September 19, 2017 | 10:50pm
Over the years, a curious habit has taken hold at the United Nations. A body designed to strengthen the best of humanity has too often become a font of doublespeak and appeasement that protects the worst of humanity.
That tragic comity was shattered when President Trump played the skunk at the garden party and dared to tell the truth. Many truths, in fact.
Among them, that Islamic terrorism is a scourge that must be stopped. That Iran is controlled by a “murderous regime” bent on getting nukes.
That North Korea’s “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission” and the United States “will have no choice but to totally destroy” that country if war begins. And that socialism and communism have failed everywhere, including Cuba and Venezuela.
The delegates and heads of state got The Full Trump, including what it means to put America First. It was the president’s finest, most complete expression of his worldview and, thankfully, contained no apologies for American power or history.
Yet even as Trump spoke, a threat to his presidency gained new steam. Reports that special counsel Robert Mueller had wiretapped former Trump campaign boss Paul Manafort and plans to indict him sent Washington into a new tizzy of speculation.
According to CNN, which first carried the wiretapping report, Manafort was surveilled under a FISA warrant, meaning the FBI suspected he was operating as a foreign agent. The network said it is possible G-men listened to the president talking to Manafort because the wiretap continued into this year and Trump and Manafort often talked in 2017.
If so, that would mark an infamous history — an American president being overheard by secret agents of his own government.
It would also be additional support for Trump’s charge that former President Barack Obama “had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.”
It was in March when Trump made that explosive claim, and the Democratic media rushed to denounce him even before Obama did. Subsequent denials from then-FBI boss James Comey and other Obama aides all were rock-solid in declaring that no such thing had happened. There was no wiggle room in their denials, some of which were made under oath before Congress.
But something certainly happened. And what if it was the worst imaginable something? What if the Republican candidate for president was put under surveillance by a Democratic administration that was trying to elect another Democrat?
There was reason to suspect that was true before the Manafort reports added fuel to the fire.
Recall that, starting last fall, continuing throughout the transition and into the early months of the administration, much of the media was obsessed with the narrative that “Russia hacked the election and Trump colluded.”
It was a feeding frenzy of reports naming various Trump associates who had any contacts with Russians. It was guilt by association, all based on leaks of classified secrets that originated either in law enforcement or intelligence agencies, or the Obama White House.
As I wrote back in April, at least six people from the campaign, including Trump himself, were identified in various reports as having been picked up in intercepted communications.
Always, the reports insisted that the Americans were not the targets of the surveillance, that they were “incidentally” picked up while talking to targets.
Those six included Gen. Mike Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, then-Senator and now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Jared Kushner.
Another was Carter Page, briefly a Trump adviser, and Manafort.
But since then, media reports say that Page was, in fact, being surveilled under a FISA warrant. And now we learn that Manafort was, too.
So those initial reports about the Trumpsters being “incidentally” picked up were wrong. Fake news, you might say, because Manafort and Page were FBI targets whose communications were being intercepted — and the media’s sources had to have known that.
That the public has been lied to repeatedly is beyond doubt. Recall also that Susan Rice, Obama’s last national security adviser, initially claimed in interviews to know nothing about the “unmasking” of Americans whose names were picked up in intercepted calls.
But before Congress, she told a different tale — about needing to know who in Trump’s circle met with a visiting official from the United Arab Emirates, and so she “unmasked” their names.
Thus, skepticism is required over her insistence that she knows nothing about how those names were then leaked to the media, which could be a felony.
And we still don’t know why Samantha Power, Obama’s UN ambassador, frequently requested the names of Americans picked up in foreign surveillance. Such information would have no bearing on her job, yet her requests were said to be routinely granted.
Related current reasons to doubt our government’s honesty involve the Hillary Clinton email case. For example, the State Department refused to release emails to Judicial Watch showing how she arranged government favors for big donors to the Clinton Foundation until a court ordered it to last week.
And the FBI still refuses to allow two top aides to appear before Congress, even though the aides told a Justice Department investigator that Comey had written a draft letter exonerating Clinton months before he interviewed her or 15 other witnesses.
These and other incidents appear to be part of the effort to undermine Trump from within the government, and they give rise to a growing belief that America is infected with a “deep state,” a malevolent permanent bureaucracy that feels entitled to power and will stop at almost nothing to keep it.
I have been reluctant to reach that conclusion, believing that “deep state” is a more fitting concept for a Third World country that has corrupted institutions and no rule of law or history of individual freedom.
But I’m beginning to wonder. The more we learn about the last eight years and eight months, the more reason there is to believe that something is rotten in Washington.
I don’t just mean the ordinary corruption of the swamp variety. I mean something fundamental, something that suggests major elements in our government believe they, and not the people, are sovereign.
Which brings us back to the ultimate test: Did Obama or somebody working for him put Trump under surveillance during or after the election for the purpose of a political coup?
It’s a frightening question, all the more so because I suspect the answer will be yes — if we can ever get to the truth.