Beneath the politics of convenience is the reality that a large segment of the U.S. government really does operate without much transparency or public scrutiny, and has abused its awesome powers in myriad ways. And sometimes the government bureaucracy really does exercise power over the commander in chief: Obama felt that the military pressured him into sending more troops to Afghanistan than he had wanted, while an inexperienced George W. Bush was arguably led to war by a bipartisan cadre of national security insiders who had long wanted to take out Saddam Hussein.
Even the Trump critique about the deep state in revolt, however exaggerated, is worth consideration. Hillary Clinton voters might delight in the classified material gushing forth about the president’s men—but its release can be criminal. (In May, Brennan called the intelligence leaks “appalling.”) Yes, the president could be covering up misdeeds of his own, raising thorny ends-and-means questions. But Trump haters should consider the precedent—and how they would feel if, say, a President Kamala Harris were to enter the White House in 2021 and be hobbled by a similar blizzard of leaks from intelligence officials who consider her soft on terrorism.