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Opinion: Memo doesn’t spotlight real scandal

If the president hoped that the memo by Republican staff on the House Intelligence Committee would end the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, he’s more deluded than many of us thought.

The controversial memo — released on a strict party-line vote by the committee with the approval of the president against the objections of the Justice Department, the FBI and others in the intelligence community — isn’t the bombshell promised.

Taken at face value, it claims that the renewal of a warrant issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to intercept communications between Donald Trump campaign operative Carter Page and alleged Russian agents was based on flimsy evidence that there was probable cause to continue to surveil Page’s communications. The gravamen of the argument against the surveillance is that the FBI failed to alert the court that the Hillary Clinton campaign had paid a research firm to come up with a report, the so-called Steele dossier, documenting Trump’s and his campaign staff’s ties to Russia. And, according to the memo, Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, was also suspect (even though he may not have known who was ultimately paying for the research he did) because he was biased against Trump.

Of course, the White House would like everyone to forget that the surveillance had nothing to do with revealing some of the most damning elements in the Russian investigation — namely, that the president’s son, son-in-law and campaign manager met with Russian operatives during the summer of 2016 to get “dirt” on Clinton promised by an intermediary who also claimed that the Russians were trying to help Trump win the election.

Nor does the warrant have anything to do with uncovering a far-reaching campaign by the Russians to spread disinformation via social media or to try to break in to voting machines with the likely intent to sabotage the election.

It also doesn’t explain why the president has been so reluctant to want to get to the bottom of Russian interference in the election — or even to acknowledge that it took place despite nearly universal agreement among intelligence officials and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that it not only occurred in 2016 but is ongoing. That, to me, is the real scandal. Why doesn’t the president or his team care that a hostile foreign government is trying to subvert our electoral process?

Those who are interested in getting to the bottom of Russian meddling are worried that the release of the Republican memo will be used by the president and his apologists to try to shut down the investigation by the special prosecutor, especially as it closes in around the president. And there seems to be some reason for concern. It is no accident that the officials named as having signed off on the application to the FISC include some of the very figures who either oversee Robert Mueller’s work — namely, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — or have already incurred the president’s wrath, including former FBI Director James Comey and his deputy director, Andrew McCabe, as well as former acting Attorney General Sally Yates. Trump fired Comey when the director wouldn’t back off the Russia investigation; at least that’s what he suggested to Russian diplomats who met with the president the day after the firing and he confirmed in an interview with NBC News. But firing Rosenstein would be more difficult than firing Comey, in part because Rosenstein was appointed to his post by Trump but more importantly because it would be viewed as a prelude to firing Mueller.

Clearly, the president and his apologists on the right believe that the House Intelligence Committee memo will divert attention away from the Russia investigation and put attention on what they see as a politically motivated investigation to delegitimize the Trump presidency. But the real story is that the Russians tried to interfere in our most recent presidential election and are still bent on disrupting future elections and that the president of the United States doesn’t seem to care one whit.

— Linda Chavez is a columnist with Creators Syndicate.

Comments

Richard Heckler

What A Fraud Trump Is ..... a president who has gotten wealthy by bilking others, colluding with criminals, evading prosecution, and romancing the press

David Cay Boyle Johnston is an American investigative journalist and author, a specialist in economics and tax issues, and winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting.

David Cay Johnston has been one of the nation’s premier investigative reporters for decades, specializing in the ways government works for the wealthy at the expense of everyday Americans.

He first met and covered Donald Trump in the 1980s. In his latest book:

The Making of Donald Trump, he profiles the many ways the Republican president has gotten wealthy by bilking others, colluding with criminals, evading prosecution, and romancing the press. I spoke with Johnston recently about his new book.

Steven Rosenfeld: What are you trying to show readers about Donald Trump that they might not know?
== https://www.alternet.org/election-201...

== http://billmoyers.com/story/making-do...

What A Fraud Trump Is
https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...

1 week, 6 days ago

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Bob Smith

You've circled back to David Cay Johnston again! I thought you'd forgotten him.

1 week, 6 days ago

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Gary Stussie

OK Richard, we get it!.You hate President Trump. ... and yes, there are 14 books written by liberal partisans which attempt to undermine the President's character. I am not impressed.

Regarding the Chavez opinion piece ... The issue in contention is not did Russia attempt to influence our election or disrupt our Democracy (they most certainly did) the issue is did Trump or his campaign actively work with Russia to do that.

It appears to me that President Trump could not pass gas in the Oval Office without it being leaked to the media by Democrat hold-overs or Democrat Congress people. Do anyone actually believe that if Mueller, or anyone in the government or MSM, had actual evidence of Trump Campaign Collusion that, after a year, it would not have been made public?

In the absence of election collusion we can count of the Mueller's team going off-script and attempting to document financial entanglements between Trump and Russia... announcing their finding about 2 months before the mid-terms. Nothing that will be impeachable but designed to muddy the mid-term for the GOP. Doesn't that type of political manipulation, by either side, upset anyone?

