Trump’s opponents, who never gave up hope of finding proof of collusion with Russia to drive him from office, have spun the ambiguous answer he gave to a loaded question at a press conference at his Helsinki summit with Vladimir Putin as proof of the unverified allegations that Trump is a Russian agent. On the basis of Trump’s answer, his critics have accused him of committing treason and have renewed calls for his impeachment.
However, there is no evidence that US policy towards Russia has changed in any meaningful way since the Helsinki summit. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to back up Trump’s claim that his response to Russia’s bad behavior and aggression has been much tougher than that of his predecessor, President Obama.
In an interview last week with CNBC, Trump refused to apologize for being diplomatic in Helsinki about accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election when he was standing next to Putin. Trump repeated the claim he made while he was still running for president, that “Getting along with President Putin, getting along with Russia is a positive, not a negative,” and is a necessity because of the potential threat from Russia’s large nuclear arsenal.
Trump warned that the overheated anti-Russian rhetoric of his political enemies, which has been vigorously promoted in the mainstream media since Helsinki, could threaten national security. “The Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war. They are pushing so recklessly hard, and [they] hate the fact that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin,” Trump warned.
“Now, with that being said,” Trump continued, “if that doesn’t work out, I’ll be the worst enemy he’s ever had. . . I think he [Putin] knows that. I’ll be his worst nightmare. But I don’t think it’ll be that way. I actually think we’ll have a good relationship.”
THE MEDIA WAS HARD ON TRUMP BUT SOFT ON OBAMA
Trump insisted that his ambiguous statement at the press conference received much harsher treatment from the mainstream media than President Obama’s much more incriminating hot mic moment with Putin’s puppet Russian president at the time, Dmitry Medvedev, at a nuclear disarmament summit in Seoul in March 2012. Obama was caught trying to re-assure Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” to meet Russia’s demands after winning re-election in November because he would never have to face US voters again.
Yet the same Democrats and former national security officials who are demanding that Trump be impeached for failing to publicly call Vladimir Putin a liar to his face in Helsinki hardly criticized Obama for promising Medvedev concessions after Obama had won re-election.
In fact, those concessions were delivered. The Obama administration allowed a corrupt Russian government-controlled company to buy up 20% of US uranium ore. He allowed Russia to intervene, along with Iran, in the Syrian civil war, on the side of tyrannical President Bashar Assad, and let Putin shield Assad from promised US retaliation for his war crime of using chemical weapons on Syrian civilians. Obama did nothing to stop Putin’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, and he refused to send arms to enable the legitimate, pro-Western Ukrainian government to defend its territory against Russian-armed militias.
TRUMP WAS TOUGHER ON RUSSIA THAN OBAMA
On the other hand, Trump said, “Look at the sanctions I’ve put on. Look at the [Russian] diplomats I threw out. Look at all of the things that I’ve done. Nobody else did what I’ve done. Obama didn’t do it. Obama was a patsy for Russia. He was a total patsy.”
Unlike Obama, Trump is sending weapons to Ukraine to help it defend its sovereign territory against Russian aggression. Trump has twice launched air strikes against Putin’s ally Assad for his use of chemical weapons, and US diplomats have condemned Russian air strikes on civilian targets in Syria.
Trump is also confronting Putin militarily. On the eve of the Helsinki summit, Trump stepped up his pressure on NATO allies to fulfill their commitment to spend more money to maintain their militaries in response to new signs of Russia’s aggression in Eastern Europe. In the energy marketplace, Trump announced that the US will be competing with Russia as a supplier of natural gas throughout Europe. He publicly criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel for approving a new pipeline which will make her country even more reliant on Russian natural gas.
Since the summit, Trump has walked back his ambiguous statement there, declaring that he accepts the conclusion of the US intelligence community that the Russians interfered with the 2016 election and might do so again. Nevertheless, reporters have continued to try to trip him up on the issue, while ignoring his repeated statements publicly recognizing that the Russians interfered with the election.
