Run for Cover: Trump Under Siege, Russia Scandal Blows Up, Collusion Alleged

 

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WHITE HOUSE

Run for Cover: Trump Under Siege, Russia Scandal Blows Up, Collusion Alleged

Exaggerations, Accusations, Implausible Denials

Donald Trump faces growing scrutiny over his ties to Russia and debilitating attacks from supporters on his credibility. (Photo: Getty)

Donald Trump is under siege after new evidence surfaced that campaign operatives colluded with Russia during the election. The charges came in the face of an unprecedented loss of confidence in his administration over the steady stream of falsehoods emanating from the White House.

Meanwhile, all-out partisan warfare erupted on Capitol Hill after the House Intelligence Committee chairman broke precedent in an effort to provide cover for the president’s latest lie.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., made an unauthorized disclosure of intelligence information to the President, who is under investigation by the FBI. Then, he held a news conference outside the White House and disclosed the same information to the public.

Nunes said the names of Trump surrogates, and possibly the president himself, appeared in surveillance reports compiled by U.S. intelligence agencies in the final months of the Obama administration.

He added that they were “incidentally” surveilled and the method was legal and court authorized. He provided no other details and did not produce the reports or any other evidence.

But he said the finding at least partially justified Trump’s claim that Obama had “wiretapped” Trump Tower in New York City during the election, although he offered no evidence to directly substantiate Trump’s claims.

Nunes’ White House sojourn was done without informing other committee members and came as a shock to ranking Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of Calif., and other committee members.

“[Nunes’] actions simply raise enormous doubt about whether the committee can do its work, and I think that more than anything else I’ve seen, this makes the most profound case for the formation of an independent commission,” Schiff said during a news conference yesterday.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Nunes appeared to reveal classified information, calling it a “serious concern” and possibly illegal.

Committee Republicans spent a great deal of time questioning Comey over leaks and the illegal “unmasking” of intelligence targets in the news media.

On Sunday, Schiff told NBC’s “Meet The Press” investigators have circumstantial evidence of collusion and direct evidence of deception by Trump campaign officials.

Then, CNN, citing unnamed officials, reported yesterday the FBI had uncovered evidence that Trump associates communicated with suspected Russian operatives during the campaign to possibly coordinate the release of emails damaging to Clinton’s campaign.

The information includes human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings, CNN reported citing unnamed U.S. officials.

The investigation is ongoing and the information referenced is not conclusive, CNN added.

Only three days ago (Mar. 20), FBI Director James Comey revealed before the House committee that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and possible collusion with the release of emails stolen by Russian hackers.

The emails were hacked from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. They were published by Wikileaks, which Comey described as a Russian “cutout.”

During the hearing, both Comey and National Security Agency (NSA) head Mike Rogers testified that no evidence exists that Obama ordered wiretaps either directly or through Britain’s spy agency.

Even after the statements, Trump, through spokesman Sean Spicer refused to back off the allegation or apologize.

The following day, the generally pro-Trump Wall Street Journal published a blistering editorial attacking the president over his failing credibility.

It cited “his seemingly endless stream of exaggerations, evidence-free accusations, implausible denials and other falsehood.”

In the face of Comey’s and Rogers’ statements, “the President clings to his assertion like a drunk to an empty gin bottle, rolling out his press spokesman to make more dubious claims,” the editorial stated.

“Two months into his Presidency, Gallup has Mr. Trump’s approval rating at 39 percent. No doubt Mr. Trump considers that fake news, but if he doesn’t show more respect for the truth most Americans may conclude he’s a fake President.”

Trump’s dissembling is hurting the nation’s standing in the world, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice warned in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.

“First impressions matter and an unsettling pattern has already been established.The foundation of the United States’ unrivaled global leadership rests only in part on our military might, the strength of our economy and the power of our ideals. It is also grounded in the perception that the United States is steady, rational and fact-based. To lead effectively, the United States must maintain respect and trust. So, when a White House deliberately dissembles and serially contorts the facts, its actions pose a serious risk to America’s global leadership, among friends and adversaries alike.”

Nunes, who served on the Trump campaign, has been used by the White House on other occasions to push back on politically damaging reports about Trump and Russia. White House officials dismissed suggestions that Trump aides had coordinated with Nunes, according to The Washington Post.

This story is still developing. Be sure to follow Money & Power on Twitter for the latest updates.