The smartest people on the planet want to oppose Trump & the best they can come up with is a march in support of themselves? – Roger Pielke Jr
A mega March for Science has been planned for Earth Day (April 22) in Washington DC. The web site states:
The March for Science demonstrates our passion for science and sounds a call to support and safeguard the scientific community. Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists.
The mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.
Of course, the poster child for partisan ‘mischaracterization of facts’ is statements by members of the Trump administration regarding uncertainty surrounding the causes of climate change. President Obama and his Call Out the Climate Deniers campaign apparently elicited no concerns about partisan mischaracterization of facts from the science establishment.
Scientists fear what ‘might’ happen under the Trump administration — they are working from rumors, leaks and a few public statements by individuals connected with Trump’s transition teams. These are the same scientists pushing for ‘evidence based’ policies — go figure.
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) – which is joining the March – had a blog post describing the positions on climate change and science of important individuals in the Trump administration: Mick Mulvaney, Rick Perry, Wilbur Ross, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke. Read the blog post. To me, Trump’s team looks like it has a healthier attitude to science than did Obama’s team, who sought to scientize policy debates and politicize science debates.
The scientists’ big concern is ‘silencing of facts’. This concern apparently derives from their desire to have their negotiated ‘facts’ — such as the ‘consensus’ on climate change — dictate public policy. The scientists who are marching seem not very interested in science as a process based on continually evaluating evidence and reassessing conclusions through reasoning and impartial habits of mind.
The scientists are not just out to defend ‘facts’ — they fear funding cuts and limits to immigration. They also seem very attached to safeguarding the academic scientific community and the elite institutions that support it.
Some sentiments from scientists supporting the March:
Caroline Weinberg: “[I]t is not possible to ignore policy when it affects not just your jobs but the future of your field.” [link]
Dr Jacquelyn Gill: “A lot of scientists are realizing that the institutions that fund and support and science in this country . . .are under direct attack.” Trump, she said, “not only doesn’t value our institutions, he doesn’t seem to value evidence-based decision making at all. That is alarming to us.” [link]
Other scientists are very concerned about the March:
Professor Jim Gates, former adviser to Barack Obama, told journalists that the march appeared to lack an end goal – a prerequisite for political action – and would simply be perceived as “science against Trump”. “At least as far as I can detect, there is no theory of action behind this,” he said. “This bothers me tremendously. “To have science represented as this political force I think is just extraordinarily dangerous.” [link]
Robert Young wrote that the march would be perceived as a protest of President Trump and “trivialize and politicize the science we care so much about.” “Trying to recreate the pointedly political Women’s March will serve only to reinforce the narrative from skeptical conservatives that scientists are an interest group and politicize their data, research and findings for their own ends.” [link]
Tactics in want of a strategy
So, exactly what do scientists expect to accomplish with this March, and how do they plan to go about it? Well, I am still at a loss to understand what they expect to accomplish, but there have been some interesting suggestions on how they might go about it.
Jonathan Foley in the Scientific American on how to defeat those who are waging war on science: portray an inclusive vision; get political; don’t fall into the culture war trap; balance facts with meaningful stories; be forceful.
Roger Pielke Jr in the Guardian : To counter Trump’s administration, scientists need counter-propaganda, evidence-based alternative policies and political representation. The scientific community needs to eschew old habits that have manifested themselves in the march: calling for more funding and waging political battles through science.
Kristy Henschel in Science : hold webinar viewing parties; host science policy seminars; design a science advocacy workshop; organize a State Hill day; invite your government representatives for a lab tour; host a science cafe; share your voice on twitter.
The most provocative suggestion comes from an editorial in Nature : Researchers should reach beyond the science bubble. Excerpt: Scientists in the United States and elsewhere ought to address the needs and employment prospects of taxpayers who have seen little benefit from scientific advances. As they ponder their next move in response to the election of Trump, science organizations — universities, funders, supporters and the rest — should look harder at social problems and opportunities, and seek ways for science to help.
So far, the March for Science seems to be shaping up as a self-serving navel gazing exercise for scientists — sort of a ‘we don’t like Trump’ tantrum. The impression that this will have on policy makers and the public will be to cement scientists as a politicized special interest group, just like any other lobbying group. In short, I very much fear that this March will do more harm than good.
