Opinion: The Trump/Russia link grows more ominous

(AP)

It is hard to exaggerate how damaging Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing has been to President Donald Trump, on three critically important points:

1.) James Comey, the head of the FBI, publicly confirmed that since July, his agency has been actively investigating not just the successful effort by Russia to meddle in the 2016 presidential election on Trump’s behalf, but beyond that to possible coordination between Trump associates and the Russian government.

That second investigation into possible collusion by the Trump campaign or associates continues, Comey said, while refusing to go into details.

2.) Comey also stated emphatically that his agency had no evidence to support bizarre claims by Trump that he and his campaign had been wiretapped under orders from President Obama.  The FBI director further stated that the Justice Department as a whole also has no evidence whatsoever that might support that groundless claim.

To refresh your memory about the source of those claims:

Sitting at Comey’s side, Admiral Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, confirmed in public session that it too has zero evidence to support Trump’s claim.

“My view is the same as Director Comey,” Rogers said. “I have seen nothing on the NSA side that we engaged in any such activity or that anyone ever asked us to engage in any such activity.”

3.) Under questioning, Rogers further agreed that it had been “nonsense” and “utterly ridiculous” for Trump spokesman Sean Spicer and Trump himself to suggest that the NSA, unable to spy legally on Trump, had instead recruited its British counterparts to do so. That would breach multiple laws and treaties in both countries, Rogers pointed out.

Rogers further confirmed that Trump’s false suggestion — repeated in a high-profile press conference last week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel — had angered his British intelligence counterparts and possibly damaged the relations between the NSA and the British.

I think it’s important to note how sleazily and irresponsibly Trump had offered that suggestion, even after it had been exposed as false. Here’s the video:

 

“We said nothing,” Trump claims. “All we did was quote a very talented legal mind, who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn’t make an opinion on it.  It was a statement by a very talented lawyer, on Fox, and you shouldn’t be talking to me, you should be talking to Fox.”¹

It’s classic Trump misdirection, his way of saying something that is completely irresponsible and nutty while slyly dumping the responsibility elsewhere. You know, like this:

“(Ted) Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot… That was reported (by the National Enquirer) and nobody talks about it.”

“I will say there are people who continue to bring (the death of Vince Foster) up because they think it was absolutely a murder ….”

“You know, some people say that was not his birth certificate.”

Well, SOME people now say that the charges of possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia are substantive enough to launch an investigation that is now eight months old and continuing.

One of those people happens to be director of the FBI.

UPDATE at 3:45 p.m.: The House Intelligence Committee has now concluded its public hearing. My reactions?

The revelation from FBI Director James Comey that his agency is conducting a criminal, counterintelligence investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia came as a surprise to me. I have always thought it unlikely that such direct collusion had occurred, but apparently Comey has enough indication of a problem to justify an investigation that has now gone on for nine months now, with no end in sight.

I will still be surprised if actual criminal charges are filed in the case. But I found it very interesting that as the televised hearing went on, White House spokesman Sean Spicer went to the podium to desperately try to create space between the Trump campaign and certain figures from the Trump campaign. Spicer even described former campaign CEO Paul Manafort as someone who had “played a very limited role for a very limited time” in the campaign and close adviser Mike Flynn as a “volunteer.”

In other words, Manafort, Flynn, Roger Stone and others are now looking upward at the undercarriage of a bus.

In the wake of today’s testimony, it is also established fact now that Trump falsely accused President Obama of tapping his telephones and wiretapping his conversations, and that he has also falsely accused British intelligence of involvement. A decent, responsible person would apologize to Obama and Britain. Trump has proved himself to be neither.

Finally, this is a tweet from Trump’s official presidential account, rather than his personal account. It makes a claim — “the NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process” — that is simply untrue, as the video attached to the tweet makes clear.

This is one arm of the Trump administration putting verifiably false words into the mouths of the FBI director and NSA administrator, which would be extraordinary in any other administration.

 

 


¹Fox News has since said that it has no evidence whatsoever to back the charge by its commentator, Andrew Napolitano. 

