Writing at The Daily Beast, John Batchelor offers a fascinating sitdown with Chairman Devin Nunes of the House Select Intelligence Committee.
The primary topic: the unmasking of Trump campaign officials — like Michael Flynn — by various members of the Obama administration.
Read the entire thing, but some key graphs follow to provide a flavor to the scope and magnitude of the investigation. It’s truly powerful stuff.
The following is Nunes’ verbatim commentary:
The subpoenas [on unmasking the names of Trump aides] actually went to the NSA, the CIA, and the FBI, requesting specifically, of those three individuals that were named, the unmaskings they have done, that they did, from the time period of 2016, the entire year, leading up to Jan. 20 of this year… I can’t get into why we chose those individuals, but clearly this is just further escalation in the concern we have of the unmaskings of Americans by the senior leaders of the Obama administration. Americans that didn’t know about it, and, of course, potentially Trump transition officials…
…Every American is masked. The intelligence agencies are bound by law to mask all American citizens that get picked up in foreign collection. What has to happen, if you want to find out who the American is—there’s a process and procedure in place for that. It’s actually very uncommon in most cases, and seldom happens. But the concern I have had, that I expressed publicly, quite publicly, actually, a couple months ago, was that it became excessive. That Obama administration officials were unmasking people in the Trump transition, and it made me quite uncomfortable…
…We’ve been waiting since March 15 for that information. The intelligence agencies have been slow-rolling us, which is what led to these three subpoenas being issued… So these individuals [Rice, Brennan, Powers] that we named are the ones we have particular interest in, but I can say that those are not the only ones we have interest in…
…look, we want to work with the intelligence agencies. We didn’t want to have to subpoena, but the process was moving way too slowly. So we picked these three individuals whom we have a particular interest in, and hopefully they [the agencies] are expedient. That they have till next week to give us the unmaskings that these three individuals have done. I think they know now that we are serious…
…The big problem here is that the people that run these programs are protecting the United States, protecting U.S. citizens from terrorist attacks, from other adversaries that we have around the globe, and we have to protect American citizens from being picked up in these types of foreign intelligence collections. However, what clearly has happened here—at a minimum—I don’t know if it’s illegal, but it’s clearly an abuse of power, that senior Obama administration officials would unmask someone…
…But also, what is illegal—and I can’t say it was the Obama administration officials who did this—but we know that names were unmasked in intelligence products. And if you believe The Washington Post and The New York Times and NBC News, you know that names [like Michael Flynn] were unmasked, and intelligence was leaked, and Americans that were picked up in intelligence products were leaked out to the media…
No doubt intelligence agencies have for a long time been used to spy on political rivals, they were smart enough to know how to keep it hushed. The last executive branch took its agendas to insane levels.
Nunes won’t say if he stepped aside in Russia probe
Maybe he had better be issued a subpoena to find out.
Basically, Nunes wants to go after people who exposed improper conduct inside the Trump administration, rather than investigating the improper conduct itself. He’s a political tool—but not a very effective one. He’s too obvious.
He’s obviously unfit to be running the Russia investigation. He can’t “temporarily step aside,” and then quietly slip back in once controversy about secretly trotting off to report to the White House and publicly talking about classified foreign surveillance documents blows over.
@Greg: WHAT “improper conduct”? There has been none exposed and there has been none. What Obama was doing was exposing names of innocent citizens then searching for a usesful accusation to apply.
The tactics of fascism.
@Bill: Greg just parrots MSNBC they dont often use logic or common sense if one of their idols is getting close to being exposed because of their own reporting they go all zombie rant.
Add this into the mix as there is a good bet what Montgomery provided is serving as a catalyst for the above. The troubling part is that rather than pulling a Snowden and releasing these documents on the web thus causing an embarrassment and compromising National Security, he chose to let our government’s system of checks and balances do its job and it didn’t work. If this fails, then the next “Mongomery” that comes along will be forced to go “Snowden”.
@kitt: And they weren’t interested in ‘improper conduct’ when it was Dumbocraps.
The right is apparently blind to the problem of Trump’s former National Security Adviser getting very cozy with the Russians, and receiving unauthorized and undisclosed payments from them; also to Trump’s efforts to get Comey to drop the FBI investigation, and then firing him when he wouldn’t do so.
They seem perfectly happy not knowing what leverage Russia might hold over Trump through investments in his family’s business interests, or what coordination might have gone on between highly placed persons in the Trump campaign and intermediaries connected with a highly sophisticated Russian effort to manipulate our presidential election and put Trump in the White House. They don’t seem able to grasp the fact that this was nothing less than a sophisticated attack on our nation’s democratic system by a hostile foreign power.
