Moulitsas: Biggest scandal in history?

Moulitsas: Biggest scandal in history?
© Getty Images/Russia Today

Last November, the nation voted for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP struggles with retirement wave Overnight Energy: Trump to revoke California's tailpipe waiver | Democrats propose bill to revoke Trump endangered species rollback | Trump officials finalize rule allowing fewer inspectors at pork plants Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? MORE, yet thanks to our antiquated, broken system — and it’s increasingly clear, a great deal of Russian help — a lunatic ended up in the White House. 

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE’s mental state was certainly in question over the weekend, as he unleashed an unhinged Twitter storm claiming, with zero evidence, that former President Obama had wiretapped his phones. “How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process,” he raged. “This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

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Meanwhile, the number of known clandestine meetings between Trump campaign officials and the Russian ambassador continue to pile up. And we now know for sure that Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLewandowski says he's under no obligation to speak truthfully to the media Nadler considering holding Lewandowski in contempt Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing MORE perjured himself during his Senate confirmation hearings. Twice.

The first time, Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenThe Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? The Memo: Times correction gives GOP lifeline in latest Kavanaugh controversy Politicon announces lineup including Comey, Hannity, Priebus MORE (D-Minn.) asked Sessions, “If there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?” Sessions responded with, “I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.” Curious. That wasn’t the question.

The second time, Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDemocrats press for action on election security The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Overnight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine MORE (D-Vt.) asked, “Several of the president-elect’s nominees or senior advisers have Russian ties. Have you been in contact with anyone connected to any part of the Russian government about the 2016 election, either before or after Election Day?”

Sessions’s entire answer: “No.”

In reality, Sessions met with Russian diplomats both at the Republican National Convention, and in a one-on-one meeting with the Russian ambassador in his office. Since he was outed, Sessions has claimed he didn’t recall what he discussed, then that his discussions had not been about the campaign, then he admitted that while maybe the campaign came up, it was a “superficial” discussion, and then that the meetings had been in his capacity as a senator — even though no other member of the Senate Armed Service Committee had a private meeting with the ambassador.

The Sessions story further underscored the cozy relationship between Trump’s associates and Russia’s oligarchy. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned after he was caught lying about meeting with the Russian ambassador — a meeting in which Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was present. Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, resigned after his ties to the Russian government were reported, including repeated contacts with Russian intelligence. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a close friend of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and even received the Kremlin’s Order of Friendship medal. Last October, Donald Trump Jr. was paid an “appearance fee” of $50,000 at a Paris meeting promoting a Russian-backed Syrian peace plan, despite lacking any expertise.

Republicans might pretend to look the other way, but these ties to a foreign regime are disturbing. Were roles reversed, Clinton would already be facing impeachment charges, and rightly so. So if Trump is correct, and the FBI is monitoring his communications, then this scandal is far more serious than ever imagined: Any such wiretapping requests would go through the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court. And to obtain that wiretapping warrant, the FBI would have to show cause to believe that Trump was an agent for a foreign power.

Trump might try to deflect, stupidly, and, wrongly, blame it on Obama to rally his supporters. But if the FBI has, in fact, targeted Trump, then this is easily the nation’s biggest scandal in history.

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.