Devin Nunes, a Republican, a Trump supporter and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee previously said (and continues to say) that he doesn’t see any evidence that Trump Tower was wiretapped by the Obama Administration. There appears to be unanimity on that point, taken very literally. But now, according to Nunes, new evidence has surfaced indicating that on numerous occasions, personal communications of U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition were indeed intercepted by U.S. intelligence. Moreover, the information apparently had little or no foreign policy value, and was unrelated to the Russia investigation. Not only that, according to Nunes it seems that details about the individuals caught up in this net were widely distributed to players in the intelligence “community.”
Prior to the delivery of Nunes’s bombshell, James Comey had testified before the House Intelligence Committee the day before. In that testimony, Comey said that the FBI “was investigating the nature of the links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts”. A major focus of the hearing was on whether there was evidence that the prior Administration had “wiretapped” Trump during the campaign, a charge made several weeks ago by His Excellency. On Twitter of course. Under questioning Comey said “I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI.”
Up until Nunes press conference, with the Comey testimony in hand, the story line peddled by the “Resistance” was (1) that there is no possibility that Trump and Co. were subjected to surveillance by “the intelligence community” and (2) the Trump campaign colluded with Vladimir Putin to swing the election.
Let’s unpack all this. It is perfectly obvious that Comey’s statement is about as meaningless as it gets. And that is being charitable. Comey says he has no information that supports Trump’s Tweets after looking carefully inside the FBI. Big Deal. Suppose the information is at the NSA or the CIA? Or suppose a rogue agent somewhere decided to conduct surveillance of Trump and Co. but decided not to write a memo about it and send it to the New York Times? And how did the “intelligence community” get the information that sunk Mike Flynn, anyway?
Leave all that aside for now. Comey testified that the FBI was conducting what amounts to a counter-intelligence investigation that included the Trump campaign. How is it even possible for the FBI to run a counter-intelligence investigation of the Trump campaign and not conduct surveillance of said campaign? It is simply beyond belief. And if this is how the FBI manages counter-intelligence activities, we might as well ask the KGB if they’d like to set up an office at the Pentagon.
In the meantime Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has effectively charged Trump and his associates with treason in a way that would make Joe McCarthy proud. According to Politicus USA, Schiff “…laid out all of the important “coincidences” involved in the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia. He asked, “Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes. It is possible, but it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected, and not unrelated, and the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt US persons that they employed in Europe and elsewhere. We simply don’t know, and we owe it to the country to find out.”
Some of Schiff’s performance can be seen below.
There was a time a long ago (pre 1992) when politicians at least pretended to be embarrassed when they got caught telling the inevitable whopper. They also at least hesitated before charging the other side with being a tool of a foreign power, sans evidence. Not anymore. That is exactly what Schiff and Co are doing with lots of innuendo and zero evidence.
When Politics is Everything
We now we have the politicization of just about everything. It is accompanied by a destructive tribalism that leaves no stone unturned. The personal is the political. So political opponents are not merely those with whom you disagree about some issues. They are the enemy and must be crushed at all costs, using any method.
So it becomes OK to lie. Because so many have adopted Nietzsche’s nihilism: there are no facts, only interpretations. Norms of decency and civility are taken as signs of weakness. The institutions of civil society are increasingly under attack by radicals and campus book burners who willingly use violence, and who fear no sanction for doing so.What matters is the will to power.
The irony is that Vladimir Putin didn’t need to meddle in our elections to try to weaken freedom and democracy. Our own pusillanimous politicians are doing that all by themselves.