In a narrow sense, none of Trump’s diversions will matter because ultimately the entire controversy will resolve on the same point: either the Trump campaign and Trump transition were up to no good, or they were not. If along the way it turns out Obama administration officials behaved improperly, it won’t have any bearing on that cardinal question.
The danger is that the administration will successfully poison the ultimate findings of FBI and congressional inquiries into election meddling. Those who treat this latest accusation as if it were grounded in good faith are abetting them in that goal.
White House aides with access to highly classified information, in concert with House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, have spent two weeks telling reporters a new story: that Obama officials spied on Trump aides during the transition by unmasking their names in transcripts of legal foreign intelligence intercepts, and inappropriately disseminating that information throughout the government, for exclusively political purposes. The person at the center of this conspiracy, they now say, was Obama national security adviser Susan Rice. “The more we find out about this, the more we learn there was something there,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer claimed on Tuesday, without elaboration. …
With conservative media fully bought in to the unmasking story, traditional outlets have felt obliged to treat Susan Rice’s actions as presumptively suspicious, when intelligence experts say it was likely either routine, or, more damningly for Trump, of urgent national security relevance.
In absence of everything we know to be true — about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, the ongoing counterintelligence investigation of Trump associates and Russian interference in the election, disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s post-hoc registration as a foreign agent — this would be an explosive allegation. In full context, it simply sounds like a national security adviser doing her job under extraordinary circumstances. …
We should all support a full accounting of what the Russian government did, what the Trump inner circle did, and how the US government responded. But Trump and his aides have been engaged in a well-documented campaign of deception since those fateful tweets on March 4. Placing the burden of proof on anyone other than them is an error we will all come to regret.
Don’t Let Trump Get Away With His Latest Deception