Intel Community to Trump: “Now we go nuclear. He will die in jail.”
by Frank Vyan Walton –
In the last two days the Drumpfter Fire that is currently raging in the White House seems to have hit a flashpoint with the sudden resignation of NSA Advisor Michael Flynn and then the revelation by the New York Times that several members of the Trump campaign were in regular contact with Russian Intelligence during the election.
WASHINGTON — Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.
American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.
The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.
If they haven’t found that evidence yet, I think they haven’t been looking very deeply. All that is bad enough, and now this.
On Wednesday, former NSA intelligence analyst John Schindler provided some insight into the reaction of national security officials.
“Now we go nuclear,” he wrote on Twitter. “[Intelligence community] war going to new levels. Just got an [email from] senior [intelligence community] friend, it began: ‘He will die in jail.‘”
“US intelligence is not the problem here,” Schindler added in another tweet. “The President’s collusion with Russian intelligence is. Many details, but the essence is simple.”
Right now there’s a mad scramble to try and guess or extrapolate what the nature of these contacts may have been. So far these range from totally innocent and unwitting communications where the three Trump advisers named — Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn and Carter Page — had no knowledge of who they were really talking to [Manafort: “It’s not like they wear badges in Russian Intelligence”] to the idea that they were fully or partially aware of who they were talking to, and were deliberately seeking to support some sinister goal.
Frankly both options could be possible depending of which person we’re talking about at and at what point in time, but let’s just for the moment consider the least of these options. That the Trump campaign was largely unwitting while the Russians were operating with a variety of possible objectives. Manafort has had long standing ties to Russia and the Ukraine having been an adviser to the former Ukrainian President. Flynn has his own connections to Russia as well as having been a paid consultant for Turkey. It might simply be that Russian Intel has simply been keeping tabs on them using their existing business and political contacts. This could, in theory, be somewhat innocent contacts in the sense that there was no “plot” per se, simply Russia attempting to keep an open line of communication with various American up and comers.
But then again, why the lies?
Why exactly would Flynn talk to the Russian Ambassador multiple times on the exact same day that President Obama announced sanctions against Russia for their hacking the DNC and Clinton supporters like John Podesta — which clearly benefited Trump — and during that talk discuss those sanctions even if only to reportedly say something as fairly minor as “We’ll review everything” only to flatly deny this ever occurred to the Vice President and have him go out the Sunday shows and stick his foot down the back of his own throat?
In an interview with the Daily Caller on Monday, which was published the following day, Flynn said his call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak “wasn’t about sanctions. It was about the 35 guys who were thrown out.”
If that was the case, I believe he could have just said that — yet he didn’t. Why not? What’s this all about?
That is Flynn’s most detailed account of the phone exchange yet. In two separate interviews with the Washington Post, Flynn’s story changed regarding his memory of the call with Kislyak.
According to the Post, on Wednesday Flynn said twice that he had not discussed sanctions on the phone with Kislyak. On Thursday, before the Post published a report citing nine unnamed officials who claimed Flynn did discuss sanctions, a spokesman for the former national security adviser “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”
And in his resignation letter, released to the media after the Daily Caller interview took place, Flynn wrote simply that he had “inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador.”
Inadvertently? So we’re supposed to believe he’s not a pathological liar, he’s just a completely incompetent boob? His defense is “I forgot” that I talked to the Russian Ambassador about the sanctions and/or expulsions on same exact day that they happened? That’s amazing.
And man, Just how out of the loop is Pence?’
Writing for the Washington Post, Robert Costa and Ashley Parker noted that no one sought to tell Pence that he had been misled for weeks, despite having the information. In fact, Pence only found out after the Washington Post broke the story that Flynn lied. Yet, aides to both the president and vice president report that the men speak on the phone or in person multiple times each day.
Marc Lotter, a spokesman for the vice president, told the Post that Pence only became aware of the Flynn situation last Thursday. “He did an inquiry based on those media accounts.”
Some close to Pence report that he was “blindsided” and “frustrated” by the misleading information. Pence was said to have urged Flynn to publicly apologize instead of resigning, however. It was the White House that found what Flynn did to be unacceptable and took action. After Pence, chief of staff Reince Priebus and White House counsel Don McGahn had a conversation with Flynn, Pence decided the former lieutenant general should go.
Guess who’s eating at the kids table?