It’s not too late to turn this around. We need to rethink the contract between scientists and government, and develop a new model for the the 21st century. Here are some recommendations:
- Embrace science as a process, not a collection of ‘facts’; invite the public to engage in the process of science.
- The institutions of science need to reform themselves, and scientists need to get out of the ivory tower and engage with the real world [link]
- Universities need a new business model and incentive structure for faculty members that doesn’t rely on massive federal research grants but rewards faculty for educating students at all levels and serving the needs of society.
- Scientists need a much better understanding of the policy process, the role that science plays, and how complexity, pluralism and uncertainty in science is accommodated in the policy process. Evidence-based policy making is a good political slogan, but not a good description of the policy process. [link]
- Scientists need to stop using science to support desired political outcomes.
- Scientists need to do more than push back against flawed arguments and bad policy. We need to engage the public, and, even more, invite the public, across the political spectrum, to engage with science. [link]
corbettreport | Mar 6, 2017
It’s official: The Corbett Report is fake news and the most unreliable source in the media. So says Le Monde and dozens of other “fake news checking” websites that are telling the masses what to think, and what they shouldn’t even look at in the first place.
Local activist Aref Daraghma said the Nature Authority cracked down on the Palestinian pickers of Akoub plant in the Jordan Valley.
Daraghma added that wildfires have broken out across the mountains while bird eggs and baby animals have been burned down due to incessant Israeli military maneuvers in the area.
In addition, thousands of dunums of private land seized from Palestinian farmers in the area were handed over to Israeli settlers.
Daraghma further warned of underway attempts by the Israeli occupation authorities and settlers to expand illegal settlement projects at the expense of Palestinian farmlands.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday that the United States has warned that annexing the West Bank would lead to an “immediate crisis” with President Donald Trump’s administration.
Lieberman sought to push back against those in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition calling for a declaration of Israeli sovereignty over all or part of the occupied territory.
He said annexation would provoke a crisis with Washington and result in steep costs for the Israeli government since it would be required to provide services to Palestinians in the West Bank.
“We have received a very clear, direct message from the United States stating that the application of Israeli law in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) would provoke an immediate crisis with the new administration,” Lieberman, who heads the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, said before a parliamentary committee.
Some 2.6 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, which the Zionist authorities occupied in 1967.
The latest call for annexation came on Sunday, when lawmaker Miki Zohar from Netanyahu’s Likud party said in a television interview that “the two-state solution is dead”.
Zohar advocated a single state, but said that Palestinians in the West Bank should not be allowed to vote in Israeli parliamentary elections.
Others have made similar calls, including Education Minister Naftali Bennett who heads the religious nationalist Jewish Home party.
Bennett advocates annexing most of the West Bank, and has said he hopes support from Trump’s presidency will spell the end of the idea of a Palestinian state.
In his comments on Monday, Lieberman also laid out an economic argument against annexation, saying Israel immediately “will be required to spend 20 billion shekels ($5.4 billion, 5.1 billion euros)” on various social services.
Among those reacting to Trump’s selective Muslim ban while it was in effect in the US was “No Place For Hate,” a brand created by the Anti-Defamation League and retailed by synagogues and other Jewish organizations across the country. The ADL explicitly supports advocacy and activism for Israel. “No Place For Hate” operates under their banner.
On February 3, 2017 the steering committee of “No Place for Hate” in Falmouth, Massachusetts wrote a letter to the editor stating that the Trump administration’s “misguided policies foster an environment of fear toward others and encourage expression of bias.” They continue, “we are especially concerned about the religious bias implicit in this ban that may only serve to increase anti-Muslim sentiments, as well as prejudice against other religious minorities.”
