The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has published its report on Russian “collusion” or, more accurately, on “Russian active measures,” a phrase associated with the subversive methods used by the former Soviet Union to undermine Western democracies.
This isn’t just anther congressional “memo.” At more than 240 pages in length the, report took more than a year to write, with more than 70 witnesses interviewed, 300,000 documents reviewed and almost two dozen congressional subpoenas issued.
Given the current political and media climate, it is no surprise that the report’s 44 findings and 26 recommendations have been drowned out by the vitriol and noise of competing “narratives.” This is problematic, to say the least, since most Americans will never read even the conclusion of this very important document.
To that end, here are the essentials.
Russia has been undermining Western democracies with “active measures” such as propaganda and disinformation for a very long time, yet, in 2015, Vladimir Putin initiated a specific influence campaign targeting the elections for U.S. president.
This was not done to assist a specific candidate but to “sow discord in American society and undermine our faith in the democratic process.” And in this he was successful.
At the same time, Russia used cyber measures to target American information systems. Individuals and organizations were targeted but, thankfully, none of the vote-tallying or data-recording systems used in our elections were compromised.
With regards to the prime accusation, the committee found “no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government.”
Yet, the investigation does conclude that “the Clinton campaign and the DNC, using a series of cutouts and intermediaries to obscure the roles, paid for opposition research on Trump obtained from Russian sources, including a litany of claims by high-ranking current and former Russia government officials.”
This unfounded opposition research would be turned into the infamous “Steele Dossier” used to illegally acquire a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrant to spy on at least one former Trump campaign adviser.
Most disturbing of all, the investigators found that President Obama’s director of intelligence, James ClapperJames Robert ClapperAfghanistan disaster puts intelligence under scrutiny Domestic security is in disarray: We need a manager, now more than ever Will Biden provide strategic clarity or further ambiguity on Taiwan? MORE, provided “inconsistent” testimony about his contacts with the media, especially CNN, regarding his knowledge of the Steele Dossier and his discussing it with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
If one follows the detailed timeline provided, it is now obvious that the American media wanted to report on the accusations against President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE in the opposition research file but needed a “news hook” to hang their story on.
That hook was provided when Clapper encouraged then-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyGiuliani told investigators it was OK to 'throw a fake' during campaign DOJ watchdog unable to determine if FBI fed Giuliani information ahead of 2016 election Biden sister has book deal, set to publish in April MORE to brief the uncorroborated file to President-elect Trump, after which point the fact of the briefing’s having occurred was “leaked” to the press by Clapper so as to give the dossier the credibility it lacked internally. Note that Clapper now has a contract with CNN as one of its “talking heads.”
In a report of this magnitude, many other important facts are revealed, including the revelation that the FBI agents who interviewed Gen. Michael Flynn under oath “did not detect any deception during Flynn’s interview.” For a man who has suffered a great deal since then, this is a very important finding, given all we know now about the serial perjury committed by others, such as the FBI’s now-fired deputy director, Andrew McCabe.
As succinctly as possible, these are the facts:
The Trump campaign never colluded with Moscow. However, Moscow inserted its lies into documents paid for by the other campaign during a presidential election. That propaganda was used to justify spying on Americans. Illegally. And a serving director of U.S. intelligence helped to make Russian propaganda look real as he leaked the fact that it had been briefed to the newly elected president to the media company that would later hire him.
To that end, Vladimir Putin, the former KGB colonel, with the help of James Clapper, Jim Comey, members of the media and other Americans, achieved his goal: to “sow discord in American society and undermine our faith in the democratic process.”