“… they swung the election to a Trump win.”
— Former DNI James Clapper from “Facts and Fears”
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (5/24/8)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Rachel Maddow interviewed former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in two segments. Clapper has a new book out, “Facts and Fears”. Clapper explains that he wrote the book: “…after experiencing the election, the unprecedented Russian interference in our political process, and the behavior by and impact of the Trump administration.”
Maddow doesn’t sugar coat the history of James Clapper up to and including Clapper leaving the DNI position the day of Trump’s inauguration.
Clapper gets right down to business; here are some key points:
- Putin swung the election in favor of Trump, “they swung the election to a Trump win”
- U.S. intelligence services knew Putin was personally involved by September 2016
- By May 2017, when (former FBI Director) Comey was fired… we’d learned the Russian operation was more expansive than the IC (intelligence community) had assessed
The story subhead summarizes Clapper’s message: Rachel Maddow shares a passage from former DNI James Clapper’s new book, “Facts and Fears,” in which he describes the effect of the massive Russian propaganda campaign in support of Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
Clapper reports that, “Facebook has said Russian content reached 126 million of its American users – an astonishing number, considering that only 139 million Americans voted.” And that is just Facebook, there is much, much more when you toss in YouTube, Russian bots and Twitter.
Many of us have seen examples of the ads, but typically this is out of context. Clapper clarifies that ads on Facebook promoting Black Lives Matters promoting Clinton’s support ran “only on the pages of white conservative voters in swing states…”.
Clapper concludes, “…of course the Russian effort affected the outcome. Surprising even themselves, they swung the election to a Trump win,” noting, “I have no doubt that more votes were influenced (than the 80,000 vote margin in three key states that swung the election) by this massive effort by the Russians.”
There is an interesting part of this clip starting at about the 8:30 mark. Clapper clarifies what he knew when he left office and what he learned subsequently, the Donnie Jr. and Russians meeting in June 2016 at Trump Tower as one example.
The point that we’ll come back to, he learned many things subsequently as the result of media reporting.
Here is the second part of the interview: Clapper: Dossier Was Not Used For Intelligence Assessment Of 2016.
Clapper notes, “By September 2016 we knew Putin was personally involved in the attack.”
Clapper offered a confirmation of multiple U.S. allies that the Steele dossier was not the basis of the investigation. He said, “We briefed Trump, we owed it to him to warn him it was out there” in order to avoid Russian Kompromat.
Trump offered a deal
Clapper called Trump after Trump referred to the Intelligence Community as “Nazis”; Trump thanked Clapper and asked for Clapper to do something for him. “He then asked if I would put out a statement refuting what was in the dossier. The request felt very transactional – that he would play nice if I would do him a favor.” Clapper declined, and of Trump, “he sounded disappointed”.
This is exactly the same as Comey’s comments about his meetings with Trump.
Meanwhile much of the Steele dossier has been corroborated. None of the content has been disproven. Notably even the salacious parts — the existence of the Trump ‘pee tape’ — has not been corroborated.
Let’s follow up with additional perspective based on two comments comments Clapper.
First, compare Clapper’s remarks to the views offered by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen during a briefing following a closed-door House session on election security. This is Nielsen, one of the people who also ‘didn’t hear’ Trump say ‘shithole’ in a previous meeting: DHS Secretary Says She Hasn’t Seen Assessment That Russia Interfered To Help Trump Win.
““I do not believe that I have seen that conclusion,” Nielsen told reporters following a closed-door briefing on election security with members of Congress, though she added that she has “no reason to doubt any intelligence community assessment” in general.”
The Trump cabinet member briefing Congress on election security hasn’t “seen” the U.S. intelligence community’s “specific judgment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump win”. Seriously?
What is wrong with these people? Name a scenario where this looks like she is doing her job?
What bashing the press is really all about
Here’s a second important point of follow-up based on a remark from Clapper: President Trump told Lesley Stahl He Bashes Press ‘to demean you and discredit you so … no one will believe’ negative stories about him.
Stahl made her remarks during a talk on Monday night:
“At one point, he started to attack the press,” Stahl said. “There were no cameras in there.”
“I said, ‘You know, this is getting tired. Why are you doing it over and over? It’s boring and it’s time to end that. You know, you’ve won … why do you keep hammering at this?'” Stahl recalled.
