Popular Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings left some of his own supporters scratching their heads today when he announced on CNN that he’s been briefed on classified information that’s so dire, members of the public would fully understand why so many Congressmen are boycotting Donald Trump’s inauguration if they also knew the information. Some saw it as taunting; I know something you don’t know. But Cummings is employing a specific political strategy here, aimed at getting that information declassified.
Although Congressman Cummings has official access to the classified intel, which presumably links Trump’s election victory to illicit interference by both Russia and the FBI, that doesn’t mean he can make it public. In fact he’d be breaking the law if he did, and then the focus would be on his actions instead of those of the perpetrators. So instead he was trying to get the public fired up and angry about this today. He’s informed the public that the federal government is sitting on secret info which would fundamentally alter their view of Trump’s legitimacy. And he’s creating an environment in which public pressure to see that information will be applied to everyone involved.
Elijah Cummings is telling CNN that everything he’s been briefed on will be made public at the end of the ongoing investigation. By saying what he said today, he’s ensuring that public pressure will force this intel to be released even if Trump doesn’t want it released.
Cummings could have angrily demanded today that the intel be publicly released, but it would have been written off as mere partisanship by those in the middle, and it wouldn’t have worked. It’s why smart politicians don’t merely announce what they want to have happen. They say things with the intention of creating the kind of groundwork that will allow want they want to happen.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report