The current fixation on "Russian hacking" by the Democrats and the media has always seemed farfetched to me. It sounds more like Boris Badenov's fiendish plan to corner the market on upsidasium. Nonsensical. If the Russians really had the chance to pick the next U.S. President, why on earth would they prefer Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton? After all, it was Hillary Clinton's Department of State that approved Russia's acquisition of 20 percent of American uranium production.
And Hillary was running as Obama 2.0. If you're Russia, what's not to like about that? Obama was the guy caught on an open mic asking Medvedev to assure Vladimir Putin that he, Obama, would be a much better friend with much greater flexibility after the 2012 election. It would be his last election. Obama was the guy who all but invited Vladimir Putin to expand Russian influence into Syria when he, Obama, backed away from his own "red line." Bashar Assad didn't go after all, in spite of what Obama said earlier. Obama is the guy who partnered with Russia to put together the Iran deal, giving the number one state sponsor of terrorism a path to eventually acquiring nuclear weapons. Obama was the guy who stood passively by while Russia took Crimea and moved into eastern Ukraine. Putin had his way with Obama, and there is no reason to think he wouldn't have his way with Hillary.
By promising to make America energy independent, Donald Trump will promote development of our own oil and gas resources. How will the increased supply of oil and natural gas and the attendant downward pressure on world energy prices benefit Vladimir Putin and the Russians when they are so dependent on oil and gas revenue? By canceling the Keystone Pipeline, and restricting drilling operations, Obama and Hillary were much more considerate of Russian ambitions. In spite of all the bluster, the Trump administration has declared its firm support for NATO, with only the desire that other NATA members begin picking up their fair share of the cost. Is a modernized NATO on the Russian border something that Putin might find attractive? Trump's America first strategy calls for rebuilding our military. Is it reasonable to believe Vladimir Putin wants to risk an arms race like the one that brought the Soviet Union to an end? The notion that Russia would prefer Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton doesn't pass the laugh test.
So why are Democrats and the media humping this dumb Russian Hacking story like a two-dollar whore? Mark Levin has put together a timeline that clears up some of the mystery. It involves FISA, and it's political.
Radio host Mark Levin used his Thursday evening show to outline the known steps taken by President Barack Obama's administration in its last months to undermine Donald Trump's presidential campaign and, later, his new administration.
Levin called Obama’s effort “police state” tactics, and suggested that Obama’s actions, rather than conspiracy theories about alleged Russian interference in the presidential election to help Trump, should be the target of congressional investigation.
Drawing on sources including the New York Times and the Washington Post, Levin described the case against Obama so far, based on what is already publicly known. The following is an expanded version of that case, including events that Levin did not mention specifically but are important to the overall timeline.
1. June 2016: FISA request. The Obama administration files a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several advisers. The request, uncharacteristically, is denied.
2. July: Russia joke. Wikileaks releases emails from the Democratic National Committee that show an effort to prevent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) from winning the presidential nomination. In a press conference, Donald Trump refers to Hillary Clinton’s own missing emails, joking: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.” That remark becomes the basis for accusations by Clinton and the media that Trump invited further hacking.
3. October: Podesta emails. In October, Wikileaks releases the emails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, rolling out batches every day until the election, creating new mini-scandals. The Clinton campaign blames Trump and the Russians.
4. October: FISA request. The Obama administration submits a new, narrow request to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. No evidence is found — but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons, Andrew McCarthy at National Review later notes. The Obama administration is now monitoring an opposing presidential campaign using the high-tech surveillance powers of the federal intelligence services.
Barack Obama, notorious for putting government agencies to work punishing his enemies and helping his friends, wanted wire taps on the Trump campaign in June 2016, but the FISA Court wouldn't authorize it. Who would have dreamed a joke — “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.” — would be enough to get the intelligence agencies involved in tapping an opposition party presidential candidate? But that's the most sensible explanation for the popularity of the "Russia hacked the election" fantasy. Andrew McCarthy has more and National Review.
From the three reports, from the Guardian, Heat Street, and the New York Times, it appears the FBI had concerns about a private server in Trump Tower that was connected to one or two Russian banks. Heat Street describes these concerns as centering on “possible financial and banking offenses.” I italicize the word “offenses” because it denotes crimes. Ordinarily, when crimes are suspected, there is a criminal investigation, not a national-security investigation.
According to the New York Times (based on FBI sources), the FBI initially determined that the Trump Tower server did not have “any nefarious purpose.” But then, Heat Street says, “the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server.”
Again, agents do not ordinarily draw FISA requests around possible crimes. Possible crimes prompt applications for regular criminal wiretaps because the objective is to prosecute any such crimes in court. (It is rare and controversial to use FISA wiretaps in criminal prosecutions.) FISA applications, to the contrary, are drawn around people suspected of being operatives of a (usually hostile) foreign power.
Mr. McCarthy concludes by giving the feds the benefit of the doubt. It's too early, he thinks, to accuse the Obama administration of "pretextually using its national-security authority to continue a criminal investigation after determining it lacked evidence of crimes". As for me, after eight years of President Obama, four of them with Hillary as Secretary of State, I'm way past giving them the benefit of the doubt. I think the Obama administration used national security as a pretext to spy on his political opponent, Donald Trump. I will continue to believe that until there is real evidence that proves otherwise.
Updated March, 4 2017, 6:30am