“And he said: ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.'”
Trump tells us he bashes the press to, “discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you”.
We knew that. We are no more shocked by that than we are by Nielsen’s comment that she hadn’t “seen” intel conclusions saying Putin influenced the election in favor of Trump.
There is Trump and there are the people that are willing to give him the unquestioning loyalty he demands. We read critiques of Comey questioning why he didn’t resign if Trump demanded loyalty? As if Comey was the problem, not Trump, not Nielsen, not House Speaker Ryan (R-WI), not Senate Leader McConnell (R-KY), not House Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA). The same as Russpublicans and Trump asking, “why didn’t Obama do something about the meddling?”
Trump lobs a self-serving message, media reports, attention shifts – like watching a tennis match. And people all along the political spectrum follow Trump’s lob and he’s no longer the subject of questions.
Every single day we awake to a handful of fresh reports and allegations of Trump corruption, such as this recent bit of ugliness from the New York Times: Trump Jr. And Other Aides Met With Gulf Emissary Offering Help To Win Election.
“Three months before the 2016 election, a small group gathered at Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son. One was an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. Another was an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes. The third was a Republican donor with a controversial past in the Middle East as a private security contractor.
“The meeting was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team, and it forged relationships between the men and Trump insiders that would develop over the coming months — past the election and well into President Trump’s first year in office, according to several people with knowledge of their encounters.
“Erik Prince, the private security contractor and the former head of Blackwater, arranged the meeting, which took place on Aug. 3, 2016. The emissary, George Nader, told Donald Trump Jr. that the princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president.”
That’s right, another Nader arranged meeting, this time with Kushner and his pay-to-play foreign policy, who as we reported in the last edition, already used a Qatar linked investment to get out from under his $1.4 billion mortgage on his Manhattan property.
“On Monday night, the Associated Press an extensive report detailing the efforts of Elliott Broidy, a top fund-raiser for , and his business partner, Middle East fixer George Nader, to score more than $1 billion from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by lobbying the Trump administration to adopt a harsher position on Qatar. The operation, it seems, was wildly successful. ….
“You have to hear in private my Brother what Principals”—presumably M.B.S. and M.B.Z.—“think of ‘Clown prince’s’ efforts and his plan!” Nader, who was convicted in 2003 on 10 counts of sexually abusing minors, wrote to Broidy, who had been convicted in 2009 of bribing public officials. “Nobody would even waste cup of coffee on him if it wasn’t for who he is married to.”
Trump – open for business – $1 billion here, another $1 billion there: KA-Ching, KA-Ching! Apparently there is a benefit to loyalty, though there are some questions being raised.
The Financial Times reported that GOP legislators are skittish about Trump’s deal with the Chinese government to rescue ZTE.
The article noted:
“[Sen. Marco] Rubio, who has been leading Republican opposition to a ZTE deal since Mr Trump first ordered a reversal in policy last week, said changes in management, fines and other ideas floated as part of a deal were not enough.
““Sadly China is out-negotiating the administration [and] winning the trade talks right now,” Mr Rubio wrote on Twitter. “They have avoided tariffs [and] got a ZTE deal without giving up anything meaningful in return.””
Now Trump’s pal, Chinese president Xi, did ask after all. Oddly there is no mention of the Chinese financed $500 million Trump hotel to be built in Indonesia.
Your final tab at the checkout
$1 billion for Broidy, $1.4 billion for Kushner, $500 million for Trump, avoiding $1.2 billion in sanctions for Xi.
Trump’s pay-to-play foreign policy = $4 BILLION for just one or two weeks of news.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) must still be distracted by his ongoing questions after his endless Benghazi anti-Clinton hearings or certainly he’d be all over this, right?: Paul Ryan: ‘Oversight of the Executive Branch’ Means Kneecapping Mueller.
Um, no. Gowdy basically operates as Nunes’s brain. Nunes stirs the effort to kneecap Mueller for Trump but he’s merely the door opener, Gowdy is the one that does the reading and doing the Jethro Bodine ciphering.
“…Ryan and Nunes are conducting oversight over the Department of Justice precisely because, while part of the Executive branch, it is independent of it. The independence is precisely the thing that troubles Ryan and Nunes, and which they aim to quash, thereby increasing the power of the president.
