What has Schiff seen that’s silenced him?
Remember, leaks cut both ways. A leaker gave the New York Times and the Washington Post information about “surveillance” on Trump that fed stories of smoke and fire on various campaign and administration associates connections with the Russians. Another leaker fed specific highly classified document references to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes. Nunes worked with White House staffers to gain access to those documents in a secure fashion, without informing his fellow committee members.
That was undoubtedly against procedure, but Nunes had no idea what he was going to see, and no way to see the documents without going through the White House. It’s not as if the CIA, DIA, NSA, or any other intelligence community agency was about to go along with a document request.
We don’t know what Nunes saw, but we do know that it indicated there was some “incidental” data collection on Trump’s campaign and that information was available to the Obama administration. It’s now surfaced that Susan Rice requested specific “by name” intelligence data on Trump staffers.
Schiff has now seen what Nunes saw. His response should be troubling for those grandstanding Democrats. “While I cannot discuss the content of the documents, if the White House had any concern over these materials, they should have been shared with the full committees in the first place as a part of our ordinary oversight responsibilities,” the statement read.
- Leaker gives Nunes list of document serial numbers.
- Nunes asks White House — probably one of the two lawyers fingered by the NYT as leakers — for help retrieving the documents because of agency stonewalling.
- NSC intel guy retrieves the documents and passes them to White House counsel for clearance. This part alone makes this sequence believable to me. The NSC intel chief is on thin ice with McMaster, the odds of him defying McMaster by collaborating with Nunes on his own as a “leaker” seemed to me to approach zero.
- Nunes visits White House SCIF and views documents that have been retrieved.
This is backed up by the fact that the CIA moved to have National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster reassign Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the National Security Council’s senior director of intelligence. Trump belayed that order.
It appears that Schiff has no answer for the documents that were leaked to Nunes. The intelligence community has been caught with its pinky in the pushke, and they don’t like it at all. The documents should now be shared with the entire House Intelligence Committee, and hopefully the Department of Justice. Whatever went on between Trump and Russia, it is not a bigger story than the abuse of intelligence information that seems to be rampant in the intelligence community.
Instead of “Nixon-Watergate,” we are more likely looking at a “Scooter Libby-Valerie Plame” scenario. Fellow billionaire and Trump-watcher Mark Cuban’s take is worth reading. The short version is that Trump simply did what businessmen do–he didn’t use Russian influence to win the election–and Trump didn’t have the situational awareness to organize that kind of scandal if he could have.
There was a concentrated effort to stop Trump, and it’s looking likely that members of our intelligence community were complicit in that effort to some degree.
Leaks cut both ways. It’s time for our intelligence folks to put their cards on the table with the administration and Congress. It’s also time for Democrats in Congress and their media minions to quit their single-minded effort to destroy Trump. But I’m pretty sure that’s asking too much.