 

Reader Comments 0

1545 comments
MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Bernie Sanders just announced on Andrea Mitchell Reports that he will not be voting for Judge Gorsuch.  Bernie said that he had Gorsuch in his office yesterday and asked Gorsuch questions related to Citizens United and the fact that Republican governors across the country have hurt the well-being of average, working Americans.  Said, Bernie Sanders, "He (Gorsuch) had nothing significant to say about those two inquiries of mine to him, so I will be voting against his confirmation as Supreme Court Justice."

Tracy Herrera Lee
Tracy Herrera Lee

Ya, Obamacare and a crappy recovery had nothing to do with it, LOL

Randy Valentine
Randy Valentine

You are costing taxpayers money over this stupid investigation into the Russians! If anybody should be investigated it is the Democratic party! You are the ones who have been talking to the Russians!

Margaret Rayburn
Margaret Rayburn

Yeah it did a lot of damage to Comey and whoever the other man is. A lot of ppl feel like they are sorta, kinda crooked.

Jack Warner
Jack Warner

no they don't. where is the evidence? more media manipulation.

Linda Young
Linda Young

I don't understand how the left can, with zero proof, make up allegations of Russia/Trump connection influencing the election and THEN castigate and skewer Trump for "making up" allegations of wiretapping. And I don't care what Comey says. I fully believe Trump Tower was wiretapped. How else would they find their proof of a Russian conspiracy?

Michael Dillinger
Michael Dillinger

So you don't understand how the left can make up allegations with zero proof (There are numerous reasons to suspect), yet Comey's statement based off of proof from the intelligence community matters not to you....because, you just believe Trump tower was wiretapped based on????? Oh my. The cognitive bias is strong here.

Linda Young
Linda Young

And you believe that the American government would never wiretap someone they want to connect to the Russians? And wasn't it just November that the left totally hated Comey? And now he is golden? You are absolutely brain washed.

Vindicator
Vindicator

Russia had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton losing. Hillary Clinton and the DNC had everything to do with Hillary Clinton losing. And the normal people in this country did not vote for a lying criminal with blood on her hands, pure and simple..

It was the Democrats who colluded with the DNC to have their primaries rigged against Bernie Sanders. Yet, there was no investigation about that. 

It was Donna Brazille who adamantly lied about her supplying questions to Hillary Clinton, but confessed just the other day about supplying questions to Hillary Clinton. Yet, there was no investigation about that.

After 8 months of investigation there is no collusion with the Russians. But while the FBI is still searching for a Trump connection, real crimes have been unearthed-committed by anti-Trump bureaucrats colluding with the MSM-to damage Trump's presidency.

The one probable felony was the leak of a transcript of an intercepted conversation between Gen. Flynn and the Russian ambassador. 

So where do we stand after yesterday's hearing and an 8 month FBI investigation? The Russians did hack Podesta's email account and the DNC, and while the FBI has found no evidence of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, it is still looking. 

The demonic Democrats and the Left are hanging their hats on a fictional story as pay-back for losing the election.

Obama and the Obama Justice Department gave the go-ahead to surveil the Trump associates way back in July and just prior to the election.

Jay Bookman and his merry band of hyenas just won't let go of this fabricated Russian story out of mean-spirited vendetta. They were so confident of winning and so drunk with fake news polling that it was a shock and an embarrassment to lose the election. Thus, we now have to endure the infantile tactics so as they might attempt to delegitimize Trumps's presidency.

As for Comey, he was once loved by the Democrats and then reviled by the Democrats and is now back in favor with the Democrats. The man swings both ways and should be relieved of his duties for his play-making. 

Archer Franqui
Archer Franqui

Its obvious that this is a bunch of crap, but, the media are going to milk it out for every ounce of poopoohh rhey can pull out of trying to DESTROY the Trump administration, their all hopping that WE DEPLORABLES are stupid enough to buy their crap next election, the truth is that nothingbthey have tried has work because WERE NOT STUPID, as they want us to be. LIBERALISM CAUSES brain musshiness.

Michael Dillinger
Michael Dillinger

Trump is dismantling this government, and you are cheering him on, all while insisting that the ethics in his administration are of no concern. Shame.

