Saturday morning, March 4th, 2017, President Trump sent out a series of incendiary tweets, which we explored in a past article. These wiretapping accusations have taken on a life of their own since then, culminating in a congressional hearing on this issue among others yesterday.
The hearing itself was a grueling 5-hour affair in which FBI director James Comey and NSA director, Navy Admiral Mike Rogers, testified before congress on issues related to Russian interference in our election, the wiretapping allegations, sources of leaks concerning classified information, and a broad range of tangentially connected lines of questioning. At the end of this mind-numbing session, I walked away with a few important conclusions.
- Both Comey and Rogers testified that they had no knowledge to support Trump’s wiretapping claims. This is important because the FBI and NSA are both important domestic surveillance arms with priorities of intelligence and counterintelligence. If there was going to be a request routed through any traditional means, they would have likely known about it. This subject seems to be coming to a conclusion, but if Sean Spicer is relaying Trump’s message accurately, it doesn’t look like they will let the facts end the discussion.
- There actually is an FBI investigation into Russian election interference that involves at least some members of the Trump campaign. This isn’t necessarily indicating that they have conclusive evidence of wrongdoing of any kind. However, there seems to be enough surrounding Team Trump, between Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and Michael Flynn that the White House has begun distancing themselves from their former allies. This is still an open investigation, one which Comey refused to discuss, so drawing any conclusions now would be ill advised.
- The leaks of classified information have people in government very nervous. The republicans involved in the hearing didn’t seem very interested in the stated goals that kicked everything off, however, they did address a very serious problem. The torrential flow of leaks coming out of the highest levels of our bureaucracy. Now most of them may not have risen to the level of asserting we should prosecute journalists who publish the material, as Trey Gowdy did during his line of questioning. They did, however, emphasize that this isn’t normal, acceptable, or sustainable. Occasional leaks are an important part of keeping the public informed, but too much will always leave us more vulnerable.
- We have not nearly reached the conclusion of the Russian debacle. Whatever your opinion on the issue of Russia and our electoral independence, what is clear, is that we have a long way to go in this investigation. Both sides of the aisle would probably like a bow tied on this story, but that doesn’t appear to be in the foreseeable future.
The hearing yesterday brought both more clarity to the concerns we had, and a whole host of additional concerns to take their place in the back of our minds. Those doing the questioning and those being questioned both managed to remain professional, and the answers, when they could be given, were not obfuscated. In this time of political turmoil, this was a welcome morning of relief provided in the form of a bipartisan seeking out facts to an issue of concern for many Americans. If we are going to get past the partisan divide, a devotion to finding the truth will be a foundation on which we build. This was a much-needed nudge in the right direction for the country, and I hope to see more like it in the future.