Former and fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates made Trump aware of Flynn’s lies weeks ago, yet Donald couldn’t be bothered to bring Pence up to speed before letting him go out before the public and repeat Flynn’s lies?
The acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Michael Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail, current and former U.S. officials said.
So Trump knew a month ago. And did nothing. But what’s he doing now? Blaming the Intel Community and the “Fake Media” — but not Flynn.
“Information is being illegally given to the failing New York Times and Washington Post by the intelligence community,” he wrote on Twitter, suggesting that the NSA and the FBI might be responsible. “Just like Russia,” he added.
The New York Times cited law enforcement and intelligence agency sources that intercepted communications from people close to Trump during the presidential campaign with Russian intelligence.
“The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by ‘intelligence’ like candy,” Trump wrote. “Very un-American!”
“The fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred,” Trump wrote. “MSNBC and CNN are unwatchable. Fox and Friends is great!”
Trump called the reports “non-sense” and said they were “merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign.”
To cover-up the mistakes of the Clinton campaign? Like losing to Donald Trump isn’t embarrassing enough? The “real scandal” is the leaks — not the fact that the leaks are the truth that Flynn attempted to use Pence as his beard to cover-up?
As I’ve said before the entire basis of core Benghazi “Scandal” was the claim that the Obama Administration sent UN Ambassador Rice out onto the talk shows with fake talking points about video inspiring the attack on our Libyan consulate just in order to “save face” after they’d claimed that “al Qaeda is beaten.” It was a petty petulant bogus idea, that a Presidential Administration would be so inwardly focused that they would try to paint over the tragic deaths of four citizens just so they wouldn’t look bad.
And look at Trump now.
Pointing fingers at the NSA. Pointing fingers at MSNBC. Yet the clear problem is coming from his own people just down and hall, and frankly, himself.
How and why would he allow Flynn to blindside Pence? How and why wouldn’t he make Flynn come clean himself as soon as he was informed of what was going on by Yates? All roads lead to him being already aware of everything Flynn was doing and had said to KIsiyak.
The way that Trump has behaved for months while more and more information came out about the involvement of Russian Intelligence in the DNC hack, even when all the Intel Community of FBI came into agreement on the perpetrators, shows Trump was still in deep denial.
Now, Trump’s motivation for pushing back so hard on this topic is quite clear: Trump has long been obsessed with defining himself as a “winner,” and, therefore, he is very thin-skinned about any suggestion that his election victory is illegitimate.
Signs of this include his absurd overreaction to Jill Stein’s recount efforts even though they were overwhelmingly likely to further confirm his victory, his campaign manager’s annoyance whenever his popular vote loss is mentioned, and his team’s repeated and completely bogus assertions that he won in an electoral vote “landslide” (his electoral vote win is the 46th biggest out of 58 in US history).
Naturally, then, when the Washington Post and New York Times reported Friday on a secret CIA assessment that Russian hackers intervened in the election to help Trump win, the Trump team very quickly decided to attack the CIA for even coming to that conclusion (combining this with, again, that bonus false claim that Trump had won “one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history”).
Here’s the thing, everything that this recent revelation of about the Trump camp being in constant contact with Russian Intel — while they were hacking the Clinton campaign and revealing negative disinformation about her through their various propaganda arms — lies totally in line with the dossier by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele on Russia’s long-term attempts to gain leverage on Trump. Putting aside whether they successfully gained that leverage or not, a point that remains unproven, the core of Steele’s dossier was that Trump and Russian intel were in direct contact and shared information both ways.
The first thing is that Trump and his campaign have been fully aware and fully informed as to the Russian activities attacking the Clinton campaign and that they openly and regularly shared information for well over a year. To put it another way, Trump and his people not only knew that the Russians were hacking his opponents, they were directly receiving the information Russian intelligence had taken and also given to Wikileaks and the Kremlin’s propaganda arms, RT and Sputnik News.
Not all of this former British agents information came from Russia. Some of it came from and was confirmed by Trump associates inside the campaign. They knew Wikileaks was being used as a front to generate “plausible deniability.” Trump had his own moles inside the DNC. The information exchange went both ways with the Russians providing information on Clinton and Trump providing information on Russian oligarchs inside the U.S. to the Kremlin.
So Trump’s people were spying on behalf of Russia in exchange for inside info on Clinton.
Now, other news outlets and Intel agencies haven’t yet confirmed the specific content of all the conversations with the public yet. But here’s the thing; they had transcripts of the Flynn talk with the Russian Ambassador and that’s how he was ultimately uncovered despite all his denials, there will many more transcripts which could be even more damaging.
