There was a stunning development this week concerning Democratic allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign to ensure Trump won the election.
Former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, a prominent Hillary Clinton supporter, admitted there was nothing to this story when he said "there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all . . . there's no little campfire, there's no little candle, there's no spark. And there's a lot of people looking for it."
This was a stunning admission by someone who fiercely criticized Donald Trump for his alleged ties to Russia during the presidential campaign. Morell, who works for the pro-Clinton consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies, probably was in line for a senior national security post if Hillary Clinton won the election, possibly CIA Director or Director of National Intelligence.
After he endorsed Clinton last summer, Morell made several over the top attacks on Trump, saying "Donald Trump is not a patriot," "Trump cannot credibly serve as president," and Trump is an "unwitting agent" of Russia.
Since Morrell made clear that he was a veteran CIA analyst and official when he made these statements, I have long believed this vicious criticism by Morell was deeply irresponsible and contributed to the Trump campaign’s concerns about the objectivity and political neutrality of America’s intelligence agencies.
So why did Morell back away from the Democratic narrative that there is strong evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s government that must be investigated by a special counsel or select congressional committee?
Because this is fake news. There’s nothing here.
The reason Morell cited for his about-face is that James Clapper, President Obama’s director of National Intelligence, said on March 5, 2017, that there is no evidence of any collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia.
While Clapper’s statement should be enough to kill this story, there is an even stronger reason to believe the collusion claims are bogus. Despite determined efforts to undermine the Trump presidency with press leaks by Obama holdovers and anti-Trump bureaucrats throughout the government (a group often described as the "deep state") there have been zero leaks indicating collusion between Russians and Trump campaign officials.
You can bet that if there was NSA, CIA or State Department reporting that even hinted at inappropriate phone calls or meetings between Trump campaign aides and Russian officials, it already would have been leaked to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Remember the recent press reports that former Obama officials "spread around" evidence of Trump-Russia connections through the government to preserve this information?
Where is this evidence? It appears the best the "deep state" could produce was a discredited dossier of anti-Trump material promoted by CNN and Buzzfeed in early January of unverified and mostly false material.
I am pleased my former CIA colleague Michael Morell has dismissed the fake Trump-Russia collusion story. But he needs to do more. Morell and other former intelligence officers need to speak out and demand answers as to why the Obama administration allegedly used America’s powerful intelligence agencies to spy on the Trump campaign.
What were the reasons FISA orders were allegedly sought to use the NSA to surveil the electronic communications of Trump campaign officials? Who would have requested FISA warrants for this intelligence collection? Who would have had access to NSA intercepts of General Michael Flynn’s phone calls with Russian Ambassador Kislyak? Who would have leaked information from these intercepts to the news media? Was there NSA reporting on then-Senator Jeff Sessions’ routine meetings with Kislyak?
If so, who had access to this intelligence?
The nonsensible press debate over President Trump’s tweets about Trump Tower being wiretapped is a distraction from these troubling questions.
The Trump-collusion story is collapsing because there was nothing to this story in the first place. I believe the Obama administration’s alleged surveillance of the Trump campaign had nothing to do with ties to Russia: it may have been a fishing expedition to find information that Obama officials could potentially leak to the press to hurt Mr. Trump.
Mr. Morell, you can add a lot more to this debate by speaking out on why the Obama administration’s alleged use of America’s foreign intelligence agencies to spy on the Trump campaign may represent serious violations of the law and the charters of American intelligence agencies that may threaten the integrity of a U.S. presidential election and our tradition of a peaceful and smooth transfer of power.
Fred Fleitz, a former CIA analyst, followed the Iranian nuclear program for the CIA, State Department, and House Intelligence Committee. He is senior vice president for policy and programs at the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and is author of the book on the Iran nuclear deal "Obamabomb: A Dangerous and Growing National Security Fraud," published in 2016. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.
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