Andrew C. McCarthy’s new book, “BALL OF COLLUSION: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency,” might go down in history as the definitive account of what the Obama administration did behind the scenes in 2015-2017 to undermine Donald Trump, first as a candidate and later as President. It provides eminently solid explanations for what happened and connects the dots so well that it could be a “roadmap” for Attorney General William Barr as he conducts his own investigation and addresses the questions that remain. Though it’s doubtful Barr needs a roadmap at this point.
If you have friends or family members who don’t understand the seriousness of what occurred or who simply have thrown up their hands as the story got increasingly complicated, they should read this book --- or, at least one particular excerpt, which does a spectacular job on its own of concisely explaining what the Obama administration did to weaponize the institutions of power. It’s posted on the RealClear Investigations website; I’ve linked to it at the bottom of this commentary for you to read and pass along.
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To tell the story, McCarthy begins with a reference to the January 5, 2017, White House meeting with Obama and national security officials to discuss their assessment of Russia’s so-called interference in the election and to Susan Rice’s last-minute Inauguration Day CYA text, saying Obama insisted in that meeting that the Trump/Russia investigation be “by the book.” (McCarthy clarifies that Russians weren’t interfering in the election per se --- no ballots or vote tallies were involved --- but in the months leading up to it, by publicizing stolen emails and peddling outrageous propaganda.) President Obama had rushed to complete this assessment; as of January 5, he had just a couple of weeks before he and his staff would be out the door.
McCarthy also divides the timeline at BEFORE Election Day, when everyone thought Hillary was a shoo-in, and AFTER Election Day, that (wonderful) day voters told Hillary to “shoo.” Well before the election, Obama knew all about what the Russians had been doing, cyber-wise, but since it was assumed that Hillary would win, there was no desire to cast even a smidgen of doubt on the upcoming election results. “Because Clinton was the certain victor,” McCarthy writes, “Democrats made a calculated decision that nothing said or done would even hint that her coronation would reflect anything but the will of the people.” Recall that just days before the election, both Obama and Clinton assailed Trump for “daring to question the integrity and legitimacy of the election.” Obama even pointed out that Russia always stirs the pot and makes this kind of mischief (true, and so do we and everybody else, though he wasn’t going to say THAT) and it never amounts to anything in terms of results.
But then, Election Day came, and it knocked not only Hillary and her campaign but the whole Obama team for a loop. Imagine the blood draining from their faces as they realized that in just ten short weeks, none other than Donald J. Trump would be President, positioned to discover that Obama’s Executive Branch –- with help, I would add, from some Democrat legislators –- had exploited its massive counterintelligence powers, foreign and domestic, to spy on his political campaign. Holy Moly. As I’ve said, they really did make Richard Nixon look like an underachiever.
It’s at this point where McCarthy conveniently sums up the whole scandal. To quote: “It would become apparent to Trump that the Obama administration had been telling the FISC [FISA court] that his campaign was traitorously complicit in Russia’s hacking of Democratic email accounts. Trump would be poised to find out that the FBI, in coordination with the CIA, the State Department, and friendly foreign governments, had for months been running informants at Trump campaign advisors, aggressively asking them loaded questions designed to implicate the campaign in Russia’s hacking operations. He would hear of the “unmasking” of Trump associates in intelligence reporting so that Obama officials, such as Rice and Brennan, could monitor them. It would become clear to Trump that these steps were taken in stealth, withheld even from the Gang Of Eight that was created precisely to prevent such audacious executive action in the absence of high-level congressional oversight.”
Also, he continues, they realized Trump would know that he, personally, was the target of this scheme. Otherwise, they would have taken any suspicions directly to him –- or to one of his top campaign people with strong national security credentials –- in a defensive national security briefing. And even though there were officials whose blind hatred and loathing of Trump were enough to make them believe (“in their bones,” McCarthy writes) that he actually had corrupt Russian ties, Trump would know their investigation was based on nothing more than unverified, salacious gossip and hearsay generated by the Clinton campaign.
[Aside: I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that this will be their defense if (when??) they end up in court. They’ll say they BELIEVED that Trump was a Russian agent and lots of other bad things and so they acted accordingly in the name of national security. Sorry, that doesn’t cut it. If you tried to kill an innocent person whom you loathed and said it was because you BELIEVED that person was bad, you’d still end up in prison for attempted murder. And you should. Even if you believed it in your bones. But this is how they’ll try to justify their actions, if it comes to that.]
Anyway, Trump also knew Obama’s people had buried the criminal case against Hillary, “which, McCarthy writes, “[was] supported by such daunting evidence of guilt that the plain language of criminal statutes had to be distorted to avoid enforcing them.” So the inconsistent standards of “justice” applied to Trump and to Hillary would be glaring.
Obama and his people had ten weeks to do something. In ten weeks, Trump would “inherit the keys to the intelligence kingdom,” as McCarthy puts it. Knowing Trump, they realized he wasn’t likely to just let it go when he found out, even if bringing on a day of reckoning for the esteemed FBI caused him to lose political points. What would they do? Rather then let Trump make it public, they knew it would be better for them to “orchestrate the disclosure themselves.”
So, suddenly, instead of dismissing Russia’s efforts to “meddle in our democracy,” as the narrative had gone before the election, they would turn 180 degrees and blame Russia for Hillary’s loss. With help from the media, they would convince enough of the public that there truly WAS a sinister Trump/Russia conspiracy. And they would work it so any attempt to stop them from endlessly investigating it would be seen as obstruction. We saw that play out with the special counsel for almost two years.
Again, for fascinating late-summer reading, the book is BALL OF COLLUSION, by Andrew C. McCarthy. Here’s that excerpt…