Seth Abramson @SethAbramson @Newsweek columnist. Analyses @BBC. NYT bestselling author of Proof of Conspiracy (bit.ly/2kP6FkZ). Next: Citizen Journalist (Macmillan). Professor. Attorney. Sep. 19, 2019 4 min read

MAJOR BREAKING NEWS (and WHAT I WROTE A BOOK ABOUT):

1/ Presidents are allowed to make promises; they do it all the time, for instance by promising to stand by our allies in this or that way. That a secret Trump promise to a foreign national led to an intelligence community whistleblower complaint means it was an IMPROPER PROMISE.

2/ The question now is who the leader was and in what way the promise was improper. The list of likely suspects with as to the leader is small: Putin, Netanyahu, MBS, MBZ and Kim Jong Un—4 of whom are pictured on the front of PROOF OF CONSPIRACY due to Trump's dealings with them.

3/ As to how the promise was improper, the top possibilities are: 1) there was a quid pro quo involved or 2) Trump promised to do something illegal. Either Trump was entitled to engage in the act he promised but not as a quid pro quo for wrongful gain or the promise was criminal.

4/ Understand what it'd take for an intel community official to go whistleblower—this couldn't have been a garden-variety public faux pas. It had to be a clandestine act discovered through intelligence collection that bordered on the criminal or threatened U.S. national security.

5/ The overlap between "impeachable offenses" and "the sort of secret 'promise' an intel community official would become a whistleblower over" is... vast. Remember that presidents can be impeached for having compromised U.S. national security by a preponderance of the evidence.

6/ We know this secret promise to a foreign national was made during a phone call. I have a whole section in PROOF OF CONSPIRACY in which I analyze Trump's deliberate use of nonsecure communications channels over the objection of the intelligence community—*and* why he does this.

7/ PROOF OF CONSPIRACY details that Trump *specifically* does not want the intelligence community knowing who he's talking to, indeed he doesn't even want his *top aides* to know. Well, this whistleblower complaint gives a strong indication of *why* he wants that unusual secrecy.

8/ So why would Trump not want aides to know who he's making secret promises to overseas? It doesn't take much criminal investigative experience—or any, really—to imagine that a highly likely reason would be self-dealing (i.e. national security-endangering conflicts of interest).

9/ The predicate for my book PROOF OF CONSPIRACY is that, beginning in 2015, Trump was a participant in certain understandings and assurances between his campaign and foreign nationals and that those assurances are still driving his foreign policy today. This news supports that.

10/ The further premise of PROOF OF CONSPIRACY is that Trump's clandestine understandings both induced foreign influence in the election and are currently threatening U.S. national security by placing us at the brink of a war with Iran. Sort of sounds like the *news*, doesn't it?

PS/ If you want a better understanding of what's happening behind the scenes in our foreign policy, what happened behind the scenes during the election, and what it all means for you and your family and America, this is the book I put *all that info* into:  https://www.amazon.com/Proof-Conspiracy-International-Collusion-Threatening/dp/1250256712 

PS2/ That Trump has now (apparently, per the DNI's statements on this) instructed the intelligence community to hide this whistleblower complaint from Congress—even after the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) called it "urgent"—tells you it's *not* something small.

PS3/ One of the reasons that so many of us have been pounding the virtual table over the breakdown in rule of law represented by Trump refusing to provide information to Congress—and refusing under false pretenses—is it can lead to something like this: a national security crisis.

PS4/ As Rachel Maddow details, during the period leading up to the "urgent" whistleblower complaint, one of Trump's few known phone calls to a foreign leader was to... Vladimir Putin. (Of course, Trump *also* does call foreign leaders on his other phones.)  https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/wapo-trump-call-with-foreign-leader-prompted-intel-whistleblower-69316165920 

PS5/ I feel like the best-case scenario for Trump is that he promised classified intelligence to a foreign leader on the thinking—which he has gotten away with repeatedly—that he does indeed have the right to de-classify intelligence. *But he can't do so for an improper purpose*.

PS6/ Note also that Trump can't de-classify intelligence to/for someone he has previously courted as a business client (and may well do so again) if that de-classification would endanger national security. That would be impeachable if proven by a preponderance of the evidence.

PS7/ The power of a president to de-classify is indeed absolute. But the power of a president to de-classify *without any consequences for having done so* is not at all absolute. The de-classification can't be part of a crime or part of a scheme that endangers national security.

PS8/ The remedy in both instances I just mentioned would be impeachment.


You can follow @SethAbramson.



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