aNewDomain — The head of a vocal anti-Trump Democratic political action group on Monday claimed he would “file complaints for treason” against Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and FBI director James Comey, presumably for helping Russia undermine and influence the 2016 US presidential election.
His fighting words arrived in the wake of an explosive report in Friday’s Washington Post, which claimed the CIA now has evidence that “individuals with connections to the Russian government … provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee,” including those of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta.
The revelation led to a firestorm of reaction among top Republican and Democratic lawmakers, political officials, intelligence experts and analysts, a storm that is still raging at this writing on early Tuesday morning.
“The political equivalent of 9/11”
Michael Morell, former acting CIA director under Pres. Obama and an former intelligence briefer to Pres. George W. Bush, today characterized Russia’s hacking of American computers as “an attack on who we are as a people.
“A foreign government messing around in our elections is, I think, an existential threat to our way of life. To me, and this is to me not an overstatement, this is the political equivalent of 9/11, Morell said. “It is huge and the fact that it hasn’t gotten more attention from the Obama Administration, Congress, and the mainstream media, is just shocking to me.”
As to how the United States should react news of Russia’s meddling in the election, “we need to respond to the Russian attack,” Morell said. “We need to deter the Russians and anyone else who is watching this—and you can bet your bottom dollar that the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Iranians are all watching.
“We need to deter all of those folks from even thinking about doing something like this in the future, Morell added. The US response has “got to be overt. It needs to be seen. A covert response would significantly limit the deterrence effect. If you can’t see it, its not going to deter the Chinese and North Koreans and Iranians and others, so it’s got to be seen.”
Also, added Morell, it’s got to be significant from Putin’s perspective. He has to feel some pain, he has to pay a price here or again, there will be no deterrence, and it has to be seen by the rest of the world as being significant to Mr. Putin so that it can be a deterrent.”
Trump, however, reacted to the CIA’s disclosure by attacking the agency, saying such a determination was “ridiculous.”
“These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction,” said Trump in a prepared statement his transition team released after the news hit on Friday. He continued to blast the agency over the weekend and today, when he tweeted this remark:
“Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and WE tried to play the Russia/CIA card. It would be called conspiracy theory!”
Trump’s response immediately drew sharp criticism from at least a dozen high-profile lawmakers and government officials. The nation’s top two Republican lawmakers, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, held a press briefing today where they expressed deep concern about what role the CIA now thinks Russia played in the election.
Neither mentioned Trump’s reaction, or the lack thereof.
As of 1 a.m. Tuesday a.m. ET, Dworkin had yet to file his threatened “complaints for treason” against Trump and his associates. We still await his comment.
Dworkin, a high profile opponent of Trump throughout the election cycle, is no stranger to official Trump-related complaints. In late October, his coalition filed one with the Department of Justice, alleging that FBI director Comey unlawfully interfered in the presidential election 10 days before Election Day in order to swing votes toward Trump.
A week later, the coalition also filed a complaint with the FBI, asking it to look into the possibility that Giuliani’s had a relationship with Russian hackers. Dworkin filed it, he said, after hearing the former New York mayor tell a radio show host that he “knew” Russia was holding some 33,000 Hillary Clinton emails it stole. ”
The Russians have those emails, they’ve had them for some time,” Giuliani said in that interview. He later retracted that statement.
Scroll to the end or click here to read all evidence Dworkin so far alleges Trump’s multiple links to Russia. -ED
But treason? It’s as yet unclear how Dworkin would legally frame such an argument, or if or when he will. But the reasons why he might threaten such a thing seem clear enough: On Friday, news hit that the CIA’s James Clapper recently briefed US senators on new evidence indicating that Russia hacked US computers, in order to help Trump win the election.
Dworkin’s comments turned out to be just part of the enormous fallout here, as more and more details about the CIA’s new evidence surface.
But even if they don’t materialize, his comments beg the question: Treason based on what exactly?
The best clue may lie in the words of a retired CIA official, Glenn Carle, who spoke at length to The Guardian Sunday.
“If Trump were an intelligence officer employed by the US government facing serious allegations like these, he would without question be removed and possibly charged with having accepted the clandestine support of a hostile power, to the harm of the United States,” Carle said.
You’ll find similar wording in this US statute: 18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason, which reads:
Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States. (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, §?330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)
On hacking, Wikileaks and Russian propaganda
The CIA has since told reporters it has identified the individuals who directed the hacks for Russia, and those who then siphoned hacked emails directly to Julian Assange’s rogue Wikileaks. The CIA and the lawmakers it briefed now openly characterize Wikileaks as nothing more than a Russian-controlled propaganda tool.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other,” said the lawmaker, who called the CIA’s new findings on Russian hacking “the consensus view” among most US intelligence officials.
