FBI emails made public in connection with the recent trial of Michael Sussmann show that President Barack Obama was actively encouraging his top security officials to do a number on the Queen of Hearts’ "Sentence First; Verdict Afterwards" in order to help Mrs. Clinton win in 2016.
For those, like me, who wondered how top U.S. law enforcement and security officials felt they had immunity to bend so many of the rules to help Mrs. Clinton, the FBI emails suggest they were given very poor example by the president himself (their conviction that Mrs. Clinton was a shoo-in surely also helped).
Like the manufactured-out-of-whole-cloth story about Trump ties with Russia’s Alfa Bank, there was zero hard evidence to prove that Russia hacked the DNC emails showing that the deck had been stacked steeply against Bernie Sanders.
The recently revealed FBI messages show that Obama ordered Director of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to press on anyway. So, as with the Alfa Bank caper, they made up the evidence. And the media had a heyday. And Donald Trump won anyway.
Can’t CrowdStrike Help?
Recall that FBI Director James Comey deferred to CrowdStrike, a sketchy cyber security firm to investigate the "Russian hack" rather than have his own FBI technicians seize the DNC computers and do the forensics. (Sketchy? At about the same time CrowdStrike had been hired to examine an alleged hack of a Ukrainian artillery application. It blamed Russia but its software was exposed as faulty and it was later forced to rewrite it.)
Comey testified that the DNC would not give him permission to examine the DNC server! Recall, too, that John McCain and others were shouting that Russia had committed an "act of war."
Well, it turns out that CrowdStrike, starting in the fall of 2016, would never be able to deliver what the Democrats wanted. The FBI was still asking CrowdStrike for mirror images of the DNC servers on Oct. 13, just weeks before the Nov. 8 election, looking for signs of Russian hacking.
The search to find damning evidence on Russia was initially aimed at diverting attention from the damaging content of the DNC emails. "Russian interference" then grew like Topsy, and is still widely believed, even though the head of CrowdStrike fessed up under oath on Dec. 5, 2017 that CrowdStrike could find no technical evidence that the Russians – or anyone else – hacked those emails.
No Evidence? No Problem
The newly available emails show FBI frustration at CrowdStrike’s inability to deliver on a promise to give the FBI images of the DNC servers. (The Bureau was still requesting them on Oct. 13.) Not a problem, said the president; press on. So on Oct. 7, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, and the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper went ahead anyway with a joint statement which began:
The US Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process.
Jeh Johnson explained to the House Intelligence Committee in June 2017:
"The President approved the statement. I know he wanted to make the statement. So that was very definitely a statement by the United States government, not just James Clapper and me."
Just What the Doctor Ordered
The Clinton campaign had been lusting for such a statement. I heard this explained in gory detail by the campaign’s PR guru, Jennifer Palmieri on April 6, 2017 at the Clinton/Podesta think tank, Center for American Progress Fund. Palmieri was one of the speakers on the "serious challenge to US national security by Russia’s interference in our democracy."
Palmieri was asked to comment, from her insider perspective, on "what was actually going on in late summer/early fall."
It was a surreal experience for us and our campaign so I did appreciate that for the press to absorb … the idea that behind the stage that the Trump campaign was coordinating with Russia to defeat Hillary Clinton was too fantastic for people to, um, for the press to process, to absorb…
But then we go back to Brooklyn and heard from the – mostly our sources were other intelligence, with the press who work in the intelligence sphere, and that’s where we heard things and that’s where we learned about the dossier and the other story lines that were swirling about; … And along the way the administration started confirming various pieces of what they were concerned about what Russia was doing. … And that was a really hard thing. … People did not care about Russia … because they didn’t hear about it. ….
And we did finally get to the point on October 7, when the administration came out with a very stunning [memorandum]. How stunning it was for both the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of Homeland Security to put out a statement – a long statement – that said with high confidence that Russia was interfering in the election and they were also directing the timing of the leaks. And it named the institutions – WikiLeaks, dcleaks, and Guccifer – as being Russian-led, and how stunning that was to be that certain and that public. … [Emphasis added.]
So I do think that the answer for the Democrats now … in both the House and the Senate is to talk about it more and make it more real ….
Sadly, most Americans still think it’s real.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. His 27-year career as a CIA analyst includes serving as Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and preparer/briefer of the President’s Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).