The Trump haters say his campaign worked with the Russians to derail Hillary Clinton's chances to be president. That accusation has angered the president and tied up his administration with unwanted controversy. Showing his annoyance the president tweeted over the weekend that he now believes Barack Obama himself ordered phone taps at the Trump Tower.
Now, all hell is breaking loose. Let's look at the facts.
Unfortunately, there are only two facts in this whole swamp of accusations. Only two!
First, the calls between General Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador were tapped by somebody. And a portion of those conversations were given to "The Washington Post."
So, who tapped the call? We don't know.
Second fact. President Obama allowed Attorney General Loretta Lynch to change the way U.S. intelligence agencies share unconfirmed data. That happened in January, just a few days before President Obama left office. It used to be, the intelligence agencies would guard their secrets. Now, the NSA can give them to other agencies, even if the intelligence is not confirmed. The results? Leaks sprouting all over the place! Leaks that are damaging to the Trump administration.
So, why did President Obama change the intel standards? We don't know. But Donald Trump apparently believes it was to sabotage his incoming administration. That's it. That's the only factual information we can give you.
All the rest is blather, opinion, propaganda, speculation.
The entire tawdry mass is based on the Russian hacking, which bedeviled the Clinton campaign. As stated, some anti-Trump people accuse the president and his acolytes of working with the Russians. But Sunday, the former director of National Intelligence under President Obama said he found no evidence of that. Here’s this exchange from “Meet the Press”:
“MEET THE PRESS” HOST, CHUCK TODD: Does intelligence exists that can definitively answer the following question, whether there were improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials?
FORMER DNI JAMES CLAPPER: We did not include any evidence in our report, and I say our, that is NSA, FBI, and CIA, 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 included in our report.
And that report was issued on January 6. Also, a senator investigating the Russian deal said the same thing. Here’s this exchange with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday”:
CHRIS WALLACE, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY” ANCHOR: I know you have been briefed by FBI Director Comey and other members of the intelligence community, investigative community, you have seen no evidence so far of collusion?
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Thus far, I have not. Now, we are still in the relatively early stages for our inquiry and it will be thorough and wide-ranging, we'll follow the facts wherever they take us.
Senator Cotton will be on “The Factor” Tuesday night.
So, any fair-minded person has to acknowledge that there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, at least at this point. Correct?
Now, onto the tapping. In order for that to legally happen, a judge would have to issue a FISA warrant.
Here’s this exchange from Sunday’s “Meet the Press”:
TODD: If the FBI, for instance, had a FISA court order some sort for a surveillance, would that the information you would know or not know?
TODD: You would be told this?
CLAPPER: I would know that.
TODD: If there was a FISA court order or something like this?
CLAPPER: Yes, something like this, absolutely.
TODD: And at this point, you can't confirm or deny whether that exists?
CLAPPER: I can deny it.
That is pretty definitive. President Trump has asked for an investigation into the alleged tapping. We assume that will happen but this whole thing is terrible for the country.
America's credibility is being damaged all over the world. And the federal government's ability to even operate is being impeded.
So, for the good of the country, perhaps we should tamp down the madness a bit.
Let Congress do its job and investigate. Okay?
Adapted from the “Talking Points Memo” on March 6, 2017.