On the same day that the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal warned that President Donald Trump was going to go down in history as a “fake president,” in part because of his “false tweet” about the “wiretapping” of Trump Tower, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee disclosed evidence of the wiretapping, also known as surveillance.
The Journal editorial, “A President’s Credibility,” will probably not be followed up by an editorial on the Journal’s lack of credibility.
The anti-Trump editorial followed “conservative” Fox News undermining its own commentator, Judge Andrew Napolitano, whose sources said that the surveillance was conducted by the British to give U.S. intelligence officials plausible deniability. Napolitano was apparently suspended.
But thanks to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chairman of the committee, Trump has been vindicated, media credibility has suffered another blow, and the inquiry is taking a very interesting turn. It is now turning to the question of what President Barack Obama knew and when he knew it, and what role FBI Director James Comey has been playing in the cover-up.
At Monday’s hearing, Comey said, “With respect to the President’s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets and we have looked carefully inside the FBI. The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components. The department has no information that supports those tweets.”
The evidence cited by Nunes suggests that Comey lied. Who is he protecting? It looks like Obama and/or his top aides.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) had asked Comey: “Did you brief President Obama on any calls involving Michael Flynn?” Comey replied, “I’m not gonna get into either that particular case, that matter, or any conversations I had with the President. So I can’t answer that.”
This is critical because Flynn’s name was improperly “unmasked” and was then illegally leaked to David Ignatius of The Washington Post, resulting in Flynn’s forced resignation as national security advisor.
When Gowdy asked Comey if he could assure the American people that the illegal leak of classified information in the Flynn case was going to be investigated, the FBI director replied, “I can’t but I hope—I hope people watching know how seriously we take leaks of classified information. But I don’t want to confirm it by saying that we’re investigating it. And I’m sorry I have to draw the line, I just think that’s the right way to be.”
Here was an obvious case of illegal conduct, but the director would not confirm an investigation. Yet he confirmed an investigation of Trump and his associates, without any evidence of wrongdoing, and won’t discuss what he told President Obama about the investigation.
“I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked,” Nunes said in his statement on the surveillance. He added, “To be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia or any investigation of Russian activities or of the Trump team.” Nunes then outlined some of the key issues regarding the surveillance:
- Who was aware of it?
- Why it was not disclosed to Congress?
- Who requested and authorized the additional unmasking?
- Did anyone direct the intelligence community to focus on Trump associates? and
- Were any laws, regulations or procedures violated?
The Journal’s editorial attacking Trump’s credibility has backfired. We now know, according to Nunes and the whistleblower who came forward with this information to his committee, that a massive cover-up has been underway involving the intelligence community, including the FBI. Unraveling the cover-up may lead into the oval office—not Trump’s, but Obama’s.
The Journal editorial said Trump’s claim about wiretapping or surveillance had been “repudiated by his own FBI director.” Now that FBI director has been repudiated.
The Journal also condemned the Trump White House for accepting “an unchecked TV claim that insulted an ally,” a reference to Napolitano’s report about British involvement in the surveillance.
What is “unchecked” is the “public denial” from the British Government Communications Headquarters. Why should the British be believed, when there have been decades of collaboration between the GCHQ and the NSA?
The Journal suggested that Trump was clinging to the claim of surveillance “like a drunk to an empty gin bottle.” Leaving aside the defamatory nature of this innuendo, it would appear that the bottle is not only full but that there is more to come.
At this stage in the investigation, responsible media should encourage more whistleblowers to come forward, so that former Obama White House officials, including possibly Obama himself, can be put under oath and grilled about their knowledge of the surveillance.
As for Comey, he joins the Journal’s editorial page writers on the list of people who have completely lost their credibility and can’t be trusted. He should resign and be replaced.
Regarding Fox News, the network should reinstate Judge Napolitano and establish a special unit to investigate the FBI and the intelligence community. Sean Hannity shouldn’t be the only Fox News personality trying to get to the bottom of this Watergate-type scandal.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].