Outgoing Senate minority leader Harry Reid, in a call for Comey’s resignation this weekend, minced no words on the Wikileaks topic.
“I want everyone to know that Wikileaks was involved from the very beginning,” Reid told MSNBC host Joy Reid on Saturday.
“Wikileaks leaked the information as if it was run by one of the great political operatives in America,” Reid added, “when in fact it was being run by the political operatives in Russia.
A snowball effect …
Lawmaker reaction to the CIA’s revelations arrived swiftly on Friday, which snowballed throughout the weekend and all day Monday.
Reactions range from urgent calls for bipartisan investigations into the matter to a demand, today, by some of the 527 electors in the Electoral College for full briefings on the CIA’s evidence, much of which remains classified.
Electors are set to vote formally on for Trump on Dec. 19. But now some are asking US national intelligence director James Clapper to grant electors full briefings on the new CIA evidence before the vote, even if they must get temporary security clearances to review it.
As mentioned above, though, Trump’s reaction to the CIA’s findings on Russia was one of ridicule and disbelief, a reaction that continues to draw sharp criticism from lawmakers and officials.
Former top adviser to Pres. Barack Obama, David Axelrod, tweeted that Trump’s “blithe dismissal only deepens concern.”
John Dean, the former White House counsel under former president Richard Nixon, called Trump’s dismissal of evidence provided by all 17 US intelligence agencies “remarkably inadequate.” He was one among many this weekend who called for the declassification of the CIA’s evidence so electors can get a full briefing before the Electoral College vote next week.
Devin Nunes (R-CA), who chairs the powerful House intelligence committee, said the evidence the CIA has now supplied lawmakers with was “no surprise.”
But he laid the blame on Obama for waiting so long to react to a threat intelligence officials probably told him about months ago, just to “reset” and improve relations with Russia.
It’s the same policy toward Russia that Trump has championed since early in the election cycle, Nunes stopped short of noting.
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who also serves on the House intelligence committee, said “the administration should work to declassify as much of it as possible, while protecting our sources and methods, and make it available to the public.” He added:
“After many briefings by our intelligence community, it is clear to me that the Russians hacked our democratic institutions and sought to interfere in our elections and sow discord. In this, tragically, they succeeded. Given President-elect Trump’s disturbing refusal to listen to our intelligence community and accept that the hacking was orchestrated by the Kremlin, there is an added urgency to the need for a thorough review before President Obama leaves office next month.”
But McConnell and Ryan’s reactions surprised …
Meanwhile, the nation’s top two Republicans, Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, today appeared to sharply differ with Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the matter.
“The Russians are not our friends,” McConnell soberly told reporters on Monday, adding that he had “the highest confidence” in the intelligence agencies, and particularly in the CIA.”
“Any foreign breach of our cybersecurity measures is disturbing and I strongly condemn any such efforts,” he said, confirming that the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services panels will work hard to investigate intelligent officials’ new evidence that Russia hacked American emails and systems in order to influence the presidential campaign.
As for Ryan, he today gave intelligence officials high marks for “working diligently” to take on cyber threats from such hostile foreign governments as Russia.
Both Republican leaders did make a point of warning away those who might use such evidence for partisan purposes, but they seemed to make that point only halfheartedly.
Top senators in both parties sounded the loudest alarms, and announced upcoming investigations
Hours after the Post article hit Friday,Obama ordered intelligence officials to deliver him a full dossier of the evidence they claim to have, with the aim of a renewed review before he passes the baton to Trump on Jan. 20, inauguration day here in the US.
And on Sunday, a bipartisan group of four US lawmakers who serve on the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services demanded a formal, bipartisan investigation into the matter. The group, which comprises John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Jack Reed (D-RI), said in their statement that lawmakers must immediately embark on this task so as to stem “grave threats that cyberattacks conducted by foreign governments pose to our national security.”
McCain was one among several Republican lawmakers who announced last Thursday, the day before the Post article ran, an effort to look into Russian electoral intervention and its potential threat to US military computers.
In yesterday’s statement, McCain and colleagues serving with him on the Armed Services committee, said this, in part:
“For years, foreign adversaries have directed cyberattacks at America’s physical, economic, and military infrastructure, while stealing our intellectual property,” the four senators wrote. “Now our democratic institutions have been targeted. Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American.”
