The revelation that there was a mole, Stefan Halper, planted in his campaign by the FBI, prompted President Donald Trump to demand an investigation into whether the FBI or Justice Department infiltrated his campaign for political purposes. The “resistance” and the mainstream news media have been in panic mode ever since, and have been actively bad at it. Heaven forbid that journalists could admit that when they mocked the President for suggesting that his campaign was surveilled, they were wrong and he was right.
Scott Adams neatly exposed the hypocrisy and dishonesty, tweeting,
“Four things to understand about SPYGATE: 1) There was no spy in the Trump campaign. 2) The spying that did NOT happen was totally justified. 3) It would be bad for national security to identify the spy who doesn’t exist. 4) His name is Stefan.”
Ann Althouse deserves applause for her analysis as well:
James Clapper was on “The View” yesterday and it went like this:
BEHAR: “So I ask you, was the FBI spying on Trump’s campaign?”
CLAPPER: “No, they were not. They were spying on, a term I don’t particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence which is what they do.”
BEHAR: “Well, why doesn’t [Trump] like that? He should be happy.”
CLAPPER: “He should be.”
Well, Trump seems happy that the word “spying” slipped out of Clapper as he was talking about what the FBI was doing. Clapper obviously knew he slipped, since he immediately tried to (subtly) erase it.
Trump displayed his happiness by tweeting: “‘Trump should be happy that the FBI was SPYING on his campaign’ No, James Clapper, I am not happy. Spying on a campaign would be illegal, and a scandal to boot!” And, talking to reporters: “I mean if you look at Clapper … he sort of admitted that they had spies in the campaign yesterday inadvertently. I hope it’s not true, but it looks like it is.”
Then Ann dissected CNN toady Chris Cillizza’s embarrassing attempt to cover for Trump foe Clapper—which, you know, is not the job of a real journalist, only that of a biased hack:
Here’s how Cillizza tries to wriggle out of it:
“Clapper makes crystal clear that the FBI was not spying on the Trump campaign. And he also makes clear that while he doesn’t like the word “spying” — because we are talking about the use of a confidential source — that, to the extent there was any information gathering happening in conversations between the FBI’s informant and members of the Trump campaign, it was entirely designed to shed light on Russian meddling efforts related to the 2016 election.”
Clapper began by saying “no” to the question whether the FBI was spying on the Trump campaign, but then concedes that they were spying. He doesn’t like the word, because it’s politically hot (and maybe illegal/unethical), but he used it. Then the question is where were they spying. They were spying on the Trump campaign.
The qualification “on what the Russians were doing” refers to the Trump campaign, not to the Russians generally. I understand that the motivation may have been to see what was the interaction between the campaign and the Russians, but that is still spying on the campaign. Now, the motivation could also have been to figure out a way to defeat Trump. I don’t know.
To my ear, the phrase “on what the Russians were doing” is there as a denial of the political motivation, to say that it was legitimate to spy on the Trump campaign because the reason was to deal with genuine concern about Russians doing things within the Trump campaign. My interpretation is supported by Behar’s response, “Well, why doesn’t [Trump] like that? He should be happy,” which Clapper jumped to ride along with, “He should be.”
“Clapper said that the FBI didn’t spy on the Trump campaign. He said that the only information gathering that happened with the confidential source was related to Russian interference.”
That just says that the spying on the Trump campaign was limited, not that there wasn’t spying on the Trump campaign!
“Any honest reading of the entirety of what Clapper said — and you can read the whole quote in about 15 seconds! — makes clear that a) Clapper doesn’t believe the FBI was spying on Trump’s campaign and b) the information gathering being done by the FBI’s confidential source was aimed at Russia and designed to protect Trump and his associates, not to mention American democracy more broadly.”
Any honest reading… so, by Cillizza’s lights, I’m not being honest.
How could reading what Clapper said make clear that Clapper does’t believe something? Clapper could be lying or bullshitting. What’s inside somebody’s head is rarely clear even when the statements are clear. But looking only at the meaning of the text, Cillizza’s interpretation doesn’t sound right to me, and his assertion that his view is the only “honest reading” is an affront to our intelligence.
