Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Russian To Judgment, Con't

So the Flynn/Russia story has gone from "nobody talked to Russia, are you nuts" to "OK, so maybe Flynn had a conversation but he's only being fired because he lied about that" to today, where the story is now "OK, so several Trump camp officials besides Flynn had multiple conversations with Russian intelligence officers before the election".

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.

But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public.

The officials said the intercepted communications were not limited to Trump campaign officials, and included other associates of Mr. Trump. On the Russian side, the contacts also included members of the government outside of the intelligence services, they said.
All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.

The officials said that one of the advisers picked up on the calls was Paul Manafort, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman for several months last year and had worked as a political consultant in Ukraine. The officials declined to identify the other Trump associates on the calls.

The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the hacking of the D.N.C., according to federal law enforcement officials. As part of its inquiry, the F.B.I. has obtained banking and travel records and conducted interviews, the officials said.

The other folks besides Manafort?  Carter Page and Roger Stone. Oh, and Flynn.  Again.  Multiple times.  In other words the FBI has known about this investigation for months and yet FBI Director Comey still pulled his little October Surprise stunt with Clinton's "investigation" and assured America that there were no Trump/Russia links before the election.

We now know that's all a lie.  Oops.

The F.B.I. investigation is proceeding at the same time that separate investigations into Russian interference in the election are gaining momentum on Capitol Hill. Those investigations, by the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, are examining not only the Russian hacking but also any contacts that Mr. Trump’s team had with Russian officials during the campaign.

On Tuesday, top Republican lawmakers said that Mr. Flynn should be one focus of the investigation, and that he should be called to testify before Congress. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said the news about Mr. Flynn underscored “how many questions still remain unanswered to the American people more than three months after Election Day, including who was aware of what, and when.”

Mr. Warner said Mr. Flynn’s resignation would not stop the committee “from continuing to investigate General Flynn, or any other campaign official who may have had inappropriate and improper contacts with Russian officials prior to the election.”

So now things are getting very interesting.  Meanwhile, House Republicans are scrambling to make this look like the real problem are the people who leaked the investigation, and not the fact our government is compromised by a foreign power.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) says he won’t open an investigation into President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, citing executive privilege.

But the committee will investigate who leaked the story that led to Flynn’s resignation and why Trump's national security adviser was being recorded, CNN reported Tuesday.

Good luck with that, kids.  This just turned into a real scandal that makes Watergate look like a middle school production of the Phantom Tollbooth, and these guys want to go after Woodward and Bernstein.

I've said for months the Russia story was important and wasn't going anywhere, and what do you know.

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