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On the Today showTuesday, former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe revealed that congressional leaders — including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — did not object to the FBI opening a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was a threat to national security.

“No one objected,” McCabe said, when asked whether he had discussed the investigation with the “Gang of Eight” congressional leaders who get briefed on classified intelligence. “Not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds, and not based on the facts.”

The FBI opened its investigation into a sitting president, McCabe said, because “we had information that led us to believe that there might be a threat to national security — in this case that the president himself might, in fact, be a threat to the United States’ national security.”

Specifically, McCabe added, the FBI thought it “possible” that Trump might be working for Russia.

It shouldn’t be surprising news that GOP lawmakers didn’t object to the FBI investigating such serious concerns.

But unfortunately, it is surprising news. That’s because time and again, Republicans in Congress have bent over backwards to defend Trump’s relationship with Russia, and have treated U.S. law enforcement like the enemy for investigating that relationship.

The FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation in May 2017, after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey in an attempt to thwart the agency’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible criminal collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.

The counterintelligence investigation was a separate probe from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference, but both looked into Trump’s possible motivations for firing Comey.

When the existence of the counterintelligence probe was first reported by the New York Times in January, Trump pitched a fit, and many Republicans defended him.

Yet according to McCabe, Republican leaders in Congress have long been aware of the FBI’s investigation.

Rather than put the security of the country first, Republicans have consistently rallied behind Trump and remained silent about the potential danger he poses — even when they should know better.

For instance, McConnell adamantly refuses to allow a vote on legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in to Trump’s ties to Russia. For years, Trump has railed against any investigation into his ties to Russia as a “witch hunt,” yet McConnell — even knowing what he knows of the FBI investigation — still refuses to lift a finger to reign in Trump’s rhetoric or action.

Many other leading Republicans in Congress have gone out of their way to cover for Trump and support his attacks against the Department of Justice. Former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) went so far as to say Trump “has the right” to threaten people at the Justice Department, siding with Trump over U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, was also present when McCabe told Congress about the counterintelligence investigation. Like McConnell, Nunes spent years trying to cover up Trump’s potential crimes. Nunes even thwarted his own committee’s Russia investigation — so badly that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) immediately reopened it when he took over as chair of the Intelligence Committee.

For McConnell, the borderline-treasonous silence is part of a pattern of putting political ambitions ahead of the good of the country. Before the 2016 election, McConnell helped cover up information showing Russia was interfering in an effort to elect Trump.

When then-CIA director John Brennan informed congressional leaders, including McConnell, of Russian interference, McConnell did all he could to ensure the public never knew about it. With a raised voice, he threatened Brennan: “If you try to come forward with this, I’m not going to sign on to any public statement that would condemn Russian interference. But I will condemn you and the Obama administration for trying to mess up this election.”

Day by day, we are learning even more about Trump’s dangerous behavior — and of Republicans’ willingness to endanger national security in order to stand by Trump.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

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  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
  • The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.” If Pat Cipollone, the White House legal counsel, did not “generate the paperwork,” was he or anyone on his staff aware at all of the declassifications? The White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons resigned his post in December 2020. Did his successor, who held the position for a month, while Trump was consumed with plotting his coup, ever review the material found in Trump’s concealed files for declassification? Or did Patel review the material? Can Patel name any individual who properly reviewed the supposed declassification?
  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 7.Did Trump destroy any of the files? If so, when? Did those files contain incriminating information? Did he destroy any files after he received the June subpoena?
  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
  • 9.Does the resort maintain a copying machine near the classified documents that Trump hid? Were any of the documents copied or scanned? Are Trump’s documents at Mar-a-Lago originals or copies? Were any copies shown or given to anyone?
  • 10.Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb has revealed that a video surveillance system covers the places where Trump hid the files at Mar-a-Lago, and that the system is connected to a system at his other residences at the Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York City. According to Bobb, Trump and members of his family observed the FBI search and seizure of his files at Mar-a-Lago, “actually able to see the whole thing” through their surveillance system. Who has that surveillance system recorded entering the rooms where the files were kept?

Kevin Bacon, right, in "The Following"

The aftermath of the August 8, 2022 search of the Mar-a-Lago club, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, isn’t the first showdown between the FBI and a cult leader.

The Following, a 2013 Fox Pictures series, played out in similar fashion. Three seasons was enough for the producers and it’s been nine years since our introduction to Joe Carroll, English professor-novelist-serial killer, so there’s a spoiler risk -- but not enough to prevent the comparison.

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