By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (4/27/17)
Dear Fellow Readers,
As the news becomes more confusing by the day, the actual story line becomes clearer. Whatever the veracity of the allegations we are now experiencing Keith Obermann says one thing is becoming clear, It Sure Looks Like a Russian Cover-Up.
As Olbermann points out, Nixon was forced to resign because of the cover-up, not the Watergate break-in. Olbermann cites Carl Bernstein of Watergate investigation fame to note, “the cover-up itself might be impeachable”. With a circle of people firing guns into the center of the circle, someone is going to get hit and there are a lot of people shooting.
Even FOX News gets into the discussion with these remarks by host Shepard Smith:
“The situation is unprecedented,” Smith said. “Never in American history has a man (Michael Flynn) so close to the president, on his cabinet, the national security advisor no less, been accused of committing a crime by taking money from a foreign entity, much less one connected to the Russians.”
If you watch the video stay tuned to the 2-minute mark when Sean Spicer comments.
If you are interested in unfolding Michael Flynn details, here’s a good Politico read that cuts to the chase: Flynn’s Turkish Lobbying Linked to Russia.
While all the Trumpsters are disavowing and being disavowed they are also calling themselves victims. As with all political scandal, that is to be predicted as the fault lines of investigation and cover-up of begin to tighten.
Again, here’s Shepard Smith:
“At the core of all this is the Russians interfered with our elections. General Flynn received money through an entity that was from the Russians. And what they want to know is was there collusion? The White House at least is giving the appearance, according to these congressional leaders, of a lack of cooperation, which could give an overall appearance that they’re trying to cover something up. Why not quit with all the semantic juggling and stuff and get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible?”
If you’re reading this you are certainly paying attention so no need to beat this to death. But also, with no intent to trivialize, in the best spirit of Michael Moore’s encouragement of comedy as a weapon, we’ve earned this – Sean Spicer accuses the Obama administration of being responsible for the hiring and vetting of Michael Flynn. No, really, I kid you not. Sean Spicer Flummoxes Reporters By Claiming White House Not Responsible For Hiring Michael Flynn
Like Trump’s “wires tapped” tweet, or Ted Stevens’ definition of the internet as “a series of tubes”, it’s as if we still live in an analog world. If you want to know who Flynn called you don’t have to put him in a room with a notepad and his calendar, you go to his digital phone log and look at who was called – all the records are easily accessible. Why act as if this is some overwhelming imposition or maybe even impossible?
I don’t see how ‘stupid’ is the best deflection strategy but it does sound much like Olbermann’s comments about “car ran out gas”, “my suit was at the cleaners”. This is what a cover-up looks like.
Will We Get to the Bottom of This?
Let’s jump ahead. Congress is back from recess and House and Senate hearings will be held. There have been some serious accusations based on events to date. On the side of Trump-Russian collaboration we have Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, the committee’s top Democrat, saying Michael Flynn may have broken the law by his failure to disclose payments from companies linked to Russia. As the New York Times notes, The Flynn Story Isn’t Going Away.
Between the two committees expect testimony from James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Admiral Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Comey and Rogers are closed hearings; Brennan, Clapper and Yates are open hearings on May 2. Mark the day on your calendar and hope for fireworks from Yates.
I don’t see an acknowledgement of former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice scheduled to testify – yet. She the focus of the Trumpsters-as-victims for allegedly unmasking/disclosing Trumpster political figures such a Michael Flynn and Carter Page. Again the Trump defense is the old Trumpsters-as-victims without regard to Russian collusion or the possibility of laws having been broken.
But the bigly story here is how the investigation is understaffed. One explanation, here’s a comparison of resources provided for by the Senate, compared to the House Benghazi hearings – it’s 7 part-time staff compared to 46 full-time staff. And early signs are that Republican Chairman Richard Burr prefers to investigate unmasking and leaking (Trumpsters-as-victims) instead of Russian intrusion and Trump collaboration.
Will We Get to the Bottom of Accusations of Collusion?
Maybe, maybe not. This is all well explained and summarized by NPR host Audie Cornish and NPR’s national security correspondent Mary Louise Kelly on this 8-minute audio report.
Kelly’s summary outlook is as follows:
CORNISH: And investigations, plural, right? What’s going on now?
KELLY: The FBI investigation proceeds. We don’t know a lot about it because it’s happening behind closed doors. The House Intelligence Committee, which I had taken to describing as a political bar brawl – we had this whole sideshow, we mentioned, with Devin Nunes – they are showing signs of sobering up. They just put a hearing on the calendar. It’s going to happen May 2. They say they have the head of the FBI and the head of the National Security Agency on tap to come testify.
Meanwhile, on the Senate side, which appeared to be proceeding relatively smoothly, there are signs that they are now floundering. You will hear different explanations for why. But it is clear that there are parallel tracks. Republicans appear to be more interested in investigating the surveillance, wiretapping, political spying charges, and Democrats appear to be more interested in investigating what happened with Russia and the election.
CORNISH: All right, Mary Louise, well, at the beginning of this conversation, we were supposed to understand two unanswered questions; how might Russia have interfered in the election, and what role, if any, did Trump associates play in that alleged interference? It sounds like those are still open questions.
KELLY: Those are still very much live, open questions, and it is safe to say that we are months away, if not longer, from any official accounting of what happened with Russia and the 2016 election and the central mystery of how Russia might have interfered. And how you would prevent something like that from happening again in a future election remains very much a mystery.
CORNISH: That’s NPR’s national security correspondent Mary Louise Kelly. Thanks so much.
So again, this will all take time and it’s not clear what if any answers we’ll get and much of this is based on which question we pursue: Trump-Russian collusion and alleged interference in the US election OR Trumpsters-as-victims. Or coming full circle, maybe Olbermann is right and the focus will shift to Trumpster cover-up.
And just in case you thought it only happened here, this BBC report from France and the first-round elections held this past weekend where Russian Hackers ‘target’ Presidential Candidate Macron.