I told you last month, when President Trump first accused his predecessor of wiretapping him, that the news media would be interested in any information that might confirm Obama and/or his administration had wrongly spied on Team Trump. What they would do instead, I told you, was act as Obama’s lawyer - demanding that Trump himself prove his precise, literal charge rather than doing any of their own reporting designed to find out if something like what Trump alleged had actually happened.
That’s one way defense attorneys defend their clients - they parse words and nitpick with literalisms. Maybe he did something wrong, but you said something very literal and specific and you can’t prove he did that. Case dismissed!
And that’s a perfectly legitimate thing for an actual defense attorney to do. That’s the defense attorney’s job. It’s not the media’s job, but it’s the job they’ve decided they want to do.
Another thing defense attorneys do is try to change the subject from the actual crime and evidence of it to the nature in which the evidence was gathered, and by whom. Sure, maybe he did it and maybe there’s evidence, but the cops didn’t follow proper procedure in gathering it, so . . . case dismissed!
Democrats and the media are putting these strategies into high gear when it comes to the increasing likelihood that Obama Administration officials illegally unmasked Trump officials’ names in surveillance transcripts, and that they did so solely for political purposes. This is a very serious crime, and if it happened it should be a major scandal. Republican Devin Nunes appears to have pretty convincing evidence that all this went on.
But as you might expect, the attention has not been on the seriousness or the crime nor on the nature of the evidence it happened, but rather on the details of how Nunes gathered the evidence, and with whom he might have spoken in the course of doing so. The Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel breaks down just how absurd all this is:
All this engineered drama served to deep-six the important information Americans urgently deserve to know. Mr. Nunes has said he has seen proof that the Obama White House surveilled the incoming administration—on subjects that had nothing to do with Russia—and that it further unmasked (identified by name) transition officials. This goes far beyond a mere scandal. It’s a potential crime.
We’ve known since early February that a call by former national security adviser Mike Flynn to the Russian ambassador was monitored by U.S. intelligence. There’s nothing improper in tapping foreign officials. But it was improper that Mr. Flynn’s name was revealed and leaked to the press, along with the substance of his conversation. The media nonetheless excused all this by claiming one piece of Mr. Flynn’s conversation (sanctions) was relevant to the continuing investigation into Trump-Russia ties.
Around the same time, Mr. Nunes’s own intelligence sources informed him that documents showed further collection of information about, and unmasking of, Trump transition officials. These documents aren’t easily obtainable, since they aren’t the “finished” intelligence products that Congress gets to see. Nonetheless, for weeks Mr. Nunes has been demanding intelligence agencies turn over said documents—with no luck, so far.
Mr. Nunes earlier this week got his own source to show him a treasure trove of documents at a secure facility. Here are the relevant details:
First, there were dozens of documents with information about Trump officials. Second, the information these documents contained was not related to Russia. Third, while many reports did “mask” identities (referring, for instance, to “U.S. Person 1 or 2”) they were written in ways that made clear which Trump officials were being discussed. Fourth, in at least one instance, a Trump official other than Mr. Flynn was outright unmasked. Finally, these documents were circulated at the highest levels of government.
To sum up, Team Obama was spying broadly on the incoming administration.
Democrats have been screaming for more than a week that Nunes needs to recuse himself from the investigation because it was supposedly “unethical” for him to view the information at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. But Nunes isn’t about to surrender to such nonsense. He understands exactly what it is, which is an attempt to cast asperions on the evidence prior to it being released.
Democrats hope the media will help them by making Nunes’s discovery process more the story than the nature of the evidence itself, and the media will surely do exactly that. Both will cross their fingers and hope the public fails to understand just how serious a crime it was for Obama intelligence officials to unmask Trump officials, especially for baldly political purposes. If the public shrugs its shoulders and figures this is just politics as usual and it’s no big deal, the media will have done its job and the Democrats can continue insisting that Trump’s accusations against Obama were completely unfounded.
Hopefully the conservative alternative media has a loud enough voice to cut through all that noise and show the public what a serious offense actually occurred here. Trump may have been literally off base when he referred to “wiretapping” and to the physical structure of Trump Tower. But here’s what you may not know: The term wiretapping is commonly used as a euphemism for all kinds of surveillance, just as you might use the term marketing when what you really mean is public relations. You’re not being precisely accurate, but people know what you mean.
If the Obama Administration listened to the phone calls of Trump officials via surveillance, and unmasked their names illegally, it doesn’t matter if it was literally wiretapping or if there were wiretaps installed in Trump Tower. It doesn’t even matter if someone else was ostensibly the target of the surveillance. It’s still a crime, and President Trump’s imprecise tweet language doesn’t make it any less serious.
So the left has to destroy any credibility Devin Nunes has before he releases his full report. That provides them with the excuse to disregard every word in it, which they desperately want to do.
But the only thing Devin Nunes has done here is his job. He’s just done it a little too well for the liking of the left and the media, which fears nothing more than having to admit there was something to Trump’s tweet after all - oh, and that Obama Administration officials may been guilty of politically motivated, felony spying on their successors. That is their worst nightmare.
Evidence is scary. Better to attack the guy gathering it than to face up to where it leads you.
Dan Calabrese’s column is distributed by CainTV, which can be found at caintv.com
A new edition of Dan’s book “Powers and Principalities” is now available in hard copy and e-book editions. Follow all of Dan’s work, including his series of Christian spiritual warfare novels, by liking his page on Facebook.
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