2016 election, Daniel Coats, Democrats, FBI, Im-Politic, intelligence, intelligence community, James Comey, Mark Warner, Michael S. Rogers, National Security Agency, Russiagate, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Trump
This morning’s Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearings on some of the Russiagate scandal charges preoccupying Washington remind Americans once again how determined most Democrats are to continue what looks like a politically inspired, open-ended fishing expedition.
Don’t get me wrong: Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election (and apparently others before it) is a national security threat of the first order. Stronger official U.S. responses than we’ve gotten so far are essential. Moreover, since any Russian cooperation offered on common problems such as fighting terrorism isn’t an act of charity, and serves Russian interests, such sanctions need not upend such joint efforts.
At the same time, the intelligence community issued the public version of what it’s discovered months ago. It’s fine for Congress to conduct its own probes, but it’s unclear what Capitol Hill will find out about Moscow’s meddling that the CIA etc don’t already know.
In addition, of course it’s essential to know if President Trump or anyone connected with him or his campaign “colluded” with the Russians in this election interference, or if the chief executive and/or associates has tried to impede the executive branch probe of this subject that are underway. It’s also clear that not all the facts are in – or at least publicly divulged.
But I’m more convinced than ever that Democrats generally, for the foreseeable future, aren’t likely to take any official “No’s” for answers having just seen Virginia Senator Mark Warner query National Security Agency chief Admiral Michael S. Rogers and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats on reports that Mr. Trump tried to persuade them, respectively, to deny the existence of any collusion, and to intervene with Trump-fired FBI chief James Comey to “back off” an aspect of the agency’s Russiagate work.
After all, as I’ve written, though the Russiagate uproar has now lasted for months. But although President Trump’s opponents in the intelligence community clearly have absolutely no compunction about leaking the most sensitive national security material to cripple his administration, they’ve produced absolutely nothing in the way of a collusion smoking gun.
Today, Warner directly asked Rogers and Coats to confirm or deny those Trump interference charges – which of course raises the question of whether from now on, taxpayer funds are going to be spent running down every anonymously sourced allegation produced by every organ of the Mainstream Media. But whether you think this is a good use of lawmakers’ time or not, bear in mind how Rogers and Coats answered: Although both refused to disclose the details of any specific conversations they’ve had with the president, both also denied ever in their careers (including this year) having been asked or pressured to do anything improper regarding an investigation in progress.
Warner’s response? (And he’s far from one of the Democratic Party’s Maxine Waters-like yahoos.) “[H]e was ‘disappointed’ with the officials’ answers. He told Rogers the committee had ‘facts’ that other individuals were aware of his conversation with Trump and that a memo had been written about it.” But did Warner then go on to reveal those “facts”? No.
On Thursday of course Comey himself will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In fact, the panel has just released his opening statement. My first read – and the reaction of the Twitterverse, for what it’s worth? No smoking gun confirming obstruction of justice charges – though Comey did describe his view of a key conversation with the president as “very concerning.” No matter. Based on his performance today, I expect Mark Warner and most of the rest of his party to make sure that Russiagate remains the (manufactured) political gift that keeps on giving.