principle he refuses to apply to himself.
Second, when it comes to federal law enforcement’s handling of confidential human sources, secrecy is often a vital necessity. If GOP officials, through their partisan antics, signal to the world that the United States is careless when protecting the identities of assets and informants, the consequences may be severe.
And third, we know that Trump’s “transparency” pitch is a sham – because his lawyer already told us why today’s briefing is happening. Rudy Giuliani conceded just this week that the president wants to know more about the nature of the evidence Special Counsel Robert Mueller has on the president.
“We can’t let our guy go in [to an interview] and be questioned without knowing this,” Giuliani told HuffPost on Monday. The report noted that the president’s attorney “acknowledged that the FBI releasing information about the source would benefit Trump’s defense.”
Giuliani added, “I don’t care so much about the name as I do about the content. What prompted them to do it? What did they learn from it?”
As Rachel noted on the show last night, everyone who’s under a federal criminal investigation would no doubt like to know what the FBI has on them, but apparently only the president can order the FBI to give that information to his pals.
So let’s not play games. Trump doesn’t give a darn about transparency; he cares about undermining an investigation that puts him in legal jeopardy.