Saturday, June 6, 2020

The day Barack Obama triggered Obamagate.

May 21, 2020 by  
Filed under News, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( When the final chapter is written on Obamagate, historians will look to the April 10, 2016, as the day President Barack Obama triggered the eponymous coup.

Leading from behind as was his wont, Obama was never so far behind that he could not see what was to come. From time to time he showed his hand, starting with an April 10, 2016, appearance on a Fox News Sunday morning show with Chris Wallace.

Speaking of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s non-secured emails, Obama said what now reads like a punch line to a joke, “I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department, or the FBI, not just in this case, but in any case.”

Promptly subverting that guarantee, Obama denied Clinton had risked national security and dictated the case’s outcome: “She has acknowledged ? that there’s a carelessness, in terms of managing emails, that she has owned, and she recognizes.”

Obama had reason to protect Hillary. An indictment increased the odds the White House would fall into enemy hands. If FBI Director James Comey and his colleagues were uncertain of Obama’s will before that appearance, they no longer were.

The task fell to the now notorious Peter Strzok, the FBI’s lead investigator on the Clinton email case – codename “Midyear Exam” – to align the FBI’s messaging with that of the White House.

It was Strzok who changed the language in an earlier draft by Comey from “gross negligence” – the exact words in the Espionage Act – to “extremely careless,” the wording Obama introduced in April.

On July 5, 2016, in what even he himself called an “unusual statement,” Comey turned the Obama suggestion into public action.

After clearing Secretary Clinton and “her colleagues” of any nefarious intent, Comey said that “they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

Comey also insisted, “I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government.”

In her testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), Strzok’s FBI lover, Lisa Page, would suggest otherwise, but that news would come later and quieter.

On July 5, 2016, the very same day Comey cleared Hillary Clinton of criminal charges, the FBI met secretly with Christopher Steele in London and got its hands on Steele’s famed “dossier” for the first time. With Clinton now the certain nominee, the pressure increased to protect her candidacy and Obama’s legacy.

As the summer progressed, the coup started taking shape. A year later, the Washington Post published a lengthy, breathless article detailing a critical early August 2016 meeting in the White House.

According to the Post, the CIA’s John Brennan had sent an “intelligence bombshell” directly to Obama, an “eyes only” report with sourcing deep inside the Kremlin.

This report had to be some subset of Steele’s memos. It allegedly detailed “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.”

Reportedly, Putin was not just meddling in the campaign but was actively trying to defeat Hillary and elect Trump. “It took time,” said the Post, “for other parts of the intelligence community to endorse the CIA’s view.”

In June 2017, when this article was published, the Post was still confident that “Russia’s interference was the crime of the century.”

It was no such thing, but in documenting the White House’s multi-level response to the alleged threat, the Post shed unwitting light on what was the crime of the century, the White House’s framing of Donald Trump for collusion with Russia.

Strzok attended that meeting. Later in the day on Aug. 5, texting with Page, he quoted an unnamed bigwig, likely Brennan, as saying, “The White House is running this.”

Strzok claimed to have pushed back not because of any perceived impropriety but because the White House was intruding on FBI turf.

On Aug. 15, Strzok memorably signaled the shared motive of all the conspirators. “There’s no way [Trump] gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” he texted Page. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

The ultimate insurance policy was to protect Obama from any blame should the coup blow up in the conspirators’ face, which it ultimately did.

Well enough known was the comically disingenuous email then National Security Adviser Susan Rice sent to self on Inauguration Day, 2017.

In documenting a Jan. 5, 2017, meeting of all the major conspirators, Rice wrote, “President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities ‘by the book.'”

Less well-known but even more preposterous is the claim Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes made in his 2018 book, “The World As It Is.”

Writing of a time a week or two before Election Day 2016, Rhodes makes a claim so deep in exculpatory BS it needs to be read in full:

“Of course, we had no idea – Obama had no idea – at the time that there was an FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia; that information was walled off from the White House, and I wouldn’t even learn about it until long after I left government, in the press.”

As scary as the coup was, and as frustrating as is its lack of resolution, Obamagate does have some wonderfully comic moments.

Written by Jack Cashill

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