Competing Conspiracies

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With respect to President Donald Trump, the Russian government, and the mainstream media, there are two narratives which have vied for the public’s attention over the past several months. They are as follows:

  1. The Russian government conspired with the Trump campaign in some capacity in order to tilt the election in his favor.
  2. The Obama administration ran surveillance on the Trump campaign, most likely illegally

The former narrative has been advanced by leftists, the neoconservative globalist element of the right, and the mainstream media. The latter narrative was introduced by President Trump himself, seemingly in response to the growing hysteria fomented by that first narrative.

The ultimate origin of Conspiracy #1 is the unconventional views President Trump holds on the topic of Russia. Congressman Dennis Heck referenced this during the much hyped Congressional hearing on Russian intervention in the 2016 election, dutifully playing up the idea that the Trump campaign may have colluded in the scheme:

Republicans who are always so strong against geopolitical foes like Russia, I know my colleagues on this committee take the Russia threat very seriously. Why wouldn’t the people who inhabit the White House? How else can we explain an Administration that beats up our oldest allies, like Australia and Britain, and our strongest and most sacrosanct alliance, like NATO, but never, ever say a bad word about Putin. In fact, they say a lot of good words about Putin.

An administration that we have heard decisively makes up baseless wiretapping charges against a former United States President, equates our intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany, and argues moral equivalents between a repressive, authoritarian states with an abhorrent human rights record like Russia in our free and open democracy. And yet, this Administration never, ever utters any criticism of Russia.

During the presidential election, Trump was one of the few candidates who did not, implicitly or explicitly, advocate for war with Russia. The Republicans, with the notable exception of Rand Paul, opposed Trump on this point, constantly falling over themselves describing how tough they would be on Putin and how badly they wanted to “punch the Russians in the nose,” in the words of John Kasich.

Hillary Clinton also expressed her desire for aggro with the Russians, consistently stating her support for  no-fly zone over Syria, even after it was pointed out by top generals that establishing such a zone would lead to war. Chris Wallace explicitly laid this out to her in the third Presidential debate, all but asking her “do you want war with Russia?” She brushed aside the grave implications and stood by her position.

That Trump stood so steadfastly against Republican and Democratic establishment orthodoxy meant that the media establishment had no choice but to fall in line against Trump. Given that this orthodoxy was, and is an anti-Putin, anti-Russia position, the media had no problems with this course. After all, Putin is a massive check on the globalist, leftist policy prescription for world. Geopolitically he resists NATO, and culturally he has promoted more traditionalist, Christian views within Russia, and has been critical of the West and its relative abandonment of those views.

Prior to the election, the media angst over Trump’s Putin views was limited to just another bad view in a long list of bad views Trump held.  The media and his political opponents were far more interested in exploring the RACIST SEXIST HOMOPHOBE XENOPHOBE line of criticism. To the extent Russians were mentioned before the election, it was to deflect attention away from the substance of the DNC leaks and the Podesta leaks. The fact that the Democrats were exposed as corrupt and duplicitous was supposed to be forgotten, simply because it was allegedly Russians who exposed that truth.

It was only after the election that the view that the Russian government ‘hacked the election’ for the purpose of installing Donald Trump as president took shape and metastasized to the point where a much hyped Congressional hearing on that matter took place this past Monday. Having failed in denying Trump the presidency on the basis of him being a ‘bigot,’ the coalition of leftist, neoconservative globalists and their media mouthpieces moved to paint Trump’s political stance on the subject of Russia and foreign policy as something much more nefarious than just an opposing viewpoint.

Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee which held the aforementioned hearing on Monday said in his opening remarks that Trump’s continued insistence on NATO countries paying their fair share, as they had already agreed to, was evidence of a quid pro quo, in which the Russian government hacked documents to help Trump in exchange for Trump’s tough talk:

The hacked documents would be in exchange for a Trump administration policy that de-emphasizes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and instead focuses on criticizing NATO countries for not paying their fair share. Policies which even as recently as the President’s meeting last week with Angela Merkel have now presently come to pass.

Rand Paul, who, as mentioned before, was one of the few Republicans unwilling to sign on to a policy of war with Russia during the campaign, found himself in an explosive tiff with Senator John McCain last week. McCain, the foremost symbol of neoconservative  globalism, wanted to put forth a resolution which would support Montenegro’s entrance into NATO. McCain was asking for a unanimous consent request which would have allowed the measure to go to a full Senate vote, without debate, had it been passed without objection.

