How many people, knowing they have their opponents caught red-handed in what now appears to be the worst political scandal of our lifetime, would wait until those people and their press cohorts fell on their faces before acting on it? Not many, I think, but that seems exactly what President Trump just did.
I know, you have been inundated by claims of “Russian influence” brought to bear mysteriously and for no discernible end by the major media. The latest tarring involved Attorney General Jeff Sessions meeting with the Russian ambassador about which we are supposed to be shocked, and an utterly baseless claim that he lied to Senator Al Franken when he testified before Congress.
Did Attorney General Sessions Lie?
No, It’s a confected claim, which depends on taking one answer out of context. Robert Barnes of Lawnewz explains:
Here is the key exchange: Franken asked about “a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.” Sessions answered: “I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.” Anyone reading the actual exchange can see Sessions was referring to no communications “as a surrogate” just as the question’s very long pre-amble specifically referenced the focus of the question to that subject matter. Nothing about Sessions’ answer was false, nor could it be construed to be materially false or willfully false, or even false at all.Notably, Senator Franken chose not to ask Sessions about his contacts with Russian officials over the years in his duties as a Senator on the Armed Services Committee. Sessions’ first meeting of the Russian ambassador was in public, and likely known to Franken and others. Franken could not have interpreted Sessions’ answer as anything but an answer to the question asked about campaign contacts with Russian government officials, which no evidence supports ever occurring. Indeed, given what Franken knew, one might fairly ask a different question: why did Franken avoid that specific question? Was it because he’s a lousy Senator, like he was a mediocre comedian? Maybe. Or Maybe it’s because Franken knew the answer would undermine Franken’s argument? Or maybe it was because Franken was planning on mis-using the answer to attack Sessions later?What next? Senator, have you now, or have you ever been, someone who ever talks with Russians? GUILTY! Doing your job is now considered a crime by the same people on the left who excused actual crime by their Presidential candidate and Presidential appointee. This question needs to be asked of the Sessions smear operators: do you have no shame?
Is There Something Nefarious About a Senator Meeting with the Russian Ambassador?
Actually, that’s the ambassador’s job, and the Internet was full of pictures and accounts of such meetings after the phony-baloney charge against Sessions was made.
The New York Times reported Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, a member of the Armed Services Committee, saying she had never had a call or meeting with the Russian ambassador. When undeniable tweets of hers dated 2013 and 2015 were revealed showing that she had, the Times without fanfare simply removed that claim.
When California Rep. Nancy Pelosi made a similar claim, she, too, was exposed for lying.
In fact, when Obama was trying to get support for the Iran deal, 30 Democratic senators met with the Russian ambassador.
Had the Democrats had any evidence to back up the claims of Russian efforts to collude with Trump to throw the election his way, we’d have seen it by now. If you read anything on the subject, read this detailed, persuasive piece at the Tabletby Lee Smith.
The author notes, inter alia, that the late Wayne Barrett and his aides had amassed massive files on Donald Trump and had there been any there there, it would be in Barrett’s files and it is not:
The press at present is incapable of reconstituting itself because it lacks the muscle memory to do so. Look at the poor New Yorker. During the eight years of the Obama administration, it was best known not for reported stories, but for providing a rostrum for a man to address the class that revered him as a Caesar. Now that the magazine is cut off from the power that made it relevant, is it any wonder that when it surveys the post-Obama landscape it looks like Rome is burning -- or is that the Reichstag in flames?The Russia story is evidence that top reporters are still feeding from the same trough -- political operatives, intelligence agencies, etc. -- because they don’t know how to do anything else, and their editors don’t dare let the competition get out ahead. Why would the Post, for instance, let the Times carve out a bigger market share of the anti-Trump resistance? And what’s the alternative? Report the story honestly? Don’t publish questionably sourced innuendo as news?And still, you ask, how could the Russia story be nonsense? All the major media outlets are on it. Better to cover yourself -- maybe it’s true, because the press can’t really be this inept and corrupt, so there’s got to be something to it.I say this not only out of respect for a late colleague, but in the hope that journalism may once again merit the trust of the American public. Wayne Barrett had this file for 40 years, and if neither he nor the reporters he trained got this story, it’s not a story.
