It’s pretty clear that somebody connected to Russia (the country, not necessarily the government) hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s emails. In particular they got emails from John Podesta, although it looks like they published them through Wikileaks as they were sent. There do not appear to have been any changes made to what Podesta wrote.
So far there does not appear to be any proof that the hacking was directly tied to the Russian government, and particularly not to Vladimir Putin himself. It looks suspicious, but suspicion is not proof. I am concerned that the intelligence community has a political agenda to destroy Donald Trump, and therefore it is leaking information, without any sourcing, that tends to make Trump look bad, possibly treasonous.
At the moment the media is attacking Trump for saying that Obama tapped Trump’s phone before the election. The media say that Trump has presented no evidence for his claim. On the other hand, the media have presented no hard evidence that the Russian government manipulated the election. They say the intelligence community has evidence that Russia did, but nobody has presented it. Is there a “deep throat” that has proof that Trump is implicated in fixing the election with Russian help? If Trump is going to be impeached, or if there is going to be a coup against him, somebody should come forward with it.
The attacks on Trump have used a lot of hackneyed political phrases, like “what did he know and when did he know it.” But nobody has used the defining phrase of the Watergate investigation, “follow the money.” Trump presumably has tons of money, but he didn’t use that much in the campaign. Hillary raised and spent much more than Trump. But I guess this plot is “The Manchurian Candidate,” rather than Watergate.
Paul Manafort and other Trump associates have had murky dealings with Russians, but that doesn’t necessarily implicate Trump himself or his campaign. If Manafort made a deal with Putin, tell us what it was.
Because so far this vilification of Russia and Trump appears to be mainly inuendo, smoke and mirrors, I do not buy the idea that any conversation with a Russian is a treasonous act. In Washington, people talk to diplomats all the time. It is not clear to me that Russia is “the enemy.” Wars in the Middle East have killed a lot more Americans than Russia has. The Russian government may not be very democratic, but then neither are many of the other countries we deal with all the time, starting with China, Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq. Iran played a very flagrant role in the election of Reagan over Carter, by using the American hostages as weapons against Carter.
Thus, I have mixed feelings about the Democratic attack on Jeff Sessions. By and large he has always been too conservative for me, but we share a lot. He lives in Mobile, Alabama. I grew up in Mobile. He spent some early years in central Alabama around Camden in Wilcox county. I had family in Camden and spent a lot of time visiting there while I was growing up. We both graduated from the University of Alabama Law School. In spite of my political and philosophical differences with him, I think he is a good man. I think it is very unusual that any conversation with a Russian, the Ambassador or someone else, should be so important. It was a common occurrence, not a treasonous act, although the Democrats and the media have tried to portray it as such.
Al Franken’s questioning of Sessions was clearly not friendly as one Senator questioning a fellow Senator. As a northern, liberal Jewish Democrat, Franken clearly dislikes Sessions, a Southern white Republican. Franken may not have known that the particular question about whether Sessions or other Trump surrogates had communicated with Russian Government would be a magic bullet, but his questioning was clearly intended to trip up Sessions and elicit information that might help block Sessions’ confirmation as Attorney General. Sessions may not have realized that this hearing on his home turf in the Senate was so adversarial. As an attorney, Sessions should have realized that he was being treated as a hostile witness by Franken, and thus perhaps was not a defensive and reticent as he should have been.
Jews have been prominent in leading the attack on Sessions. Franken led with his questioning, Schumer followed up as the Senate minority leader, Michael Blumenthal chimed in as a guest on many news and talk shows as a critic of Sessions. In addition, Jewish Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has been omnipresent on news and talk shows criticizing Sessions and the Trump administration in general.
As a lawyer, Sessions should have been more careful in answering the questions in his hearing, knowing that the Democrats and the media would be looking for any slip up. Unfortunately he provided them with an opening, and he has paid the price by recusing himself from the investigation of the Russian connection to the election. This clearly strengthens the Democrats’ hand, as well as all of the opponents of the Trump administration. The Democrats will now push for a special counsel and for Sessions’ resignation. Based on the current known facts, I do not think either of these is appropriate.