In the stunning video below, McCain, knowing that a Paul objection was imminent, moved to declare anyone who would object to be in cahoots with the Russians. Paul remained unnerved, raised his objection and left the room.

McCain then launched into an angry invective against Senator Paul, accusing him of ‘working for Vladamir Putin.’  All because Paul wanted the Senate to have a discussion about the merits of including Montenegro, a poor country which would almost certainly end up being a ward of NATO, into the organization. The only clear ‘merit’ would be that geopolitically, it would annoy the Russians. Thus, the unwillingness of Paul to unnecessarily provoke Russia must mean that he is a Russian agent. Such is the rationale of globalists of every political bent.

Of course, there was the infamous ‘dossier,’ which contained unsubstantiated information collected by a British intelligence agent at the behest of Trump’s political enemies, which alleged that the Russian government had ‘kompromat’ on Trump which was held over his head as blackmail.

Then there was Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who during his confirmation hearings, was asked by Senator Al Franken whether he would have an issue investigating associates of the Trump campaign who had contacted Russian officials in the context of the 2016 election, as had been reported at the time.

Sessions answered that he himself, having been such an associate, did not have any contact with the Russians. It was later unearthed that Sessions had in fact had one meeting with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak in his capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, and an informal meet-and-greet with Kislyak at the Republican National Convention, publicly, in the presence of several other ambassadors.

Indeed, Sessions had had over 25 similar meetings in his Senate office in the same Armed Forces Committee capacity as his meeting with Kislyak, including one with the Ukrainian ambassador the day before. Yet, this seemingly routine meeting was used as evidence to suggest that Sessions had perjured himself during his confirmation hearings, prompting calls for his resignation from the post. The Russian Conspiracy frenzy was at its highest.

 

Connecting the Dots

 

It was then that Trump dropped his infamous tweet storm, early on a Saturday Morning:

[Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!]

[Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!]

[I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!]

[How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate.Bad (or sick) guy!]

_____________________________________________

The conspiracy Trump put forth was largely sourced from the first conspiracy, that his campaign colluded with the Russians. In spinning that narrative, the media continually cited anonymous officials who were essentially leaking classified information. Consider the following news items:

January 19/20, 2017, NYT: Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates. The version of this story that ran in the print version had this headline: Wiretapped Data Used In Inquiry of Trump Aides – Examining Russian Ties:

The F.B.I. is leading the investigations, aided by the National Security Agency, the C.I.A. and the Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit. The investigators have accelerated their efforts in recent weeks but have found no conclusive evidence of wrongdoing, the officials said. One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.

That would be the Obama White House, as all of this took place before Inauguration at noon on January 20.

February 9, 2017, Washington Post: National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say

Pence also made a more sweeping assertion, saying there had been no contact between members of Trump’s team and Russia during the campaign. To suggest otherwise, he said, “is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.”

Neither of those assertions is consistent with the fuller account of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak provided by officials who had access to reports from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies that routinely monitor the communications of Russian diplomats. Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

All of those officials said Flynn’s references to the election-related sanctions were explicit. Two of those officials went further, saying that Flynn urged Russia not to overreact to the penalties being imposed by President Barack Obama, making clear that the two sides would be in position to review the matter after Trump was sworn in as president.

February 14, 2017, NYT: Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.

[…]

The National Security Agency, which monitors the communications of foreign intelligence services, initially captured the calls between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russians as part of routine foreign surveillance. After that, the F.B.I. asked the N.S.A. to collect as much information as possible about the Russian operatives on the phone calls, and to search through troves of previous intercepted communications that had not been analyzed.

March 1, 2017, NYT: Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking

American allies, including the British and the Dutch, had provided information describing meetings in European cities between Russian officials — and others close to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — and associates of President-elect Trump, according to three former American officials who requested anonymity in discussing classified intelligence.

Separately, American intelligence agencies had intercepted communications of Russian officials, some of them within the Kremlin, discussing contacts with Trump associates.

[…]

As Inauguration Day approached, Obama White House officials grew convinced that the intelligence was damning and that they needed to ensure that as many people as possible inside government could see it, even if people without security clearances could not. Some officials began asking specific questions at intelligence briefings, knowing the answers would be archived and could be easily unearthed by investigators — including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which in early January announced an inquiry into Russian efforts to influence the election.