WHY TRUMP AVOIDS THE SUBJECT OF RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE
There are good reasons why Trump has been reluctant to talk about Russian interference. Ever since the existence of the Russian collusion investigation and the Steele dossier was made public in January 2017 by a leak to the media by Obama’s top national security officials, the mainstream media has consistently conflated the solid evidence of Russian interference with the still unproven accusations that Trump or members of his campaign colluded with the Russian effort. Trump has always feared that his acceptance of Russian interference as a fact would be used by his opponents to taint the legitimacy of his 2016 electoral victory over Hillary Clinton and to keep alive the suspicion that he or his campaign colluded in that effort.
That fear was confirmed by the findings of the most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC national poll taken last week. It found that even though Trump’s job approval rating hit 45%, a new high for that survey, 30% of Americans who believe that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election also said they believe that Trump would not have won without Russian help. However, despite the great media hullabaloo over Trump’s remarks in Helsinki, the pollsters did not find a significant difference between the answers given by those who were surveyed before the Helsinki summit compared to those who were surveyed after it.
Despite claims to the contrary by Mrs. Clinton and her supporters, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said on July 13 that the indictment by the Mueller investigation of 12 Russian military hackers for interference with the 2016 presidential election contains “no allegation that the conspiracy altered the vote count or changed any election result.” Furthermore, Rosenstein said that even though the Russians “corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet. . . there is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime.”
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RECENT INDICTMENT
The indictment raises a number of interesting questions. The first is why Mueller indicted them at all, because it is clear that Russia will never hand the 12 over to stand trial in an American courtroom. That is why former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, writing in the National Review, called the indictment “a strictly political document by which the special counsel seeks to justify the existence of his superfluous investigation.”
Instead of keeping the case within the jurisdiction of his special counsel team, Mueller turned it over to the National Security Division of the Justice Department, which does not try criminal cases. If Mueller had been serious about bringing any of the 12 Russians to trial, he would have kept their indictment secret, and tried to nab them if they left Russia to visit a country which has an extradition treaty with the US.
But that was probably never his intention. Mueller understands that Trump’s political enemies who demanded his appointment have grown impatient at his failure to produce the expected evidence that Trump or members of his campaign knowingly assisted the Russians. Mueller has fulfilled the first part of that mandate with the July 13 indictment and an earlier indictment of the Russian team in St. Petersburg, which conducted an active social media campaign mostly directed against Mrs. Clinton. However, from the point of view of Trump’s critics, Mueller has failed to fulfill the second part of his mandate, finding evidence of collusion sufficient to create a legal pretext for Trump’s impeachment.
Some of the president’s supporters said that by releasing the indictment a few days before the Helsinki summit, Mueller was hoping to put pressure on Trump to confront Putin publicly over the Russian interference with the election. That would have restored the tarnished credibility of the Mueller investigation while forcing Trump to cast doubt on the legitimacy of his election by confirming that Russia interceded on his behalf.
According to radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, Trump anticipated that the media would try to corner him on the Russian interference question in Helsinki. That is why he refused give the reporters a straight answer to their question about Russian meddling, and tried to redirect attention towards Mrs. Clinton, the Democrats, and their own computer shenanigans both before and during the 2016 campaign.
WAS TRUMP’S HELSINKI ANSWER TREASON OR DIPLOMACY?
The answer enabled Trump to avoid being forced to concede that he won the presidency with Russian help. His critics responded by calling Trump’s refusal to call Putin a liar to his face an act of treason rather than a necessary gesture for the success of his summit diplomacy.
Trump treated Putin in Helsinki in much the same way that he treated North Korean leader Kim Jung Il at their summit in Singapore last month. Trump heaped praise on Kim and publicly took him at his word despite North Korea’s long record of diplomatic treachery. Trump was more interested in establishing a friendly basis for negotiations with North Korea rather than trying to score political points with the Washington foreign policy establishment by publicly criticizing his adversary.
Trump has been criticized by that establishment for coming back from Singapore with largely symbolic rather than substantive concessions from the North Koreans. He answers his critics by pointing to the continuing negotiations with the North Koreans being conducted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the obvious fact that this is a much preferable state of affairs than previously, when the US and North Korea were exchanging nuclear threats.
