Editors’ Note: This is the second of a two-part series based on an exclusive interview on Liberty Nation Radio with one of the nation’s brightest and most incisive journalists, Victor Davis Hanson, writer for National Review and many other publications. You can read the first part here.
After months of investigation, congressional Republicans have been proclaiming through the release of memos from both the House and Senate their discovery that the real collusion in the 2016 presidential campaign was between not Trump and Russia, but rather between the Obama FBI and Justice Department, the Clinton campaign and Russia.
But Democrats, who first warned of cataclysmic consequences for national security and intelligence operations in an effort to prevent the release of two GOP memos on FISA abuse aimed at the Donald Trump presidential campaign, took the opposite tack once the memos were released, minimizing their significance.
In an exclusive interview on Liberty Nation Radio, the great Victor Davis Hanson, preeminent journalist and author who has followed and written extensively about this story, analyzed the legitimacy of Democratic claims – among them, the assertion that the subject of the FISA warrant, Carter Page, was not the person who sparked the surveillance.
Tim Donner: What about the claims of the New York Times, and others on the left, that Carter Page was not really the principal focus of the Trump-Russia collusion narrative? That surveillance would have been justified anyway, because of another minor and short-lived Trump campaign volunteer, George Papadopoulos?
V.D. Hanson: Well, there are three things we can say to that. If that were true, they never requested a FISA surveillance of Mr. Papadopoulos. If he was the key player that introduced them to collusion, you would think that they would have asked for a FISA. And second, if he was the key, there would be no need for Carter Page. And there was no connection. Even the Democrats agree, there were no connections between the two.
So what happened was, Carter Page mouthed off. A diplomat got wind of it. He told the FBI. They brought him in. They have never, to this day, charged him with collusion at all. They’ve charged him with making a false statement, but never collusion. We don’t know to what degree that will hold up in court. Or that confession or whatever the deal was will be revoked, because it was based on improperly obtained FISA transcripts. But that was a dead end, a cul de sac.
When that didn’t pan out, they turned to their only other alternative, and that was the Steele dossier. Carter Page, and their knowledge of him. So, it’s sort of an argument that he was not the impetus, or the fuel for anything of the collusion. Remember, Mr. McCabe had said … And it was supported in the later Grassley-Graham report … That Andrew McCabe had testified that, again, the Steele dossier was the only support for the FISA surveillance. It wasn’t Papadopoulos. They couldn’t get any grounds to surveil anybody.
And that was what it was all about, wasn’t it? They wanted to get the surveillance so they could listen in to American citizens’ conversations, in the hopes that they could warp the campaign by unmasking those names. Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Ben Rosen … And leaking them to pet organizations, which they did. Buzzfeed, Google, Yahoo, et cetera.
Tim Donner: That’s about as good a summary of the whole situation as I’ve ever heard or read. Let’s turn to another bombshell from this week, the release of hundreds of texts between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the FBI higher-ups who were having an affair and spewing hatred of Trump to each other. One of those texts, referring to the Hillary Clinton email investigation, said, “President Obama wants to know everything we’re doing.” After Obama said publicly, he had no involvement in the investigation. Does this do real damage to Obama’s credibility and legacy, as many have said?
V.D. Hanson: Yeah. I think it does. I mean, the argument … The excuse, or the apology for him was that he was interested in what they were finding out about Russian collusion. If that were true, then he would know that this was during a campaign and during a transition. And even if it was only on Russian collusion … Purported Russian collusion, not Hillary’s emails … Then he still shouldn’t have intervened, and it still would be contradictory to what he said he did. And then remember, after Donald Trump tweeted that his wires had been tapped in Trump Tower in March of 2017, the emeritus or the ex-president Obama issued a statement saying that his White House had never interfered in any independent investigation, nor had it ever surveilled anybody.
So, we’re learning from this trope by Lisa Page and Peter Strzok that that’s not what was going on. And of course, that’s the best case scenario for Mr. Obama, President Obama. We know that the most likely scenario is that he was scared to death that there was going to be incriminating evidence that Hillary Clinton used a private server, bleached things that she felt were incriminatory. And most importantly, Obama had also said … As you remember, and your audience remembers … That there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by the use of that server, even though he had communicated it, and knowingly communicated with it, to Hillary Clinton on several occasions.
I think it’s most likely suspect that he’s saying, “Tell me what’s going on,” i.e., “Has my name come up in any of these emails on a non-authorized and illegal private server, after I assured the nation that I knew nothing about it, and I only learned of the server through news accounts.”
Tim Donner: Which stretched credulity, to say the least, from the very moment that he said it.