2016 Presidential Election

What Putin was up to

Featured image In this Wall Street Journal op-ed, Michael Mukasey questioned the timing of Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russians on the eve of the Helsinki summit. I discussed the matter here. In the same op-ed, Mukasey made another important point, one that has influenced my thinking on Russian interference since January 2017, when an experienced intelligence hand articulated it to me: If we know the Russians hacked the Democrats, it’s probably »

Lisa Page cooperates

Featured image Last Friday, Lisa Page testified in closed session before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. That’s the same body that publicly grilled Peter Strzok, with whom Page exchanged venomous texts about Donald Trump. By all accounts, Page was a cooperative witness. Rep. Mark Meadows, head of the House Freedom Caucus, called Page “credible.” “There is new information,” he said, “and that information is credible.” Rep. Louis Gohmert, also of the »

Trump’s inadequate “clarification”

Featured image Yesterday, President Trump claimed that when he said “I don’t see any reason why it would be Russia” that interfered in the 2016 election, he meant to say “I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia.” I can imagine Trump meaning to say either thing. “I don’t see any reason why it would be Russia” is consistent with the pro-Trump talking point that Russia had no reason to »

On further review

Featured image After consulting the transcript of his comments at the Helsinki press conference with Vladimir Putin yesterday, President Trump has reformulated or clarified what he meant to say. In a meeting with Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee at the White House today, according to the statement quoted by the Washington Post and the statement quoted slightly differently by CBS News, President Trump said: “Let me be totally »

Why did Trump do it?

Featured image Why did Trump refuse to acknowledge Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election? Byron York takes up this question. He concludes: Trump’s problem is that he has always refused, or been unable, to separate the two. One is about national security and international relations, while the other is about Donald Trump. The president clearly believes if he gives an inch on the what-Russia-did part — if he concedes that Russia »

Trump plays the useful idiot in Helsinki

Featured image I agree with Steve’s characterization of President Trump’s performance in Helsinki as “extraordinarily dismal.” “Disgusting” might be an even better description. The performance was disgusting in at least two ways. First, Trump blamed the poor state of U.S. relations on the U.S. He tweeted: Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt! Trump is right »

Strzok testifies

Featured image Peter Strzok appeared today before a joint session of the House Oversight and Judiciary committees. The event lived up to expectations in its contentiousness. Here are a few highlights, with commentary. Immediately after the opening statements, Trey Gowdy, House Oversight Committee Chairman, asked Strzok how many people he interviewed during the first eight days of the FBI’s Russia investigation (between July 31 and Aug. 8, 2016). Strzok responded that he »

A Happy Walk Down Memory Lane

Featured image As we wait for President Trump to announce his Supreme Court nomination, we can while away a couple of minutes with this montage from election night, tweeted by Trump this morning. Good times, good times! They just didn't get it, but they do now! pic.twitter.com/9T50NupkDy — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 8, 2018 I disagree with the president in one respect: I think the Democrats still don’t get it. Hence »

Intel committee concludes…

Featured image Today comes word that the Senate Intelligence Committee has affirmed the conclusion of the intelligence community that Russia developed a “clear preference” for then-candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 election and sought to help him win the White House. Here, for example, is the Hill’s report on the committee findings, with the note that the committee’s assessment, announced in an unclassified summary released today, “represents a direct repudiation of the »

What If . . .

Featured image Counterfactual history—i.e., what if John F. Kennedy had not been assassinated?, etc—is a popular though fatuous genre. “What is, is singular,” Churchill wrote; “What might have been is infinite.” Quite true, but over the weekend in my item “Five Ways to Think About the IG Report” I offered a contingent counterfactual that Joe Biden might—I emphasize might—have beaten Trump if Biden had been the nominee instead of Hillary. This speculation »

Hillary Responds to IG Report

Featured image I’ve been on the move all day and haven’t had a chance to dip into the IG report on the FBI’s behavior during the 2016 election campaign that was released today, but I did catch up with Hillary Clinton’s response. It is three words long. Here it is: It’s still a total mystery why she lost the election. »

Team Mueller lawyer: “Viva le resistance”

Featured image Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller found this gem in the Inspector General’s report released today. An FBI attorney who worked on Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation until February of this year sent a message to a colleague exclaiming, “Viva le [sic] Resistance.” The lawyer wrote these words in response to another FBI attorney who asked him whether he was rethinking his commitment to the Trump administration (I take this to »

When the arc of history refuses to bend

Featured image Ben Rhodes couldn’t. . .I mean. . .process. . .I mean. . .just couldn’t. . .process Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton. Fortunately, Barack Obama was available to process it for him. When you have the arc of history down cold, processing setbacks, even really bad ones, isn’t that hard. Matthew Continetti writes a devastating piece on Barack Obama’s processing, as described in Rhodes’ new book. To assist Rhodes, Obama »

More Mueller madness

Featured image When it comes to primary documents like the 20-page letter dated January 29, 2018 from former Trump lawyer John Dowd and the preceding 11-page memo dated June 23, 2017, both resisting an interview of the president by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, my preference is to give readers the originals via Scribd. Having obtained their own copies, the New York Times is forcing us to consult the originals here along with »

Clapper: Not his job

Featured image Larry O’Connor now writes for the Washington Times. He has been following the comments of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on the FBI counterintelligence investigation that swept up the Trump campaign. Clapper is out promoting his book Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence. Larry found “Clapper’s claptrap wearing thin” in response to a question posed by CNN’s unabashed Dana Bash. Bash asked Clapper why »

The Final Year, Thank God (3)

Featured image In my notes on the HBO documentary The Final Year — here (part 1) and here (part 2) — I lacked film clips of either of the films two highlights. The reaction of Obama fabulist Ben Rhodes accounts for one highlight. Video of the clip is in the tweet below. David Burge (Iowahawk) comments that “it takes a heart of stone not to laugh your ass off.” This video of »

Trey Gowdy’s defense of the FBI in “spygate”

Featured image In an interview on CBS, Rep. Trey Gowdy poured cold water on claims that the FBI behaved improperly towards the Trump campaign in 2016. Gowdy, who attended a classified briefing last week about the use of an FBI informant to gather information from individuals in the Trump campaign, said: I think the FBI, if they were at the table this morning, they would tell you that Russia was the target »