June 11, 2017

Political Arson: Creating Smoke

by Hal Gershowitz

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Of Thee I Sing Heading AuthorsYes, unequivocally, we strongly believe that any American, especially politicians, guilty of colluding with the Russians to affect our electoral process should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Now, having said that, let’s differentiate between those who seek truth and only truth, and those who practice to insinuate and sow fear and doubt. We are not fans of this Administration, and we have not been sparing of our criticism, but we hope the allegations of collusion and other inferences of high crimes and misdemeanors are wrong and that President Trump and his team wind up doing good rather than ill. Who would wish otherwise?  Well, quite a few people, it seems.

It is pretty evident to us that no law enforcement or intelligence agency, including the FBI, has found any evidence suggesting that President Trump was, or should be, investigated for colluding with the Russians. And it certainly hasn’t been for lack of trying. The never-Trump press and the never-Trump Resistance, however, are full-throated and hyper-caffeinated in their determination to create enough smoke to keep the Administration off balance and devoid of accomplishment until the 2018 mid-term elections. That, in great measure, is what the incessant all-the-way-everyday accusatory drumbeat in so much of the press and among so many politicians on Capitol Hill is all about.

It seems that much of the press reporting, on both the right and the left, is all about pressing a particular narrative—the actual news and the truth be damned.  Here’s our assessment of the much awaited Comey hearing—the hearing the press dubbed the Super Bowl of news: (1) We learned that President Trump can be the Oval-Office oaf we thought he was. He “wished” Comey could see his way to letting go of the Flynn investigation, which is no crime. In fact, had he ordered Comey to end the investigation that would not have been a crime either unless it could be proved that he wanted to end the investigation to cover up a crime (which is, of course, what the Never-Trump crowd is inferring). (2) We also learned that, according to Comey, President Trump asked for his loyalty. That isn’t a crime either unless loyalty to Trump required disloyalty to America.

Last month John Dickerson, CBS News anchor, and host of Face the Nation, inquired of Robert Gates, who served both Democratic and Republican administrations with distinction, “In the reporting about the F.B.I. director, there was a report that the president asked him for his loyalty. Help people understand the line between duty, loyalty, and personal conscience.” Gates replied, “I think in the context of senior government positions, I think an anecdote of what I told President-Elect Obama when we had our first meeting. And I said, ‘You don’t know me. Can you trust me? Why do you think you can trust me?’ and so on. But at the end, I said, ‘You can count on me to be loyal to you. I will not leak. I will keep my disagreements with you private. And if I cannot be loyal, I’ll leave.”

We also learned from Comey, that the news coverage of the investigations into Trump Administration collusion was often, well, lousy. When asked, under oath, about a sensational New York Times story that stated that “phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials,” former FBI Director James Comey testified under oath, “In the main, it was not true.”

So, we’ve coined a new inside-the-beltway term—Political Arson, creating smoke in the absence of fire.

Let’s review: Senator Joe Manchin (D- W. Va.) On “Face The Nation” JOHN DICKERSON: “Have you seen anything that suggests any collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.” SEN. MANCHIN: “Well, there is an awful lot of smoke there, let’s put it that way, people who may have said they were involved, to what extent they were involved, to what extent the president may have known about these people there is nothing there from that standpoint that we see directly linking our president to any of that.”

Dianne Feinstein, (D-Cal) Senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: BLITZER: “The last time we spoke, Senator, I asked you if you had actually seen evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and you said to me — and I am quoting you now — you said, ‘not at this time.’ Has anything changed since we spoke last?” SEN. FEINSTEIN: “Well, no — no, it hasn’t. …” BLITZER: “But, I just want to be precise, Senator. In all of the — you have had access from the Intelligence Committee, from the Judiciary Committee, all of the access you have had to very sensitive information, so far you have not seen any evidence of collusion, is that right?” SEN. FEINSTEIN: “Well, evidence that would establish that there’s collusion. There are all kinds of rumors around, there are newspaper stories, but that’s not necessarily evidence.”

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) with Fox’s Chris Wallace March 5th 2017:  CHRIS WALLACE: “Why would you suggest in that clip that I just played for Senator Cotton that there are FBI transcripts that show, and I want to get your words, “provide very critical insights” in the collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians?” SENATOR COONS: “What I was trying to make clear, Chris, and I appreciate a chance to restate this, is that I don’t have, and I don’t know of, any conclusive proof one way or the other about whether there was collusion between senior levels of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.”

Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell, on NBC News: Michael Morell, who endorsed Hillary Clinton, cast doubt on allegations that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Morell, who was in line to become CIA director if Clinton won, said he had seen no evidence that Trump associates cooperated with Russians. He also raised questions about the dossier written by a former British intelligence officer, which alleged a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. Morell stated, “There is no serious evidence showing Trump/Russia connections.On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians here, there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all,’ Morell said at an event sponsored by the Cipher Brief, an intelligence website. ‘There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”

Former Director Of National Intelligence James Clapper Said, “There Was No Evidence Whatsoever… Of Collusion Between The Trump Campaign And The Russians. “Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told ABC News he did not see anything to suggest that Russia successfully infiltrated Donald Trump’s presidential campaign or recruited any of Trump’s advisers – at least as of the time Clapper left office. “There was no evidence whatsoever, at the time, of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians,” Clapper, a retired three-star general and career intelligence officer, told ABC News’ Brian Ross in an interview for World News Tonight.

On March 5, When Asked If There Were “Definitively” Improper Contacts Between The Trump Campaign And Russia, Clapper Responded “Not To My Knowledge… At The Time, We Had No Evidence Of Collusion.” MSNBC’S CHUCK TODD: “That’s an important revelation at this point. Let me ask you this, does intelligence exist that can definitively answer the following question, whether there were improper contacts between the Russia campaign or intelligence officials.” JAMES CLAPPER: “…there no evidence of that in our report. “TODD: “I understand that, but does it exist?” CLAPPER: “Not to my knowledge.” TODD: “If it existed it would have been in the report?” CLAPPER: “This could have unfolded or become available in the time since I left the government. At the time, we had no evidence of collusion.” (MSNBC’s “Meet The Press.” When Asked To Clarify, Clapper Said “That’s Correct” When Asked If There Is No Proof Of Collusion. TODD: “What’s not proven is the idea of collusion?” CLAPPER: “That’s correct.”

We learn in science that where there’s smoke there’s generally fire. In politics, however, it ain’t necessarily so. Not when it’s political arson.

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2 responses to “Political Arson: Creating Smoke”

  1. robert borns says:

    now that the smoke has cleared, democrats and republicans, how about leaving your childlike behavior behind and conducting the peoples business. oh yes, and how about placing yourselves under the same healthcare plan that the american people are subjected to—just to prove that you are not sitting on a royal throne!

  2. Joanne hirschfield says:

    Robert borns. Ditto!

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