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#EndorseThis: Seth Meyers Takes A Closer Look At Nunes, Kushner, And The Kremlin

With presidential aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner suddenly scheduled to testify about his meetings with various Russians — including a banker who looks suspiciously like an intelligent agent — Seth Meyers has noticed a pattern: At this point, it would be easier to list the Trump administration staffers who don’t have shady connections with the Kremlin than those who do. And the Late Night host even suspects the White House gardener.

A sense of impending doom seems to have driven Trump to tweet desperately about the Clintons’ supposed Russian connections, while insisting that his own scandal is just a “hoax.” But at long last, Meyers debunks the bogus “Clintons and Russian uranium” story that got so much undeserved traction thanks to Steve Bannon (and the New York Times) during the presidential campaign.

With sardonic flourish, Meyers recounts the latest tales of Devin Nunes playing Inspector Clouseau, jumping in and out of cars, skulking around the White House grounds, deceiving the members of the House Intelligence Committee that he chairs. Did he engage in all that silly skulduggery to uncover surveillance of foreign diplomats gossiping about where Trump had dinner?

It’s our very own dark comedy, unfolding every day.

 

Trump’s Fool On The Hill: Nunes Makes Mockery Of Russia Investigation

Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, could not have been clearer in his questioning of FBI director James Comey last week.

NUNES: Director Comey, I remain extremely concerned about the widespread illegal leaks that you just referenced in your—in your testimony. Just for the record though, I wanna get this on the record.

Does the unauthorized disclosure of classified information to the press violate 18 USC 793, a section of the Espionage Act that criminalizes improperly accessing handling or transmitting national defense information?

COMEY: Yes.

NUNES: Would an unauthorized disclosure of FISA-derived information to the press violate 18 USC 798, a section of the Espionage Act that criminalizes the disclosure of information concerning the communication and intelligence activities of the United States?

COMEY: Yes, in addition to being a breach of our trust with the FISA Court that oversees our use of those authorities.

NUNES: Thank you, Director.

The next day, Nunes made an unannounced late-night visit to the White House and spoke with unidentified official (but possibly a former Nunes staffer) about FISA-derived information. Nunes then spoke to reporters and said that he had “confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.”

Nunes explained:

“Details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting.”

Trump proceeded to claim vindication for his baseless claim that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. Nunes’ statement most definitely did not confirm Trump’s claim, but that was hardly the biggest problem with Nunes’ charge.

The Washington Post noted that, “Nunes’s statements appear to center on surveillance approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secretive panel that authorizes the interception of communications of known or suspected agents of foreign powers—such as ambassadors—or terrorism suspects.”

In other words, if Nunes wasn’t making up the whole story, he made an unauthorized disclosure of FISA-derived classified information in violation of the Espionage Act—exactly what he criticized others for doing.

After Nunes sabotaged the strategy of House Republicans to investigate the leaks, not the accumulating evidence, Trump was reduced to demanding that Congress investigate Hillary Clinton’s ties to a Russian uranium deal, which are not the subject of an FBI investigation.

That didn’t work either. When former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates indicated her desire to testify on Tuesday to the Intelligence Committee about how former NSC adviser Michael Flynn dissembled on his pre-inauguration meetings with Russian officials, Nunes abruptly canceled the previously scheduled hearing.

Nunes has disqualified himself as the leader of the Intelligence Committee’s investigation, said ranking minority member Rep. Adam Schiff. On Monday night, he called on Nunes to “recuse himself from any further involvement in the Russia investigation” and all “oversight matters pertaining to any incidental collection of the Trump transition.”

Nunes dismissed Schiff’s call and House Speaker Paul Ryan said Nunes would continue as chairman, though it’s hard to see why the Republicans would want him to.

Nunes implicated himself in a possible violation of the law, destroyed the Republicans’ preferred line of defense, and implicitly admitted that the administration has no rebuttal to Yates’ testimony.

As Colin Kahl, former national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, said on Twitter on Monday, “There are a lot of things we still don’t know about Trump-Russia ties. But there are actually a lot of things we DO know.

Kahl listed 36 points of fact, none of which Nunes seems prepared to respond to, much less rebut.

In the understatement of the week, thePost’s Aaron Blake said “Nunes isn’t very good at this.”

#EndorseThis: FBI Director James Comey Destroys President’s Credibility In Public Testimony

If you were still wondering whether Donald Trump lied when he tweeted an accusation against former President Obama for arranging to “tap” his phone in Trump Tower last year, FBI director James Comey settled that issue definitively today in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

So now we have a president whose credibility has been shredded publicly by the nation’s top law enforcement officer. He can tweet, his press secretary can spin (and lie), his trolls can fulminate…but Trump stands disgraced to a degree beyond any president since Nixon.

This is an historic moment. Just click.

Danziger: Paranoia Strikes Deep

Jeff Danziger’s award-winning drawings are published by more than 600 newspapers and websites. He has been a cartoonist for the Rutland Herald, the New York Daily News and the Christian Science Monitor; his work has appeared in newspapers from the Wall Street Journal to Le Monde and Izvestia. Represented by the Washington Post Writers Group, he is a recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army as a linguist and intelligence officer in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. Danziger has published ten books of cartoons and a novel about the Vietnam War. He was born in New York City, and now lives in Manhattan and Vermont. A video of the artist at work can be viewed here.