I definitely took the long way around the barn Friday night, analyzing my way to the conclusion that even after the New York Times named names, regarding who Devin Nunes talked to in the White House, we still didn’t know who Nunes’s original source actually was.
Fox News did it the more direct, shall we say kinetic way. They got to the same answer by interviewing sources of their own – or, more precisely, of reporter Adam Housley’s. (See video below.)
Housley’s sources were adamant. The people named in the NYT story on 30 March – Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Michael Ellis – were not Nunes’s sources. (So score one for analysis.) They’re merely White House officials Nunes coordinated with on this issue.
According to Housley, his own sources are people in “the agencies,” who are upset over how the national intelligence apparatus was being misused against Americans during the campaign last year.
Housley didn’t say if they named the sources Nunes relied on (although he did seem to indicate there were two of them). But it sounds as if Housley’s sources know who Nunes’s sources are. My assessment: if they are as definite as they apparently are being about their information for Housley, they know.
So here is the first bombshell thing we learned Friday night. The “leak” to the New York Times this week was made by people who had an agenda of obfuscation. Put a full stop after that. There are other things to say about it, but the real point is that one stark sentence. Their purpose was to confuse the issue for the public and obscure the truth.
Now, I could have told you that beforehand, based on deductive analysis about what was “leaked,” and exactly when. A key purpose was to ride the topic of “Nunes’s sources” while it was hot, and convey the drive-by impression that the two named White House officials were Nunes’s sources, and Nunes hadn’t succeeded in hiding that.
But assuming the information from Adam Housley’s sources is correct, what we’re going to see is proof.
Be very clear on what it’s proof of. The sources who speak to the New York Times on this topic are trying to mislead the public. (We can say the same about the Washington Post, which also ponied up a name – John Eisenberg – for the “Nunes source” meme, shortly after NYT did.)
Don’t forget that.
Here is the other big bombshell. It’s also really just confirmation of a conclusion we’ve been able to move toward with analysis over the last few months. But if the Fox story is valid, it’s a piece of confirming evidence that suggests this whole business was planned, and even planted.
The bombshell is this: according to Housley, the surveillance of Trump and his associates started “well before” Trump was even the Republican nominee – and it had nothing to do with foreign-intelligence collection on Russia. (Jeff Dunetz had a good write-up on this for us earlier today.)
That revelation carries two particularly significant implications. One is that the surveillance probably predated even the earliest public reports that Russia was behind any “hacking” of Hillary’s or the DNC’s email accounts. Those reports began coming out in June 2016, and went high-order in late July.
The other is that the timeframe “before Trump became the nominee” fits well with the period in which the infamous “dossier” on Trump was apparently commissioned; i.e., probably sometime in May 2016, or perhaps as early as late April.
Other interesting potential clues have been coming out in the last couple of weeks, of course. One is a clue that has gotten little play so far, but would be particularly dispositive if validated. Adam Kredo reported it over a week ago: DOJ found malware on servers for Trump Tower that “mimicked” contact with Russian servers or addresses. In other words, as Kredo put it, some of the supposed findings about traffic between Trump Tower servers and Russian servers were “stooged,” or planted.
Another clue: the IT security company CrowdStrike, which has been the flagship of a single-ship formation in flogging the “Russians hacked the DNC” analysis, had to retract its claim about that this past week. In fact, CrowdStrike was scheduled to testify in Congress on Tuesday, 28 March, but for an unannounced reason didn’t show. The no-show was followed by the disclosure that the company had bolstered its much-disputed findings about Russian state involvement with an IT-intrusion example from Ukraine that turned out to be bogus.
Those are some pretty big pieces of the Russia-and-the-election case that have just fallen apart. Add to them the revelation via WikiLeaks that the CIA has the capability to leave misleading clues about cyber-activity, making it look as if someone else did it (see here and here as well), and Americans have good reason to doubt the entire, thinly-based “Russia did it” narrative.
But more than that: it’s not unjustifiable to really start to wonder – given the timing, the surveillance of Trump, the absence of solid evidence, the recurrence of weird, possibly planted clues that fall apart at a touch, and the emerging information about national intelligence capabilities – if the whole thing has been a put-up job.
It’s certainly too early to conclude that. But it’s not too early to ask it as a serious question.