At intelligence agencies, there was a push to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low classification level to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government — and, in some cases, among European allies. This allowed the upload of as much intelligence as possible to Intellipedia, a secret wiki used by American analysts to share information.

The mainstream media’s own reporting details a story of intelligence officials speaking under the cloak of anonymity to disclose classified information, or in the case of General Flynn, to disclose the fact that his name had been improperly identified as the American in conversation with Kislyak, given Flynn himself was not under investigation.

The media then went on to report with glee the manner in which the Obama administration sought to widely disseminate this information across the government to ensure that such leaks as we have seen happened.

All of this was done to buttress the Russia/Trump collusion angle with the innuendo provided by those numerous anonymous intelligence officials. The legality of the leaks were hand-waved away by political pundits as merely the sort of thing that happens in every administration, and thus was no big deal.

Trump’s tweets changed all of that. In directly accusing President Obama of tapping his phones, Trump brought the legality of the leaks front and center.

The globalist set, who were quick to exalt the leaks with religious fervor when it came to spinning the Collusion Theory, were all of a sudden on the defensive. They made sure to emphasize the fact that Trump had offered no evidence to back his tweets (despite having no evidence themselves with respect to the Collusion Theory). A clear example of the mental gymnastics invoked to contort oneself from a tricky situation was seen in this piece from Liz Spayd, Public Editor of the New York Times.

In it, she dealt with the obvious discrepancy between the Times explicitly reporting on the existence of “wiretapped communications” and the idea that Trump’s tweets were inaccurate by essentially saying that the Times never wrote that Obama himself directed the wiretapping.

Which brings me to the issue of semantics. The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote a fiery piece condemning Trump based on his supposed rocky relationship with the Truth. It used as its centerpiece Trump’s claims that Obama had him wiretapped. These claims were officially shot down by FBI director James Comey and NSA chief Mike Rogers during the aforementioned hearing on Monday, giving the media the green light to officially brand Trump a ‘liar.’

This logic ultimately relies on a hyper-literal interpretation of Trump’s tweets. As in President Obama personally ordered some sort of wiretap – as in a physical method from a 1960s spy novel. It is true that no such, literal wiretapping occurred.

However, it is clear – from the media’s own reporting – that the existence of “intercepted communications,” which is the digital age equivalent of wiretapping, was involved, and indeed was instrumental to the narrative building which occurred. Furthermore, these communications were intercepted by various intelligence agencies, which, owing to their being a part of the executive branch, were under the authority of one President Obama.

Said differently, President Obama did not personally direct a fake painting crew to enter Trump Tower one afternoon and bug the place while Donald Trump was out to lunch. What undeniably did happen was that agencies in the Obama administration ran into members of Trump’s team as they were monitoring the communications of foreigners (which might have been legal), and then proceeded to leak some of the details to the media (which definitely is not legal).

Further credence to this point was given on Wednesday by Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He came forth with the revelation that information he had received indicated that individuals associated with the Trump team had been involved in an “incidental collection,” meaning that those individuals had been subject to surveillance owing to the fact they were on the other end of a call with another individual who was being monitored, as opposed to being monitored party themselves.

The magnitude of this will be more apparent as time goes on.

 

Delegitimizing 45

 

No matter how this saga ends up, the intentions of the globalist cohort of establishment Republicans, Democrats and the media is clear – Delegitimize the Trump presidency. One can easily see this in the hypocrisy surrounding Trump’s tweet claims vis-a-vis the assertion that the Russians ‘hacked the election.’

The propensity of the media to talk up Trump’s loose, bombastic, exaggerative manner of speaking, while somewhat accurate, renders its deliberate decision to adhere to the most hyper-literal interpretation of Trump’s tweets to be a bit odd. After all, if all Trump does is speak in exaggerations, then why were those Tweets not treated as simply another exaggeration? Why was the language in those tweets not treated as the colloquialisms they were, but made out to be gravely literal?

