Editorial May 19, 2017

Publisher’s Letter

Russia – 2, ISIS – 1, U.S. – 0

Many on both sides of the aisle are resting easy knowing that the investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign and other staff and Russia is in the capable hands of former FBI Director Robert Mueller but anti-Trumpers may not get the results they long for.

Let’s look back over the past few months –

Trump touted his desire for better relationships with Russia during his campaign with a simple reasoning; wouldn’t we be better off as friends? Then came the Russian hacking of the DNC database and campaign official John Podesta. Then it was determined that Russia had actively (and successfully) aimed to sway the election in favor of Trump. Then information it was discovered That Trumps son-in-law and possibly other surrogates and his National Security Advisor, Lt. General Michael Flynn, had conversations with Russian officials and later that Flynn had discussed the sanctions on Russia and it was speculated that he indicated they would not be a problem once Trump was elected.

The Trump Administration was advised by then Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates that the Flynn calls had been intercepted and that Flynn was at risk of being blackmailed by the Russians. Soon Yates was fired for not litigating in defense of Trump’s immigration ban. Two weeks later Flynn was fired by Trump because, as Trump said, he did not tell Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations with Russian officials. But he was a great guy, Trump held.

Those actions spawned a House Intelligence Committee investigation into possible collusion between Trump Administration and Russia. Committee Chair, Kevin Nunes (R-CA) visited the White House and was given information regarding the relationship with Russia and shared it with Trump but not his committee or committee co-chair. Nunes eventually stepped down from running the investigation around the time the Senate Intelligence Committee pumped up its investigation into possible collusion.

Trump continued to press his view on positive relations with Russia based largely on his thinking that Russia could help with the fight against ISIS from which it appears to suffer no threat.

So there was an FBI investigation of possible Russia / Trump Administration collusion, a sort of non-investigation by the House Intel Committee and promise of getting to the bottom of things investigation by the Senate Intel Committee.

To those hankering for evidence of Trump wrong doing saw the investigations as slow but promising. To Trump and supporters the investigations were a hoax, hacking away at old news. There was no ‘there’ there and the focus should have been on who leaked the information about the Flynn-Russia conversations.

Trump had dinner with Comey and soon thereafter Comey was fired reportedly because he was not willing to ‘la off’ the Flynn investigation as Trump wanted.. Later Trump said Comey was fired because he was mismanaging the FBI and did not have the support of the agency staff.

It is a growing belief that Trump’s firing of Sally Yates, his dinner request that Comey lay off the Flynn investigation, and the firing of Comey  is evidence of obstruction of justice but it is weak evidence that fails to produce intent on Trump’s part.

It is reminiscent of the seemingly endless House Government Oversight Committee and special prosecutor investigations of Reagan’s Attorney General Ed Meese in the 1980’s. Meese was investigated eventually by a special prosecutor who later cleared him of criminal wrongdoing especially of allegations of bribes to Israel seeking to ward off Israeli attacks on an Iraq oil pipeline that reportedly was not wanted by Meese associates, investors in the pipeline. Meese resigned and was accused by the prosecutor of ethical wrongdoing but not criminal behavior.

That is often how it goes and at this point I don’t believe the ‘evidence’ supporting allegations of obstruction of justice is strong enough to take legal action. There is only one document and no tapes pointing to wrongdoing despite the belief that Comey is above falsifying his dinner notes to get at Trump.

But there is another side of this that points to the score sheet at the top of this column.

Russia did influence the election and very well may believe it succeeded as it wants; Score 1 for Russia.

President Trump revealed classified information to the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister  Sergei Lavrov. The meeting, publicized in Russia and not in the US because the US press was banned from the Oval Office meeting was surely a political win for Russia. Score 2 for Russia.

The information that Trump gave to Russia about an ISIS plot to send exploding laptops on commercial flights, including the town in which the strategy was being developed, may be useful if Russia wants to undermine our efforts to thwart such plots but It is not known if Russia would exploit that information. ISIS on the other hand is a tightly held organization and it knows where and by whom that strategy is being developed. It will take action to clean up and further hide that ‘leak’ so score 1 for ISIS.

But there is another story not being discussed; reportedly the ISIS intel came to US intelligence from Israel but it is very unlikely that the man or woman embedded at such a high level in ISIS is an Israeli but rather was being managed by Israeli handlers. There are only two ways this will work out for the incredibly brave operative so embedded; the handler pulls he or her out which will be obvious to ISIS or leaves he or her in to face a scrutiny we can only imagine in our nightmares given the ruthless and murderous techniques ISIS is known for.

The end game, thanks to Trump is U.S. 0.


Foreign Affairs

Turkey

Turkish Embassy security thugs violently attack peaceful anti- Erdogan protestors, some US citizens, in Washington. (watch video at 3:10 – Armed Turkish security in black suits – Video)

n

ISIS

“The life of a spy placed by Israel inside ISIS is at risk tonight, according to current and former U.S. officials, after President Donald Trump reportedly disclosed classified information in a meeting with Russian officials last week. ” ABC

Syria

“Congress broadly supports President Donald Trump’s decision to arm Syrian Kurdish forces despite the expected blowback from Turkey.  Lawmakers laid the groundwork  when they passed legislation to train and equip Syrian rebel groups in December 2014.” al-Monitor


Magic Mondays Highlights

Gerrymandering explained