Thursday’s story on how Trump appealed to Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) in another fruitless quest to slow or halt the investigation into connections between his campaign and Russia, was just one marker out of many times that Trump inserted himself into the investigation.
Trump's attempts to influence actions related to Russia and the investigation that is now focused on him personally constitute a growing volume.
The Washington Post article lists at least seven incidents of Trump attempting to stop/cripple the investigation in the Senate or with the FBI, including multiple attempts to get former FBI director James Comey to put on the brakes. However, the article omits at least one other clear incidence of the Trump White House going all out to put a giant monkey wrench in the works—the false accusations that were fed from the White House, to Devin Nunes, and out to the press. Nunes’ surreal dashes around the White House grounds were actually one of the most successful efforts, as they managed to completely derail the investigation in the House for weeks, distract the press with notions of “unmasking” and feed a right-wing narrative that this whole thing was some kind of “deep state” conspiracy against Trump.
Nunes, who was part of Trump’s transition team, also stayed on board to attack the notion of a special counsel, making him one of Trump’s most consistent anti-investigation surrogates in Congress. But if the California congressman was singularly effective at slowing the progress of the investigation, he was far from the only Republican in Congress attempting to devalue the entire process.
In an internal memo to CIA employees last December, CIA Director John Brennan complained that some members of Congress he had briefed about the agency’s assessment that Russia interfered in the US presidential election did not “understand and appreciate the importance and gravity of the issue.”
At a bare minimum, based on the information that’s already been made public, Russia …
- Created thousands of social media accounts with the specific goal of targeting voters in swing states with false reports attacking Hillary Clinton.
- Offered to provide the Trump campaign with documents that could be used to attack Clinton.
- Attempted to infiltrate the voter databases over two dozens states and successfully recovered information from some of those states.
- Broke into the email server of the DNC and Clinton campaign officials, stole email and documents, and passed those documents to Wikileaks for distribution.
- Worked with Republicans to identify the most valuable documents captured from Democrats and how they could be used to suppress the vote in specific areas.
- Made multiple attempts to schedule meetings between the Trump team and Russian officials, up to and including Putin.
That’s the bare minimum, the things that were done even if Trump’s team made absolutely zero effort to capitalize on Russian actions.
So who would not consider these actions a serious threat?
Three intelligence sources told BuzzFeed News that Brennan’s criticism was directed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn, the majority whip. At the time, the two Republican lawmakers downplayed the importance of the CIA’s intelligence. Cornyn said it was “hardly news.”
It’s safe to say that had Russia taken even one of these actions to help Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Cornyn and McConnell would have been a good deal more concerned.
Brennan also slammed the “named and anonymous sources” in news reports who dismissed the value of intelligence and “impugn the integrity of intelligence officers.” Such comments in “inaccurate and misleading” news reports, the CIA director said, were “distractions.”
The biggest source of these distractions? The man who’s tried everything to make this investigation go away.