Regarding "Character" ... President Carter was a Naval Academy graduate and a true Patriot. He is a great humanitarian and, in my opinion, has a depth of character unmatched by any modern President. Also, in my opinion he was the most lack-luster President in our history!

There are times in a country's history when the people need a LEADER, not a politician or a humanitarian. I believe this is one of those times. The politicians have "kick the can down the road" on so many issues critical to the well-being of this country. President Trump is not going to do that! He may lack "character" (as you define it) but he does have a vision and does intend to fulfill his election promises in support of that vision. I'm betting he will too!

Finally, you want to talk character and political deception?... Ask yourself why the top lawyer in the nation (Obama's Attorney General Loretta Lynch) allowed herself to be conflicted out of heading the Hillary Clinton email server investigation by meeting with Bill Clinton. A rookie mistake or the perfect buffer between the Clinton email "get out of jail free" card and the Obama administration?

1 week, 6 days ago

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Bob Summers

Why would Putin want Trump over Hillary Clinton?

Seriously, you congenital Liberals need to think more clearly when creating fantasies.

Russian reset
The Russian reset was an attempt by the Obama administration to improve relations between the United States and Russia in 2009.

https://youtu.be/ERyvCMSY43s

1 week, 6 days ago

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Steve King

Goodness gracious Bob. Maybe because Clinton called Putin out and Trump owes him money. Jeeze man. What don't you get? Congress passed new Russian sanctions and Trump won't put the into effect. Duh. When it all goes down you're going to look silly. Slow down on the kool-aid.

1 week, 6 days ago

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Bob Smith

"....What Republicans are condemning is the FBI leadership's conduct in the Trump campaign and Clinton email probes. For example, in the case of the much-discussed House Intelligence Committee memo released last week, Republicans (accurately) portrayed an FBI leadership that made common cause with an opposition research project paid for by the Clinton campaign right in the middle of a 2016 presidential election — and then ferociously resisted congressional oversight. An agency that does that can expect some criticism, if its actions ever come to light..."
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/byr...

1 week, 6 days ago

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Steve King

Yo Bob...Benghazi! Now tell me that wasn't a witch hunt. Tell us how Gowdy didn't doctor documents. (He did). Tell us how it's treason not to applaud Trump. Tell us how letting coal companies dump their waste in our rivers and streams as magma. (I could do this all day) WHO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL? Bob?

1 week, 6 days ago

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Josh Berg

You cannot compare Russia investigation and Benghazi. Nobody has lost their lives because of collusion with Russia

1 week, 6 days ago

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Bob Summers

The real scandal are the Liberals embarrassing America around the world.

*EXCLUSIVE: Adam Schiff sent his staff to try and collect 'classified materials for the FBI' after Russian pranksters told him Putin has NAKED blackmail pictures of Trump*

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/artic...

1 week, 6 days ago

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Steve King

And how do you know he doesn't Bob? Where there's smoke there's fire, I can believe a pee pee tape. Yesterday Trump called a sitting US Senator a liar. A traitor. Next up, people who don't clap for the State of the Union (see tapes of Obama speeches for reference) are traitors. Now he wants a military parade. Like Putin, Saddam, Kim, etc. Last week, he'll absolutely testify under oath, this week his lawyers say no way, he's a loose cannon, lies...

Uh huh Bob, you and Nunes keep digging that hole. Sad.

1 week, 6 days ago

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Bob Summers

The real scandal is Obama's waist deep wading in investigation.

>Newly discovered texts exchanged by FBI agent Peter Strzok and his mistress Lisa Page reveal possible involvement by former President Barack Obama in the 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, Fox News reports.

>“Potus (Obama) wants to know everything we’re doing,” Page told Strzok in a text message dated Sept 2, 2016. Page then described preparing former FBI director James Comey to brief Obama on the details of a particular investigation.

http://dailycaller.com/2018/02/07/fbi...

1 week, 5 days ago

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Marc Wilborn

Wait until the Inspector General's report comes out.

1 week, 5 days ago

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David Reynolds

Linda we get it, you are a died in the wool Democrat, even serving on the DNC. This is just another hit piece trying to keep nonsense headlines in front of people.

None of your points make any sense. Even Mueller has moved on from Russian collusion to trying to nail President Trump on obstruction. None of Mueller's indictments are related to collusion. The meeting with the Russian for info has turned out to be a "nothing burger'.

Regarding the Nunes memo, the New York Times says it totally supported by the Grassley/Graham memo, whose mostly unreacted version was released today. It verifies that Comey, Rosenstein, & others lied to the FISA Court, criminal actions. The NYT says those memos clearly show bias. And that Hillary Clinton is the source & used pawns like Sydney Blumenthal.

I could go on, but Linda I believe this article was just another biased hit piece. Please keep it it up as each article further exposes the Democratic Bias in this matter.

1 week, 5 days ago

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