Though the rabbi and others who signed this letter may have been sincere, it is hard to avoid the hypocrisy of any group which advocates for Israel saying it is “concerned” about bias against Muslims. Israel was built on bias against Muslims. It is practiced day in and day out there, with home demolitions, stealing of Palestinian land, military attacks on Gaza, almost daily executions of Palestinians in the streets of the West Bank, and an entire program of genocide since 1948. Further, Israel has exported bias against Muslims to the rest of the world, especially the west, so that it can justify its colonial project in Palestine and get the US and Europe to destroy nearby Muslim-majority lands for the sake of its other project — Greater Israel. The starting point of this campaign was blaming Arabs and Muslims for the false flag attacks of September 11, 2001. Israeli agents from the Bush-era neoconservatives to the Mossad were central in the planning of September 11. If any Arabs or Muslims were involved, they were involved as patsies. A large number of false flag attacks have been blamed on Muslims in the years since, in much the same way, just to keep the momentum going. No place for hate? Israel wrote the book!
Making this possible is an amazing feat of propaganda. While Israel organizes the attacks on Muslims in Asia and Africa, it tells the ADL to lead the defense of Muslims in the US. The criminal pretends to the role of his victim’s best friend. He steals with one hand while offering to help with the other. He bombs Gaza while leading a worldwide struggle for human rights. He profits from the African slave trade and then takes up the cause of African American civil rights. He leads the neoconservative warmongers, and at the same time leads the antiwar left. He creates the wars and also the opposition to those wars. He spies on the US, and he claims the US as his closest ally.
Israel has lasted so long on the world stage because it is an expert at deceit. It is so good at deceit that it can commit monstrous crimes in broad daylight and have the world believe Israel was the victim. The Zionist preempts criticism of Israel by convincing the world that such criticism is a hate crime, and gets laws passed to prevent it. On its website the ADL boasts that “45 states and the District of Columbia have enacted hate crimes laws based on (or similar to) ADL’s model.”
Perhaps this is the motive behind “No Place For Hate”: the real haters must appear to be the leading opponents of hate. If an organization gets itself into the position of defining what hate is and who is doing it, it is in a good position to make sure that the power it represents — racist Israel — is never accused. Has the ADL ever called out Israel for genocide in Palestine? Of course not. What about administrative detention? What about home demolitions? No. The ADL was created so that it could facilitate Israel’s genocide against Palestinians, and make sure the perpetrators never get blamed.
Several years ago, in this same small town in Massachusetts, the venue of a film group was shut down for its screening of Occupation 101, a documentary about the realities of life for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. The opposition was anonymous. Pressure was brought to bear on the board overseeing the venue. Although a number of bureaucratic explanations were given, the final explanation was that the movie was “hate speech.” The same scenario has played out all over the country. Free speech is shut down on the basis of a construct promoted by organizations like the ADL, specifically to protect Israel. “No Place For Hate” is used as a weapon against free speech, dressed in liberal guise.
Perhaps the purpose of Jewish activism for human rights is, as the letter above says, protecting “other religious minorities” — namely, their own. Many Jews have been outspoken on the cause of Palestine because they know a crime has been committed, and they know that retribution may come. Those who are not witting participants have a guilty conscience. Some may wish to deny, some may wish to bargain, some may wish to obstruct, some may wish to shift the blame, but they all act out of guilt. It is up to those who have suffered in the many wars for Israel to decide what justice should be rendered — most notably, the Palestinians, but also the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Sudan, Yemen, and Iran. It is certain, however, that the ones who have set themselves up as the arbiters of human rights — the ADL among them — are the ones who should actually be on trial.
An official at the Central Bank of Russia says the regulator will continue to revoke licenses of fraudulent or unstable banks for another two years. Since 2013, the number of banks in Russia has shrunk from 900 to 570.
Despite a large number of closed banks, crime is still popping up, and the regulator needs until 2019 to finish the crackdown, said Vasily Pozdyshev, a deputy governor at Russia’s central bank in an interview with Reuters.
It is likely Russia will end up with 400 lenders in two years, but there is no target number, according to the official.
“Our work to clean up the banking system is sometimes much more like the work of a financial investigator, an investigator of financial crimes, than the work of a modern banking regulator, which checks whether a bank is sufficiently capitalized or not,” said Pozdyshev.
“We are up against a whole business of creating fictitious borrowers. … This is a whole virtual world managed by IT programs and servers which very often aren’t located in the bank,” he said.
