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September 07, 2018

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Jennifer Hendricks

What would the FBI be investigating? The op-ed seems quite carefully vague. It refers to trying to "frustrate" the "agenda" and "insulate" programs and departments, but it does not admit to any actual disobedience of orders. Is there anything in there that's specific enough to be considered an illegal "leak"?

Steve L.

Good question, Jennifer. The new Woodward book describes plenty of activities that might be crimes, including surreptitiously removing documents from the president's possession. The oped writer might well be a witness to those or other crimes. Frequently using the pronoun "we," the writer says that "many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations."

Coupled with the Woodward book, there certainly seems to be a sufficient nexus to justify interviews.

Jennifer Hendricks

That makes sense. I would hope, though, that there's some sort of policy that would prevent the goal of the investigation from being "finding the author of the op-ed." If they're going to investigate the crimes alleged by Woodward, they should proceed accordingly, not use it as a pretext to expose someone for insulting the president. (For the record, I think that the author is an unethical coward and that printing the op-ed was journalistic malpractice. But still.)

Betsy DeVos Save our Kids Foundation

This letter has the signature of Donald Trump himself. He is a master manipulator. Con Man. It's a giant diversionary tactic. While you weren't looking, The Department of Education is busy subsidizing Remington Outdoors. The Interior Department is gutting our National Parks and monuments selling to the highest extractor. The EPA is allowing dirty diesel glider trucks to be made and allowing coal pollution. ICE is asking courts to continue removing children from their parents without due process or an unfitness finding... White Supremeists, Racists and anti-government right wing militias are running amok.. And his tax cut is running up UGE deficits without any tangible benefits.... Its a Wag the Dog.

anon

In general, it would appear that working, on the "inside" to advocate and adopt (to the extent not insubordinate) alternative policies is well within the structures that we contemplate in government. The executive should be no exception, and T should tolerate dissent to the greatest extent possible. ANd, to be sure, there is no crime in dissent.

And, of course, the "coward" word is tossed out, but, anonymous posting is not "cowardly" if there are good reasons to justify anonymity.

Subject to the foregoing, it is reasonable to require those who work in an executive office to respect the privacy of deliberations. Dissent cannot really be fulsome and beneficial if there is a fear that such dissent will be publicly disclosed and used to establish the "incompetence" of the executive (i.e., the implicit contention that differences are always correct when the target is reviled).

In other words, there is something to be said for "executive privilege" (like all the other rights to confidentiality we respect) There are also other concerns -- national security, for example -- in the executive branch of government.

SO, it seems to me that a president can reasonably forbid disclosure of deliberations, or other "privileged" matters, and discharge those who will not adhere to that policy. The press lives by "leaks" of course, and some will argue that the leaking function is key aspect of good government. See, e.g., the response by the last administration to that arguments. In short, reasonable minds can differ on this point.

As for publicly insulting one's boss, that is something that most people would say is probably one's right, but that discharge from employment is the countervailing right of the boss.

Betsy DeVos Save our Kids Foundation

anon^^^

This writer took an oath to protect and defend the country, not the boss. This ain't the Trump Steak 'N Tie store at the mall.

Enrique Guerra Pujol (priorprobability.com)

Don’t give 45 any ideas!

John A.

There is potentially a small flaw in your plan. If the FBI is investigating then there is some notion that there was criminal activity. In which case a simple phrase ends the discussion, "I decline to answer the question as the answer may tend to incriminate me," or if you prefer, "I invoke my right under the Fifth Amendment not to answer that question." It will look suspicious if someone invokes, and if only one person invokes they are probably the author, but no direct admission and no criminal liability.

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