On today's BradCast, FBI Director James Comey and NSA chief Mike Rogers testified for more than five hours today before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, confirming the existence of an FBI counterintelligence probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, and batting down charges by President Trump that then-President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower before leaving office. [Audio link to show follows below.]
We're joined by national security journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel.com for analysis of today's long-awaited public hearing, with a focus on the many still-unanswered questions surrounding the charges of collusion between Trump and Russia and of the leaked classified information documenting a phone conversation between Trump's National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Why was Flynn's part of the conversation captured and transcribed by the Intel Community in the first place, before the content of that discussion, concerning sanctions against the former Soviet Union, was leaked to media? Why wasn't Flynn's side of the discussion "masked" or "minimized", as many Americans believe is the case when it comes to the capture of information from U.S. persons during foreign counterintelligence investigations?
"Since 2008," she explains, "it's been permissible for the FBI, in whatever intercepts they get directly, to be able to go back in and look up stuff without distinction of whether the somebody is a US person or a foreigner. This is why the Republicans are so buggy about this."
"What many people are discovering, for the first time, is that the FBI can do backdoor searches. It means they do not need a warrant...where some analyst in the FBI or the NSA has decided someone is of foreign intelligence interest. The FBI doesn't need a warrant for that at all. They access that stuff without any criminal evidence against Americans. If they get a tip on you, they can look you up by your name, just on that tip alone."
Wheeler goes on to detail the legal statutes on that, the lack of public evidence concerning the alleged "cutout" between stolen DNC emails and WikiLeaks, why it took so long for Comey to inform Congress about his investigation at all (he said it's been under way since last July), questions about whether Trump and others in his Administration are susceptible to compromise by foreign agents, and whether or not she has confidence in the Congressional and FBI investigations into all of these matters.
Also today: Trump's approval rating hits a new low, and a federal appellate court protects a Constitutional right in Mississippi by blocking another GOP attempt to close the state's last remaining abortion clinic...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)