President Trump has never been shy about making his displeasure known—on any given subject—and last week, he offered criticism regarding the limits of his executive power. In a radio interview, the president declared:
You know, the saddest thing is that because I’m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department. I am not supposed to be involved with the FBI. I’m not supposed to be doing the kind of things that I would love to be doing. And I’m very frustrated by it.
This alone would have been noteworthy: a president openly declaring his wish to direct American law enforcement for political ends. Taken in the context of certain developments this week, Trump’s words are even more remarkable. In three separate instances, the president and his advisers appear to be unconcerned about improperly exerting pressure on outside agencies—or indifferent to creating the appearance of improperly exerting such pressure—to achieve partisan gains. As for those gains, they include attempting to discredit the work of American intelligence agencies, to muzzle a major American media outlet and to deport 57,000 American residents.
On Tuesday, the The Intercept reported that CIA Director Mike Pompeo had been “urged” by the president to meet with government whistleblower-turned-conspiracy theorist named William Binney, who asserts that the 2016 hack of DNC computers was not, in fact, at the hands of Russian intelligence (the conclusion reached by U.S. intelligence agencies) and was instead an inside job. Trump, who has been critical of reports detailing ties between his campaign and Russian intelligence, has reportedly been enamored of Binney’s theory, as it undercuts the notion that Russian interference assisted Trump in his quest for the White House.