1) The sentence implies the office of president was in this case "non-political", if it would be possible for such a position to be so. Anyway, the president failed to conform to that obligation. We are left to guess whether the nature of the president's corruption is connected to this failure to conform.
2) The expression "cloak and dagger" suggests secret activity, maybe spying or espionage. She was freed from prison as a result of such a secret operation.