Trump has adopted much the same approach in dealing with Putin. We still don’t know exactly what he said to Putin during their two-hour private conversation in Helsinki, but there is no reason to believe the accusation that Trump sold out vital US interests to Putin. In his post-Helsinki statements, Trump has declared for the first time his trust in the current leadership of the US intelligence establishment, while at the same time continuing US policy towards Russia, including the sanctions.
Trump’s invitation to Putin to visit the White House is also in line with the long tradition of personal presidential diplomacy with the Russians, even during periods of high tension during the Cold War.
DID TRUMP’S ENEMIES OVERREACT OUT OF PANIC?
Limbaugh says that the failure of the latest Mueller indictment to include any evidence of Trump collusion, and its conclusion that the Russian meddling did not influence the outcome of the election, caused Trump’s enemies to panic. For the past two years, they had believed that “smoking gun” evidence of Trump’s collusion with the Russians would inevitably be exposed.
“From CNN to the New York Times to the Washington Post, they all expected and they all invested their last great hope on Robert Mueller,” Limbaugh said. “Mueller and his team of anti-Trump investigators are certainly gonna find the evidence that the Russians had colluded [with the Trump camp]. Mueller was gonna find somewhere, somebody to say that they knew that the Russians wanted Trump to win and did everything they could to hurt Hillary. But that’s not in his indictment.
“Rosenstein made the exclamation point by pointing out [that] no Americans [were] involved, not a single vote was affected, and the outcome of not a single election was changed by virtue of [the Russian hacking].
“Well, you talk about letting the air out of a balloon? …And then, to add insult to injury, Mueller washes his hands of the case, and he transfers it to the Department of Justice to a division where cases are sent to die.”
One would have expected that if Mueller did have any evidence that the Trump campaign participated in the Russian hacking or the release of the stolen DNC emails through Wikileaks, the announcement of this indictment would have included some mention of it. Instead, it did just the opposite, declaring that there was no evidence that any American was aware of the Russian plot or knowingly cooperated with it.
DOES THE MUELLER INVESTIGATION HAVE A FUTURE?
It is also not clear where the Mueller investigation will go from here. Some legal observers believe that the indictment of the Russian hackers is the climax of his investigation, and that he has transferred this case and the investigation of Trump’s former “fixer,” attorney Michael Cohen to other parts of the Justice Department because the collusion portion of his investigation is about to shut down for lack of sufficient evidence.
The other part of Mueller’s original mandate was to determine whether Trump was trying to obstruct justice when he fired FBI Director James Comey, or when he asked Comey to be sympathetic in the investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. But since Comey’s firing, his own actions and statements, and the accusations in the report of the Department of Justice Inspector General, have undermined his credibility as a witness against Trump.
For a long time, Comey insisted that he has been politically neutral, and that he was not trying to sway the outcome of the 2016 election by his unprecedented handling of the Clinton email investigation. Comey’s self-righteous attempts to justify his actions while he was FBI director and after he was fired have left him hated and distrusted by Republicans and Democrats alike. Now that Comey has issued a public call to vote against every Republican running in the November midterm election, any remaining doubts about his partisanship have been put to rest.
From a legal point of view, Comey is a tainted witness. Mueller’s only way to make a case for obstruction of justice against Trump is if the president agrees to be interviewed and trips up by telling Mueller something he can prove is untrue. But Trump’s legal team, led by former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is well aware of the danger, and seems determined to prevent Trump from walking into the “perjury trap” that Mueller has prepared for him.
Mueller still has a handful of potential Trump-related witnesses who are on the hook for alleged “process” crimes unrelated to the core accusation that Trump or members of his campaign colluded with the Russians.
Mueller tricked Michael Flynn into pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators, even though Peter Strzok and the other FBI agent who interviewed Flynn said at the time that they thought he was telling them what he believed to be the truth. In any event, Mueller’s efforts to pressure Flynn into giving him incriminating evidence against Trump probably would not have worked. Otherwise we would have certainly heard about it by now through media leaks.
The same is true of Mueller’s efforts to exert extreme pressure on former Trump campaign director Paul Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates. They are in legal trouble over shady financial dealings with a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, but that federal investigation started years before Manafort and Gates joined the Trump campaign in March 2016. Mueller’s decision last month to cancel Manafort’s bail and put him in solitary confinement, allegedly for his own safety, is further indication that Manafort has not yet come forward with the incriminating testimony against Trump that Mueller wants.
