Get out your Russia Probe scorecard. There seems to be a new game in town.
And about time.
With all of the competing investigations into Russian meddling in domestic U.S. affairs and who talked with Russians about what when and where, you too may have succumbed to “c’mon, guys, just do your jobs and get it all done” syndrome.
Everybody is so eager to talk about what they are determined to get to the bottom of without actually getting to the bottom of anything. It’s so Washington and takes on a political life of its own, especially if the media there smells a juicy narrative to weaken one side.
So far, despite all the talk, there’s not a whole lot of proof of anything being illegal.
Except for one thing: We know that during the transition Mike Flynn was overheard by U.S. intelligence talking with Russians. We know he later misled White House officials about the conversation, for which he was properly fired.
What we don’t know because D.C. media and its anonymous source(s) seem uninterested, is how in the world Flynn’s name got out. According to U.S. law, any American overheard talking with targeted foreigners is never identified in the intel transcript. It’s called masking because U.S. intelligence isn’t supposed to be spying on Americans. They are identified only as “U.S. Person 1.”
It takes a very high-ranking official — in this case, within the Obama administration — to demand the identity and unmask the American.
It is — wait for it now — a felony to release that American’s identity beyond a small circle of those authorized to know by their high security clearance. A felony, as in serious federal crime.
That is so far the only crime we are certain actually occurred. Everything else, all this other seemingly sinister smoke seeping out news cycle after news cycle is speculation, rumor, innuendo, political assassination by leak so far lacking evidence. Yet it’s the only aspect that no one seems to be investigating.
The Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers published a piece Wednesday night saying that Rep. Devin Nunes, the California Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, has started his own investigation into who unmasked Flynn.
You might recall in March Nunes, who has a reputation for developing his own sources within the intelligence community, was the one who appeared to back up President Trump’s controversial tweet suggesting that Obama administration officials had spied on his campaign.
Big flap followed. Lots of noise. Nunes, who was also a member of the Trump transition team, recused himself from the committee’s investigation into possible collusion between the Republican’s campaign and Russians. He’s been quiet ever since. Too quiet.
But Nunes is still committee chair and seems determined now to unmask the unmasker. It was, after all, an actual crime. That would be a good thing and might help quell these other leaks that threaten national security for political gain. Another question is who’s going to play Nunes in the next Jason Bourne movie about the evil espionage forces within the U.S. government secretly undermining an elected president?