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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On ABC’s This Week, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff confirmed a grim report that surface last week: The nation’s top intelligence officials are pushing Congress to cancel their usual annual testimony to Congress on the nation’s top national security threats because they don’t want to publicly contradict Donald Trump’s false intelligence claims.

“Unfortunately, I think those reports are all too accurate. The intelligence community is reluctant to have an open hearing, something that we had done every year prior to the Trump administration, because they’re worried about angering the president,” Schiff responded.

It isn’t an idle concern, from intelligence officials. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was forced out of his position shortly after confirming to Congress that despite Trump’s claims to the contrary, the U.S. had no evidence Iran had an active nuclear weapons program. Trump had a public meltdown, which is a now-daily occurrence, and Coats was given the boot; in the latest degradation of this nation into a kleptocratic and autocratic state, government officials are now reluctant to testify in public about the true dangers facing the nation because if their pronouncements do not match Dear Leader’s political claims, Dear Leader will mark them as personal enemies.

Schiff’s follow-up, if possible, sounded worse: He also asserted that this nation’s intelligence agencies are now also withholding documents pertaining to the impeachment charges now filed against Trump.

“And I’ll say something even more concerning to me, and that is the intelligence community is beginning to withhold documents from Congress on the issue of Ukraine. The NSA, in particular, is withholding what are potentially relevant documents to our oversight responsibilities on Ukraine, but also withholding documents potentially relevant that the senators might want to see during the trial. There are signs that the CIA may be on the same tragic course.”

While Rep. Schiff was intentionally opaque on what Ukraine-related documents were being withheld from lawmakers, there does seem to be a new effort to withhold documents that the agencies had originally been expected to produce. Politico reports an unnamed Intelligence Committee “official” as saying: “Both the NSA and CIA initially pledged cooperation, and it appears now that the White House has interceded before production of documents could begin.”

We have long been told that Congress had, in cases of impeachment, necessarily sweeping oversight powers. Again we are learning that these powers can simply be taken away, so long as sufficient numbers in the president’s own party are willing to sign their own names to that act.

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.