Reality immitates fiction. The 1996 comedy film, "The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!" about the grounding of a Russian submarine off of a small New England Island could inform the panic being propounded by the Democrats about contacts between the Russians and Team Trump.
Deliberate disinformation abounds: Democratic leadership; anti-Trump elements in the intelligence community; much of the media; some Establishment Republicans. Let's try to simplify.
What we know:
After trying several other lines of attack, the Democratic strategy to delegitimize the Trump election has settled on the premise that Hillary would have won except for Russian hacking and publicizing the content of e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and her campaign manager, John Podesta. Further, the story goes, the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians in this endeavor. The whiff of a connection led to the firing in August 2016 of Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort who had had consulting gigs in the Ukraine and in Russia. They then got National Security Advisor Gen Michael Flynn fired for contacts with the Russian Ambassador between the election and the innauguration. Then Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to recuse himself from investigations of the election after he "misspoke" about a meeting he had with the Russian Ambassador.
There is a massive problem within the national security community of leaking information - frequently to the mainstream media to push a political agenda, but also to underground groups like WikiLeaks to embarrass the US government. With President Trump frequently criticizing the intelligence community, and with many in the senior ranks still populated by Obama appointees, there is a torrent of stories based on anonymous sources, with questionable veracity. The state of the game was demonstrated in Trump's first weeks in office with reporters acting as if it were totally normal that they would have the specific content of confidential candid phone calls between the President and the presidents of Mexico and Australia.
Trump is frequently his own worst enemy. Three AM Tweets are frequently weak on the facts, and not part of a communications strategy.
What we hear from normally reliable sources:
In January, the NSA, the FBI, and the CIA concluded that the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the e-mails of Hillary's Campaign manager, John Podesta, was done by the Russians, at the direction of Vladimir Putin, and was intended to hurt Hillary. They did not assess the impact that the leaks via WikiLeaks actually had. (For those with short memories, acting DNC Chair Donna Brazille had provided debate questions to Hillary; Hillary had espoused "open borders", and advocated a difference between public and private statements, among many other tidbits.)
Per Obama's Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, there is no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians during the election (or that his offices were wiretapped by the US government.) Full disclosure, Clapper has some credibilituy issues of his own, having admittedly lied under oath to Congress about NSA data collection programs aimed at Americans.
On the day before Trump's inauguration, the New York Times ran an article titled "Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates", in which it was claimed that the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA, and the Treasury Department were conducting an investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the election, and that reports were regularly supplied to the White House. This report was part of the inspiration for Trump to claim that the administration was bugging Trump Tower.
What we can reasonably infer from a skeptical reading of carefully parsed announcements:
Per reporting by Mark Levin and other sources, The Obama administration (Loretta Lynch's Justice Department) tried unsuccessfully to obtain FISA Court warrants to tap offices in Trump Tower in May/June of 2016, and apparently was able to tap a Trump server in October in pursuit of contacts with two Russian banks. This is the Attorney General Loretta Lynch who met with Bill Clinton on the tarmac in Phoenix during the time that Hillary's illegal e-mail server was in the center of a political and legal firestorm. Obama has plausible deniability; Lynch was the coordinator.
In the last days in the White House, Obama tried to preserve information that might subsequently be used to show a Russia/Trump campaign connection. Among the efforts was a change to the policy on handling raw NSA intelligence, to make it available to 17 intelligence agencies, with the objective of facilitating untraceable leaks. (One outcome may be the current WikiLeaks disclosure of collection methods.)
And some conjecture:
This too shall pass. The Democrats will not get their special prosecutor; the new Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will prove to be an honest and competent overseer of the Justice Department's investigation of the election; the House and Senate investigations will produce nothing; much to the disappointment of Warren, Pelosi, Schumer, and the New York Times editorial board, Trump will not be impeached.
But that is just Plan D (after the recounts, the challenge to the Electoral College, and diminishing rounds of protests). Plan E of #Resist will be an assault on the conflicts of interest posed by the Trump family businesses. In the meantime, regulations are being repealed, legislation is being proposed, the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria is being marginally stepped up, and jobs are being created by the tens of thousands.
And speaking of Loretta Lynch, this week's Video is a call from the former Attorney General for marching, protest, bleeding and death in the streets in the pursuit of the Democratic agenda.
bill bowen - 3/10/17