CNN Hacks Dismiss Unmasking as ‘Contrived Scandal,’ ‘Disgraceful,’ ‘Shameful,’ Politics

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On Wednesday’s Situation Room, a cast of CNN’s journalistic charlatans engaged in the shameless gaslighting of viewers on the unmasking list in the Michael Flynn case, insisting that not only were “all of the rules….followed” and Flynn’s “name was protected” (not true), but the list’s declassification was “disgraceful,” “shameful,” and “100 percent politics.”

Predictably, the panel of journalists and a former Obama official never explained why individuals like an Energy Department official, Treasury staffers, the U.S. Ambassador to Italy and San Marino, and White House chief of staff deserved access.

 

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Senior Justice correspondent and Fusion GPS mouthpiece Evan Perez insisted that Republicans “believe this shows a plot to bring down President Trump’s incoming administration” even though the list doesn’t “show…any of that,” “show any political motivations,” and “show us that anybody who shouldn’t have had access to this information was getting access to it.”

Host Wolf Blitzer asked Perez “how much of all this is now about politics” and, naturally, Perez replied that “politics plays a huge role in why this is now a story” and seeing as how he’s insisted there’s no wrongdoing, presumably no American should be concerned either.

In other words, Obama officials like James Clapper (now with CNN), Samantha Power, and Vice President Biden were keeping America safe.

Fellow former Obama official Carrie Cordero also promised that “rules weren’t broken” and Flynn’s “name was protected” (even though it was leaked to the media). And for DNI Richard Grenell, she decried the decision to release the list as “a disgraceful abuse,” “unfair disparaging” of the intel community, and gross amid the coronavirus pandemic (click “expand”):

Wolf, my take on this is that this is a 100 percent contrived scandal. From everything I’ve seen as far as the documents that have been released and the information that’s been reported, all of the rules were followed. This was an individual who was captured and overheard on a lawful surveillance of a valid foreign intelligence target, as far as we can surmise from the documents. The rules, as far as requesting national security agency approval to unmask or reveal his name, was done appropriately. In other words, procedures weren’t bypassed, rules weren’t broken, all of the rules were followed and now the names of the individuals who requested that unmasking looked to me to be all individuals of senior national security stature who had responsibilities and would have had a valid reason for requesting access to this information. This is absolutely, 100 percent politics, and really in the current environment given what’s going on in the country, I think is really a disgraceful abuse of the declassification system and an unfair disparaging of the intelligence community process.

(….)

So, everything here was done according to rules. It’s not as if the intelligence community was just including U.S. person information in their report and that was spreading around to all the different intelligence community elements and personnel. These names were protected. His name was protected and then they went through the process, senior officials who needed access to that information.

In other words, Cordero used the Brian Stelter strategy, which to besmirch anyone trying to talk about or do anything unrelated to the coronavirus. How rich, considering CNN spent over two years doing little else besides obsessing over Russian collusion.

Inside Politics host John King was similarly livid. He suggested this was part and parcel to the 2016 election when the Trump campaign (supposedly) maligned Hillary Clinton’s character by throwing out examples of “innuendo,” like the Clinton Foundation and her private email server.

This is the pigpen strategy, just throw up as much dust as you can. We’ve also seen the President’s Republican friends in Congress come to his aid now increasingly in this gimmick,” King added.

Blitzer went back to the well that Cordero drew from, bemoaning how Trump’s “still obsessing over President Obama.”

King followed with more nonsense and claimed red states are the COVID-19 trouble spots (click “expand”):

It says he believes his path — his path in politics has always been grievances. Finding an enemy, run your grievances against that person. Right now, if you look at the polling, he’s in a very competitive election, but even his own campaign is alarmed. If you look at his handling of coronavirus, the American people don’t like it. Nearly six in 10 Americans disapprove. He’s in a fight today with his top infectious disease expert who believes there could be a resurgence of cases. The President wants to say no, no, no, all is good, safely reopen the economy. When he’s looking to change the subject and when he is looking to air his grievances, he often goes back to the prior administration. Now, President Obama has been a favorite target since day one. President Obama’s vice president is now the presumptive Democratic nominee. So, again, we lived through this in 2016 with how the President tries to smear and use innuendo against his opponents.

(….)