“Ryan is obviously committed to using his power to help Donald Trump get as close as possible to his dream of having the Department of Justice ignore any crimes by him or his supporters and instead harass his enemies.”
This is a potential crisis point for the Mueller investigation resulting from Trump tweets this past weekend. We’ll let Charles Pierce of Esquire explain and assess: For Now, We’ll Trust That Rod Rosenstein Is Playing The President* Like A Five-Cent Violin.
The article subhead offers some assurance: The indications are the Deputy AG is a crafty bureaucrat.
“Every day that Robert Mueller and his tunnel rats continue to labor under the foul mire that is this administration* is a day when the White House loses. Every day in which Mueller goes home at night still in the same job is a day when the president* is one day closer to possibly losing his.
“So it’s easy to read too much into the meeting late Monday afternoon when deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and FBI director Chris Wray dropped by the White House to talk to the president* in response to the latest administration* fever dream about how the previous administration had gone all Gordon Liddy on the Trump campaign—and just because that campaign was lousy with crooks, mountebanks, and influence-pedding in a dozen different languages.”
The Department of Justice Inspector General released this statement after the Monday meeting, “It was also agreed that White House Chief of Staff Kelly will immediately set up a meeting with the FBI, DOJ, and DNI together with congressional leaders to review highly classified and other information they have requested.”
There will be a meeting – there will be one representative from DOJ – and NO Democrats in attendance. To disclose and discuss confidential informant(s) who played a role in the FBI investigation of Trump-Putin.
Coming into the home stretch let’s consider this by Chris Hedges for TruthDig: The Coming Collapse.
Never one to pretty up brutal truths, the subhead to Hedge’s column makes things clear: It is impossible for any doomed population to grasp how fragile the decayed financial, social and political system is on the eve of implosion.
Let’s start by hearing from Hedges:
“The Trump administration did not rise, prima facie, like Venus on a half shell from the sea. Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. The longer we perpetuate the fiction that we live in a functioning democracy, that Trump and the political mutations around him are somehow an aberrant deviation that can be vanquished in the next election, the more we will hurtle toward tyranny. The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count. We will wrest back political control by dismantling the corporate state, and this means massive and sustained civil disobedience, like that around the country this year. If we do not stand up we will enter a new dark age.”
The link is to a summary of the statewide public education strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and North Carolina. A good start.
Hedges doesn’t buy the notion of the Democratic Party as our savior. But he is clear in his opinion of Trump:
“Trump, like all despots, has no ethical core. He chooses his allies and appointees based on their personal loyalty and fawning obsequiousness to him. He will sell anyone out. He is corrupt, amassing money for himself—he made $40 million from his Washington, D.C., hotel alone last year—and his corporate allies. He is dismantling government institutions that once provided some regulation and oversight. He is an enemy of the open society. This makes him dangerous. His turbocharged assault on the last vestiges of democratic institutions and norms means there will soon be nothing, even in name, to protect us from corporate totalitarianism.”
Compared to the $4 billion above, Trump’s $40 million DC hotel scam is chump change, or “Trump change”.
Hedges also scythes the media and Russia meddling:
“The press is one of the principal pillars of Trump’s despotism. It chatters endlessly like 17th-century courtiers at the court of Versailles about the foibles of the monarch while the peasants lack bread. It drones on and on and on about empty topics such as Russian meddling and a payoff to a porn actress that have nothing to do with the daily hell that, for many, defines life in America.”
As the prophet of our times, Hedges’ conclusion is not sunny:
“…the incessant bombardment by electronic hallucinations to divert us from the depressing sight that has become America and keep us trapped in illusions. We suffer the usual pathologies of impending death. I would be happy to be wrong. But I have seen this before. I know the warning signs. All I can say is get ready.”
You decide. Pick your battle or “get ready”. Pick your battle and “get ready”. With the Russia Monitor and the Commoner Call we choose a battle. Trump may not be “the problem” but we’re not ready to roll over while seeking comfort in the view that Trump was chosen by God to usher in the End Times: Trump Will Start The End Of The World, Claim Evangelicals Who Support Him.
Meanwhile Trump will continue to burn the furniture, put money in his own pockets and kick the media and anyone else that suits his sociopathy.