Embattled FBI Director James Comey finally acknowledged publicly in congressional testimony that his agency is indeed investigating President Trump’s campaign for alleged ties to the Russian government and collusion regarding the November election.
The ongoing witch-hunt is probably a blessing in disguise for Trump. Democrats are putting all their eggs in one basket as they obsess over all these fuzzy and at times speculative connections between Trump and the Russians. They are feeding their crazed, Trump Derangement Syndrome-suffering base what nowadays passes for red meat. Normal people don’t care or they rightly intuit that the far-fetched allegations that somehow some Russians hacked the election to favor Trump are nonsense.
The absence of evidence of collusion between Team Trump and Russia is overwhelming, for lack of a better word, and unless actual evidence of electoral mischief surfaces the public backlash against those crying wolf at some point is likely to be fierce.
It’s becoming like a continuous television adaption of Hans Christian Andersen’s short story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” for the 24-hour news cycle. Never has so much angst been generated over so little evidence.
Although it has long been FBI policy to neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation to avoid smearing individuals who eventually are exonerated of wrongdoing, Comey confirmed his agency is investigating any possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.
I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI as part of our counter-intelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and the Russia’s efforts.
“Because it is an open, ongoing investigation I cannot say more,” Comey told members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in open session. He said the U.S. intelligence community believes Russia acted to help Trump and hurt Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton during the election cycle.
“They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her, help him,” he said.
Comey said it was “a fairly easy judgment” that Trump was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s candidate in the U.S. presidential race. “Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.”
The FBI director didn’t bother to elaborate on that startling revelation. Perhaps Putin was still bitter over the fact that Hillary Clinton’s Russian “reset” button in 2009 read “overcharged” because of a botched translation into the Russian language.
Comey also said he had “no information” to back up Trump’s explosive claim on Twitter from a fortnight ago that he was wiretapped at the direction of then-President Obama.
At the hearing, committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) agreed there was “no physical wiretap” of Trump Tower but acknowledged it is possible Trump was surveilled by other means.
Setting aside for the moment the semantic distinction between wiretapping and the more general term surveillance, the indispensable Jeffrey Lord reminds us at the American Spectator, that there have been many mainstream media reports supposedly based on information from intelligence community sources that have indicated wiretapping targeting Trump did indeed take place.
The Left can’t have it both ways, Lord writes, arguing those news pieces that supposedly justified an investigation of the Trump campaign suddenly don’t matter.
Lord explains that Democrats are engaging in sleight-of-hand by arguing that because, as they say, Trump is wrong “about an Obama wiretapping of Trump personally,” the existence of “all those New York Times and Washington Post reports that emphatically state” that communications by the Trump team were indeed intercepted are therefore irrelevant.
Lord then recounts key media reports.
The New York Times reported Jan. 19 that “intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the [Obama] White House.” It added that the FBI, NSA, CIA, and the financial crimes unit of the Department of the Treasury were conducting investigations.
The next day the paper reiterated that “wiretapped communications had been provided to the [Obama] White House.”
On Jan. 12 the paper reported that in its final days the Obama administration “expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.”
In its closing days that administration also “scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government,” the paper reported March 1.
Former American officials say they had two aims: to ensure that such meddling isn’t duplicated in future American or European elections, and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators.…
As WikiLeaks was pushing out emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee through online publication, American intelligence began picking up conversations in which Russian officials were discussing contacts with Trump associates, and European allies were starting to pass along information about people close to Mr. Trump meeting with Russians in the Netherlands, Britain and other countries.
The Washington Post cited the Wall Street Journal on March 2, reporting that now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions communicated with Russian officials while he advised the Trump campaign: “The contacts were being examined as part of a wide-ranging U.S. counterintelligence investigation into possible communications between members of Mr. Trump’s campaign team and Russian operatives.”
Apart from Comey’s admission of what pretty well everybody already knew at this point – that the FBI is probing Trump’s campaign for alleged ties to the Russian government – the five-hour congressional hearing yesterday yielded little in the way of new evidence.
Democrats on the committee are operating on auto-pilot at this point as they robotically regurgitate the well-worn talking points of their evolving Russian conspiracy theory.
Rep. Denny Heck (D-Wash.) chose to grandstand. “We’ve heard nothing but terribly disturbing evidence of what’s happened to our country at the hands of arguably our greatest adversary.”
This elicited a response from Comey, who said, “It threatens what is America and if any Americans are a part of that effort, it’s a very serious matter.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) explored the fascinating false-flag conspiracy theory that the Trump White House leaked information in order to discredit the wiretapping investigation or exonerate themselves. The alleged leakers could have “political Munchausen by proxy syndrome,” he said, as they tried to make a mess only they are capable of cleaning up.
