My Thoughts on Several Major Stories that Broke on Wednesday Concerning Trump’s Scandals

Normally I’d write a paragraph or two as an introduction, but not today. There’s so much to talk about that I figured I’d just get right into it. It’s almost overwhelming trying to process everything that we’re currently witnessing.

Rep. Devin Nunes visiting Donald Trump at the White House: If he’s not removed from his position as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, then any congressional “investigations” he’s involved in lack any and all credibility. Instead of sharing supposed information he had been given with other members of that committee, including ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, the former Trump transition team member rushed to the White House to essentially feed Trump talking points to help him continue “justifying” his unfounded conspiracy concerning President Obama illegally wiretapping Trump Tower.

That’s exactly what this was.

Nunes did what conspiracy theorists do. He already had his “solution” (justify Trump’s insanity), then found ways to “connect the dots” to cast doubt over whether or not this could have possibly happened. He came across the information indicating that it could have been possible that during U.S. intelligence investigations, some information surrounding Trump’s transition team might have been “incidentally collected.”

What that term means is some form of communication (phone call or email) between a foreigner under surveillance and an American was picked up by intelligence officials. While the American citizen’s communication would be recorded, they were not the target of the surveillance. Hence the term “incidentally collected.” Meaning that if some form of Trump’s communications were picked up this way, he was not under surveillance, but the foreigner who contacted him would have been. In the vast majority of these somewhat routine instances, the American’s name is completely concealed in any reports that are generated.

However, if while reviewing that “incidentally collected” information, intelligence officials find evidence of a crime, then the American can be “unmasked” and included in official reports surrounding that surveillance. FBI Director James Comey and NSA head Michael Rogers explained this process during their testimony in front of the committee on Monday.

What Nunes did here couldn’t be more obvious. He found a way to “connect the dots” by saying there’s a possibility communications made by Trump could have been “incidentally collected.” Though he said it’s too early to know if they were — otherwise known as he doesn’t have any proof that they were.

Naturally, he knew he would be asked about Trump’s wiretapping conspiracy. When he was asked if, based on this so-called “concerning” information he presented to Trump, he could “rule out” that President Obama or officials from his administration were directly involved, his answer was, “No, I cannot.”

And there it is.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee publicly saying that, despite absolutely zero evidence that it ever happened, he could not officially rule out Trump’s asinine conspiracy. That’s exactly what the point of all of this was.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called for a select committee to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia: During an interview with MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren, McCain called Nunes’ meeting with Trump “bizarre,” stating “no longer does Congress have credibility to handle this alone.”

Donald Trump’s second campaign manger, Paul Manafort, spent years lobbying to aid Putin and expand Russian interests: I’ve got much more to say about all of this in an article I’m putting together, but a report on Wednesday from the Associated Press claims Trump’s former campaign manager worked for a Russian billionaire whose plan was to “greatly benefit the Putin Government.” Everyone should read the full AP report at the link above (highlighted in blue), but essentially Manafort was paid millions of dollars over several years to lobby for pro-Putin interests.

The Trump administration is trying to downplay Manafort’s role in the campaign: Did you know that campaign managers only play “limited roles” in the actual campaign? Well, that’s the stance Trump’s taking when it comes to Manafort. Apparently being the campaign manager for 31 percent of a presidential campaign (5 out of 16 months), and during 56 percent of the most crucial parts of the campaign between the first GOP primary and the general election (5 out of 9 months), according to the Trump administration, that’s just a “limited role.”

A good rule to follow: If someone involved in a scandal starts downplaying the role of very significant individuals connected to it, they’re almost definitely trying to hide something.

Republicans are frustrated with Defense Secretary James Mattis for not being a partisan hack: Apparently because Mattis isn’t aggressively pushing for massive increases in the defense budget, and he’s seeking out people who he thinks are the most qualified to fill key staffing positions regardless of political affiliation, this is angering congressional Republicans. They want him to choose conservatives when filling his staff and be a defense hawk on spending. Because, you know, what would a retired Marine general know about what it takes to fight wars, right? Clearly a group of mostly career politicians with no military experience knows more about how much we need to spend on defense than a 44-year veteran of the Marines.

Oh, and he also believes in climate change. In fact, he cited it as a threat to our national security, said it’s destabilizing the world, putting our military at risk, and it “requires a broader, whole-of government response.”

As I’ve said for a while now, I really don’t look for Mattis to last much longer. He strikes me as an intelligent, big-picture thinker who isn’t concerned with partisan politics or the never-ending circus of the Trump administration. If he’s still Defense Secretary by Christmas I’d be relatively surprised.

New CNN report cites sources that claim information suggests Trump associates coordinated with Russians: We’re still a long way from knowing anything for certain, but if true, this report is a “bombshell.” According to CNN, at least one law enforcement official said the information they had suggested “people connected to the [Trump] campaign were in contact [with Russians] and it appeared they were giving the thumbs up to release information when it was ready.”

Again, this is still part of an on-going investigation, but that’s a fairly damning report.

Though, let’s see:

  • Around 4 p.m. on October 7, 2015, the Washington Post releases the Access Hollywood video showing Donald Trump making several lewd comments, including attempted adultery and bragging about sexual assaulting women.
  • Less than an hour later after the Access Hollywood video was published publicly, Wikileaks began publishing hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.

I’m sure that was just a coincidence. Not-at-all does that seem as if, you know, associates with the Trump campaign were “giving thumbs up to release information.” I’m absolutely sure that if this Access Hollywood video hadn’t been released, Wikileaks would have still began publishing Podesta’s emails — on a Friday night, a time commonly saved for “news dumps” of information politicians hope get less attention with people distracted by the weekend.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said there’s no “Plan B” if Trumpcare fails: Considering it’s obvious that Trump and congressional Republicans never had a “Plan A,” the lack of an alternative shouldn’t surprise anyone. This is further evidence that Republicans have absolutely no idea how to handle health care considering the “best” plan they have is still one universally hated by pretty much everyone.

There was clearly more, but these were some of the bigger stories that broke on Wednesday. It was another one of those days where the ridiculousness surrounding Donald Trump and his administration is so overwhelming that it really is difficult to keep up with everything.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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  • Andrew Scott

    “Around 4 p.m. on October 7, 2015, the Washington Post releases the Access Hollywood video showing Donald Trump making several lewd comments, including attempted adultery and bragging about sexual assaulting women.
    Less than an hour later after the Access Hollywood video was published publicly, Wikileaks began publishing hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.”

    Don’t you mean October 7, 2016?

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