It Ain’t Paranoia If You’re Really Being Investigated

Today, Darren Samuelsohn of Politico provides us with yet another article about how people in the White House are freaked out and worried that everyone they talk to is wearing a wire. There are a lot of silly things in this piece, including the dubious idea that no one can ever be surreptitiously recorded if they have a lawyer. Find me a mob boss who doesn’t have a lawyer.

But the main problem is with something that goes completely unstated. Yes, it would certainly be unnerving to go to work each day wondering if any of your conversations are being listened to by federal law enforcement officers. I get that, and I think you get that, too. But it wouldn’t make you paranoid for your own safety unless you’re in the habit of having incriminating conversations with your friends and colleagues at work.

Both [the Flynn and Papadapoulos] cases raise the possibility that other current or former colleagues have also flipped sides — and they’re prompting anxiety that those people could be wearing wires to secretly tape record conversations.

“Everyone is paranoid,” said a person close to Trump’s White House. “Everyone thinks they’re being recorded.”

If we’re talking about Paulie Walnuts having a conversation at that bar in the Bada Bing, then I can see how a wiretap aimed at one crime might uncover another. But, is the White House the criminal equivalent of a mobbed up Jersey strip joint?

White House attorneys and private counsel representing both current and former Trump aides told Politico they immediately checked in with their clients once they learned about Mueller’s plea agreements with Papadopoulos and Flynn, asking whether they’d had any communications with their former colleagues that could have been secretly recorded and reminding them to diligently avoid conversations with anyone except their lawyer related to the Russia investigation.

“They’re probably sh—ing bricks,” said an attorney who represents a senior Trump aide caught up in the Russia investigation. “How can you not?”

Again, I get that the lawyers have a job to do. But why would so many people in the White House be “shitting bricks” that they may have been or could be recorded in the future? Even discussions of the Russia investigation shouldn’t be problematic unless something was said that the special counsel might want to introduce in court.

Now, I can see how someone might be totally innocent but still worried that they might get summoned to speak with a grand jury and then incur legal fees, but how likely is that to happen if they haven’t said something that the investigators find very interesting?

To me, this so-called paranoia is just evidence of the widespread consciousness of guilt and culpability inside the White House.

And it ain’t paranoia if you’re really being investigated.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.