Adam Schiff Masterfully Connects the Dots Between Trump and Russia — and it’s Damning (Raw Story link): Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) gave a lengthy statement Monday during the House Intelligence Committee’s hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election in which he expertly connected the dots between Trump’s campaign and Russia. In his statement, Schiff went through a timeline of events that linked Trump campaign officials such as former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and former campaign manager Paul Manafort to Russian government officials.
Furthermore, Schiff showed how members of the Trump campaign lobbied to change the Republican Party’s platform to delete a section that endorsed sending weapons to Ukraine — a change that was highly beneficial to the Russian government.
“The Republican Party delegate who offered the language in support of providing defensive weapons to Ukraine states that it was removed at the insistence of the Trump campaign,” Schiff explained.
Additionally, he outlined the way that Russian intelligence services meticulously leaked information damaging to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign designed to do maximum political damage and undermine her candidacy.
Schiff concluded by saying that all of these contacts with Russian officials could be a coincidence — but he said that there’s enough smoke to demand a thorough investigation.
“Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated, and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence? Yes, it is possible,” he said. “But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated, and that the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt U.S. persons that they have employed in Europe and elsewhere. We simply don’t know, not yet, and we owe it to the country to find out.”
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FBI chief debunks Trump's wiretap claim and confirms probe of possible campaign links to Russia (Los Angeles Times link): In a double-barreled assault on the White House, FBI Director James B. Comey on Monday knocked back President Trump's claim of wiretapping by the Obama administration and disclosed that the FBI is investigating possible “coordination” between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russian authorities.
Comey was the most senior U.S. law enforcement official to publicly debunk Trump’s extraordinary charges, first made on Twitter on March 4, that President Obama had wiretapped him at Trump Tower.
“I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI,” Comey told a drama-laced House Intelligence Committee hearing carried live for nearly five hours on cable TV. He added that the Justice Department and its components also had “no information to support” Trump’s accusation.
But Comey’s rebuke of Trump, which was echoed by Adm. Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, was overshadowed by disclosure of an active counter-intelligence and criminal investigation aimed at the top ranks of the president’s former campaign and potentially the White House.
The director, the very complicated James Comey, didn’t use the L-word in his congressional testimony Monday. Comey serves at the pleasure of the president, after all. But his meaning was clear as could be. Trump has repeatedly accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones, and Comey explained there is “no information that supports” the claim.
I’ve previously argued that not every untruth deserves to be branded with the L-word, because it implies intent and somebody can state an untruth without doing so knowingly. George W. Bush didn’t lie when he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and Obama didn’t lie when he said people who liked their current health insurance could keep it. They made careless statements that proved false (and they deserved much of the criticism they got).
But the current president of the United States lies. He lies in ways that no American politician ever has before. He has lied about — among many other things — Obama’s birthplace, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Sept. 11, the Iraq War, ISIS, NATO, military veterans, Mexican immigrants, Muslim immigrants, anti-Semitic attacks, the unemployment rate, the murder rate, the Electoral College, voter fraud and his groping of women.
Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as "bots," to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said.
Breitbart, which has drawn criticism for pursuing a white nationalist agenda, was formerly led by Stephen Bannon, who became chief executive officer of Trump's election campaign last August and now serves as Trump's strategic adviser in the White House. The news site's former national security editor, Sebastian Gorka, was a national security adviser to Trump's campaign and presidential transition team. He now works as a key Trump counterterrorism adviser.
Bannon and Gorka have controversial profiles. Bannon has been accused of taking anti-immigrant and racist positions. Last week, the Jewish newspaper Forward reported that Gorka had taken a lifelong loyalty oath to a Hungarian far-right group that for decades was allied with the Nazi Party.
Mod: And to think, we're only two months into this mess. It can't get any worse, can it?