The election of a Democratic House of Representatives begins the process of holding President Trump accountable and brings into focus how, in the years to come, Americans should think about repairing the damage he inflicted. To us, Trump’s abuse of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies—where we recently worked—has echoes of the era that culminated in President Nixon’s resignation. But the events of the years after Nixon resigned hold important lessons for the current moment, as well.
Ned Price served as a Special Assistant to President Barack Obama on the National Security Council staff, where he also was the Spokesperson and Senior Director for Strategic Communications. Prior to serving at the White House, Ned was at the Central Intelligence Agency, where he was a senior analyst and Spokesperson. He currently directs Policy and Communications at National Security Action, is an NBC News analyst and contributor, and teaches at Georgetown University. He holds degrees from Georgetown and Harvard.
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Within the pantheon of Trump administration scandals, the manufactured uproar over “unmasking” came and went quicker than most. It was last spring that White House officials, working in tandem with House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes, laundered intelligence information in an effort to train Americans’ sights on a practice that is routine—if highly regulated—within our national security establishment.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ terse and unequivocal disavowal on Wednesday of Trump’s Twitter declaration that the time for talk with North Korea had ended was greeted as just another Wednesday in the age of Trump. But Mattis’ relative outspokenness—and those of his civilian and uniformed colleagues—raises a broader question that, during any other period, would put a critical focus on the bedrock American principle of civil-military relations.