WHY DID MUELLER GIVE AWAY THE COHEN CASE?
An even more telling move was Mueller’s decision in April to transfer the investigation of Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to the jurisdiction of prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. Legal experts say that Mueller would not have done so if he had any evidence to corroborate the allegations in the Steele dossier that Cohen went to Europe to hold secret talks with Russian officials in August 2016.
According to the dossier, Cohen and the Russians discussed “how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers who had worked in Europe under Kremlin direction against the Clinton campaign and various contingencies for covering up these operations and Moscow’s secret liaison with the Trump team more generally.”
If Mueller did have any evidence to indicate that Cohen held such a meeting with the Russians, we could be sure it would have instantly become the focus of Mueller’s collusion investigation, and he would not have handed the Cohen investigation over to anyone else. Cohen did help cover up some embarrassing matters in which Trump was involved before he ran for president, but it would appear that none of them had anything to do with Russian interference with the 2016 campaign.
In addition, Mueller has had nothing to do with another election-related case in which a Russian agent named Maria Butina was said to have “illegally funneled money [from a Russian banker] to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency,” according to a news report. That would appear to be a case that was within Mueller’s jurisdiction, except for the lack of one crucial element: evidence that anyone in the Trump campaign knew about the ultimate source of the money at the time.
All of these considerations would seem to support the theory that the Mueller investigation has petered out. That would explain why Trump’s enemies were so eager to find any excuse to criticize his handling of the Helsinki summit with Putin.
Unfortunately, Trump’s efforts to avoid a hostile confrontation with Putin at the summit played into the hands of his political enemies. It enabled the media to distort Trump’s clumsy answer to a reporter’s question in Helsinki and revive speculation that the Russian leader may have something on Trump that puts him under Putin’s control.
BACK TO THE STEELE DOSSIER
That allegation originated with the Steele dossier. It seemed so fantastic during the 2016 campaign that no respectable news organization dared to publish it.
But after almost two years of hyping every outrageous accusation imaginable to discredit Trump, his political enemies and mainstream media organizations no longer care about the credibility of the charges they are hurling against the president.
According to Limbaugh, the media outcome of the Helsinki news conference was predetermined. “No matter what had happened in that press conference, they were going to have. . . this kind of genuinely embarrassing, over-the-top, deranged reaction to something. . .”
WHAT TRUMP’S OPPONENTS HAVE LOST
“They are acting like they have lost everything in the world that matters to them — and I think they have,” Limbaugh explained. Their goal was, “getting Donald Trump, maneuvering and engineering Donald Trump out of office, finding a way to reestablish themselves as the people running this country. [But] it didn’t pan out the way they thought it was.
“Donald Trump is still there. He’s still mocking them. He’s still characterizing them accurately, laughing at them. Donald Trump does not act afraid of them or intimidated by them,” Limbaugh said.
Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan had to go back 60 years to find a comparable situation. “Not since Robert Welch of the John Birch Society called Dwight Eisenhower a ‘conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy,’ have such charges been hurled at a president. But while the Birchers were a bit outside the mainstream, today it is the establishment itself bawling ‘Treason!’” Buchanan noted.
Trump’s many critics have been competing with one another in the mainstream media to find the most provocative accusation to hurl at the president. In order to justify the use of the hyperbole, they have exaggerated the seriousness of the Russian hacking, even though according to Mueller and Rosenstein, it had no impact at all on the outcome of the 2016 election.
COMPARISONS TO PEARL HARBOR AND 9/11
Nevertheless, Politico ran a feature story last week which declared “Putin’s Attack on the US Is Our Pearl Harbor.” The article compared the hacking of the DNC’s computers to the Japanese surprise attack which nearly wiped out the Navy’s Pacific fleet and launched the US into World War II. It also compared the Russian hacking to the 9/11 attack that brought down the World Trade Center which, like the Pearl Harbor attack, killed over 2,000 Americans.