Ron Wood
Ron Wood

@td1234 @RantNRave Rassmussen is a poll that always gives ANY Republican idea or guy a +10 bonus points.   If a Repub is only 50% on Rassmussen..... that's dire.

Resist Trump
Resist Trump

@FIGMO2 @ScubaSteve

(6)Special rule for application to certain health insurance providers

(A)In generalNo deduction shall be allowed under this chapter—(i)in the case of applicable individual remuneration which is for any disqualified taxable year beginning after December 31, 2012, and which is attributable to services performed by an applicable individual during such taxable year, to the extent that the amount of such remuneration exceeds $500,000, or(ii)in the case of deferred deduction remuneration for any taxable year beginning after December 31, 2012, which is attributable to services performed by an applicable individual during any disqualified taxable year beginning afterDecember 31, 2009, to the extent that the amount of such remuneration exceeds $500,000 reduced (but not below zero) by the sum of—(I)the applicable individual remuneration for such disqualified taxable year, plus(II)the portion of the deferred deduction remuneration for such services which was taken into account under this clause in a preceding taxable year (or which would have been taken into account under this clause in a preceding taxable year if this clause were applied by substituting “December 31, 2009” for “December 31, 2012” in the matter preceding subclause (I)).(B)Disqualified taxable year

For purposes of this paragraph, the term “disqualified taxable year” means, with respect to any employer, any taxable year for which such employer is a covered health insurance provider.

(C)Covered health insurance providerFor purposes of this paragraph—(i)In generalThe term “covered health insurance provider” means—(I)with respect to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2009, and before January 1, 2013, any employer which is a health insurance issuer (as defined in section 9832(b)(2)) and which receives premiums from providing health insurance coverage (as defined in section 9832(b)(1)), and(II)with respect to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2012, any employer which is a health insurance issuer (as defined in section 9832(b)(2)) and with respect to which not less than 25 percent of the gross premiums received from providing health insurance coverage (as defined in section 9832(b)(1)) is from minimum essential coverage (as defined in section 5000A(f)).(ii)Aggregation rules

Two or more persons who are treated as a single employer under subsection (b), (c), (m), or (o) of section 414 shall be treated as a single employer, except that in applying section 1563(a) for purposes of any such subsection, paragraphs (2) and (3) thereof shall be disregarded.

(D)Applicable individual remuneration

For purposes of this paragraph, the term “applicable individual remuneration” means, with respect to any applicable individual for any disqualified taxable year, the aggregate amount allowable as a deduction under this chapter for such taxable year (determined without regard to this subsection) for remuneration (as defined in paragraph (4) without regard to subparagraphs (B), (C), and (D) thereof) for services performed by such individual (whether or not during the taxable year). Such term shall not include any deferred deduction remuneration with respect to services performed during the disqualified taxable year.

(E)Deferred deduction remuneration

For purposes of this paragraph, the term “deferred deduction remuneration” means remuneration which would be applicable individual remuneration for services performed in a disqualified taxable year but for the fact that the deduction under this chapter (determined without regard to this paragraph) for such remuneration is allowable in a subsequent taxable year.

(F)Applicable individualFor purposes of this paragraph, the term “applicable individual” means, with respect to any covered health insurance provider for any disqualified taxable year, any individual—(i)who is an officer, director, or employee in such taxable year, or(ii)who provides services for or on behalf of such covered health insurance provider during such taxable year.(G)Coordination

Rules similar to the rules of subparagraphs (F) and (G) of paragraph (4) shall apply for purposes of this paragraph.

(H)Regulatory authority

The Secretary may prescribe such guidance, rules, or regulations as are necessary to carry out the purposes of this paragraph.

ScubaSteve
ScubaSteve

@FIGMO2 @ScubaSteve I'm not so much worried about the politics of it, and I do mean that honestly. I don't have big issues with Neil Gorsuch. I absolutely hate it for Merrick Garland, though. Good judge who shouldn't have been used that way. Likely will never get another shot.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

goodness..that wont happen..need to move on

TBS
TBS

I picked Villanova in the final 4 and playing Duke in the Elite 8

That part of my bracket is crushed

I still have three of four in the final 4 and my champion pick which is NC. However they didn't look so hot on Sunday

rimsky
rimsky

Multinational firms such as Google and Facebook are now paying tax in Australia based on profits earned there instead of shifting income abroad, the government has said.

