Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him. As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts. Could what’s going on be more obvious? Andrew McCarthy from the National Review reports.
The Times would have you believe that the Russians “worked to help elect” Trump because the intelligence agencies have said so. With this ballyhooed conclusion as the premise, law-enforcement and intelligence agencies are conducting a “counterintelligence investigation” — meaning that there may be crimes involved, as well as activities of a foreign power in the United States — to determine the nature of links between Russian officials (who, remember, helped elect Trump) and Trump associates connected to the Trump campaign.
The probe, we’re further told, is “broad” and includes “intercepted communications” — which, to any informed person, strongly suggests that the FBI went to a federal court and laid out probable cause of improprieties, which prompted one or more judges to authorize wiretaps and potentially other forms of electronic surveillance (e.g., e-mail intercepts).
Is there an innocent interpretation of all this?
Of course there is. After all, the underlying allegation of an election-hacking conspiracy between the Putin regime and the Trump campaign is nonsense, so there must necessarily be an innocent interpretation. And, lo and behold, the Times itself provides it — further down in the story, after all the sensational conspiracy mongering: It is not clear whether the intercepted communications had anything to do with Mr. Trump’s campaign, or Mr. Trump himself. It is also unclear whether the inquiry has anything to do with an investigation into the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers and other attempts to disrupt the elections in November.
See? It is entirely possible that the FBI and other investigative agencies are not pursuing, and have never pursued, a Trump-campaign angle on the hacking. It is entirely possible (though I have doubts about this) that there are no FISA national-security wiretaps directed at Trump associates — maybe the “intercepted communications” touted by the Times came from surveillance targeting Russian operatives whom Trump associates, perhaps unwittingly, happened to run into while doing business that had nothing to do with the campaign.
I think, based on all the reporting we’ve seen (some of which, as the Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes observes, is thinly supported), it is more likely that the feds got FISA surveillance authorization for some associates of Trump (the names of Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, and Carter Page are mentioned).
But maybe the probable cause for any such surveillance involved those associates’ own business dealings with Russia — having nothing to do with Trump or the Trump campaign. But the innocent interpretation, the more likely interpretation, is not what the media and Democrats have wanted us to believe. For months, they have titillated their audience with the election-hacking conspiracy fantasy.
When they cover their behinds by mentioning the possibility of innocence, it is in the fine print. But still, the media and Democrats have always had a serious vulnerability here — one they’ve never acknowledged because they’ve been too swept away by the political success of the fantasy narrative. It is this: At a certain point, if compelling evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to steal the election did not materialize, the much more interesting question becomes “How did the government obtain all this information that has been leaked to the media to prop up the story?”