Putin Played the Trumpet, But the Donald Will Be Out Soon
Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counsellor, said to Fox news that the F.B.I.'s ongoing investigation into the possible ties between the Russian government and Trump’s campaign associates has “nothing to show for it.” Last night, during the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the US election, F.B.I. director James B. Comey confirmed that there is an investigation into the possible collusion of Trump’s aides and Russian intelligence.
Trump’s impeachment haunts the White House
Well, no one knows where Kellyanne Conway is getting her news, but the Trump administration, especially Conway and Sean Spicer are finding it increasingly difficult to continue covering for the president’s crazy tweets with more misleading stories. There is wide speculation, after James Comey’s hearing last night, that Trump could be impeached. Top Democrat Dianne Feinstein says that Trump will “get himself out of office soon”.
Last night’s hearing was a historical moment in American politics and the possible extent of Russia’s interference in the US elections will eventually hurt the president deeply. Trump will perhaps remain in history as the Ronald McDonald of politics: a colourful mascot for an age of supermarket, fast-food politics, easily consumed but bad for your health.
Russian interference is a fact
The view of the C.I.A, the F.B.I., the N.S.A., and now accepted by many Republicans, is that Russians have successfully interfered in the US election and intelligence agencies have also warned that the Russians would do it again. The Democratic former prosecutor, Adam Schiff, emphasised this conclusion in the hearing, but also the fact that many Trump aides had contacts with Russians. The list includes Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser, Paul Manafort, Trump’s second campaign manager, Roger J. Stone Jr., a political adviser; Michael T. Flynn, who was forced to resign as Trump’s first national security adviser, but also many others.
No evidence to support Trump’s tweets
It was especially revealing when both Comey and US Navy Admiral Michael S. Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency (NSA), dismissed Trump’s Twitter posts about former President Barack Obama wiretapping the Trump Tower. One of Trump’s tweets said: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
Comey said: “I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the F.B.I.” Comey clarified that “The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components. The department has no information that supports those tweets.”
A tarantula in the room
Democrats believe that a deeper investigation needs to be conducted into the activities of Trump’s associates. During Monday’s hearing, Trump’s adviser, Roger Stone, was mentioned a few times, since his controversial statements about having knowledge of the DNC’s hacked emails before it even happened, have raised suspicion. Roger Stone—who had obvious communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, since he knew of forthcoming leaks, and told Republicans that he “communicated with Julian Assange,” needs to be under scrutiny. Rogers “predicted” that John Podesta’s emails would be published, and was also in communication with the Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0 who claimed responsibility for the DNC’s email hacks and is believed to be a cover for Russian intelligence. Rogers later wrote a Breitbart article claiming that Guccifer has no links to Russia. For a timeline of Roger’s statements, read here.
US representative for California’s 14th congressional district, Jackie Speier, said that "In terms of trying to understand this, I think of a spider web with a tarantula in the middle and the tarantula in my view is Vladimir Putin, who is entrapping many people to do his bidding and to engage with him and I would include those like Roger Stone".
Comey is in trouble
Anyone who was watching the hearing yesterday, could see that Comey was intensely grilled by both Democrats and Republicans in the committee, as he was growing increasingly uncomfortable. He avoided to comment on questions involving the Trump administration, while one member of the committee cleverly asked him if he did the same when he was asked in the past about the Obama administration. The F.B.I. director stated that the F.B.I. is usually secretive about ongoing investigations, but everyone knows that Comey was partly responsible for ruining Hillary Clinton’s chances for the presidency, when he discussed an investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server, just before the US election.
Comey agreed that Russian intelligence interfered in the election to hurt Hillary Clinton. He added that the Russian President Vladimir Putin hated Clinton and wanted her to lose the elections: “Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much, that the flip side of that coin was he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much.”
Trump was tweeting during the intelligence committee hearing
These days everyone has an opinion. There is always a commentator commenting on some other commentary, and Trump loves to comment on everything, since everything needs to be restated and rewritten according to his worldview. Bad news, real or fake news go through a Trump sieve and what comes on the other side is not always…true. During the hearing, whenever Comey denied to comment or just said there is no evidence, Trump distorted the words to suit what he wanted to say: that the Russians didn’t meddle with the election. He tweeted: “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.” But what Comey said was that there was a Russian "multifaceted campaign" to influence the electoral process and undermine democracy.
What doesn’t exist yet is hard, unquestionable evidence that connects Trump, and his campaign, to Russia. But current officials say they have evidence that connects Trump’s associates to Russian officials and Russian intelligence. Already, we know that Michael Flynn, Trump’s campaign adviser and later national security adviser, was paid $65,000 by companies, Russian TV network, RT, and a cybersecurity firm with Russian links and was eventually forced to resign. Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the election, after it was revealed that he had met twice with the Russian ambassador during the presidential campaign, and at the height of the Russian cyber campaign to influence the US election. How many others might follow their footsteps remains to be seen. The F.B.I. continues its investigation, as Trump continues his “distraction technique”: “Must find leaker now!”