The current purge against fraudulent lenders began in 2013 with the appointment of Elvira Nabiullina as central bank governor. A previous attempt to sanitize the sector was slowed after the assassination of Andrey Kozlov in 2006, an official in charge of the crackdown. After the incident, Central Bank employees including Pozdyshev travel with protection and are heavily guarded.
The existing mechanisms don’t allow the Central Bank to stop unscrupulous bankers fleeing the country, and should be revised, Pozdyshev told Reuters.
“Banks often have influential backers, and this makes everything much more difficult. But we have launched this policy, and we need to carry it to its conclusion. If we stop, then the banking system will immediately slip back, into the shadows,” he said.
The regulator had to plug a $10 billion hole in the balance sheets of about 100 banks that had licenses revoked last year.
One of the biggest cases thus far was last week’s license revocation of top-50 lender Tatfondbank. According to various estimates, the bank was in a $2 billion hole.
While 90 percent of Tatfondbank’s depositors were compensated by Russia’s deposit insurance fund, corporate clients took a big hit. According to the Izvestia daily, they have about $750 million in the failed bank, which will be partly compensated through bankruptcy proceedings.
The Central Bank’s investigation has shown that 65 percent of Tatfondbank’s corporate clients were bankrupt or had no business activity.
Following Saturday’s charges come Sunday’s denials.
On Saturday in a series of tweets Donald Trump accused his predecessor Barack Obama of wiretapping his office in Trump Tower. A few hours later Obama responded with a statement published by his spokesman which neither admitted nor denied the wiretap but which said that Obama himself had never ordered surveillance within the US on anyone.
Then came an interview for NBC by Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. In it in carefully chosen words Clapper said that he had “no knowledge” of any FISA court authorising wiretaps of Trump Tower, and that no section of the US intelligence community which he supervised had carried out such a wiretap.
Some sections of the media – especially in Britain the BBC and the Guardian – have reported these denials in a way that gives the impression to a casual viewer or reader that Clapper has denied the existence of the wiretap outright. This is certainly not so. Clapper’s careful words were
[For the part of the national security apparatus that I oversaw] there was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president, the president-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign….. I can’t speak for other authorized entities in the government or a state or local entity (bold italics added)
In words which have received far less publicity, Clapper also denied that he had seen any evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and said that the report on Russian interference in the election submitted to Obama and Trump, a redacted version of which was provided to Congress, and a further redacted (and content free) version of which was made public, made no such claim
Clapper was also asked on “Meet the Press” if he had any evidence that the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russian government while the Kremlin was working to influence the election.
“Not to my knowledge,” Clapper said, based on the information he had before his time in the position ended.
“We did not include anything in our report … that had any reflect of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that included in our report,” he said. “We had no evidence of such collusion.”
A few hours after Clapper’s comments, there appeared an article in The New York Times drawing on the usual anonymous sources. This claimed that shortly after the President published his tweets on Saturday FBI Director Comey contacted the Justice Department to say that the President’s claim that Obama had ordered Trump’s phone in Trump Tower wiretapped was false, and asked the Justice Department to publish a retraction (as of the time of writing the Justice Department has published no such retraction).
In a comment which I see as intended to goad Comey into publishing his own statement denying the President’s claims, The New York Times questions why he has not done so
It is not clear why Mr. Comey did not issue a statement himself. He is the most senior law enforcement official who was kept on the job as the Obama administration gave way to the Trump administration. And while the Justice Department applies for intelligence-gathering warrants, the F.B.I. keeps its own records and is in a position to know whether Mr. Trump’s claims are true. While intelligence officials do not normally discuss the existence or nonexistence of surveillance warrants, no law prevents Mr. Comey from issuing the statement.
As I recall, The New York Times initially also made the very strange claim that because Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged contacts with Russia, Comey was finding it difficult to find anyone in the Justice Department competent to handle his request.
That cannot be true since Sessions’s statement on Friday made it clear that it would be the acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente who would henceforth be supervising the investigation and who Comey would therefore be dealing with. I notice that the current version of the story in The New York Times no longer makes this claim.
It is always difficult (and perhaps unwise) to comment on something someone is reported to have said based on accounts of what that person is reported to have said which are provided anonymously and at second hand. Assuming however that The New York Times story is true (as I believe) and assuming that Comey’s concerns are also being reported accurately (which with some qualifications I also believe) then Comey is not actually denying that a wiretap took place, merely that Obama ordered it. Here is the first paragraph of The New York Times report
The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.