Even Vanity Fair, the magazine for lefty Upper East Side of Manhattan dwellers, punctured the tale:
“...with so many soufflés served up by the press in recent months, it emerged from the oven to oohs and ahs -- this time, with me among the oohers and ahers -- only to sink, first slowly, then quickly. Next, it will go into the trash, and we’ll bake another. It’s tiring. It’s boring. And above all it’s supremely damaging to the press. If you want people to believe you, then develop a reputation for believability. Might work better than just blaming your loss of credibility on Trump."
Yes, Sessions recused himself from playing any role in an investigation of the Russian connection to the election, but that’s unlikely to occur because there is no there there. And everyone knows it.
Obama and His Party Have Been Peddling the Claim of Russian Interference From the Moment Trump Won
Paul Mirengoff at Powerline details those efforts. It included changing the rules to permit the National Security agency to share widely -- even among those without security clearances (including European allies) -- information picked up by that agency, to keep clearances at a low classification to ensure wide readership and to include raw data into intelligence analyses. His conclusion seems undeniable: This effort was designed to undermine Trump’s victory and delegitimize the new administration. “Is it implausible to think that part of the purpose of the Obama administration’s sharing was to embarrass the incoming president, undermine his legitimacy in European eyes, and enhance the narrative that the Democrats didn’t really lose the election?”
My online friend Harry Lewis thinks it was worse: “The broader context is even worse than the article suggests. Obama knew about Russian efforts at hacking back in August, or perhaps even earlier, but deliberately chose not to reveal them, or to do anything about them, because Trump was alleging that the election was rigged, and Obama didn't want to add credibility to Trump's allegation.
In other words, Obama's concerns about Russian hacking were negligible enough that he didn't think they were worth pursuing until Hillary lost the election. The current frenzy about Russian hacking was ginned up solely to damage the Trump Administration, and not because of any real concern about national security.”
Thomas Lipscomb finds nothing surprising in all this:
1) Of course Obama did every vile sneaky thing he could to screw up Trump's early days in the WH. Fortunately he is very lazy and not very smart, and without an Axelrod to do his dirty work, this is a minor annoyance.2) Of course the Dems want to use "contact with the Russians" as some kind of magic talisman to divert from the total disaster of their defeat. Flynn, Manafort, Sessions, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, whomever. It doesn't matter in the least. The fact is the oncoming 2018 election has Dems waking up in the middle of the night screaming3) Of course moving all this legislation through Congress is going to take some pretty skillful work.... this is not a major emergency that needs to terrify us on every news occasion. No matter what happens, the world is not going to end.4) Of course Obama wants to be a key stumbling block and possibly destroy Trump.... but his ability to destroy is usually best exhibited when he is trying to help. Ask what is left of his political party. He hasn't got the power, and he can't raise the money (look at his "library" fund raising. ... he will be a flop at this as well as everything else he does. Don't let the press halo effect around a total failure fool you.5) The media frenzy is just funny. They can't even get a good negative story right in the details.... They have lost the ability to report, everything is narrative and editorial. You will find cat videos on YouTube more enlightening.
By the way, this Natasha and Boris idiocy isn’t working. According to Rasmussen, President Trump has a 53% approval rating right now.
B. Game’s Up
After waiting for the Russian soufflé to collapse, Trump struck back with a real scandal: the Obama administration -- which, as we’ve noted, changed the intelligence-sharing rules on their way out of office, had illegally been listening in on Trump and his campaign.
Saturday, in a series of tweets, the president exposed the scandal:
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Is it legal for a sitting President to be "wire tapping" a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
As Deb in NC reports, the Trump team had suspected this as early as May whenthe NYT reported: “A sense of paranoia is growing among his campaign staff members, including some who have told associates they believe that their Trump Tower offices in New York may be bugged, according to three people briefed on the conversations."
So there’s something to the suspicion that Trump waited this long to level the charge for a good reason. I’m not the only one who thinks this.
Conservative Treehouse credibly reviews the timeline and believes that Mike Rogers, head of NSA, privately briefed Trump about the tapping shortly after the election.
“But if this is a story that has been out there for a while, why does Trump say he 'just found out'? Sounds like at a minimum there are new developments. We will see.” John Hinderaker at the same site reports this may lead to the impeachment of the FISA judges who, after refusing to authorize such an improper tap months earlier, acquiesced to Obama when the second request was slightly narrowed.
I think it not unlikely that the tapping occurred even before the FISA authorized any such thing, in which case the criminal charges should be damaging to many more than merely the FISA judges.
If the Democrats were so worried about Trump they peddled the ludicrous Russian soufflé to an credulous press, how worried must they be now?