But let’s put aside the technicality of what may be an inadvertent mistake in writing about what Clapper believes (as opposed to what he asserts). Cillizza’s efforts at calling Trump wrong fail because Cillizza is only talking about the reasons why the FBI spied on the Trump campaign, not whether the FBI spied on the Trump campaign.
Do the news media, the Democrats and” the resistance” really think enough of the public can be fooled by this kind of thing? [ See Lincoln, A.: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”] They must, even though public trust in Mueller, the FBI and the news media is falling fast. This is how stupid they think we are…or this is how stupid they are. It’s hard to tell.
Here’s Professor Turley, clear-eyed and objective as usual:
In early 2017, President Trump was widely ridiculed for alleging that the Obama administration placed his campaign under surveillance. The response from experts on CNN and other sites was open mockery. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper came forward to assure the media that he could categorically deny the allegation and stated, “There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.” The range of media analysis seemed to run from whether Trump was a clinical paranoid or a delusional demagogue.
We now know there was, indeed, surveillance ordered repeatedly on Trump campaign figures before and after the election. Rather than acknowledge the troubling implications of an administration investigating the opposing party’s leading candidate for president, the media shifted to saying that there was ample reason to order the surveillance.
That remains to be seen but much of the coverage brushes over the fact that no charges were brought against the principal target, Carter Page, or that the secret warrants for surveillance were based in part on a dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, a fact known but not fully disclosed by the FBI to the secret FISA court. The documented Russian interference, thus far, has been largely a Russian operation out of St. Petersburg that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has said was carried out without the knowledge of Trump campaign officials…
I have been highly critical of Trump’s attacks on the media. However, that does not mean his objections are wholly unfounded, and this seems one such example. There may have been legitimate reasons to investigate Russian influence before the election. Yet, very serious concerns are raised by the targeting of an opposing party in the midst of a heated election. These concerns will be magnified by the use of a confidential source to elicit information from Trump campaign associates, though officials deny that the FBI actually had an informant inside the campaign.
Just as it is too early to support allegations of a conspiracy to frame Trump, it is too early to dismiss allegations of bias against Trump. As shown by many of the emails and later criminal referrals and disciplinary actions at the FBI, an open hostility to Trump existed among some bureau figures. Moreover, the extensive unmasking of Trump figures and false statements from FBI officials cannot be dismissed as irrelevant.
As a nation committed to the rule of law, we need a full and transparent investigation of these allegations. All of the allegations. That includes both the investigation of special counsel Mueller and the investigation of these latest allegations involving the FBI. For many Trump supporters, this new information deepens suspicions of the role of the “deep state.” If we ever hope to come out of these poisonous times as a unified nation, the public must be allowed to see the full record on both sides.
I don’t see how anyone can ethically dispute that analysis.
This tells you what I think of those who are currently disputing it.
In a new article this morning, Turley continues,
“Perhaps the most serious allegations deal with Halper’s reported effort to advise the Trump campaign or secure a position in the new administration. If Halper was a longtime paid asset of the FBI and CIA, such a role would be deeply troubling. If successful, the FBI could have had a person working with the campaign or even in the administration who was on its covert budget. Even if they stopped paying Halper, it is doubtful that he would disclose his prior relationship. Trump officials have said they were unaware of the connection in their conversations with him.
In his meetings, Halper was clearly trying to influence or possibly join the campaign while working with the FBI. At a minimum, Halper met with with Trump campaign advisers, including Papadopoulos, Page and former national campaign co-chairman Sam Clovis. Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro reportedly submitted Halper’s name for a post during the presidential transition. If the FBI knew Halper was actively seeking a role in either the campaign or the administration, this could be every bit as serious as Trump alleged.
While the media has tended to downplay these allegations, they are manifestly serious. The use of a paid FBI asset to target a national campaign in this way would be unprecedented.”