Trump v. Dems on Russia: Are both sides wrong?

Bryan Crabtree
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Posted: Mar 25, 2017 9:07 AM
Trump v. Dems on Russia: Are both sides wrong?

Let's face it. This is not going to end soon and not going to end well for anyone.

Congressman Devin Nunes, chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, admitted this week that he could not rule out the assertion by President Trump that Obama administration officials wiretapped or surveilled he and members of his presidential campaign.

I was a guest on several radio shows in the wake of this statement where it was referred to as a "bombshell." I cautioned conservative hosts that there wasn't going to be a clear and definitive outcome to this ‘witch-hunt.'

Democrats are going to find enough material to remain confident that there were illegal ties to Russia by the Trump campaign such that he should be impeached. Accordingly, there is growing evidence that creates little doubt that there was significant surveillance of the Trump campaign that will validate the conservative narrative.

While Trump’s tweets accusing president Obama of wiretapping him may have been a little rich on hyperbole, they were not devoid of facts. Whether you are the CEO of a company, the broker of real estate firm, or the president of the United States, every employee or agent that answers to you is essentially acting on your behalf. If Obama didn’t order it, someone did in his administration.

It is likely that President Obama received intelligence briefings that included information about the surveillance of certain Trump campaign officials. It's also possible that information was collected by an intelligence official without the proper court orders and was disseminated to people outside the White House for political purposes. There is no evidence of this assertion, but it could simply be that it has not yet been discovered.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that all the surveillance was obtained illegally. Still, the Obama White House lowered the classification level of the Trump-related surveillance so that individuals with lower security clearances would have access to the information, thus increasing the likelihood of leaks.

In the end, I predict the evidence will be circumstantially overwhelming that Obama officials lowered classifications to increase the likelihood of leaks. Unfortunately, I do not think it rises to the level of technically illegal activity.

The only exception to this would be if there was an illegal wiretapping ordered by someone in the White House or by the president himself. I am not convinced that happened.

While they were public figures, candidate Trump, former campaign manager Paul Manafort, former top advisors Roger Stone, General Michael Flynn and Carter Page were private citizens. Their conversations as private citizens were unmasked and leaked to the media. That is definitely illegal activity by someone.

The revelations of Congressman Nunes are not bombshells. They are obvious facts that Trump opposition refuses to hear.

For Democrats, they are finding comfort with the report that anonymous government officials have told reporters that Trump campaign officials gave a thumbs up to the Russians to commit the election hacking. Some are pointing to former Trump advisor Stone’s own words.

On October 4, 2016, during a radio interview, Stone told me that he was "highly confident, based on my own back-channel communications, through an intermediary, that [Wikileaks Julian] Assange has all of the emails from Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, both of whom got immunity from the Justice Department in the email scandal, that they thought that they deleted..."

Here is my follow up with Stone from my Friday interview including the foregoing quote:

This turned out to be true.

Democrats see these assertions as a connection to Russia by Trump officials and likely by Trump himself. It would be illegal to communicate with and induce Russia to hack the Clinton campaign, her illegal server, or campaign manager John Podesta. The Democrats are convinced this happened and believe they can convince the American people.

However, I believe they are wrong. It would not be illegal for Stone (who was not part of the Trump campaign at the time), Manafort or another Trump advisor to attempt to seek opposition data that had already been obtained through a hacking (in order to prep the campaign for its release).

This controversy is filled with fake outrage by Democrats conflated with normal political activity. It's customary that national political figures (and campaigns) speak to ambassadors and officials of foreign countries on a consistent basis. Therefore, finding communications between those parties shouldn’t be shocking at all.

When this epic conspiracy theory has concluded we will likely find that Paul Manafort is the only possible ‘operative’ close to Trump. I believe that we'll also find Pres. Obama has no personal ties to illegal surveillance. Stone told me on Friday that he knows Manafort well and takes him as a man of his word.

This is an awakening for the American people. Our political process is broken and unethical. Most politicians can remain compliant with our laws while fully breaking the intent of them. This means they can have inappropriate contacts and even misuse intelligence on private citizens while not technically breaking the law. It was the lack of “intent” to distribute classified information that ultimately allowed Hillary Clinton to escape criminal prosecution for her illegal, private email server.

Many Democrats have called this "bigger than Watergate." I agree, but for a different reason.

It will be the biggest scandal in American political history full of unfounded conspiracy, fake news, false outrage and false political hope (of defeating Trump in the wake of his victory). In the end, Democrats will prove to be a hypocritical embarrassment and Republicans will continue to show their weaknesses and lack of unity.