On the eve of a public hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Monday 20th March 2017 at which FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers are due to give evidence, Committee Chair Representative Devin Nunes, has said that he has seen no evidence of collusion during the Presidential election between Russia and anyone associated with Donald Trump.
This unequivocal public denial follows an admission by former Acting CIA Director and Clinton ally Michael Morell that there is no evidence of collusion between anyone associated with Donald Trump and Russia, and an article in Buzzfeed which says that
Even some Democrats on the Intelligence Committee now quietly admit, after several briefings and preliminary inquiries, they don’t expect to find evidence of active, informed collusion between the Trump campaign and known Russian intelligence operatives.
As Glenn Greenwald has recently written for The Intercept, there are clear signs that the Democratic Party leadership, having cranked up the hysteria about alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to unheard of levels, is starting to row back and is seeking to lower the expectations of its political base.
The Duran has consistently said that the claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia are not merely fact free but wrong.
If FBI Director Comey and NSA Director Rogers confirm tomorrow that there is no evidence to support these claims I for one will be interested to see what those who have been pushing these claims will say. My own opinion is that they have invested too much of their credibility into these claims to give up on them, and that rather than retract them they will look for reasons to continue to push them.
As well as preparing the ground for a confirmation from Comey and Rogers that there is no evidence of collusion between the Russians and anyone associated with Donald Trump, Nunes is reported to have made two other very interesting points.
Firstly he said that a crime had been committed against General Flynn in connection with the misuse of a classified intercept of his telephone conversation with Russian ambassador Kislyak to drive him from his job. Comey will presumably confirm on Monday whether the investigation into this crime that the President has repeatedly demanded is underway. If it is not then it looks as if Comey will come under pressure from Nunes and from other Republicans in the Committee to explain why, and to initiate such an investigation without further delay.
As I have written in this past, this is an investigation into an actual crime the identity of whose perpetrators is widely known, including by the New York Times. There is every reason to think that an investigation into this crime would have a quick and successful outcome. If any investigation has not begun, it is almost certainly because of the FBI’s concern that some of those involved are its own agents.
The second thing Nunes said is that he has seen no evidence of a wiretap or FISA warrant for a wiretap of Donald Trump’s telephone in Trump Tower. This is despite earlier reports (never publicly confirmed) of a FISA warrant to tap a computer to check for alleged financial links between the Trump campaign and Russia, which however turned out inconclusive. It seems however that this computer was not located within Trump Tower.
The President is not however retracting from his claim that his telephone conversations were monitored – in fact he repeated it during his press conference with Angela Merkel – and officials close to him are now busy circulating claims that this was done without a warrant. William Binney, the former NSA official turned whistleblower, says this is possible, and it is not clear what steps if any have been taken by the FBI or anyone else to investigate this claim. More will presumably be disclosed about that by Comey and Rogers tomorrow.