If Ed Klein’s reporting is accurate, James Comey may turn the FBI into the Lapdog-elect’s Praetorian Guard…. (More)

“Brennan takes his marching orders from President Obama”

Of course there’s a big if at the start of the lede. Klein writes for TownHall, a right-wing blog that was founded as the media arm of the Heritage Foundation. So take Klein’s report with a large grain of salt:

In telephone conversations with Donald Trump, FBI Director James Comey assured the president-elect there was no credible evidence that Russia influenced the outcome of the recent U.S. presidential election by hacking the Democratic National Committee and the e-mails of John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

What’s more, Comey told Trump that James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, agreed with this FBI assessment.

The only member of the U.S. intelligence community who was ready to assert that the Russians sanctioned the hacking was John Brennan, the director of the CIA, according to sources who were briefed on Comey’s conversations with Trump.
“And Brennan takes his marching orders from President Obama,” the sources quoted Comey as saying.

In Comey’s view, the leaks to the New York Times and the Washington Post alleging that the Russians tried – and perhaps even succeeded – in tilting the election to Trump were a Democratic Party effort to delegitimize Trump’s victory.

That sounds suspiciously like a wingnut wet dream of how such a conversation would have happened. So … again … take it with a grain of salt.

“A high level of confidence”

Meanwhile, NBC’s William Arkin, Ken Dilanian, and Cynthia McFadden report that U.S. intelligence officials are increasingly sure Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in the election-meddling campaign:

U.S. intelligence officials now believe with “a high level of confidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

Two senior officials with direct access to the information say new intelligence shows that Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used. The intelligence came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies, the officials said.

Putin’s objectives were multifaceted, a high-level intelligence source told NBC News. What began as a “vendetta” against Hillary Clinton morphed into an effort to show corruption in American politics and to “split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn’t depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore,” the official said.

Ultimately, the CIA has assessed, the Russian government wanted to elect Donald Trump. The FBI and other agencies don’t fully endorse that view, but few officials would dispute that the Russian operation was intended to harm Clinton’s candidacy by leaking embarrassing emails about Democrats.
[…]
Now the U.S has solid information tying Putin to the operation, the intelligence officials say. Their use of the term “high confidence” implies that the intelligence is nearly incontrovertible.

I’ve seen no credible reporting that the FBI denies Russia was behind the John Podesta and DNC hacks. (I don’t credit John Bolton’s ‘false flag’ conspiracy theory as credible.) I’ve seen reports that the FBI is quibbling over Putin’s motive, but it’s worth noting that even Klein’s report addresses only whether the hacking “influenced the election,” and that casts the question in a purely speculative frame.

It’s not even theoretically possible to have “credible evidence” of whether the Russian hacking and WikiLeaks release campaigns actually “influenced” the decisions of tens of millions of voters. Neither the Times nor the Post – nor the White House or Clinton campaigns – have said it did. They know that’s an unknowable question.

But whether Putin was behind the meddling, and what his reasonable and likely motives were, are not unknowable questions. By twisting those together with the question of effectiveness, the Lapdog-elect and his allies are intentionally clouding the issue.

And if Comey really did tell the Lapdog-elect what Klein’s sources claim, he seems to want to turn the FBI into a Praetorian Guard, loyal servants of the White House rather than of the law. We’ve had that arrangement before, and it led to one of the darkest political scandals in our nation’s history … the original -gate.

I’m sure that will Make America Great Again….

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Photo Credit: CNN

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Good day and good nuts