Leaks Cut Both Ways: Adam Schiff Mum After Viewing Nunes Intelligence

During the House Intelligence Committee hearings, ranking Democrat Rep Adam Schiff made a great show of FBI Director Comey’s refutation of President Trump’s accusations of “wiretapping.” He and fellow Democrat Terri Sewell did a great job grandstanding and making hay off the president’s unsupported accusations.

What has Schiff seen that’s silenced him?

Remember, leaks cut both ways. A leaker gave the New York Times and the Washington Post information about “surveillance” on Trump that fed stories of smoke and fire on various campaign and administration associates connections with the Russians. Another leaker fed specific highly classified document references to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes. Nunes worked with White House staffers to gain access to those documents in a secure fashion, without informing his fellow committee members.

That was undoubtedly against procedure, but Nunes had no idea what he was going to see, and no way to see the documents without going through the White House. It’s not as if the CIA, DIA, NSA, or any other intelligence community agency was about to go along with a document request.

We don’t know what Nunes saw, but we do know that it indicated there was some “incidental” data collection on Trump’s campaign and that information was available to the Obama administration. It’s now surfaced that Susan Rice requested specific “by name” intelligence data on Trump staffers.

Schiff has now seen what Nunes saw. His response should be troubling for those grandstanding Democrats. “While I cannot discuss the content of the documents, if the White House had any concern over these materials, they should have been shared with the full committees in the first place as a part of our ordinary oversight responsibilities,” the statement read.

Schiff’s biggest complaint is why the White House shared the documents with Nunes before the rest of the committee. This is all explained by the narrative Streiff suggested Friday at RedState.

  • Leaker gives Nunes list of document serial numbers.
  • Nunes asks White House — probably one of the two lawyers fingered by the NYT as leakers — for help retrieving the documents because of agency stonewalling.
  • NSC intel guy retrieves the documents and passes them to White House counsel for clearance. This part alone makes this sequence believable to me. The NSC intel chief is on thin ice with McMaster, the odds of him defying McMaster by collaborating with Nunes on his own as a “leaker” seemed to me to approach zero.
  • Nunes visits White House SCIF and views documents that have been retrieved.

This is backed up by the fact that the CIA moved to have National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster reassign Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the National Security Council’s senior director of intelligence. Trump belayed that order.

It appears that Schiff has no answer for the documents that were leaked to Nunes. The intelligence community has been caught with its pinky in the pushke, and they don’t like it at all. The documents should now be shared with the entire House Intelligence Committee, and hopefully the Department of Justice. Whatever went on between Trump and Russia, it is not a bigger story than the abuse of intelligence information that seems to be rampant in the intelligence community.

Instead of “Nixon-Watergate,” we are more likely looking at a “Scooter Libby-Valerie Plame” scenario. Fellow billionaire and Trump-watcher Mark Cuban’s take is worth reading. The short version is that Trump simply did what businessmen do–he didn’t use Russian influence to win the election–and Trump didn’t have the situational awareness to organize that kind of scandal if he could have.

There was a concentrated effort to stop Trump, and it’s looking likely that members of our intelligence community were complicit in that effort to some degree.

Leaks cut both ways. It’s time for our intelligence folks to put their cards on the table with the administration and Congress. It’s also time for Democrats in Congress and their media minions to quit their single-minded effort to destroy Trump. But I’m pretty sure that’s asking too much.

The Washington Post et al Doesn’t Want the Truth, They Want a Permanent Cloud

Once again, the establishment press is proving Steve Bannon right: they are the opposition, and they’re pushing for “enemy.” I think good journalism and truth-telling is very important. When President Trump tweets asinine things or outrageous accusations, the press, along with simple bloggers like me, should call him out. But the Washington Post is now engaged in the opposite of truth-telling.

The group of illustrious poobahs that form WaPo’s editorial board have chosen to keep a permanent cloud over the White House in a never-ending hunt for Ivan (the one who coordinated between the Trump campaign and the Russians), versus dealing with the truth.

