Just when you think the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election is about to wind down, there’s a new twist.
There are several new reports on the progress of the probe available for those keeping score at home, now.
To begin with, the Senate Intelligence Committee released their findings in the probe, and unlike their counterparts with the House Intelligence Committee, they’ve got a much more unified, solid message.
A for instance would be the nature of the findings of the House Intelligence Committee, as led by Trump loyalist, Rep. Devin Nunes.
Nunes sought to downplay the fact that what the U.S. intelligence community had unanimously concluded – that Russia had, in fact, interfered in a U.S. election – by quibbling over the language used by each department.
“While most of the analysis contained in the ICA held up to scrutiny,” Nunes’ report held, “the committee found that ICA judgments on Putin’s strategic objectives”—that is to say defeating Clinton and electing Trump—“failed to meet most of the analytic standards set forth in the primary guiding document for IC analysis, Intelligence Community Directive (ICD) 203.” Such shortfalls “undermine confidence,” Nunes’ report continued, but they weren’t listed as problems with the underlying circumstances of the Russian campaign. Nunes and company instead faulted the agencies for not “incorporat[ing] analysis of alternatives” or more fulsomely explaining the differences in confidence levels between the NSA, FBI, and CIA.
In other words, Nunes wanted an engraved, notarized, hand-delivered confession from the Kremlin that the goal was to harm Hillary Clinton and get Donald Trump elected.
It’s a silly stance to take. At no time has anyone in any official capacity (no matter what you read on the internet) suggested that Russian agents physically changed votes to favor Trump. The claim has always been that this was an influence campaign. That Trump, for whatever reason, was favored.
In the report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the message is clear: Our intelligence community was right.
“The Committee found that the ICA provided a range of all-source reporting to support these assessments,” it found. “A body of reporting,” from classified intelligence to Russian media, “showed that Moscow sought to denigrate Secretary Clinton.” The ICA finding on Putin’s objectives used similarly cumulative Russian media, similarities between Trump positions and Putin’s interests “and a body of intelligence reporting to support the assessment that Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for Trump.”
Information “obtained subsequent to the publication of the ICA provides further support” for what the CIA called a Russian aspiration “to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible,” the Senate panel found.
Why would they favor Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton? Both are equally horrid and scandal-ridden. There’s no doubt in my mind that had Hillary Clinton been the victor, we’d still be dealing with daily headaches, just not telegraphed across Twitter.
Donald Trump has a long history of dealing with shady Russian characters. That alone shouldn’t be seen as proof of preference, I suppose.
Everything that came to light after Trump’s securing of the GOP nomination is what should make patriots uncomfortable, actually.The presence of Russian officials at the RNC convention in July 2016 was …odd.
Follow that up with how much effort and dirty tricks were employed to prevent the Cruz delegates from having their say on the convention floor – tricks orchestrated by then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and RNC chairman Reince Priebus, by the way.
OH, and the softening of language in the GOP platform towards Russia was a concerning move, as well.
Unlike Nunes and Company, the Senate Intelligence Committee, along with the U.S. intelligence community put all the pieces together and it becomes quite clear as to why a Trump administration would be preferable for the Kremlin.
What about the other arm of the ongoing Russia probe? What is happening in the world of special counsel Robert Mueller?
More prosecutors, and a potential winding down of Mueller’s role in the investigation.
Several current and former U.S. officials said Mueller is adding prosecutors from U.S. attorney’s offices and the Justice Department headquarters, Bloomberg reported Thursday.
Officials added that this could be a sign that Mueller is prepared to step away from the probe and leave it in the hands of a larger team of prosecutors, officials said.
The Justice Department is getting more money for their more permanent investigatory role. They’ve spent around $9 million, as opposed to Mueller’s $7.7 million on the investigation, to date.
A considerable amount of effort is being put into investigating the 13 Russian nationals indicted by Mueller’s team for their role in interfering in the election.
Notably, Mueller has handed off any investigation into Michael Cohen, the former attorney and “fixer” for President Trump to the Southern District of New York, who are running the investigation into possible bank fraud and campaign finance law violations.
Cohen has signaled that he’s willing to work with investigators in that case.
Mueller was given the Russia probe as a starting point, with the authority to follow any thread of wrongdoing found, along the way.
To that effort, he’s already handed down 20 indictments, with five guilty pleas.
Manafort and his longtime aide Konstantin Kilimnik were accused of trying to coach two witnesses or prevent them from testifying.
A federal judge revoked Manafort’s bail and sent him to jail in June.
He is charged with multiple financial crimes, including obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Manafort has maintained his innocence and will fight the charges. His trial begins later this month, and should be quite the spectacle.