The sting that helped furious White House plumbers unmask the National Security Council official driving them crazy with snarky Tweets is a time-honored device often employed at high levels of government to identify leakers.
“It’s an easy way to nail somebody who talks too much,” laughed a former senior political adviser to a Republican president expert in such ploys. “You drop a harmless little nugget into a meeting where everyone is in on the scam except the suspected leaker. Then when the information pops up somewhere - bingo.”
National Security Council staffer Jofi Joseph was fired last week after being exposed as the creative talent behind @natsecwonk, an anonymous Twitter account that routinely trashed such Obama heavy-hitters as counselor Valerie Jarrett (“vacuous cipher”), NSC chief Susan Rice and UN ambassador Samantha Power - not to mention former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and other ObamaWorld stalwarts.
Published reports say that top Obama advisers, enraged and embarrassed by the commentary, decided to leak innocuous material to Joseph to see if it turned up on the notorious snark-site. It’s not clear the ploy produced the proverbial “smoking gun,” but suddenly Joseph was fired. In a statement, he admitted to being the anonymous agent- provocateur and apologized to “everyone I insulted.”
There’s a famous corollary to this practice that helped undermine White House chief of staff Donald Regan. During Ronald Reagan’s second term, some senior White House officials eager to grease the skids under Regan concocted snappy one-liners certain to make it into print from appreciative journalists. But there was a twist: the anonymous quotes often contained a favorite Regan phrase (“and the like”). When Nancy Reagan, never a Regan fan, saw some of the provocative quotes she immediately assumed Regan was the leaker. Nancy’s rage was a prime factor in Regan being forced out of his job in 1987.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."