Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Tell

Experienced pokers players look for any behavior that might tip them off about what their opponent is thinking -- a pattern of tapping one's fingers on the table, a repressed smile, whistling. It's called a "tell." The Democrats and their friends are offering up rather a lot of tells at the moment.

First, the war against Devin Nunes. We've discussed the matter before. Now we have 20 Democrats demanding Nunes step down:
Congress must come together in a bipartisan fashion to understand the nature of this attack and the scope of Russian ties to the Trump campaign, transition team, and presidential administration. Chairman Nunes has demonstrated his bias, and the public will no longer accept the results of this probe as legitimate under his leadership. This is about country, not party. It is also a test about the ability of the House, as an institution, to conduct an investigation of the Executive Branch while being independent of that branch. Chairman Nunes’ recent actions make clear he has failed that test. Only his recusal will allow the House to pass that test.
In the lexicon of Democrats, "bipartisan" means they get their way. It's clear why they don't want Nunes to go forward -- he's on to something.

Meanwhile, on the support staff side of the Democrats, we have this stirring statement of principle:
In a monologue on his Monday night program, CNN host Don Lemon said the network and host will not cover the story about Susan Rice uncovering, or 'unmasking,' the names of Trump officials and confidants that were swept up in surveillance.

"So let us be very clear about this," Lemon said. "There is no evidence whatsoever that the Trump team surveilled or spied on -- was spied on illegally. There is no evidence that backs up the president's original claim."

"And on this program tonight, we will not insult your intelligence by pretending otherwise, nor will we aid and abet the people who were trying to misinform you the American people by creating a diversion. We're not going to do it," Lemon declared.
Emphasis mine. CNN is not going to touch the story. It's left to others to do so. Writing for National Review, a publication that isn't exactly supportive of Donald Trump, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy explains what really went on:

In general, it is the FBI that conducts investigations that bear on American citizens suspected of committing crimes or of acting as agents of foreign powers. In the matter of alleged Russian meddling, the investigative camp also includes the CIA and the NSA. All three agencies conducted a probe and issued a joint report in January. That was after Obama, despite having previously acknowledged that the Russian activity was inconsequential, suddenly made a great show of ordering an inquiry and issuing sanctions.

Consequently, if unmasking was relevant to the Russia investigation, it would have been done by those three agencies. And if it had been critical to know the identities of Americans caught up in other foreign intelligence efforts, the agencies that collect the information and conduct investigations would have unmasked it. Because they are the agencies that collect and refine intelligence “products” for the rest of the “intelligence community,” they are responsible for any unmasking; and they do it under “minimization” standards that FBI Director James Comey, in recent congressional testimony, described as “obsessive” in their determination to protect the identities and privacy of Americans.

Understand: There would have been no intelligence need for Susan Rice to ask for identities to be unmasked. If there had been a real need to reveal the identities — an intelligence need based on American interests — the unmasking would have been done by the investigating agencies.

The national-security adviser is not an investigator. She is a White House staffer. The president’s staff is a consumer of intelligence, not a generator or collector of it. If Susan Rice was unmasking Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; it was to fulfill a political desire based on Democratic-party interests.
It's not in the interest of the Democratic Party to have such actions receive scrutiny. So Nunes must step down, and Don Lemon and his pals at CNN must not discuss the matter, either. As McCarthy rightly points out, political appointees do political things. If you choose to believe that Repubicans are Evil and Democrats are Good, I'm sure it's tough to swallow. It's also why we're seeing so much finger tapping and whistling from our fellow citizens on the port side.

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