The “Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government” is a grotesque, Orwellian joke. Created by the U.S. House Republican majority, it will be headed by Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.
In a piece for online forum Just Security, Noah Bookbinder, former chief counsel for criminal justice for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, argues that the committee is going to politically abuse the congressional oversight system.
“Federal law enforcement has approached the rampant illegality of the Trump administration with tremendous restraint,” Bookbinder says. “Despite a plethora of credible allegations of criminal conduct by Trump and those around him, the many different instances of illegality during Trump’s presidency prior to efforts to overturn the 2020 election have been subject to little investigation and few charges.”
It’s time to re-examine the multi-dimensional Russian influence operation to elect Trump in 2016. Trumpistas insist it didn’t happen — that it was a hoax.
In his substack, Yale historian Timothy Snyder argues that the recent indictment of a former FBI agent raises disturbing questions. He said, “We are on the edge of a spy scandal with major implications for how we understand the Trump administration, our national security, and ourselves.”
Charles McGonigal, who was the FBI’s leading spy hunter in the agency’s New York field office, was recently indicted on charges of money laundering, violating U.S. sanctions and other counts stemming from his alleged ties to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian aluminum tycoon and ally of Vladimir Putin. In his role at the FBI, McGonigal had been investigating Deripaska.
Deripaska has been under American sanctions since 2018. He was the former employer of Paul Manafort, longtime GOP political consultant and lobbyist. Manafort owed Deripaska many millions of dollars and the angry tycoon was pursuing him in court. In 2016, Manafort approached Trump and offered to be his campaign manager for free.
Then Manafort offered “private briefings” to Deripaska on Trump’s campaign. Manafort sent the Russians data from the Trump campaign through an intermediary, including campaign polling data about Americans that would be useful for an influence operation.
In April 2016, Timothy Snyder wrote about the connection between Trump’s campaign and Putin. He wasn’t taken seriously. Snyder’s expertise is Eastern Europe and he was noticing a pattern.
He writes: “Between 2010 and 2013, Russia sought to control Ukraine using the same methods which were on display in 2016 in its influence operation in the United States: social media, money, and a pliable candidate for head of state. When that failed, Russia had invaded Ukraine (in 2014), under the cover of some very successful influence operations.” Unfortunately, the operations were also successful with quite a few Americans on the left who have accepted the Putin narrative of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, there were intriguing things going on at the FBI. The FBI, CIA and NSA opened up a counterintelligence investigation of links between Russian officials and the Trump campaign after a Trump aide blabbed to an Australian diplomat in a London bar.
The probe was the basis of the Mueller investigation. We didn’t hear about it until after election day. In a clear contrast, FBI director James Comey announced on Oct. 28 that the agency had reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. This was just 10 days before the election. Polls showed that this hurt Clinton. Trump celebrated the development at his rallies. Then, after eight days, Comey announced on Nov. 6 that the investigation was closed and Clinton was cleared. It was two days before the election.
This was bizarre. Comey would later say he was concerned people in the New York FBI office would leak. Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani told Fox News he had insider knowledge of Clinton from the office.
On Nov. 4, Spencer Ackerman of The Guardian reported that current and former FBI agents in the New York office told him agents were enraged that Comey wasn’t indicting Clinton. A current agent said, “The FBI is Trumpland.” He added that Clinton is “the antichrist personified to a large swath of FBI personnel,” and that “the reason why they’re leaking is they’re pro-Trump.”
Snyder concluded: “The Russian operation to get Trump elected in 2016 was real. We are still living under the specter of 2016, and we are closer to the beginning of the process of learning about it then we are to the end.”