These rhetorical questions are relevant given the phrase ‘hacked the election’ was never scrutinized along its literal meaning with the same aggressiveness, despite being equally as colloquial as ‘Obama wiretapped my phones.’ On top of this, the literal meaning (that Russian operatives would have remotely tampered with voting machines to get certain desired outcomes), had been put down by the intelligence community on several occasions, including the Monday hearing in which it was reiterated that not one vote was altered, and that the tallies from November 8 were correct.

Even the colloquial meaning of ‘hacked the election,’ that Russian operatives via their alleged dissemination of DNC and Podesta emails, and the propagation of ‘fake news’ changed the tenor of the election in a way that favored Trump, faces scrutiny.

Stanford University conducted a study into the matter of fake news, and concluded that the phenomenon had a marginal impact at best:

The researchers also noted that, though social media is an important outlet that Americans use to get their news, only 34 percent of those surveyed trust the information they get from social media, while most still depend on television as their main source of information. In comparing the top 690 U.S. news sites with 65 fake news sites, they found that only 10 percent of total site traffic to news sites comes from social media. However, fake news sites predominantly depend on social media for views. Therefore, it is misleading to focus on Facebook metrics in citing fake news as a major issue during the election.

Allcott and Gentzkow concluded, “Our data suggest that social media were not the most important source of election news, and even the most widely circulated fake news stories were seen by only a small fraction of Americans. For fake news to have changed the outcome of the election, a single fake news story would need to have convinced about 0.7 percent of Clinton voters and non-voters who saw it to shift their votes to Trump.” They added, “For fake news to have changed the outcome of the election, a single fake article would need to have had the same persuasive effect as 36 television campaign ads.”

Given the fact that the vast majority of Americans still depend on the television and more conventional sources of news, and given the fact that the vast majority of the coverage therein was negative to Trump, to the tune of 90%, it is more accurate to allege that the leftist mainstream media ‘hacked the election’ with the purpose of electing Hillary Clinton.

The reason for the hypocrisy is that intellectual honesty, journalistic integrity and plain fighting fair is secondary to the aim of delegitimizing President Trump’s administration in the eyes of the American public. Having failed to prevent Trump from winning the presidency, the globalist set has taken to undermine him as a foreign agent. Note the words of Congressman Heck from the Monday Intelligence Hearing:

Let’s be clear though. This is not about party. It’s not about relitigating the election. It’s not as if anything we do here will put a President from a different political party in the Oval Office. So, I hope that it’s clear that it’s about something much more important. And no, it’s not about political motivation, to my friend who said and suggested that earlier, this is about patriotism, about something way more important than party.

The game plan has been, and will continue to be playing politics under the guise of patriotism. Trump’s original sin was disagreeing with the globalists and their visions of war with Russia and continued NATO expansion. For this he is being made out to be a Russian agent, the figurehead of a Red Scare 2.0. Every time Trump orders a salad with Russian dressing, or the leaked workout routine of one of his associates is shown to include Russian Oblique Twists, the media will be there with the knives out.

It’s already begun, with CNN releasing a counter attack to the Nunes news, alleging that Trump associate Roger Stone colluded with Julian Assange of Wikileaks, and perhaps notorious hacker Guccifer 2.0. That assertion is based on various tweets and interviews Stone gave, in which he was essentially cheerleading the imminent release of Clinton information by Assange. The intimation, is that Stone, who publicly declared having spoken to Assange on several occasions, was in on it because he knew Assange was going to leak information.

However, Assange himself publicly declared that he was going to release information months before he did, rendering most of Stone’s alleged inside knowledge of the coming leaks to be nothing more than speculation on what the publicly declared upcoming leaks would be.

It is this sort of reporting, full of innuendo, and the rehashing old narratives, which will wear thin on the American public. Much like the constant charges of racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia which laced the pre-election coverage of Trump, the Russia conspiracy will end up being the post-election version of The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

With each passing report propagating the Collusion Theory (and burying deep within them the fact that there is no evidence, in order to retain legitimacy), the public will continues to see the game for what it is – an attempt at the political assassination of President Trump.

The fact of the matter remains, that to this point, the only thing that we know for a fact happened, based on public reporting, is that Trump officials had been the subject of surveillance, and had those communications illegally leaked to the media. Thus, Trump’s ‘Wiretap’ Conspiracy Theory is far closer to being Conspiracy Fact than the Collusion Conspiracy.

And it will remain so. This is a fight the globalists cannot win, and it will only be a matter of time before that is made apparent to the masses.