This is of course what Obama said in his statement on Saturday, and which (as I have already pointed out) is almost certainly true
The statement does not deny that Donald Trump’s office in Trump Tower was wiretapped. Nor does it deny that Donald Trump’s ‘associates’ (a flexible word the precise meaning of which has never been made clear) or members of his campaign team were placed under surveillance.
Instead it indirectly denies that Obama himself or people working directly under him in the White House ordered these actions. It does so by denying they have ever ordered surveillance of any US citizen, something which by the way is almost certainly true.
The statement hints than any order to wiretap Donald Trump’s office or for carrying out surveillance on Donald Trump’s ‘associates’ was the work of officials in the Justice Department, and it seeks to shift responsibility – or blame – onto them.
This too is almost certainly true. (bold italics added)
On the face of it therefore Comey’s comments – if they are being reported accurately – do not add anything to what following Obama’s statement of Saturday we already know.
Certain other comments attributed to Comey in The New York Times article are attracting less attention, though they are actually very interesting.
Firstly, it seems that what drove Comey to contact the Justice Department is concern that Donald Trump’s tweets on Saturday implied that the FBI by wiretapping his office had broken the law.
Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump levelled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said.
Comey’s concern here is entirely legitimate. As I have said previously, if there was a wiretap and if it was authorised by a court after an application made in the proper way by the Justice Department, then the wiretap was legal. Comey is absolutely right to want to set the record straight about this. Presumably in the absence of a public statement that will be done over the course of the Congressional inquiries which the President has now requested.
The second point is even more interesting, which is that The New York Times story again essentially confirms that the FBI investigation into the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is drawing a blank.
In addition to being concerned about potential attacks on the bureau’s credibility, senior F.B.I. officials are said to be worried that the notion of a court-approved wiretap will raise the public’s expectations that the federal authorities have significant evidence implicating the Trump campaign in colluding with Russia’s efforts to disrupt the presidential election. (bold italics added)
This is very twisted language which shows that The New York Times is not reporting this part of the story straightforwardly. However the meaning is clear enough. The FBI is worried that the more discussion of its investigation there is – extending all the way to discussions by no less a person than the President himself of court approved wiretaps – the more people will fall for the false ‘no smoke without fire’ argument, and will feel let down by the FBI when it eventually announces that its investigation has drawn a blank.
This is an entirely valid concern, and is one of several reasons why such investigations are supposed to be confidential.
This is the second confirmation within a few hours from people who have held posts within the national security bureaucracy that the endlessly repeated claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia are not supported by evidence. The first was made by Clapper (see above) and the second was made anonymously to The New York Times by officials of the FBI.
These admissions follow a continuous pattern of admissions from officials within the national security bureaucracy now stretching back months that inquiries into claims of collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia are drawing a blank.
Not only in the present paranoid atmosphere are these admissions being ignored, but the security agencies are being constantly bullied to divert more and more resources into more and more inquiries to find the evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia which officials of the security agencies repeatedly say is not there.
Students of political witch-hunts eg. the Popish Plot in Seventeenth Century England, the Stalinist purges of the 1930s, or the McCarthyite witch-hunts of the 1950s, will recognise the phenomenon.
The position therefore as of the time of writing is that Obama has denied – though in a very convoluted way – that he ordered a wiretap (though he has hinted that if there was a wiretap it was the Justice Department which requested it), Comey is reported as having also denied that Obama ordered a wiretap, and Clapper has denied that the part of the bureaucracy that he supervised sought or carried out a wiretap.
These are not denials that a wiretap took place. Neither are they admissions that it did take place. I have repeatedly warned against the logical error of inferring a positive from a negative, and of treating a denial of one thing as an admission of something else. What it is fair to say is that the fingers are being pointed towards Obama’s Justice Department, and that so far its senior officers – Loretta Lynch and Sally Yates – are staying silent.
If Obama ordered Trump Tower wiretapped as Donald Trump claims, evidence may or may not be easily obtained.
