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Today the New York Times runs an article headlined From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered.
Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.
Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.
The shifting narrative underscores the degree to which Mr. Trump regularly picks and chooses intelligence to suit his political purposes. That has never been more clear than this week.
[Imagine Shocked Face emoticon] A politician picking and choosing intelligence? Will wonders never cease?
If you want to understand how Trump could be sorta convinced about the Russian meddling allegations in January and not-so-convinced on Monday, I think the explanation lies here:
The Jan. 6, 2017, meeting, held at Trump Tower, was a prime example. He was briefed that day by John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director; James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence; and Adm. Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency and the commander of United States Cyber Command.
The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, was also there; after the formal briefing, he privately told Mr. Trump about the “Steele dossier.” That report, by a former British intelligence officer, included uncorroborated salacious stories of Mr. Trump’s activities during a visit to Moscow, which he denied.
We now know that Brennan, Clapper, and Comey were all heavily involved in pushing the Steele dossier. Two of the three, Brennan and Clapper, were vociferous Trump opponents from the earliest days of his administration and both have track records of telling whatever lies they think will serve their current purpose. Comey became a Trump opponent early on and leaked memos to, as he said, try to ensure a special counsel was appointed. We also know the briefing Comey gave Trump on the dossier was the predicate act that allowed CNN to run with its story on Trump and the Russian hookers peeing on the mattress in Moscow and that McCabe told Comey that CNN needed a news hook before they’d run with the story.
Also, since that time, we’ve learned that some of his campaign staffers were under FBI surveillance, that the FBI seems to have launched one or more provocateurs at the Trump campaign and that the FBI never informed the campaign of questionable dealings by some staff.
All of this signals that the IC and the FBI were out to screw Trump throughout the campaign and small reason the further Trump moves away from the event the less confidence he has in what he was told. All the people he met with that day, except Mike Rogers, have demonstrated that they are out to undercut him and drive him from office. Why would they have had a different point of view at the meeting? What is the guarantee that the information they presented is accurate?
But the interesting nugget in this article sends us back to the good old days of 2017 when the Intelligence Community and the FBI were actively leaking classified information with the intent of damaging the incoming administration.
The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.
Really? This is a serious betrayal of sources and methods and definitely put someone’s life in jeopardy assuming they a) actually existed or b) haven’t been exfiltrated or c) haven’t already been arrested and shot because of a previous leak. (By the way, if this person exists, we can say with great accuracy that the source is John Brennan. He was in the meeting. He’s from CIA. He’s a well-documented leaker.)
— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) July 19, 2018
But what is burning a top-secret HUMINT source against the feel-good of bashing Trump?
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