The foreign-affairs component of Trump’s populist platform seemed to be: better relations with Putin, NATO bashing, skepticism about American interventions and military commitments, and halting the U.S. taxpayer-funded gravy train for European security. Europeans did not like this, not one little bit. Next thing you knew, there were streams of anti-Trump intelligence being channeled into the CIA — none of which, it turns out, established a Trump–Russia “collusion” conspiracy. But when it comes to these countries’ “interference” in our election, I know you’ll be shocked that Democrats are not only unconcerned; they are outraged that the Justice Department is investigating.
Are you seeing how this works? In the Stephanopoulos construct, when a Republican president gets information about the Democratic rival, there is a duty to treat the matter as a crime and report it to the FBI. Since the outreach is not a crime and the FBI won’t actually do anything other than note it in an intelligence file, the transparent purpose of this construct is to convert any Republican failure to report the non-crime into a political scandal — bordering on treason.
By contrast, when a Democratic president is in power, the intelligence community is placed in the service of the Democratic candidate. If a foreign power reaches out with information, no matter how dubious, about the Republican candidate, the administration does not notify the FBI to investigate the foreign power for interfering in our election; the Democratic administration thanks the foreign power and then directs the FBI to investigate the Republican candidate.