If FISA court authorization occurred, a congressional inquiry could prove it. If conducted warrantless by the NSA, CIA or FBI, verifying Trump’s claim will be much harder.
Cooperation by agency heads would be needed. NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers is an Obama administration holdover. So is FBI head James Comey. CIA director Mike Pompeo is a Trump appointee.
If Obama got FISA court authorization to wiretap Trump Tower, or a server the building uses for electronic communications located anywhere, court records would verify it.
Still, it’s unproved so far if spying on Trump occurred, and if so, whether it stemmed from FISA court authorization or by other means.
The NSA, CIA and FBI notoriously conduct warrantless surveillance. Post-9/11, the NSA was authorized by a GW Bush executive order to warrantlessly spy on phone and other electronic communications in the name of national security.
Monitoring internally and abroad followed, a clear Fourth Amendment violation, prohibiting searches and seizures without judicial authorization – based on probable cause.
In 2012, Congress extended warrantless spying, constitutional law ignored. The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act passed both houses overwhelmingly.
Obama signed it into law. Warrantless spying was extended for another five years. GW Bush and Obama authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans lawlessly.
The CIA and FBI operate the same way extrajudicially. Constitutional protections no longer apply. Rogue governance does what it pleases – the way all police states operate.
It’s bad enough to spy on ordinary Americans, quite another on a major party presidential candidate if hard evidence proves it.
According to a NYT report, FBI director Comey “asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones” – citing the usual unnamed “senior American officials.”
Comey, an Obama holdover, said Trump’s charge is false, according to The Times. The FBI and Justice Department declined to comment.
If a FISA warrant was issued, it would have likely come through the DOJ or the FBI it administers. A statement by AG Jeff Sessions, another senior department official, or Comey would confirm or deny if one or the other agencies was involved. So far, no public comment by either.
Over the weekend, Trump reportedly said “(t)his will be investigated. It will all come out. I will be proven right.”
For starters, he should publicly reveal what he knows, any evidence he’s aware of, putting meat on the bones of his serious accusation.
One thing’s clear. This story has a long way to go. How it’ll end remains uncertain.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at email@example.com. His new book is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
Former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper. © Joshua Roberts / Reuters
Former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ show that he is unaware of any evidence that the Russian government colluded with the Trump campaign during the US election, but still believes contacts existed.
“We didn’t include evidence in our report that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that included in our report,” Clapper said, referring to a paper compiled by the NSA, FBI and CIA, together with the office of the DNI.
When asked if such proof even existed, he said: “Not to my knowledge.”
The show’s host, Chuck Todd, continued to press the issue, asking: “If [evidence] existed, it would have been in the report?”
Clapper answered that “this could have unfolded or become available in the time since I left the government. But at the time, we had no evidence of such collusion.”
Todd hinted that the public could start wondering if the situation is “all just smoke,” given the absence of a “smoking gun.”
“Well, that’s a good question. I don’t know,” Clapper responded. “I do think, though, it is in everyone’s interest, in the current president’s interests, in the Democrats’ interests, in the Republican interests, the country’s interest to get to the bottom of all of this, because it’s such a distraction. And certainly the Russians have to be chortling about the success of their efforts to sow dissension in this country.”
Clapper, however, still appeared unable to put his finger on where to look for any proof of the alleged “dissension-sowing.”
Asked if he still believed the Trump-Russia collusion claims, Clapper stated: “Yes, I do.”
Clapper is not the first to face questions over the issue of any substantial proof – or the lack thereof – of the Trump-Russia allegations.
At the end of February, the House Intelligence Committee chief, Rep. Devin Nunes, told journalists that they “still haven’t seen any evidence” of “any phone calls [between the Trump campaign and Russian officials]” but mysteriously added: “It doesn’t mean they don’t exist.”
Moscow has repeatedly denied allegations of contact with the Trump campaign, with the Kremlin spokesman lamenting that it’s become difficult to distinguish fact from fiction in the US media.
“Those reports are not based on concrete facts,” Dmitry Peskov said in mid-February, commenting on claims made by the New York Times and CNN, among others. Peskov noted that “there are five different sources in the story and none are named. So you see, really laughable stories are now given a go.”