Changes to the tax system will raise an extra 2bn Australian dollars ($1.5bn; £1.2bn) in this tax year, it said.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-39337325

+++

I guess Aussies know how to their fair share of the taxes from the corcoporations.  Good for them.  May be they teach a thing or two to our Conservative morons.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@rimsky  When I wonder, "Now, DIA, what economy should the USA fashion itself after?"  My answer is always, Australia!

rimsky
rimsky

@DownInAlbany @rimsky I know you have an aversion for learning.  So your opinion is worthless.  Other people will definitely think about it.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Judge Gorsuch's testimony bored me.  Too pat answers, for my tastes.  Chuck Berry is more to my liking this morning.


I just found out that Chuck Berry, who recently died at age 90, was married to Themetta Suggs for 68 years.  They married in 1948.  She was an attractive woman who carried herself with innate dignity from her young years to her old age.  Hope you can find that photo of them, and observe it as I have.


Take a listen. Chuck Berry's music is in a time capsule to be opened well into the future along with other esteemed reflections of American society. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFo8-JqzSCM

rimsky
rimsky

@MaryElizabethSings Did you know one of Berry's songs is in the album that is in the Voyager that has already left the solar system and in outer space?

PS I believe it is "Johnny be Good".

khd713
khd713

Bookman's interpretation of these hearings is so completely distorted. The FACTS of what has occurred so far are that 1) there is no evidence to support any allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and 2) The Russians also hacked the GNP. So far, those are the only important facts that have been revealed.


Guess there are two ways of looking at everything, huh, Jay? You and your colleagues in the liberal media are setting yourselves up (well, really, DJT is setting you up) to look the fools – again. But just keep it up. We'll see what it does for the Democrats. My guess is that this kind of partisan hackery will just continue to bolster Trump.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@khd713 

If the Russians hacked the Gross National Product, I guess that is important!

Ron Wood
Ron Wood

@Nick_Danger @khd713   Aww.. Not the GNP. They probably cleaned us out.  No GNP... means we're screwed (bigly)

Now i SUSPECT  Mr 713 is spreading partisan Hackery he read at Infowars or some other Paranoid nutcase website.   

In which case... our GNP may be what it is.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

It's almost noon, ET and Jay has not checked in.  Was the DNC a little late in getting out today's talking points?

Resist Trump
Resist Trump

@DownInAlbany

You have a resume? Send it on to the AJC. Tell them you'll get your day started earlier than Jay. Ask them for a job. Tell us how long it took them to send you a rejection notice.

TomGaff
TomGaff

Is it against the law to speak with a Russian? The Clinton's and their staff spoke to many countries!

Ron Wood
Ron Wood

@TomGaff AFTER...... Being President or sec state.NO PROBLEM.  The ISSUE (as you ought to know) is that a CANDIDATE,a President Elect.. or his MINIONS is NOT supposed to CONTRADICT THE ACTUAL POTUS.

Further.. it's UNCOOL to have aides.. campaign managers, who are paid agents of a foreign country. 

Nice try... but that was a desperate FALSE EQUIVALENCE. 


Now.. a BIG deal is.....what was the big deal? What was the quid Pro Quo?  there's reasons why Flynn, Mannifort, Roger Stone ain't on the TEAM now. WAY too deep in with Russian mobsters (and Putin).


However..... now it REMAINS that those guys and a few more, have MANY ties to Putin and Russian Kleptocrats... including a few who rent suites in Trump tower or bought Million dollar Florida condos in Trump buildings.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

Ga own Kingston need to work on his facts. Guess when the CBO started?

I remember years ago looking at a CBO report that in 1964 predicted that Medicare would cost $9 billion 10 years later. And I think it was already over $100 billion at that point."

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@DownInAlbany 

There MAY have once been a more blatant attempt at deflection, but I can't think of one...  ;-)

Mr_B
Mr_B

@DownInAlbany I can give you a quick refresher on "figures of speech/ hyperbole" if you didn't stay awake in English class.