Morning Jolt: Where is the Evidence of Collusion?
Thursday, White House communications officials were eager to spotlight these comments from legislators, admitting or confirming, that they had, so far, seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Sam Stein, Huffington Post: “But just to be clear, there has been no actual evidence yet.”
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): “No, it has not been.”
Keep in mind, this is “Mad Maxine” Waters, who begins that interview by contending, “Lock her up, lock her up, all of that, I think that was developed strategically with people from the Kremlin, with Putin.” Right, right, there’s no way the Trump campaign could have possibly thought of that rallying cry on their own. That’s gotta be the work of Russian intelligence right there — you’ve cracked the case, Congresswoman!
Then there’s a Republican senator who hasn’t been a consistent Trump ally with the same assessment.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: “There is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians as of this date. I do not believe the president himself is a target or subject of any criminal investigation as of right now. So that’s what I know right now, and where this goes, I don’t know. Follow the facts where they lead.”
Perhaps the most significant comes from Senator Dianne Feinstein of California:
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: “The last time we spoke, Senator, I asked you if you had actually seen evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and you said to me — and I’m quoting you now — you said, ‘not at this time.’ Has anything changed since we spoke last?”
SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): “Well, not—no, it hasn’t.”
BLITZER: “But I just want to be precise, Senator. In all of the—you’ve had access from the intelligence committee, from the Judiciary committee, all of the access you’ve had to very sensitive information, so far you’ve not seen any evidence of collusion, is that right?”
SEN. FEINSTEIN: “Well, evidence that would establish that there’s collusion. There are all kinds of rumors around. There are newspaper stories, but that’s not necessarily evidence.”
Feinstein is the most intriguing, because think about how easily she could have fudged her answer: “I’ve seen things that trouble me, Wolf” or “I’ve seen things that raise serious questions” or some other word salad that avoid the word “no.”
And then there was this Reuters article, reporting that Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and e-mails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race,
The people who described the contacts to Reuters said they had seen no evidence of wrongdoing or collusion between the campaign and Russia in the communications reviewed so far. But the disclosure could increase the pressure on Trump and his aides to provide the FBI and Congress with a full account of interactions with Russian officials and others with links to the Kremlin during and immediately after the 2016 election.
(The Reuters story cites “current and former U.S. officials” as sources. Every time we see the words “former U.S. official” we should keep in mind there’s a good chance the source would be more accurately characterized as a “former Obama-administration official.” This doesn’t mean that former official is automatically lying, just that they have a particular agenda for leaking this information, and one that is being effectively withheld from readers.)
Democrats are increasingly convinced that the seemingly endless storm of allegations around Trump will inevitably lead to his impeachment, and an impeachment that will come soon, not late in Trump’s first term. They’re convinced that evidence of Trump violating the law exists, and they’re convinced that the FBI or the investigating committees in Congress will find it.
Are any Democratic lawmakers starting to fear that they’re not going to find that evidence? The intelligence community is presumably always watching the Russian government as closely as they can. The FBI counterintelligence guys presumably track Russian agents on our soil as much as possible. You figure the NSA can track just about any electronic communication between Russians and figures in the Trump campaign.
If there was something sinister and illegal going on between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, the U.S. government as a whole had every incentive in the world to expose that as quickly as possible. They didn’t expose it before Election Day, they didn’t expose it before the Electoral College voted, they didn’t expose it before Inauguration Day… How many months have the best investigators in the United States been digging into this?
Imagine a scenario where the FBI and prosecutors eventually can prove some underling violated the law — obstruction of justice? Lying to investigators? — but not Trump. Will Democrats accept that?
Pity the FBI and intelligence community. They have to get to the bottom of this in a world where just under half of Capitol Hill, most of the media, almost all of academia, a good portion of the think-tank world and “intellectual class” etc., believe that the real mission of the investigation is to correct the “error” of the 2016 election.
If you talk to Democrats lately, they speak not as if the voters merely made a mistake, but that somehow history itself has gone wrong. They speak we’re living in an alternative timeline, experiencing events that “weren’t supposed” to happen. In their eyes, Hillary Clinton was obviously so much more appealing that Trump. She led in the polls! She had so many more campaign offices! She spent so much more money! She ran so many more ads! Surely, a result like this must be the result of someone cheating.
Because so many Democrats associate Trump with apocalyptic threats — global warming, the sudden establishment of a repressive theocracy like The Handmaid’s Tale, nuclear confrontation, race wars — they all see themselves as their own personal Kyle Reeses, on a mission to save the future.
With this desperate, all-or-nothing mindset, they will always insist that the evidence to take down Trump is waiting to be found, just around the next corner…
Whoa, Leakers, Take It Easy. You’re Starting to Embarrass the Obama Folks
Raise your hand if you expected John Brennan, who President Obama appointed to head the Central Intelligence Agency in 2013, to offer a qualified defense of Trump:
“What I have found appalling is the number of leaks that have taken place over the last several months,” former CIA Director John Brennan said at the SALT conference in Las Vegas, the annual gathering of hedge-fund managers and other financiers. “This needs to be stopped.” Brennan was CIA director during President Obama’s second term, stepping down in January, when Mike Pompeo replaced him.
Brennan said Trump made a “serious mistake” when he reportedly shared sensitive intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, in an Oval Office meeting in early May. But this mistake wasn’t sharing intelligence; it was violating the protocol for doing so. “I shared intelligence with the Russians when I was the director of the CIA,” Brennan said. “But you share that through intelligence channels, and you make sure you word it in such a way as to not reveal sources and methods. President Trump didn’t do that.”
Brennan said the press coverage of Trump’s impromptu intelligence reveal was “hyperbolic” and possibly more damaging than anything Trump revealed. “The damage that was done is what was leaked in the aftermath, what was put in the media. The real damage to national security is the leaks.”He suggested, without saying so explicitly, that news accounts revealed more sensitive information than Trump did.
“The real damage to national security is the leaks,” Brennan said. “These individuals who still stay within the government and are leaking this stuff to the press need to be brought to task.”
A Warm Welcome for Trump from… the Saudis?
The Wall Street Journal offers a fascinating look inside Saudi Arabian politics, and the forces behind next week’s big summit:
President Trump will receive an effusive welcome here from his royal hosts determined to underscore that once again Saudi Arabia and the U.S. are close allies. Barack Obama favored Iran, but that’s over. King Salman, 81, is gathering 50 Islamic leaders to meet Mr. Trump. This unprecedented assembly is intended to show not only that Saudi Arabia is the leader of the Islamic world but that Muslim leaders support the U.S. against Islamic State terrorists…
Mr. Trump’s presence is an opportunity for Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman]to show off his modernization effort. An extravaganza featuring something for everyone is intended to convince Americans there is a new, open Saudi Arabia and Saudis that mixing cultures and sexes isn’t evil.
Just wait until President Trump learns that Islam opposes charging interest on loans.
By Jim Geherety
Paul Ebeling, Editor
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