At least a few of these “former officials” who so freely offer reporters at the Times and the Post intimate details about the Obama administration’s approach to foreign policy are members of the infamous gang of nine. These officials within the Obama administration’s intelligence apparatus confirmed to the Post that former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn had misled Mike Pence when he said he did not discuss the Obama-era sanctions regime in his phone conversations with Kislyak. As the Times revealed last night, federal officials monitored those calls, transcribed the conversations, and related the substance to the press.
There is an assumption permeating these reports: that those unnamed Obama-era officials are selflessly sacrificing in the effort to prevent the Trump administration from undermining American national security. Some have even dedicated themselves to creating an elaborate Da Vinci Code for future scavenger hunters to decipher. More likely, the Obama administration’s foreign policy professionals are doing their best to retroactively vindicate themselves after leaving office under a cloud of mistrust. In their effort to self-aggrandize at the expense of the current administration, these rogue officials have found willing partners in the press.
The Obama administration was engaged in narrative manipulation surrounding Russia’s intervention into the election process even in its final hours. It was an effort to assuage the concerns of those on the left who were vocally critical of Barack Obama’s hands-off approach to Russian intervention in the political process. By December of 2016, sources within the foreign-policy establishment had begun anonymously indicting the Obama administration over its lethargy. Capitol Hill Democrats and Clinton campaign officials were second-guessing the White House. Obama’s deference was as much caution as it was a continuation of a longstanding effort to avoid antagonizing Russia to ensure their cooperation with the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal—that administration’s signature foreign-policy achievement.