US President Donald Trump signs an executive order in the Oval Office of the White House. (photo credit:REUTERS)
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone: Why the Russia Story Is a Minefield for Democrats and the Media
Russia scandals have bloodied the Trump administration. But it carries dangers for those reporting it.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper appeared on Meet the Press this past weekend to discuss the Trump-Russia scandal. Chuck Todd asked: Were there improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials?
JAMES CLAPPER: We did not include any evidence in our report, and I say, "our," that's N.S.A., F.B.I. and C.I.A., with my office, the Director of National Intelligence, that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that…
CHUCK TODD: I understand that. But does it exist?
JAMES CLAPPER: Not to my knowledge.
Todd pressed him to elaborate.
CHUCK TODD: If [evidence of collusion] existed, it would have been in this report?
JAMES CLAPPER: This could have unfolded or become available in the time since I left the government.
This is the former Director of National Intelligence telling all of us that as of 12:01 a.m. on January 20th, when he left government, the intelligence agencies had no evidence of collusion between Donald Trump's campaign and the government of Vladimir Putin's Russia.
Virtually all of the explosive breaking news stories on the Trump-Russia front dating back months contain some version of this same disclaimer.
There is a lot of smoke in the Russia story. The most damning item is General Michael Flynn having improper discussions with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak prior to taking office. There is the much-discussed Republican platform change with regard to American assistance to Ukranian rebels, and the unreported contacts between officials like Jeff Sessions (and even Trump himself now) with Kislyak.
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WNU Editor: When an uber-left wing publication like the Rolling Stone posts a story on its concerns that the media may have gone too far in their reporting on the President Trump-Russian story .... that contradictions in the main stream media's reporting on President Trump and this Russian story are now becoming evident .... I say it is about time. President Trump's tweet on President Obama's administration "wire-tapping" his communications is a bombshell that is hanging out there .... and it has definitely changed the reporting and coverage of President Trump. And while many in the media, Democrat party, and his Republican critics are demanding that President Trump provide evidence .... he is probably laughing to himself and saying why should he .... the media and his critics have been making the case for him that he and his team have been under surveillance as outlined by the media's constant reporting of communication leaks from the Trump team since the election .... New York Times Says Trump Had ‘No Evidence’ of Wiretaps, but Just Look at Its Own Stories on the Matter (Independent Journal Review). And while the media narrative has now shifted to the line that these communications were intercepted because the source was Russian .... the sheer volume of these leaks, and the laser focus of these leaks being on the Trump team .... doubts are emerging with uncomfortable questions now being raised .... especially on the big question which is .... "did the Obama administration run a surveillance op on Trump and his team"?
But there is now an even bigger worry/concern among the media, Democrats, and Trump's opponents within the Republican Party ... and that is what comes next. Expectations have been built up in the past few months that President Trump's collusion with the Russians, the Russians hacking of the election, etc.. .... all of this will lead to the end of the Trump Presidency. But .... what happens if there is nothing there? Hmmmm .... I say that there is nothing there .... because if there was it would have all been exposed months ago and Trump will be doing something else right now. My prediction .... the Democrat base who have been banking on this are not going to be happy when this story finally blows over .... in fact .... I would not be surprised if they become furious. And for the media .... talk about your credibility being blown ....that in the future when there is a real scandal .... who would believe them. They have already lost their credibility after the last election on how they do poll numbers .... their news coverage on Trump will be next (if not already there).
As to what do I want .... I think now is a good time to break precedent. Reports are saying that two FISA warrants were issued on President Trump's team .... one was refused and one was accepted .... if true now is the time to make them public .... and to find out who demanded it and for what reasons. But I suspect that such a disclosure is not going to happen soon because the pressure will not be there .... especially from the media who now prefer covering the dismantling of Obamacare than this story with all of its unknowns. But the truth will come out one day .... when I can only speculate.