Monday, March 20, 2017

Last Call For Russian To Judgment, Con't

Today's House Intelligence Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers did not disappoint.  The five big takeaways:

  1. Comey and Rogers both ended any credibility of Trump's claims he was wiretapped by Obama.  Both men straight up said that Trump Tower was not wiretapped, and Rogers confirmed that the Brits were definitely not brought on board to spy on Trump.  It also means Trump is an inveterate liar, and the whiff of outright panic is beginning to emanate from the White House at this point.
  2. Comey confirmed that the Russians influenced the 2016 elections towards Trump in order to hurt Clinton. Again, this wasn't vote-flipping and hacking, but rather disinformation and leaks.  This investigation is still ongoing, but at this point Comey feels comfortable enough to say outright that Russia was not only anti-Clinton, but pro-Trump.  And that leads us to the big one:
  3. Comey admitted that there is an investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  That's the big one folks, treason is a nasty crime and the FBI is indeed looking into whether or not people in the Trump camp were playing footsie with Vlad Putin and the Russians.  There are certainly a lot of suspects: Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, but don't forget Trump himself, who has a decades-long relationship with Russia and its oligarchs.
  4. Republicans at the hearing ignored the Trump/Russia story in favor of grilling Comey and Rogers over leaks.  Rep. Devin Nunes, the GOP chair of the House Intel Committee, made a point of saying that while the FBI is investigating possible crimes, actual crimes of leaks have been committed, and all the Republicans wanted answers on that rather than the, you know, possible treason.
  5. Trey Gowdy went as far as accusing several Obama aides of being the leakers. Previous committee chair Rep. Trey Gowdy (of Benghazi! fame) directly asked Comey and Rogers if either thought a number of Obama aides had access to intelligence community reports on FISA suspects, i.e. any Russians that the NSA might have been looking into.  Mostly it was "I don't know" but the tactics were clearly trying to attack both the leaks themselves and the reporting of the leaks as an Obama conspiracy to undermine Trump.  (Why? Trump's doing an amazing job of undermining himself.)

So that's where things stand.  Frankly, Trump is in a lot of trouble right now, and he knows it. Republicans are running interference, but it's clear that trying to pull the fire alarm when the republic is in fact on fire isn't a crime. 

More on this from Reuters, CNN, Politico, NY Times, and WaPo.

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