The article, which was written by retired US Army General Mark Hertling and Molly K. McKew, a registered agent of the government of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, demanded that Trump literally lead the US into a punitive war against Russia, regardless of the risk that would entail. “This is our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11. In the past, we have risen to the defense of our values, our ideologies and our institutions. It’s time for another fight.”
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated sentiment. MSNBC legal expert Jill Wine-Banks claimed that the Helsinki summit news conference “will live in infamy as much as the Pearl Harbor attack or Kristallnacht.” She also compared it to the “Cuban missile crisis in terms of an attack, or the 9/11 attack.”
Tennessee Democrat Congressman Steve Cohen asked, “Where are our military, folks? The Commander in Chief is in the hands of our enemy!”
A front-page story by USA Today labeled Trump an “infamous traitor.” Other liberal columnists compared Trump to Benedict Arnold or the notorious Norwegian Nazi collaborator. Vidkun Quisling.
The Daily News ran an editorial cartoon on its front page depicting Trump with Vladimir Putin, with Trump shooting Uncle Sam in the head.
During the three nights following the Helsinki news conference, CNN devoted 87% of its coverage, more than seven hours of air time, to stories accusing Trump of betraying his country. Network commentators and hosts struggled to find more inflammatory language to use against the president.
CNN and MSNBC reached out to noted presidential historians to join in to help legitimize the festival of Trump bashing. Douglas Brinkley said “the spirit of what Trump did is clearly treasonous,” while Jon Meacham agreed that Trump’s connection to Russia meets the definition of “the first word of the impeachment article in the Constitution, which is ‘treason.’”
TRUMP WAS TRIED BY MEDIA ORDEAL
CNN host Fareed Zakaria told his audience, “I feel like treasonous is too weak a word, because the whole thing has taken on an air of such unreality.” Perhaps it seemed unreal, because Trump was being accused, tried and convicted of treason or worse in the mainstream media, entirely on the basis of his brief, poorly-worded answer to a reporter’s question, which he tried to walk back a day later.
But nobody was listening. As Limbaugh pointed out, Trump’s accusers had made up their minds to oust him from the White House the moment they realized he had won the White House, fair and square, from Hillary Clinton. They were determined to do whatever it took. Once they realized that Mueller had failed in that mission, they were ready to use the flimsiest excuse to justify their efforts to upend the US Constitution by ousting a duly elected president.
Former CNBC business columnist and Trump supporter Steve Cortes pointed out that following the Helsinki press conference, many of Trump’s opponents made the leap from claiming that “Trump is too soft on Russia” to “Trump is a compromised Russian agent,” based upon the flimsiest of evidence.
One of the few Trump critics willing to talk openly about what they really wanted was MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle. He said, “[Let’s] rewrite the Constitution and have another president take over right now.”
WHAT FED THE HYSTERIA?
How did the anti-Trump hysteria reach this high a level? The rhetoric has been growing more heated as Trump’s opponents have become more frustrated at Mueller’s failure to find sufficient evidence to justify his impeachment, as well as the success of his domestic and foreign policies, which is now being reflected in Trump’s improving job approval ratings.
The harshest criticisms have not only come from Democrats, but also the from elite Republican “never-Trumpers.” They are growing increasingly desperate to regain control of the party from the growing legions of loyal Trump supporters who now make up almost 90% of the GOP voter base.
Trump’s critics began to abandon the rules of civilized political discourse last month, when mainstream Democrat party leaders waited too long to condemn the call by Congresswoman Maxine Waters to harass Trump supporters in public places because of their political beliefs. This fact that so many Democrats were willing to tolerate this open assault on the fundamental freedom of Americans to follow their beliefs was a much greater threat to our democracy than any of the Trump policies which they condemned.
The mainstream media was also willing to accept the outrageous accusations that the policy of separating children from their parents who were being detained for breaking the law was comparable to FDR’s forced relocation of Japanese-Americans to internment camps during World War II, or what the Nazis did at Auschwitz.
TRUMP’S CRITICS WON’T TAKE “YES” FOR AN ANSWER
It didn’t make any difference to the protesters when Trump suspended the offending “zero tolerance” policy for those crossing the border illegally and agreed to order the federal agencies involved to reunite the previously separated families. It was another example of the refusal by die-hard Trump critics to accept “yes” as his answer when he agrees to change his policies in response to their objections.
