President Trump blundered in his appearance with Putin. His intuitions are nevertheless correct: a new Cold War with Russia would not end as happily as the real Cold War did, for reasons that have nothing to do with Romney-esque hype about Russian power. Trump was even correct in substance, if not in the occasion he chose to raise it, to defy the unconstitutional belief that the president has a duty to act as public advocate for the executive agencies that are, in fact, subordinate to him. To speak of “treason” is silly, but if anything is against the Constitution, it is the belief of Trump’s critics that the president cannot gainsay the “intelligence community.” On the contrary, whatever it may report to him, he is free to speak and act as he deems best—the president’s orders are binding upon the intelligence community, not the other way around. If Trump decides that Russia will not be our enemy, the intelligence community has no standing to challenge him. To do so would be a coup d’etat. Congress can impeach him, and the voters can choose not to re-elect him. But the intelligence community’s role is only to advise and serve, not to command or constrain.
Daniel McCarthy is the editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review. He is also the editor at large of The American Conservative. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, The Spectator, Reason and many other publications.