The history of presidents who obsess and dig up dirt on the administrations that preceded them isn’t pretty. Think Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. These two former presidents, who unleashed the FBI and others to dig up dirt on the Kennedys, fulminated to the end about their perceived enemies.
Trump has actually exceeded them in paranoia and low political tactics. The Observer’s scoop about Trump aides practicing the black art of opposition research against the Obama administration officials who led the negotiations on the Iran deal reveals an outrage of immense scope. The Trump team hired a notorious Israeli spy outfit, Black Cube, to snoop into the personal lives of two former Obama officials, Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, hoping to dig up evidence that they had revealed classified information to reporters, among other things.
When contacted, Rhodes properly observed that this was a “chillingly authoritarian thing to do”. Indeed, it recalls the worst of Nixonian tactics, including treating principled political adversaries as dangerous enemies to be destroyed. Nixon had his famous Enemies List, filled with the names of some of the most revered journalists Washington ever produced, including the late columnist and Pulitzer prize winner Mary McGrory. Nixon was also behind the attempt to steal the psychiatric files of Daniel Ellsberg, who served in Johnson’s Pentagon and leaked the Pentagon Papers. Black Cube is the worthy inheritor of these kinds of heinous reputational hit jobs.
Coming off the Observer story, the New Yorker revealed that Black Cube may have sent emails to the wives of Rhodes…