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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

 

What about that 'witch hunt'?

by Tom Sullivan

The Trump administration's "witch hunt" narrative regarding the ongoing investigation into his Russia ties went down in flames yesterday when former CIA chief John O. Brennan testified before the House Intelligence Committee:

Mr. Brennan, in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, said he was concerned by a series of suspicious contacts between Russian government officials and Mr. Trump’s associates. The C.I.A. learned about those meetings just as it was beginning to grapple with Russian hackers and propagandists trying to manipulate the presidential race.

[...]

“I know what the Russians try to do,” Mr. Brennan said. “They try to suborn individuals and try to get individuals, including U.S. individuals, to act on their behalf, wittingly or unwittingly.”

[...]

He added that American targets were often unwitting in such efforts. “Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late,” he said.
The remark may have been a reference to former national security adviser Michael Flynn who was forced to resign after his contacts with the Russian ambassador came to light.

Pressed repeatedly on whether he had proof of collusion between Trump associates and the Russian government, Brennan told the panel he saw enough to warrant an investigation:
“I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons,” Brennan said, adding that he did not see proof of collusion before he left office on Jan. 20, but “felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those issues.”
Sarah Posner writes for the Washington Post's Plum Line blog:
It’s crucial here to fully grasp the backdrop of Tuesday’s hearing. Just Monday, The Post broke yet another bombshell story: Trump had personally tried to get both the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and the director of the National Security Agency, Michael S. Rogers, to publicly deny that there was any collusion between the Trump camp and the Russians. The Trump requests came after then-FBI Director James B. Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 and publicly confirmed, for the first time, that the bureau was investigating “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

Both men refused Trump’s entreaties. Then, on May 9, Trump fired Comey, one day before meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The New York Times subsequently reported that Trump had told the Russian officials that he had fired “nut job” Comey to relieve “great pressure” from the Russia investigation.
The thrust of Republican questions yesterday was to elicit sound bites from Brennan to support the White House's contention that there is no there there. In saner times, one might seriously consider that not whether or not there was collusion, Trump had attempted multiple times to obstruct a federal investigation. But these are not saner times. And these are not saner Republicans trying to protect Trump.

On All In with Chris Hayes last night, Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks bluntly declared Trump's actions "completely illegal ... obstruction of justice." Asked by Hayes whether Trump could be obstructing an investigation into something he didn't do (presumably because the win-obsessed president might simply want to kill any suggestion he had help getting elected), Wine-Banks replied "you don't engage in the kind of behavior here if there isn't an underlying crime." The question is, what is it?

This week is already looking like a replay of last week. It's trouble every day.
Well I'm about to get sick
From watchin' my TV
Been checkin' out the news
Until my eyeballs fail to see
I mean to say that every day
Is just another rotten mess
And when it's gonna change, my friend
Is anybody's guess