Earlier in the Week FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee. This was all lost in the shuffle of the left and the NeverTrumpers on the right whooping it up about Donald Trump being under investigation for treason or “collusion” or bad hair or something (RedState alum Dan McLaughlin takes the investigation story apart at NRO).
During the hearing, the subject of the infamous November “assessment” by the DNI, CIA, and FBI that the Russians preferred Trump to Clinton (for the record, millions of Americans also fell into this category). This is leftwing hack Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker:
With all the focus by Republicans on leaking classified information, Democrats on the committee were stunned when, in one little-noticed moment during the five-hour hearing, a prominent Republican seemed to let slip what two members of the panel told me was a piece of classified information.
Last year, the intelligence community, which consists of sixteen U.S. entities that collect secret information, produced classified and unclassified versions of a report on the Russian influence campaign during the election. The unclassified report makes bold conclusions about Russian intentions. “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” the report said. “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”
The conclusions were unambiguous, but the evidence in the unclassified report was unsatisfying. Republicans have questioned whether Putin really had a clear preference for Trump rather than simply a general animosity toward Hillary Clinton. Members of the committee were pressing Comey and Rogers on this point when a behind-the-scenes fight that was previously classified spilled into public.
Hmmm. I have to confess to being more than a little skeptical of that finding myself. Mostly because for 90% of it there has been no evidence presented beyond “trust me” and when you are being told that by
congenital liars career Democrats who have spent their last eight years lying and deceiving at Master Olympian level there is no reason to believe them.
It started when Nunes asked, “Do Russians historically prefer Republicans to win over Democrats?” Nunes ticked through some recent elections and inquired whether the Russians supported John McCain over Obama, in 2008, or Mitt Romney over Obama, in 2012. Comey said that he didn’t know the answer.
“I’m just asking a general question,” Nunes said. “Wouldn’t it be a little preposterous to say that, historically, going back to Ronald Reagan and all that we know about maybe who the Russians would prefer, that somehow the Russians prefer Republicans over Democrats?”
Watching the hearing, this seemed like a curious line of questioning. Because members of the House Intelligence Committee often know a great deal more than they can say publicly, they sometimes use their questioning to hint at what they have learned in classified settings. Nunes’s questions seemed to suggest some broader debate, as Comey confirmed when he shut down the exchange.
“I’m not going to discuss in an unclassified forum,” he said. “In the classified segment of the reporting version that we did, there is some analysis that discusses this because, remember, this did come up in our assessment on the Russian piece.”
I think to most people, Nunes sounds like he’s on pretty solid ground. Are we really supposed to think that they preferred Mitt Romney when he called out Russia as a threat to the guy who “transmitted to Vladimir” that he’d have “more flexibility” after re-election?
Pete King will not be deterred. Nevertheless he persisted… as doggedly as if he were trying to keep an IRA gunman from being extradited to Britain and a long prison sentence.
Nunes thanked him and turned to Representative Peter King, of New York. King was less circumspect than Nunes had been. “I would just say on that because, again, we’re not going into the classified sections, that indicating that historically Russians have supported Republicans, and I know that language is there, to me puts somewhat of a cloud over the entire report,” King said.
Whoa. Read that again. “[I]ndicating that historically Russians have supported Republicans, and I know that language is there, to me puts somewhat of a cloud over the entire report.” Ya think?
Setting aside the issue of whether it was appropriate for King to allow this piece of classified information to become public, King and the Republicans do indeed have good reason to question the intelligence community’s judgment.
“We certainly disagreed. It’s been brought up in classified hearings,” King told me. He said that his intention at Monday’s hearing “was to show how much of a bias is there in the report. If they went out of their way to say that the Russians favored Republicans historically, was that indicating that they were either pressured or were trying to find a way to make a more convincing case for Trump over Clinton?”
I would think so. If what King alleges is true, and the IC is claiming that historically Russians favor Republicans you have to, at a minimum, question the metrics they are using to come to that conclusion. You actually have to question their sanity. That such a conclusion would be posited or the idea that the Russians favored Republicans, in general, points more to the politicization of the intelligence community and the utter vapidity of the underlying report that forms the basis for two Congressional investigations. It means that this report will be trotted out if a Republican wins in 2020 to show that the Russians were involved there, too.