Many people don’t understand what Trump’s policies really represent because of the distorted reporting in the mainstream media. His opponents have become even more frustrated because his policies are succeeding in leading to a level of economic growth and prosperity that this country hasn’t seen in decades.
Most Americans who are not politically obsessed do appreciate the new economic opportunities that Trump’s policies have created. This only drives his opponents to even greater extremes in trying to discredit him. Some veteran Democrat party leaders fear that the obsessive efforts by Trump’s enemies to bring him down are discrediting them far more than they are damaging Trump.
While many uncommitted voters may not like Trump as a person, the latest polls show they are growing steadily more appreciative of what he has accomplished for the country since he took office. This has dampened the once high expectations by Democrats of a “blue wave” that would give them back majority control of the House in the November midterms, which is crucial to their strategy for blocking Trump’s policies over the next two years.
Most Democrat party leaders also understand that the socialist policies promoted by the activist followers of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are far too radical and impractical for most mainstream voters to accept. Because moderate Democrats have refused to cooperate with Trump and Republican leaders to make government policy, they have no accomplishments to show for the past two years. Their only strategy going into the midterms is to continue using any excuse to attack the president, and the hope that they will find one that resonates with mainstream voters.
WHY TRUMP HAS DRIVEN THE ELITES CRAZY
According to Pat Buchanan, “America’s elites have been driven over the edge by Trump’s successes and their failure to block him. Trump is deregulating the economy, cutting taxes, appointing record numbers of federal judges, reshaping the Supreme Court, and using tariffs to cut trade deficits and the bully pulpit to castigate freeloading allies.
“Worst of all, Trump clearly intends to carry out his campaign pledge to improve relations with Russia and get along with Vladimir Putin. . .
“The post-Helsinki hysteria reveals not merely the mindset of the president’s enemies, but the depth of their determination to destroy him. They intend to break Trump and bring him down, to see him impeached, removed, indicted and prosecuted, and the agenda on which he ran and was nominated and elected, dumped onto the ash heap of history.”
Many of Trump’s most outspoken critics are former members of the Obama administration who have their own ulterior motives for wanting to destroy him. Many were deeply involved in a broad conspiracy whose outlines we are only now beginning to see, whose goal was to guarantee that Hillary Clinton would win the 2016 election, whatever it took.
While the Russian hacking was a dastardly attack on American system of government, it did reveal the corruption of the Clinton supporters who ran the Democrat party.
BRENNAN’S ANTI-TRUMP CONSPIRACY
But there was another plot to fix the outcome of the election within the Obama administration which was largely hidden from view at the time. Its goal was to destroy Trump’s reputation by accusing him of colluding with the Russians. The plot was led by John Brennan, Obama’s CIA chief, and included the heads and leading figures of several other US intelligence agencies.
According to a May article by George Neumayr in the American Spectator, under Brennan, the CIA began doing opposition research against Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign as early as April 2016, when it became clear that Trump would win the GOP nomination.
According to British press reports, Brennan began by asking US “intelligence partners” across Europe for compromising information on Trump, but the only thing they could produce were sketchy reports of “contacts” between low level members of the Trump campaign and Russians. The information was far too unreliable at the time for Brennan to use to open an official CIA investigation, but Brennan was already fueled by a hatred for Trump and his policies, and he had little trouble rounding up a few friends in the European intelligence agencies, particularly in Britain, to launch their own unofficial counterintelligence probe aimed at uncovering more dirt against Trump.
Brennan knew it was against CIA rules to launch a private investigation against Trump while he was campaigning for president. Brennan had another motive for opposing Trump and supporting Clinton. He had high hopes that Clinton would rename him as the head of the CIA when she became president.
Between April and July 2016, Brennan’s European spying operation was expanded to include members of the US intelligence community, who began meeting regularly at Brennan’s CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
During that period, Brennan would inject the findings of his group into the personal briefings he was giving Obama. Brennan told Obama it was information on “Russian interference,” when in fact it was just spying on the Trump campaign.