NSA is allowed to record communications by foreign intelligence operatives even when one end of the conversation is on U.S. soil. The higher level to operative — like the current Russian Ambassador — the more likely they are to record the entire conversation and generate transcripts as they did here.
Please note that the NYTimes piece on the Russian Intelligence contacts does discuss the Steele dossier.
The F.B.I. has spent several months investigating the leads in the dossier, but has yet to confirm any of its most explosive claims.
Senior F.B.I. officials believe that the former British intelligence officer who compiled the dossier, Christopher Steele, has a credible track record, and he briefed investigators last year about how he obtained the information. One American law enforcement official said that F.B.I. agents had made contact with some of Mr. Steele’s sources.
They may not have confirmed wild sex parties in Moscow and Leningrad — and if the Kremlin does have tapes of something like this, they wouldn’t release them until they felt they needed to totally burn Trump and take him down — but they have confirmed Russian intelligence regularly communicating with Trump’s campaign and that’s bad enough on it’s own.
We haven’t yet heard the next foot fall, but if it continues along the lines the Steele has outlined we will see further leaks from CIA and NSA each allowing us to grow more and more acclimated and adjusted to the type of things that Steele alleges. The worst of it isn’t the “golden showers” the worst is really that Russian intelligence helped guide the Trump campaign to victory by acting as their extended opposition research arm. Feeding them everything they needed to know to keep the Clinton campaign constantly off balance and on the ropes with one devastating allegation after another.
It seems now, that U.S. intel is doing to Trump what Russian intel did to Clinton. Unlike the Steele dossier which was essentially an overwhelming data dump, this seems like it’s going to be teased out a little at a time. It was just last week that reports were that many of the specific contacts listed by Steele, by time, date and persons had been confirmed by U.S. Intel. And that U.S. intel had begun withholding sensitive information from the White House for fear of leaks to Russia following their previous recommendation to the Israelis during the transition that they also hold back data from Trump lest his people leak it to Russia and their ally Iran.
The intel Community is coming after Trump and that’s not going to be a winning game for him, they hold all the cards.
There are two ways this goes down. Either Trump has been largely blind to what Russia is doing and his denials are ignorant, yet sincere. Although they may have had an agenda to either promote Trump simply to damage Clinton or ensure he gained the Presidency, he may have been a largely unwitting beneficiary of those efforts. I mean, if someone is going to feed all this great inside data on your opponent are you going to question how they got it or why they’re giving it to you?
Well, maybe you would, but most of us aren’t Trump, or even remotely like Trump.
The second possibility is that he is aware. He does know. He may not believe it, or be willing to admit it, but he’s been informed just like he was informed about Flynn’s issues by Yates. He knows the Russians hacked the DNC and Clinton’s specifically to support his campaign and then fed that inside info to his campaign through Wikileaks, RT, Sputnik News and with direct contacts with his personnel.
In either case, he understands what this means and his reaction either way will be the same. Continued denial and diversion. He understands what the risk of this perception would mean to him and his Administration. Whether he was a witting accomplice of Russian intel’s confidence operation on our election or not, he will fight back — he will continue to attack the “leakers” and the media who report what those leaks reveal. The final facts may not rise to treason if he only received info and didn’t share data on Russian Oligarchs in the U.S. with the Russians as Steele alleges, but they could still reach “high crimes and misdemeanors” based on his lame attempts to cover it all up. They spied for him, did he spy for them in return? How far will he go to avoid getting caught? If the GOP won’t pursue and investigate this, Democrats will have to take the House and Senate and get the job done and discover just how bad it is, or isn’t.
All the while he will act like a guilty man, he will try — as he did with Flynn — to hide the truth, to duck and to dodge the facts. That won’t work — as none of his alt-Facts have been convincing to all but his more die-hard supporters, but as we all know, that’s exactly what he’ll try to do.
We know he doesn’t have the personal character to do what’s right. To come clean, even if he so far has done nothing legally or morally wrong — yet — he can’t bare the risk. He won’t.
And as a result he will only make his own situation exceedingly worse, and worse, as each additional revelation is teased out. He’s slowly going to freak out and meltdown. He’s going to torpedo himself.
It’s going to take some time, because the public needs to be slowly eased into just how bad this is.
But for some of us, it can’t happen too soon.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos