The Disconnect in the Search for Russia-Gate

by ROGER ARONOFF June 16, 2017

It appears that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has realized that the investigation he has been chosen to oversee is a dead end. As a result, he is moving past investigating the possibility of collusion during last year's presidential election between President Donald Trump and/or his associates and people with ties to the Russian government. Now, according to reports in The Washington Post and New York Times, Mueller is investigating whether Trump engaged in obstruction of justice through his interactions with former FBI Director James Comey. I predicted this exact development last month.

The disconnect between the actual facts and the vast Russian collusion conspiracy theory with no foundation is quite astonishing. The January 2017 report of three agencies-the CIA, the FBI and the NSA-plus the DNI, headed by James Clapper, claimed that there was "high confidence" among them that Russia meddled in our presidential election last year, with the purpose of helping to elect Donald Trump as president. Then why didn't the Obama administration do something more to stop it?

According to the testimony last week of former FBI Director James Comey, he became aware of what he described as "the first Russian-connected cyber intrusion" in the summer of 2015. Was the Obama administration so confident of victory for Hillary Clinton that they were prepared to overlook Russian meddling?

The American Spectator has an outstanding article by Steve Baldwin that reminds us of two important elements to this story that deserve much greater attention than they have received from the media. First, the "high confidence" that it was Russia that hacked the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) database should be viewed with skepticism; and second, America, especially under Barack Obama, has done plenty of meddling itself in other countries' elections.

We know that the Democrats put their thumb on the scale to assure that Hillary Clinton would get the nomination, leading to the resignation of DNC chairman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. And that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch put her thumb on the scale when she told Comey to call it a "matter," and not an "investigation," referring to Mrs. Clinton's four years of illegally putting classified material on an unsecured server. Lynch met on a private jet with former President Bill Clinton, the husband of the subject of the investigation, just days before Hillary was to be interviewed by the FBI. But Lynch was caught in the act by a local reporter. Even with that, Lynch refused to recuse herself from the case, but soon announced that she would accept whatever Comey recommended.

Comey has received a lot of criticism for overstepping his authority when he announced that Hillary was guilty of very serious crimes back on July 5. However, he ended up by saying that he was not going to recommend prosecution, because he didn't see any criminal intent, and that no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute this case. However, the legal standard isn't criminal intent, it is gross negligence. It's hard to reconcile Comey's claim that there was no criminal intent when he acknowledged in an exchange with Trey Gowdy that Hillary had lied when she said that she had not sent or received classified material, had not sent or received material marked classified, that she had only used one device-though she had used at least 13-and lied when she said she had turned over all of her work related emails, though he said there were thousands not disclosed.

Perhaps Comey resented the fact that Lynch told him that she wasn't going to allow a prosecution of Mrs. Clinton, and that is why he laid out such a compelling case against Hillary, though he decided to not recommend an indictment.

If anyone had overwhelming conflicts of interest and was in bed with the Russians, it was Hillary and John Podesta-from Skolkovo, to Uranium One, to Bill Clinton's speeches. But as with the IRS scandal, Fast and Furious, the VA scandal, and the Iran debacle, no one in the Obama administration had the integrity nor the independence to appoint a special counsel to investigate any of these matters. No one was held accountable.

The depth of the collusion between Hillary's State Department and the Clinton Foundation and the largest defense contractors and arms suppliers is staggering, and could occupy several special prosecutors for years.

There was the massive surveillance and unmasking by the Obama administration of the Trump campaign and associates. And just weeks before leaving office, Obama signed an executive order allowing the information obtained in this surveillance to be distributed across the entire intelligence community.

Trump's designated national security advisor, Michael Flynn, spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on December 29, the same day that Obama imposed new sanctions on Russia and announced that he was expelling 35 Russian diplomats, a move he never would have done if Hillary Clinton had won the election.

The Washington Post reported on January 18 that the FBI had "reviewed intercepts of communications" between Flynn and Kislyak, "but has not found any evidence of wrongdoing or illicit ties to the Russian government," according to "U.S. officials." As Comey confirmed last week in his written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, he had told Trump on three different occasions that he was not being investigated.

Everyone from former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), have said that they have seen no evidence of collusion between Trump and his associates with the Russians. So in that context, Trump saying "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go," if he actually said it, and asking for Comey to tell the press or the public that he, Trump, is not under investigation, makes sense. And it wasn't obstruction of justice, as former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy points out. Even after hearing Comey's recent testimony, there is "a requirement for corrupt intent," and there is "the principle of executive discretion."

The Clintons blamed Comey because he reopened the investigation into her mishandling of classified material, when about a month before the election, they found on the computer of convicted sex offender Anthony Weiner 650,000 emails that they had to work their way through to find an unspecified number of classified emails received from Hillary's top aide, Huma Abedin. It would have been inexcusable not to notify Congress of this development.

The news media have been at their Fake News worst. It's not just publishing so much anonymously-sourced information, some important parts of which have turned out to be wrong, but their continuing focus on Trump is clearly meant to chip away day by day at Trump's legitimacy as president, and ultimately to destroy his presidency. It's not just the errors or fabrications, such as the CNN and ABC reports two days before Comey's testimony alleging that he would be denying that he had confirmed on three occasions to Trump that he was not the subject of the investigation. That proved to be wrong.

Paul Roderick Gregory lays out a powerful case in a recent Forbes article, "Three Overlooked Statements by Comey that Blow Apart the Russian Collusion Narrative." One statement, for example, was in reference to a New York Times story of February 14, which Comey said was "in the main, not true." As Gregory reported, "The Times article claimed that ‘members of Trump's campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts (my italics) with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.' The Times story careened around the media, until it became Gospel truth of Trump-Russia collusion. It turns out the story was known to be false, but no one bothered to tell American voters."

The Times responded that they "feel comfortable" with what they reported at the time.

Gregory's other statements were that the "FBI accepted, but did not independently verify, DNC's conclusion that Russian agents had hacked the DNC," and that "Comey refused to openly disclose his investigation into the Steele dossier."

Mueller's latest move, to begin investigating Trump for obstruction of justice, and leaking it to the press, could indicate that he recognizes that his collusion case is non-existent, or that he is trying to make it more difficult for Trump to fire him. As Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid has pointed out, special counsel Robert Mueller should never have been picked for this job, based on his past record and his relationship with Comey. Plus, Mueller's staff now contains Clinton loyalists, who clearly want to see Trump go.

The media continue to beat the drums of Watergate, trying to create an inevitability that somehow Trump will be forced from office. Based on what is known about the actions of Hillary Clinton, Loretta Lynch, and Barack Obama, there clearly should be a special counsel to investigate their actions, and a grand jury empaneled. Since that isn't likely to happen, maybe a Senate or House committee could undertake such an investigation.

I understand that most of the media, as well as the rest of the Democrats, hate Trump and want to see him removed from office. But if you follow the facts, and look at the real sources of wrongdoing, it becomes clear that the current Mueller investigation is completely on the wrong track.

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FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at roger.aronoff@aim.org.

 


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