They don’t seem to find a secret meeting between Blackwater founder Eric Prince and Russian officials arranged by the United Arab Emirates the least bit suspicious, or the fact that Prince just happens to be the brother of Betsy DeVos. How many Trump cabinet members and regulatory agency appointees have connections suggesting conflicts of interest that should be setting off alarm bells?
Did it somehow slip Jared Kushner’s mind that he’d had dozens of recent contacts with the representatives of foreign governments—including the Russian ambassador to the United States—while filling out his application for a security clearance? How does Kushner even rate a Top Secret security clearance to begin with? He’s the President’s son-in-law, and active in more international family business deals than you can shake a stick at. The man is a walking, talking conflict of interest, not to mention a high profile security risk.
There’s evidently no problem with Nicole Kushner Meyer, Jared’s sister and a principle in the family real estate business, having solicited $500,000 investments in luxury New Jersey apartments from wealthy Chinese nationals, in return for EB-5 investor visas that fast-track entry into the U.S. and citizenship. Surely there’s nothing worth seeing there.
It totally astonishes me that people would resist any and all efforts to investigate such issues, and attack anyone who points out that we’re mindless idiots if we don’t.
Homeland Security secretary defends Jared Kushner, blasts Manchester intelligence leaks
Right. We wouldn’t want our own intelligence community knowing what’s passing between the Trump administration and the Russians.
@Greg: No one is saying the intelligence agencies shouldnt know, they should’nt turnaround and blab it to Wretched Madcow and the like.
They are suppose to keep secrets, flush out the blabbermouths and imprison them.
those that illegally spied on Trumps campaign, lock them up and have the constitution and bill of rights on Ebook played in a loop into the cells for the entire sentence 24/7.
Apparently you are easily ‘astonished’. It doesn’t surprise me to find out that Donald Trum is and was a highly successful, rich international business man. Those that work for him are likely in the same business.
I know you were especially surprised to find out that Hilllary and Slick made hundreds of millions off of stealing from the Haitian disaster funds. Wonder why that doesn’t concern you?
Today was another HUGE bust for them. Coats and Rogers both testified nothing illegal or improper was done with regards to pressuring the intel community. So much for the narrative Warner tried putting out this morning. Tomorrow could be a big bust too. Comey’s prepared statement has been released and guess what? Nothing coming close to obstruction of justice is in there. In addition, in his own statements, you will count THREE times he told Trump he wasn’t personally under investigation.
@another vet: Better than that, with immunity for the removal, he is has filed suit, the FBIs computers were used to spy on Judges, justices, and those in congress, he reported it to them and it continued.
Because no one has ever come up with a shred of evidence demonstrating that it’s anything more than a typical right-wing smear, despite having made every effort to do so—and they DO have year after year of the Clinton’s personal tax returns and Clinton Foundation annual IRS reports to look at.
It’s not so easy to conceal the theft of “hundreds of million dollars,” when your every financial move has been put under a microscope for years for hostile examination.
Trump won’t release his personal returns. He evades any examination. What about his charity organization? There’s been documentation of a number of actual improprieties—most recently, for example, it was discovered that the organization ripped off money donated for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, diverting it into family businesses.
Trump Foundation funneled $100K in donations into revenue for Trump Organization
My favorite, of course, is still the cheesy portrait of The Donald paid for with $20,000 of charity money. The same aesthetic is likely responsible for many covers of cheap ladies’ romance novels.
Ah but obstruction of justice is there–Trump clearly asked Comey to back off Flynn—All witnesses clammed up today and Repub and Dem Senators alike called em on it. Intelligence community looked like dummies.
@NOT EVEN PEOPLE: Before accusing someone of breaking a law, don’t you think you should know what the law is? Here is the Federal definition:
Burden of proof is now on you to prove where: corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication influences exists in his statements.
You’re not saying that you think the Clinton’s would be dumb enough to list stolen funds as income on their tax return, are you? There are hundreds of links to proof that the Clinton’s stole those funds. If you haven’t found them, it’s one of two reasons. And of course, I don’t need to list those two reasons.
I’ll agree, and certainly the only person it’s been concealed from is you. Everyone else knows about it.
Gee, you have no problem finding lies on the internet. It’s just as easy to find the truth.
Does it actually hurt, Greg?
@another vet: NOT EVEN PEOPLE, okay RW, come out of hiding.
None of which anyone who makes such bogus accusations has ever bothered to provide, I’ve noticed. If all that proof is out there, so easily found, why have there never been legal consequences? It certainly isn’t because republicans lack the will to prosecute, or the power to initiate investigations. Either there’s no credible evidence, or you’ve elected total incompetents.
Without Obama as a Unifier, Republicans Are Fragmented
Surely not. It must somehow still be Obama, or the Clintons. Maybe it’s that deep state thing, that somehow magically prevents republican majorities from accomplishing anything useful, even with a republican in the White House.