While the House Intelligence Committee focused on the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russian links–for which no solid evidence has been provided–former prosecutor Rep. Trey Gowdy honed in on the one crime we do know about. Someone leaked, or in intelligence-speak, “unmasked” Mike Flynn.
From Fox News:
In a tense exchange, Gowdy, himself a former federal prosecutor, ticked off what sounded like his own short list of suspects. He asked which of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch and ex-White House adviser Ben Rhodes could have known Flynn was caught on tape conferring with the Russian ambassador.
Comey acknowledged all but Rhodes were privy to the information, the disclosing of which is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Comey said he did not know if Rhodes had access to such information.
Bill O’Reilly, who I normally don’t link to, was smelling what Gowdy was stepping in. He even got a skeptical Charles Krauthammer to agree that the only felony we’ve seen so far for certain is whoever unmasked Flynn. But Krauthammer wasn’t so sure that the leakers would be identified, never mind caught. It took 40 years to reveal the Watergate leaker, he remarked.
He might be right. There’s a long, rich history of journalists talking to government leakers, exposing all manner of malfeasance and intrigue. But these days leakers don’t always connect with journalists–they throw stuff out on the Internet, or send it to Julian Assange’s anti-American Wikileaks.
Here’s the big problem Gowdy exposed today: Comey said he was authorized by the Justice Department to reveal the investigation into President Trump’s Russian connections. But he wasn’t authorized (or never asked) to reveal anything about investigations into Flynn’s leakers.
No crimes have been alleged and no evidence has been provided about the Trump campaign’s collusion or cooperation with Russians. A crime was absolutely committed by submarining Flynn, which also simultaneously fed into the speculation about Trump and Russia. One investigation, under the FBI’s counterintelligence portfolio, was disclosed publicly, under oath, to Congress. The other was filled with equivocation.
Comey’s selective disclosures didn’t do Trump any favors. He undermined Trump’s evidence-free stories about Obama “wiretaps,” including using GCHQ surveillance, exposing the president to accusations of “liar,” while keeping a cloud hovering over the White House. Fox News’ Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge noted that counterintelligence investigations can take years.
The showdown between Gowdy and Comey might have been a friendly match of two lawyers, but it has serious implications. An administration under a cloud will have more problems getting things done, while Trump’s credibility will be more strained (if that’s possible).
This is shaping up to look like the plot of the 1987 Kevin Costner thriller “No Way Out,” only without the steamy limousine scenes and murder. There’s an “Ivan” somewhere in the government, leaking to the press. He or she definitely exists. There may or may not also be another “Ivan” leaking to the Russians.
Comey is going to have to disclose what he’s doing the find the known Ivan, while he continues to search for the unknown one.