These are the same people who wrote, on July 22, that “Donald Trump is a unique threat to American democracy.” This is the same newspaper that accused FBI Director James Comey of “abuse of power” on July 6 because he spoke out about Hillary Clinton’s email crimes, though he would not recommend prosecution. This is the editorial board that worried about the “bad timing” and “damage” of Comey’s October 28 announcement on the reopening of the Clinton case. It’s clear they hate Trump and consider him the enemy, and they always have.

On Tuesday, the editors wrote this:

You’d think that all of this would be of surpassing concern for Republican members of Congress. The president who leads their party has been officially reported to have made false statements alleging criminal activity by his predecessor. What’s more, his campaign is under scrutiny for possible cooperation with a dedicated and dangerous U.S. adversary in order to subvert American democracy.

Yet to listen to Republican members of the Intelligence Committee, the most pressing problem to arise from Russia’s intervention and the FBI’s investigation of it is that reports of contacts between Russia’s ambassador and Mr. Trump’s designated national security adviser were leaked to The Post. The priority of Chairman Devin Nunes (Calif.) and other Republican members, judging from their statements, is not fully uncovering Russia’s actions but finding and punishing those who allowed the public to learn about them.

These guys are having fever dreams of Watergate and “All the President’s Men.” There are similarities between how Trump and Nixon dealt with the press. There are similarities in damaging DNC information being exposed during a campaign. And there are definite, provable ties between key Trump campaign figures and some Russians. But that’s all they are: similarities, shadows.

The FBI did investigate, including the extraordinary step of seeking two FISA warrants in a counterintelligence capacity on Trump’s campaign, and when that was denied as too broad, on specific individuals. In yesterday’s testimony, Director Comey would not comment on specific investigations into Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Carter Page.

But this is all old news. There’s no shocking revelations here. We’ve known since last July that Manafort has Russian connections–it wasn’t even hidden. CNN reported last November, before the election, that the FBI has been investigating “alleged connections between Russia and Trump.” CNN reported it on Nov. 2. The New York Times reported on “intercepted communications” on Jan. 19, which Trump claimed was the source for his “wiretap” tweets.

We all know that Trump’s accusations about Obama are nothing more than bombast and made-up stories. We all know that Trump needs to stop making stuff up and tweeting it. But that in itself doesn’t justify condoning leaking of classified information and a forever investigation of the sitting president, that WaPo editors favor.

At this point, the Trump-Russia investigation is either stalled, cold, or going nowhere fast. During yesterday’s hearings–which consisted at many points of simple grandstanding by Democrats like Reps. Terri Sewell and Adam Schiff–Comey admitted that the Russians were working to discredit Hillary Clinton and damage her campaign. He also admitted that the Russians believed Trump wasn’t going to win.

He said it appears that the Russians were trying to damage the legitimacy of American democratic institutions and elections. That’s the most serious charge against the Russians. The Washington Post is helping them succeed, while pretending to act in the service of truth.

When Rep. Trey Gowdy and Chairmen Devin Nunes focused on the leaks of classified information, they did it because these are known felonies that were actually committed. When WaPo editors focused on nebulous charges of cooperation between Trump’s “men” and Russia, they continued to engage in speculation, when the FBI has admittedly found no evidence of that.

The Republicans seem to be slavishly following the cues of the president, who, while failing to retract his accusation against Mr. Obama, is seeking to direct attention elsewhere. “The real story that Congress, the FBI and all others should be looking into is the leaking of Classified information,” he tweeted Monday morning. Such a diversion, like anything else that distracts attention from Vladi­mir Putin’s support for his election, would be to Mr. Trump’s advantage.

Pursuing the leaks is not a diversion. If there was solid evidence of collusion, or new information, WaPo would be correct to pursue it. But they prefer to keep the truth buried and keep a cloud over the White House for as long as possible.

If it weren’t for their burying of Hillary Clinton’s email crimes for two years, I might even give them the benefit of the doubt that it’s not crassly political. But it is all, 100 percent political.

Certainly, Russia is a threat, and Russian interference in our elections is unacceptable. But that doesn’t give WaPo editors the right to hide behind this threat in order to keep unconfirmed speculation about the president going forever. And that’s exactly what they want.