The Trump Panic

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By Daniel Henninger,

from The Wall Street Journal,

It was the belief that the elected president was unacceptable and had to be stopped.

It is a historic spectacle. Washington is transfixed by dueling “memos” between Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee over an FBI application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveil Carter Page of the Trump presidential campaign.

How did this spectacle happen? Two salient and related events occurred on Nov. 8, 2016. Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton for the U.S. presidency. Within hours, the Trump Panic went viral.

The Trump Panic of 2016-17 was the belief that the U.S. presidency had fallen into the hands of an unacceptable person—who had to be stopped, or resisted by any means.

Historians will record that the Trump Panic gripped all Democrats, some Republicans, scores of intellectuals (such as those who signed documents declaring their refusal to work in the Trump foreign-policy agencies), foreign leaders, journalists, and members of U.S. security agencies.

On election day, two FBI officials— Peter Strzok of the bureau’s counterintelligence division and Lisa Page —exchanged text messages.

Page: “OMG THIS IS F***ING TERRIFYING.” Strzok: “Omg, I am so depressed.”

Recall how routine it was then to hear or read that the new U.S. president resembled Hitler or Mussolini. Democracy was “at risk”—even as such non-Hitlerian pillars as Jim Mattis, Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohn joined the government.

Because of the Trump Panic, professional discipline eroded.

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