The investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has officially expanded. Its reach has now extended to the role played by officials from former President Barack Obama’s administration; thus, shifting focus from the narrative that the Donald Trump campaign was in cahoots with the Kremlin. The Democratic Party and its supporters have, for months, waited with breathless anticipation for proof that the current president and his associates were involved in something nefarious. If any proof of potential wrongdoing has been uncovered, however, it is that senior Obama-era officials may have improperly revealed classified information.President Barack Obama meets with National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice in the Oval Office, Feb. 10, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
As months have gone by with no firm evidence being uncovered, the entire Russia story has gradually receded from the front pages, except in the Washington Post. Having gambled heavily on the outcome of the investigation, the Post has continued to spin ever thinner and less credible stories about the affair. Most recently, the supposedly dirty dealings of White House adviser Jared Kushner – the president’s son-in-law – became the latest fad. Did Kushner seek to establish a ‘back-channel’ line of communication with the Russians? More importantly, perhaps; for what purpose? The revelation itself was good for some extra clicks on the Post’s web pages but gained little traction. The diligent editors of the nation’s most left-wing national paper seemed to have overlooked one glaring hole in the story, which was recently pointed out by Harris Faulkner of Fox News. If the Trump administration already had an established relationship with the Russian government – and had already colluded so successfully with the Russians – why, exactly, was Kushner recently attempting to establish a back-channel to the Kremlin?
The entire foundation of the Trump-Russia conspiracy rests on what is known about contacts between Trump associates and Russian government officials. Inevitably, therefore, the investigation had to eventually include probes into how, and why, such contacts were monitored. Such a line of investigation could only lead to one conclusion; that the Obama administration had initiated a surveillance operation aimed at the Trump campaign and transition team.
The investigation being conducted by the House Intelligence Committee may, eventually, uncover the person(s) responsible for that surveillance. Already established is the fact that Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser, requested the unmasking of Michael Flynn.
The identities of United States citizens caught up in intelligence-gathering operations are usually protected; their names redacted from reports and other communications. But not in the case of Michael Flynn.
Although the unmasking of an American citizen is neither illegal nor extraordinarily rare, it is permitted only when necessitated by a serious national security concern. What is known about the nature of Flynn’s contacts with the Russians – so far – suggests that no such grave concern existed. Therefore, Rice may have requested Flynn’s unmasking for political reasons.
The moment Susan Rice’s name emerged, relating to the investigation, the left-wing media was quick to downplay her involvement. That may no longer be possible. On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Panel issued seven subpoenas; three of those, relating to the unmasking of Trump associates. Susan Rice, former United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power and former CIA Director John Brennan have all been subpoenaed for “testimony, personal documents and business records,” according to a CBS News report. The involvement and motives of these individuals, in the unmasking of the members of the president’s team, is now in question.
The remaining subpoenas are for Michael Flynn and Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Judging by recent history, it would appear likely that none of the former Obama officials will provide the House Intelligence Panel with any satisfactory answers, if any answers at all. Were the investigation to then continue without further involving these individuals, its entire credibility would be further damaged.
If these so far-fruitless inquiries do not span the entire sequence of events – beginning with the surveillance operation and the unmasking of Flynn – then they cannot be properly concluded. The Democrats’ insistence on investigating only the involvement of Trump’s people, whilst ignoring or marginalizing the involvement of the Obama administration, would appear to justify the president’s labeling of this entire escapade as a “witch-hunt.”
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