THE STRZOK CONNECTION
At this point in the story, other familiar names begin to appear. Peter Strzok served as the FBI’s official liaison man with Brennan at CIA. There wasn’t much evidence yet of any Trump-Russian collusion. Strzok was skeptical that the investigation would bear any fruit, as he mentioned in one of his messages to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who shared Strzok’s hatred for Trump and admiration for Hillary Clinton.
Brennan laid the foundation for the FBI probe into allegations of Trump collusion with the Russians, initiated by Peter Strzok in July 2016. To provide a reasonable cover for the blatantly partisan investigation, Brennan offered the post-9/11 rationale which called for greater interagency cooperation. Brennan asked FBI Director James Comey and NSA head Admiral Mike Rogers to send their top experts to the group meetings at Langley to review the intelligence and figure out the full scope of the Russian operation, when in fact, they concentrated entirely on Russian contacts with the Trump campaign.
The group didn’t find much evidence, but Brennan knew that just the existence of a counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign could cause trouble for Trump during the last days of the campaign. That is why he leaked its existence to Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid and urged him to write a public letter to Comey asking him about the probe into the Trump campaign.
BRENNAN WAS ALSO AFTER MICHAEL FLYNN
In addition to going after Trump, Brennan was determined to discredit Michael Flynn, then one of Trump’s closest advisors, because of Flynn’s strong opposition to Obama’s policy of outreach to the Muslim world. Brennan was an admirer of Islam and a strong supporter of Obama’s outreach initiative.
Flynn believed that he was alone in the Obama administration in his belief that the US was more at risk from Islamic terrorism in 2014 than it had been prior to the 9/11 attack. Because of that attitude, Brennan supported Flynn’s ouster by Obama as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014.
The depth of Brennan’s deep hatred for Trump has long been apparent in the former CIA director’s outspoken attacks on the president. After the news conference in Helsinki, Brennan called Trump an imbecile and a traitor, asking, “Republican patriots, where are you?”
CLAPPER AND COMEY WERE PART OF THE CONSPIRACY
James Clapper, Obama’s former director of national intelligence, said on CNN that Putin must be blackmailing Trump. “After the Helsinki performance … I really do wonder whether the Russians have something on him,” Clapper said.
Clapper’s own credibility has been deeply suspect since he lied to Congress by insisting that the NSA was not collecting data on American citizens. Clapper’s lie was exposed in 2013 by Edward Snowden, who stole thousands of classified NSA documents which were eventually published by The Guardian, The Washington Post, Der Spiegel and the New York Times.
Jim Comey was quick to join with Brennan and Clapper in condemning Trump, and blamed Republicans in Congress for ignoring their constitutional duty to “counteract [Trump’s] ambition.” He then added that, “All who believe in this country’s values must vote for Democrats this fall.”
These three were the top leaders of the US intelligence community who plotted together and separately to help Hillary Clinton get elected and find damaging material to use against Donald Trump. They are no longer in government service, but many of their subordinates who participated in their plot are still in place, working under Trump appointees heading their agencies. It’s no wonder that Trump has been reluctant to accept the agencies’ current intelligence findings at face value, even if he does trust the men like Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, whom he appointed.
TRUMP VS. THE DEEP STATE – THE BATTLE HAS JUST BEGUN
But this is not the only reason why members of the “Deep State” bureaucracy hate Trump. He came to Washington to “clean out the swamp” and to challenge their old way of thinking about national security, foreign policy, the role of NATO in Europe, and America’s leadership role in the world. Many of these old policies from the Cold War era have grown obsolete, and no longer fit the post 9/11 realities.
In the same way, Trump is seeking to revise the ground rules for domestic economic policies and international trade and he is willing to stand up to opposition from the entrenched interests who have long benefitted from the status quo.
American power and influence have been waning for decades. Trump has realized that these policies must be changed to restore American leadership, and he is willing to fight to achieve his goals. On the other hand, the members of the Deep State have devoted their careers to defending and preserving their way of thinking. The sharp battle over Russian meddling and collusion is just the first round in a longer war over the policies which will shape the future of this country for decades to come.
The titanic clash between Trump’s drive to develop new American approaches for the needs of the 21st century and the Deep State’s determination to maintain the policy status quo, along with its power and privilege in Washington, is just beginning.