Oil, Russians, And Wiretaps Oh My!

As you have all probably heard or read at some point this week Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from any and all investigations – present or in the future – involving the ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian government officials, including his meetings with the senior Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak who is also known as one of Russia’s top spies in Washington D.C. (according to the CIA and FBI) during the RNC. This coming just weeks after former National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn had resigned due to his involvement with Russian officials during and after Mr. Trump’s campaign. In addition, there are more members of Trump’s campaign staff that have been dismissed due to ties with Russian officials such as his former campaign manager Paul Manafort who was removed from the campaign due to collusion with Russian officials in his capacity as a Trump campaign surrogate; as well as Carter Page who was removed from Mr. Trump’s inner circle for trying to negotiate a $500 billion oil deal between Exxon Mobil – whose CEO just became the Secretary of State – and Russia in American waters as well as intimating that the sanctions levied by the Obama administration which bar oil transactions with Russia would be lifted. Last but not least there has been intelligence reports that more members of his campaign, transition, and White House staff have contact with known Russian officials such as his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

The current scandal with AG Sessions is not so much that he met with Ambassador Kislyak – though that in itself is enough to raise many an eyebrow – but that he had lied while under oath during his Senate confirmation hearings. His defense is that he met with Kislyak as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, however when journalists investigated his trip to meet with the ambassador they discovered that it had been expensed by his Trump presidential campaign account and not as a line item to be paid by the official Senate Armed Services budget. Casting further doubt as to his representation during the meeting other members of the Armed Services Committee have commented that while they do regularly meet with ambassadors in their capacity as committee members it has been well over 10 years since the last legitimate meeting between the committee and a Russian ambassador.

Recently the New York Times reported that the Obama administration had hidden evidence of the Trump campaign’s dealings and involvement with Russia through many executive departments in fear that the incoming administration would suppress or destroy such information. Investigative journalists have since followed and collected the data on this treasure hunt of treason and are bringing to light these meetings and dealings that the Trump administration would rather remain hidden. On March 4th Mr. Trump took to Twitter with unproved allegations that former President Obama had wiretapped Trump’s phones during his campaign.

2017-03-05

Unfortunately for these allegations the President cannot order wiretaps to be installed on any citizen’s phones (The Fourth Amendment). That is a process that is done through the judicial system and the FBI, so if Trump did find evidence of a wiretap on his campaign’s communications devices that means it was done through a court order, and that a federal judge found sufficient evidence that Trump or his campaign had either committed a serious crime or were agents of a foreign government to authorize it. An Obama spokesman of course has since said that these allegations are “simply false” according to the New York Times. According to another Obama administration official who has direct knowledge of the FBI investigation into Russia has said that these allegations “are 100-percent untrue.” White House officials seemed to be confused when asked for comment, not knowing exactly what Mr. Trump was referring to. Though many officials are unsure what started these accusations it seems that Mr. Trump may have gotten his information about this situation from parts of an article posted on Breitbart News – a known purveyor of false news stories that was owned by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon – earlier in the week.

As of an hour ago – at this writing – Mr. Trump has called for a congressional inquiry into his unproven claims of espionage by the Obama administration. Whether or not an investigation will be launched is unclear, since there is no evidence to support such allegations. Nearly all congressional democrats and even many republicans are skeptical such a thing happened and are “not quite sure what Mr. Trump is talking about.”

 

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