Casual lie by Trump White House can’t derail FBI’s Russia probe

SHARE Casual lie by Trump White House can’t derail FBI’s Russia probe

FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Intelligence Committee in 2016. | AP file photo

Follow @csteditorialsEven as a House committee conducted a hearing Monday exploring possible Russian interference in last November’s presidential election, the White House tweeted out a casual lie about what two witnesses had just said.

The deceitfulness was breathtaking. It served only to reinforce the notion that President Donald Trump has something to hide.

But, then again, Monday was an all-around miserable day for Trump, as well as for his worst enablers on the House Intelligence Committee. They wanted so very much to steer the questioning away from questions about Russia’s sinister involvement in the election and toward that easy whipping dog — the question of who leaked classified information to the media.

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To no avail. The story of the day remained two big nuggets of news that confirmed the dire need for the appointment of a special prosecutor:

  • FBI Director James Comey confirmed he is leading an investigation into whether anybody in the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government to help Trump win the election. Comey and Admiral Michael S. Rogers, head of the National Security Agency, stuck to their guns under skeptical questioning, saying there is strong evidence the Russians did just that. Comey did not rule out criminal charges.
  • Comey said he had “no information to support” Trump’s tweets of two weeks ago that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump, putting that silliness to rest. And Rogers knocked down yet another scurrilous Trump tweet, saying he had “seen nothing” to indicate the British had wiretapped Trump on Obama’s behalf. Coded in careful words, both men were saying this: Trump is full of beans.

You might think the Trump White House would do a little back-pedaling at this point, maybe even consider an apology to former President Barack Obama. But surely you know better by now. Instead, Trump’s official POTUS account sent out this tweet just before noon: “The NSA and FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence electoral process.”

This was not at all true, as anybody who had followed the committee hearing knew. But Rep. Jim Himes, D-Connecticut, decided to do a little fact-checking in real time.

“I’ve got a tweet from the president an hour ago,” Himes said to Comey and Rogers, before reading the tweet. “That’s not quite accurate, that tweet?”

Comey and Rogers should have just said “No.” That would have been the plain truth. But they chose to say “no” more diplomatically.

“It certainly was not our intention to say that today, because we do not have any information on that subject,” Comey replied. “That’s not something that was looked at.”

The first lesson to be taken from Monday’s hearing is that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia — and that investigation is not going away. The second lesson is that the House Intelligence Committee cannot be trusted to conducted an honest investigation; the Republicans’ whitewashing questions were an embarrassment.

The need for a special prosecutor is more clear than ever.

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