This Russia Thing Can't Really Get Any Weirder -- Can It?

Back in 2000, when the close election result in Florida provoked a flurry of lawsuits seeking either to force or to halt repeated ballot recounts, I noted a phenomenon which on reflection is not really that remarkable.  The phenomenon was that I could not find a single person whose view of the legal merits of the lawsuits did not align with that person's desire as to which candidate should win the election.  If somebody wanted Gore to win, somehow that person would have a carefully thought-out view of every technical issue of Florida election law, and that view somehow aligned perfectly with the views of Gore's legal team.  Same for the views of Bush supporters with those of the Bush legal team.

We are now more than six months into the weird "Russia hacked the election" obsession -- or maybe it's the "Trump is a puppet of Putin" obsession.  I first wrote about the Democrat media's weird Trump/Russia obsession back on March 2 here, noting then the total absence in the plethora of breathless news coverage on the subject of any evidence of wrongdoing with respect to Russia on the part of Trump or his campaign.  Meanwhile I had actually seen an appearance of Julian Assange on the Fox News Hannity program on January 3 where Assange had stated it was "1000 percent" that the source for the leaked DNC and Podesta emails was "not the Russian government" and "not a state party."  OK, maybe Assange was not telling the truth; but I couldn't think of any good reason why he might have gone on national TV to tell this particular lie about this particular subject.  After all, he could have just not said anything.  

On the day of my March 2 post, the particular cause of the hyperventilating of the moment seemed to have reached yet another new low.  That day's "revelation" was that Jeff Sessions had spoken briefly with Russian ambassador Kislyak, in full hearing of dozens of people, in a public auditorium, immediately after speaking on a panel sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, where Kislyak had been in the audience.  The New York Times editorialized "Jeff Sessions Needs to Go," and called the revelation a "bombshell."  

Then, last month, I got the crazy idea that this weird obsession would all just fade away after UN Ambassador Niki Haley had taken a hard stance with respect to Russia, and then Trump had fired off that barrage of Tomahawk missiles to punish Russia ally Syria.  Seemed logical, but boy, was I wrong!  Instead, a new angle to the Trump/Russia story gets cooked up at least once per week to keep the thing alive.  Last week, of course, it was the Comey firing -- "obstruction of justice" according to various media sources like Vanity Fair (headline:  "Will Comeygate Lead To Impeachment?").  (Andrew McCarthy at NRO has a good laugh over the "idiocy" of throwing around the charge of "obstruction," when the most serious allegation at issue -- "collusion" between Russia and the Trump campaign -- is completely evidence-free and isn't even a crime.) 

Yet this week we have topped even that piece of idiocy.  Of course, it's the lead story on the front page today of both the Washington Post and the New York Times ("Trump Revealed Highly Classified Information to Russia").  Dozens of other "mainstream" sources have picked up the story.  The Post had the story first, of course attributing it to "current and former U.S. officials," aka anonymous leakers.  According to the Post article, the particular subject of the disclosure of classified information was "an Islamic State terrorist threat related to the use of laptop computers on aircraft."

But wait a minute!  Isn't the President specifically allowed to reveal classified information to other countries if he wants to?  Indeed, isn't that the very essence of being given the authority (by the Constitution!) to conduct the foreign policy of the United States?  Of course the President has that authority!  I would have said that the whole idea behind collecting classified information in the first place is to assist the President in conducting the foreign policy of the United States in whatever manner as he may see fit in his discretion.  And, while Russia and the U.S. may be geopolitical rivals on many subjects, the two countries certainly share an interest in preventing having their aircraft blown up by ISIS terrorists. (Recall that an ISIS bomb blew up a Russian aircraft over Egypt back in December 2015.)  Why wouldn't the President and senior Russian officials discuss this subject when they have one of their infrequent chances to meet?  And why wouldn't they share information to help each other prevent future attacks?

So what is it about this story that makes it news at all, let alone front page news?  The Post does not claim that Trump did not have the authority to disclose the information -- and indeed grudgingly concedes that fact.  Instead they breathlessly suggest that Trump went too far in his revelation, or gave up information that may have compromised a U.S. intelligence source.  But of course, they do not provide enough information for you to evaluate whether that is true or not.  Guess what?  It's in the nature of having elected a guy as President that you have to trust his judgment on these subjects.  I'm guessing that the Washington Post and New York Times do not trust Donald Trump's judgment.  But then, "We Don't Trust Donald Trump's Judgment" would not have made for a very good front page headline.

Meanwhile, Fox News today leads with a story relevant to this same "Trump/Russia" issue, but the story could not be more different.  The headline is "Seth Rich, slain DNC staffer, had contact with WikiLeaks, say multiple sources."   If you don't recall the name, Seth Rich was a tech guy who worked for the DNC and was murdered on a street near his home in a nice section of Washington (Bloomingdale) on July 10, 2016:

The Democratic National Committee staffer who was gunned down on July 10 on a Washington, D.C., street just steps from his home had leaked thousands of internal emails to WikiLeaks, investigative sources told Fox News.

The DC police have called Rich's murder a "botched robbery" -- a narrative that is rather undermined by the fact that nothing on Rich was stolen, including his wallet, cell phone, watch, and a necklace.  And also by the fact that he was shot from behind.  Fox News had previously gotten information that Rich had provided DNC information to WikiLeaks from a guy named Rod Wheeler, a former DC homicide detective and Fox News contributor who had been hired on behalf of the Rich family to investigate the unsolved matter.  Now Fox says they have another source who confirms the same information.  The new source is identified as a "federal investigator" who "requested anonymity."  (Can't say I blame the fellow in requesting anonymity, given that one guy who knew too much in this matter has already been bumped off.)

“I have seen and read the emails between Seth Rich and WikiLeaks,” the federal investigator told Fox News. . . .  The federal investigator, who requested anonymity, said 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments between Democratic National Committee leaders, spanning from January 2015 through late May 2016, were transferred from Rich to MacFadyen [of WikiLeaks] before May 21.

Well, that would certainly explain where WikiLeaks got all the DNC emails showing the collusion between DNC and the Hillary campaign to obstruct the ability of Bernie Sanders to advance in the primaries.  What, it wasn't collusion between Trump and the Russians?  The Fox story is sourced to two different eye witnesses, albeit one of them anonymous, who state exactly what they have seen.  And then there's the small matter of the highly convenient murder.  How about this from Wheeler:

“My investigation shows someone within the D.C. government, Democratic National Committee or Clinton team is blocking the murder investigation from going forward,” Wheeler told Fox News. “That is unfortunate. Seth Rich’s murder is unsolved as a result of that.”

So is this story news?  It is at Fox.  Also at the Washington Examiner, ZeroHedge, the New York Post, Breitbart, the Daily Caller, and plenty of others -- conservative sources all.  I can't seem to find anything about this at the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc., etc. Funny, isn't it?  They are too busy hyperventilating about our President making use of classified information to conduct the foreign policy of the United States.