Trump adopts Nixon security model, except worse

tags: election 2016, Nixon, Trump

Ray Locker is the Washington enterprise editor of USA TODAY and author of Nixon's Gamble: How a President's Own Secret Government Destroyed His Administration.

President Trump, who traveled to the CIA on his second day in office to say there is "nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump," undercut that pledge a week later with a memorandum that made the intelligence community subordinate members of the National Security Council.

Not only is CIA Director Mike Pompeo not included in the organization described in Trump's memorandum, the Director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs are not full members of the NSC. Instead, the White House's chief strategist, white nationalist Steve Bannon, outranks all three in the NSC and its powerful Principals Committee.

Trump is often compared with Richard Nixon, and with good reason. This latest move invites another valid comparison.

Like Trump, whom intelligence officials presented with a dossier of embarrassing information about himself, Nixon had real and imagined gripes with the nation's intelligence community. He believed the Eastern elitists in the CIA looked down on him and cost him the 1960 election against John F. Kennedy.

After he won the 1968 presidential election, in part by sabotaging the Paris peace talks to end the Vietnam War, Nixon tried to put the CIA in its place. He ordered a restructuring of the NSC that ran all critical national security decisions through the White House. That plan would have left the CIA director, then Richard Helms, out of the NSC completely. ...

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