COLUMN: Swamp drainage in progress

At long last, it has begun.

After three years of phony investigations, constant rancor and a destined-to-fail impeachment trial, the D.C. swamp is getting drained.

It has been clear from Day 1 of the Trump presidency he was beset by those with nefarious intentions who were retained from the previous administration. The lesson going forward for any newly elected president is to clean house and put in place those who don't have separate agendas.

This is particularly true for the National Security Council, part of the president's staff. It certainly appears some members of the NSC believed they should be setting policy, not the president, and have gone to extreme lengths to discredit the president, mostly because he is not bowing to their counsel.

The most high profile was National Security Counsel Director for European Affairs Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman who became a hero to the left following his hearsay testimony at the House impeachment hearing.

Vindman has since been removed from his position, or as National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien told an event held by policy think tank the Atlantic Council, he was rotated out ahead of schedule. That included Vindman's twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who was in charge of vetting NSC publications. They are part of a larger reduction at NSC that rotated around 70 people out of NSC, whose staff increased to about 200 people under Obama when it numbered no more than 136 under Bush, even during wartime.

“It was just time for them to go back," O'Brien said regarding the Vindmans. "Their services were no longer needed.” O'Brien also made clear he felt certain parties had become too enamored of themselves to the detriment of the president.

“The president is entitled to staffers that want to execute his policy, that he has confidence in, and I think every president’s entitled to that," O'Brien said.

“We’re not a country where a group of lieutenant colonels can get together and dictate what the policy of the United States is. The policy of the United States is decided by an elected president of the United States. We’re not some banana republic where lieutenant colonels get together and decide what the policy is.”

Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D.-Hawaii., echoed similar sentiments when she spoke to Fox News' Sean Hannity.

“The president has, within his purview, to make the decisions about who he'd like serving in his Cabinet,” Gabbard said. " ... It is the Constitution that provides that our foreign policy is set by the president of the United States as well as, in some significant ways, by Congress, not by unelected bureaucrats and not by the military.

“And the reason why our founders had the wisdom to do this, they knew if voters were unhappy with the foreign policy decisions being made, they could make that decision at the ballot box to hire or fire where they can’t do that with unelected bureaucrats or others."

Clearly, too many have felt empowered to go rogue. It's not just NSC.

Earlier this week, four career prosecutors abruptly withdrew when the Department of Justice overrode their sentencing recommendations for 67-year-old Roger Stone, who has been convicted on five counts of making false statements to Congress, one obstruction of Congress count and one count of witness tampering. The DOJ felt the 7-9 year sentence recommendation was too severe.

Stone seemingly has been singled out harshly for being a close supporter of Trump, going back to his preposterous early dawn arrest that featured agents with guns drawn and CNN cameras rolling.

He was convicted of false statements that go back to Congress' investigation of nonexistent Russian collusion. The witness tampering is refuted by the very witness he is accused of intimidating, blind radio talk show host Randy Credico. Stone told Credico he was going to take his therapy dog away.

“I never in any way felt that Stone himself posed a direct physical threat to me or to my dog,” Credico wrote in his post-conviction letter to the court. “I chalked up his bellicose tirades to ‘Stone being Stone.’ All bark and no bite!”

U.S. Attorney for D.C. Timothy Shea submitted the DOJ's new sentencing recommendation of 3-4 years but said DOJ "ultimately defers to the court as to the specific sentence to be imposed." With that, the four career prosecutors withdrew, unable to handle being overridden by their boss.

It's too bad so much time and energy has been wasted during Trump's first term having to deal with hoaxes and temper tantrums from those unable to accept an outsider as president.

Now, the swamp being drained should clear the deck for an even more productive second term for Trump.

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Ruthenberg is a multiple award-winning columnist and writer for the Enid News & Eagle. Contact him at

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