The biggest takeaway from today, the Russia-Trump story isn’t going anywhere any time soon!
While this week looks to be a big week for the Trump presidency, if today’s House Intelligence Committee on Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential contest is any indication to how the rest of the week will go for President Donald Trump, it’s not looking real good…
Both FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers had more “no comments” than anything else, but did provide some light on the many stories that have been swirling around regarding the Trump administration and national intelligence. Here are some of the takeaways from today’s House Intelligence Committee Hearing.
Takeaway #1: It’s Safe to Say the Obama Administration Probably Didn’t Wiretap Trump Tower
FBI Director James Comey was slinging many “no comments” regarding their ongoing investigation on the Trump Campaign and Russia, which is makes sense because making definitive statements about ongoing investigations can become problematic. But there was one thing Comey did unequivocally make clear: that there was zero evidence that President Donald Trump or Trump Tower were wiretapped during the 2016 presidential campaign by either the Obama administration or by intelligence communities at the time.
So to be clear, Comey (and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers) directly refuted these major claims:
- That President Obama ordered wiretaps on Trump Tower during the 2016 election.
That British Intelligence officials helped President Obama spy on the Trump Campaign in the 2016 election.
That the Democratic Party created the Russia story to delegitimize the 2016 Trump campaign.
If nothing else, we can put these accusations made by President Trump finally to rest. Even if the president can’t…
Takeaway #2: Russia Definitely Interfered in the 2016 US Elections
After today we officially know that the FBI and other intelligence agencies are investigating Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. We also know that the FBI is also looking into if there are actual connections with the Trump campaign and/or if the campaign had coordinated with Russia in any way.
Now the thing we don’t know – and definitely shouldn’t jump to conclusions about – is if anyone from the Trump campaign had any connection with the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers. What we do know is that the Russians did interfere with US elections and that it had impact on the 2016 presidential election. The specific details however are still being sorted out.
Takeaway #3: Both Republicans and Democrats Are Trying to Frame the Issue of Russia and the Trump Administration
In committee hearings like these, whether that be for the Senate or the House, both Democrat and Republican members ask questions not to necessarily to clarify statements for those that are testifying, but to frame their answers as part of controlling the larger story. Today’s House Intelligence Committee was no different.
For Republicans, they tried to center today’s hearing with FBI Director Comey and NSA Director Rodgers as wanting to get their investigation over with so they can move on from the Trump-Russia story. Many of them tried to reframe the Russian hacks as more of creating divide in American politics and less about trying to give Hillary Clinton a loss in the general election. While some of the questions tried to reframe the conversation about unreliable government leaks – specifically those about the Trump administration’s ties to Russia – most took the easier route of talking about how the Russian hacks made victims of everyone participating in the democratic process, not just the Democratic Party alone.
On the flip side, Democrats tried to continually connect various members of the Trump administration/campaign to Russia with their line of questioning. Even though Comey did a relatively good job in not entertaining hypotheticals from both parties, the Democrats had a much easier narrative to frame because of the ongoing investigation of the FBI between the Trump campaign and Russian Intelligence. If there is one thing you take away from today’s intelligence committee hearing, it’s that the Trump-Russia story isn’t going away anytime soon.
Takeaway #4: This Tweet is Completely Untrue
The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process. pic.twitter.com/d9HqkxYBt5
— President Trump (@POTUS) March 20, 2017
The above tweet is not only misleading, but bordering on being a straight-up lie!
The above tweet is completely being taken out of context. The question that Comey and Rogers were actually answering was whether Russian hackers actually affected vote tallies in battleground states (a la hacking of voting machines). As everyone had already assumed, that didn’t happen. However, as you can see in the above tweet, President Trump’s office had framed the response to Comey and Rodgers as saying that Russia did not influence the 2016 presidential election.
In terms of fake news, the above tweet qualifies as just that!
(Photo Credit: Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence YouTube Page)