Quite what you’re going to believe here will come from a mixture of prior prejudices and which information source you’re listening to now. For now that we’ve the Mueller report stating that there was no collusion there’s still that earlier thing, well, was the FBI illegally spying on the Trump campaign before the election?
For it’s pretty obvious that there was some deep looks going on. That dossier with its allegation of the pee tape came from somewhere. We know where too. It started out at least as opposition research from within one or other Democratic campaign. But that still leaves open the question well, how much was the FBI involved? And should it have been?
Which is what the Attorney General is now saying he’s looking into. But do we say that it’s just looking into, checking? Or that there was definitely something there. Depends upon who you want to listen to now:
Attorney General William Barr left senators confused about whether he believed that unauthorized spying on President Trump’s campaign had occurred, as he was pressed on the impending release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Barr, in his second day of congressional testimony, said Wednesday, “I think spying did occur, yes,” on the Trump campaign, an opinion shared by the president. Sen. Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, noted that the use of a loaded term like “spying” would “cause everyone in the cable news ecosystem to freak out.” Under questioning from Democrats and Republicans, however, Barr seemed to back off that assertion.
We might call that the standard narrative. Nothing important happened. Given the standard media – establishment if you like – hostility to all things Trump that’s going to be the mainline story of course. And of course it’s possible it’s true too. Even partisans tell the truth most of the time.
On the other side we’ve:
“The Office of the Inspector General has a pending investigation of the FISA process in the Russia investigation. I expect that will be complete in probably May or June, I am told,” Barr explained, giving the first concrete timetable for the IG probe to wrap up. “So hopefully we’ll have some answers from Inspector General Horowitz on the issue of the FISA warrants.” Then Barr volunteered his bigger news: “More generally, I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around all the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted during the summer of 2016.”
Or, as we might put it, how much was that deep state in the non-Trump corner and not too selective about how it fought that corner?
Nope, I don’t know either although I have my suspicions. What might set you and me apart from most of the rest is that we’re willing to wait and see what the investigation does find out.
Examples of not waiting to find out:
MSNBC host Chuck Todd scolded William Barr on Wednesday after the attorney general testified on Capitol Hill that he believes President Trump’s campaign was spied on in 2016, saying he “gaslit the country.”
“The country’s chief law enforcement officer went in front of Congress and gave credence to a factless conspiracy theory,” Todd said on “Meet the Press Daily.”
“Using the word ‘spying’ plays into the president’s language that the Russia investigation to him is just a witch hunt. Every time they’ve brought up this allegation, there has been zero factual basis for it,” he continued. “Every effort to perpetuate the spying conspiracy theory has been debunked.”
“It doesn’t matter what the truth is, does it?” Todd later asked. “I mean, I hate to say this now, but that’s the whole point. It feels like that basically the attorney general gaslit the country.”
The big news from that hearing was that Barr announced “I am reviewing the conduct of the investigation and trying to get my arms around the aspects of the counterintelligence investigation that was conducted in the summer of 2016,” which got the right wing very excited. You can’t blame them. Their fatuous “Deep State” counter-narrative, which holds that the FBI and the intelligence community banded together during the election to sabotage Donald Trump’s campaign had seemingly been validated by the attorney general of the United States.
Didn’t take long, did it?