“Congress’s national security committees have worked diligently to address the complex challenge of cybersecurity, but recent events show that more must be done,” they continued, adding that lawmakers have “an obligation to inform the public about recent cyberattacks that have cut to the heart of our free society.
“Democrats and Republicans must work together,” the senators added, and they must do so “across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyberattacks.”
“This cannot become a partisan issue,” warned the senators in their statement on Sunday. “The stakes are too high for our country. We are committed to working in this bipartisan manner, and we will seek to unify our colleagues around the goal of investigating and stopping foreign cyberattacks and other interventions in US domestic affairs.”
Outgoing Senate minority leader Harry Reid said FBI Director Comey should resign …
This weekend, outgoing Senate minority leader Harry Reid likened FBI director James Comey to the agency’s notorious founder, J. Edgar Hoover, and called for Comey to resign.
It was the second time in as many months that Reid turned up the heat on Comey, who incorrectly implied ten days before Election Day that the FBI was reopening a closed investigation into Hillary Clinton and her unauthorized use of private email servers.
In a letter to Comey back on Oct. 30, Reid was the first government official to go on record as claiming the FBI, while going after Clinton, was at the same time concealing information it was gathering in its ongoing investigation of Russian hacking of DNC and RNC servers.
The FBI, he said in that letter, was going out of its way to conceal “explosive evidence” about Russia’s ties to such former Trump campaign figures as Paul Manafort and Carter Page.
Manafort resigned as Trump’s campaign manager this summer after it was revealed that he had been involved in the government of ousted Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovych, a friend and close ally of Russian president Vladmir Putin. Page, a former campaign advisor to Trump, reportedly had had close dealings with Russian officials, potentially to create a secret diplomatic channel between the US and the Kremlin, according to reports.
In an article in today’s edition of The New York Times, an FBI official confirmed Reid’s accusation from October, saying the agency had in fact been investigating Trump-Russia ties since at least last summer.
However on Oct. 31, the day after Reid made that first prescient accusation against Comey, alleging he was sitting on knowledge about such an FBI inquiry, an unnamed FBI source told The New York Times it wasn’t the case. The Times ran with that story, which pretty much squashed Reid’s information, which appeared first in that letter, before it even got it around.
Scroll down to read Reid’s letter to Comey in full, or click here to access it. -Ed
“The FBI had this material for a long time but Comey, who is of course a Republican, refused to divulge specific information about Russia and the presidential election,” Reid remarked to MSNBC host Joy Reid (no relation) Saturday morning.
Now, according to Comey’s sworn congressional testimony during the final Hillary Clinton hearings in July, Comey is no longer a registered Republican, though he said he had been one for most of his adult life.
“I think (Comey) should be investigated by the Senate. He should be investigated by other agencies of the government including the security agencies because if ever there was a matter of security it’s this … I don’t think any of us understood how partisan Comey was,” Reid said over the weekend.
Following are embedded versions of many of the documents mentioned in this post, or documents relevant to it. First, here’s the November edition of Scott Dworkin’s Dworkin Report, which claims to collect all known evidence about Trump’s ties to Russia iover the years.
Also from Dworkin’s organization comes this Google doc, which lists all the Trump related LLCs the Democratic Coalition claims are registered in Russia. He writes:
There are 249 LLCs registered in Russia that have “Trump” in the name. This one is called “Trump, LLC” …
The next document I’m embedding is from outgoing Democrat minority leader Harry Reid.
After FBI director James Comey incorrectly implied on Oct. 30, ten days before Election Day, that the FBI might have new evidence of Hillary Clinton’s wrongdoing by using an illegal server, Senate minority leader Harry Reid sent the following blistering letter to Comey. In it, he accused Comey of going out of his way to go after Clinton, while refusing to share information regarding the FBI’s ongoing investigation of Trump campaign figures’ ties to Russia or the agency’s suspicions around Russia’s plan to intervene in the US presidential election.
Reid was the first government official to reveal that the FBI had been investigating Russia-Trump campaign ties, but an unnamed FBI source denied the existence of such an investigation to the New York Times the next day.
Here is a letter from seven US senators to Pres. Barack Obama, sent on Nov. 29, 2016. Short but to the point.
Credits: Cover image of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump in the stands during the Army-Navy football game this weekend n Baltimore, by: Andrew Harnik/Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. Harry Reid photo by: Michael Reynolds/EPA All Rights Reserved. Ryan and McConnell image: via Politico, All Rights Reserved.