For all President Obama’s claims to want a smooth transition to the new administration, his people have been laying plenty of land mines for Team Trump.
Some are plainly Obama’s doing, from that anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution to slamming the door on Cuban refugees. But the nastier ones — the Justice Department inspector general probe of FBI chief Jim Comey’s announcements on the Clinton email investigation, and the leak about that “Russian dossier” — have more deniability.
The Cuba move may be the most ironic, given fears on the left that Trump would close the door on refugees. Yet here’s Obama, denying to Cubans who flee the island dictatorship the protection — instituted by President Bill Clinton in 1995 — of legal residency if they make it to US soil.
At least that one’s easy for the next president to reverse — though it’ll give his critics another chance to sound the alarm about his policies on refugees from terror-hotspot countries, which is likely the real point.
The UN move, by contrast, will complicate US efforts at Middle East peace for years, maybe decades — by hamstringing any effort to get Israel and the Palestinians to find compromise on all their outstanding issues. It’s also a direct strike at the pro-Israel policies Team Trump had signaled.
We’ll likely never know just who leaked to CNN that a key Trump intelligence briefing included a summary of the “Russian dossier.” But that leak was plainly a bid to undermine Trump, since it falsely implied that the intel community believed the absurd allegations — which strongly suggests the leak came from some Obama political appointee, rather than any career intel officials.
The IG probe also looks political — stirring up yet again the idea that Comey handed the election to Trump by reviving voter worries about Clinton’s email abuses. It also seems one-sided, since any fair review should look into the entire handling of the email probe, including the unusual grants of immunity to top Clinton aides, as well as the agreements to destroy evidence at the investigation’s end.
Yet the Trump team is left with the ugly choice of shutting down a potentially embarrassing probe — or letting a potentially partisan effort proceed. The best bet will likely be to ensure the investigation covers everything — even though we’d all hoped to be done with the Clinton scandals now.
Presidential transitions are traditionally apolitical and nonpartisan. It’s sad that the Obama team chose to give America one last sour dose of “change.”
FILED UNDER BARACK OBAMA , EDITORIAL , ISRAEL , JAMES COMEY , RUSSIA , THE TRUMP TRANSITION , UNITED NATIONS