There are so many developments in the Russia story unfolding since Friday that it is hard to keep up with all the threads. But keep an eye on this. Today House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is threatening to hold the Department of Justice in contempt for failing to turn information over to his committee. This is tied to news that a top FBI agent was taken off the Russia probe for texting political criticisms of President Trump. But as I explained last night there is strong evidence that Nunes himself is implicated in Mike Flynn’s efforts to obstruct the Russia probe, efforts which began in the first days of the Trump Presidency and was continued by his deputies at the National Security Council after he was fired.
I note this briefly in my post last night taking stock of the Russia probe. Let me briefly recap and point you in the direction of where to find more information.
There is both circumstantial and direct evidence that immediately on taking over the National Security Council Flynn tasked his deputy, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, with reviewing what the Russia probe had found to date and surveilling it going forward. I discussed this at some length back in March. The key point: Cohen-Watnick was Senior Director of Intelligence Programs for Flynn at the NSC. That gave him substantial ability to sift through the most secret findings and data across the intelligence apparatus, including what had been discovered about Flynn’s activities during the transition.
After Flynn’s ouster, Cohen-Watnick continued this ‘review’ and eventually brought his findings to White House Counsel Donald McGahn. McGahn immediately saw the danger of what Cohen-Watnick was doing and told him to stop. He didn’t stop. He continued his snooping and went around McGahn to the more receptive Devin Nunes. This is the origin of the whole ‘unmasking’ controversy, which made such news in the spring. It is almost certainly the indirect origin of Trump’s tweeted claim that Barack Obama had wiretapped him in Trump Tower.
The salient point is that Nunes completely involved himself in this caper, even to the point of weird late night hijinks and visits to the White House. He went from his role as overseeing the intelligence community in his committee role to becoming part of an effort to obstruct an investigation.
Nunes is implicated in this. The fact that he’s still involved in the investigation in any way is a scandal in itself. Click the link to the March post above to learn more.
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