In his opening statement, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), ranking member on the committee, repeated the unfailingly popular left-wing falsehood that Trump called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s campaign. In July last year Trump “openly appeals to the Russians to hack his opponents’ emails, telling them that they will be richly rewarded by the press,” the congressman claimed.
Of course, that’s not what Trump actually said at the oft-cited July 27, 2016, presser. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said, adding sarcastically: “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
A few minutes later he followed up on Twitter, writing “If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!”
During that press conference that took place during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, NBC reporter Katy Tur shouted a loaded question at Trump to introduce into the mainstream media ecosystem the Big Lie that Trump had personally invited Russia to interfere in U.S. elections.
“Do you have any qualms about asking a foreign government — Russia, China, anybody — to interfere, to hack into the system of anybody in this country?” she asked. Trump didn’t respond to Tur’s question directly, which the mainstream media dishonestly portrayed as Trump inviting foreign powers to hack Clinton’s campaign.
Chairman Nunes asked National Security Agency (NSA) Director Admiral Mike Rogers questions aimed at putting to rest the claim that whatever Russia may have done didn’t actually affect the outcome of the election.
He asked Rogers:
On January 6th, 2017, the intelligence community assessment assessing Russian activities and intentions in recent U.S. elections, stated that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying. So my question as of today, Admiral Rogers, do you have any evidence that Russian cyber actors changed vote tallies in the state of Michigan?
No, I do not, but I would highlight we are a foreign intelligence organization, not a domestic intelligence organization. So it would be fair to say, we are probably not the best organization to provide a more complete answer.
Nunes followed up with, “How about the state of Pennsylvania?” to which Rogers replied, “no, sir.”
Nunes asked the same question four more times about Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, to which Rogers responded, “no, sir,” each time.
“So you have no intelligence that suggests, or evidence that suggests, any votes were changed?” Nunes asked. Rogers replied, “I have nothing generated by the national security industry, sir.”
Nunes then asked Comey if had “any evidence at the FBI that any votes were changed in the states that I mentioned to Admiral Rogers.”
Comey responded with a simple “no.”
Despite all the noise, the real-life connections between Democrats and Russia remain unexplored. Obama and then-Secretary Clinton had possibly the most pro-Russian policy in U.S. history yet Trump gets accused of being a Russophile.
Nuclear weapon-hating President Obama, who all but apologized to the Japanese for the U.S. atomic-bombing of two cities in World War II during a May 2016 visit to Hiroshima, told outgoing then-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in 2012 to pass on the message to soon-to-be Russian president Vladimir Putin to ease up on the missile defense issue until after the election when Obama would “have more flexibility.”
As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton helped Russia gets its hands on 20 percent of the U.S. uranium supply through Uranium One. Russian nuclear agency Rosatom took over the company in 2010 by acquiring a 51 percent stake in it.
Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman John Podesta and two senior Russian officials were members of the board of energy concern Joule Unlimited. Two months after Podesta was appointed to the board, Rusnano, a company Putin science adviser Andrei Fursenko called “Putin’s child,” announced it planned to plow $35 million into Joule, or one-fifth of all the investment money Joule took in from 2007 to 2013.
And don’t forget that in June 2010, Bill Clinton gave a single one-hour speech for a $500,000 fee in Moscow. The speech was given and paid for by Renaissance Capital, an investment bank said to have ties to the Kremlin.
This is not an exhaustive compilation of examples of Democrats’ long working relationship with the Russian government.
The hearing took place as the Los Angeles Times reported that star news analyst and libertarian hero former Judge Andrew Napolitano has been suspended indefinitely by Fox News Channel for airing “his unverified claims that British intelligence wiretapped Trump Tower at the best of former President Obama.” On-air Napolitano said “Fox News has spoken to intelligence community members who believe that surveillance did occur, that it was done by British intelligence.”
Citing unidentified sources, Napolitano wrote in a column that a British foreign surveillance agency, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), “most likely” gave Obama transcripts of Trump’s recorded calls. “By bypassing all American intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted with no Obama administration fingerprints,” Napolitano wrote.
Fox management disagreed. Afternoon anchor Shepard Smith said Friday that “Fox News knows of no evidence of any kind that the now-president of the United States was surveilled at any time, in any way.”
In London, Her Majesty’s Government as it’s styled across the pond, denounced the claims, seized upon by President Trump, calling them “utterly ridiculous.” During a joint press conference Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president threw a spotlight on the story and called Napolitano “a very talented lawyer.”
Napolitano’s theory isn’t completely crazy.
It has at least as much evidence in its favor as the Democrats’ theory that Donald Trump is a puppet of Vladimir Putin.