And President Obama is a favorite pinata if you will for the current President of the United States because it stokes up his base and some of his base and some of those red states has [sic] a coronavirus problem right now and he wants to change the subject.

Apparently, King forgot about cases and death tolls in blue states like California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington state. But Florida, Georgia, and Texas are the real problems, right?

Hours earlier, MSNBC’s Deadline: White House spent just over two minutes complaining with host Nicolle Wallace and former Obama official Chuck Rosenberg.

Wallace knocked Grenell as not only a red flag, but a “staunch political supporter of Donald Trump’s” trying to weaponize “what to me, as just a former government official, looked like” merely a “distribution list” for conversations between Flynn and Kisylak.

Rosenberg fretted that it was “trouble[d]” by something that was likely done out of “a nefarious reason,” which was “the Trump administration trying to exact revenge on enemies perceived and real, mostly preserved, of course.”

To see the relevant transcript from CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on May 13, click “expand.”

CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer
May 13, 2020
6:33 p.m. Eastern

WOLF BLITZER: President Trump is responding to some just released information related to the investigation of the President’s former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, and trying to use it against Joe Biden. let’s bring in our senior Justice correspondent Evan Perez. Evan, first of all, tell us about these declassified documents that were just released by Republicans. What do they tell us, and also what they don’t tell us?

EVAN PEREZ: Well, Wolf, the — the — these documents are released by the national security agencies simply tell you how many officials at the Obama administration were asking for the identities to be unmasked of Americans in intelligence reports in the weeks before Donald Trump took office. This is in December and January — December of 2016 and early January 2017. Now according to the Republicans, you know, they think there’s some suspicion here that Americans names were being unmasked or being revealed in these intelligence reports from the NSA. These were intercepts of the conversations Americans were having with people who were under surveillance, and they believe this shows a plot to bring down President Trump’s incoming administration. What they don’t show is any of that. These — these — these documents don’t show any political motivations. It doesn’t show us that anybody who shouldn’t have had access to this information was getting access to it. We’re talking about people like James Clapper, John Brennen, people in the Obama white house, Samantha Power. These were people who had the authority to ask for this information and according to the NSA this was handled exactly the way the NSA normally handles all of these requests, Wolf.

BLITZER: How common is it to request that identities be unmasked in these kinds of very sensitive intelligence reports?

PEREZ: It is quite routine. Back in 2019, for instance, there were over 10,000 of these
requests. That’s during the Trump administration. Back in 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, there were 9,200 such requests. You can see the number of such unmaskings is way up under the Trump administration.

(….)

6:35 p.m. Eastern

BLITZER [AFTER TRUMP CLIP]: And yet, the Biden campaign is responding, saying in part, let me read to you the statement: “Donald Trump’s attempt at dishonest media manipulation to distract from his response to the worst public health crisis in 100 years has backfired. These documents simply indicate the breadth and depth across the American government – including career officials – over intelligence reports of Michael Flynn’s attempts to undermine ongoing American national security policy through discussions with Russian officials or other foreign representatives.” Evan, how much of all of this is now about politics?

PEREZ: Look, I think politics plays a huge role in why this is now a story. It’s an interesting thing that the President is bringing Joe Biden into this. Joe Biden’s name is on this list of people. Again, we don’t know, Wolf, why this — these reports were — are now being brought up this way. Certainly, the Republicans who released them say they don’t actually know whether there’s any wrongdoing at all at this point but they want to investigate further and I suspect as the President is telegraphing this is going to be part of the election campaign coming forward.

BLITZER: I suspect you’re right.

(….)

6:37 p.m. Eastern

CARRIE CORDERO: Wolf, my take on this is that this is a 100 percent contrived scandal. From everything I’ve seen as far as the documents that have been released and the information that’s been reported, all of the rules were followed. This was an individual who was captured and overheard on a lawful surveillance of a valid foreign intelligence target, as far as we can surmise from the documents. The rules, as far as requesting national security agency approval to unmask or reveal his name, was done appropriately. In other words, procedures weren’t bypassed, rules weren’t broken, all of the rules were followed and now the names of the individuals who requested that unmasking looked to me to be all individuals of senior national security stature who had responsibilities and would have had a valid reason for requesting access to this information. This is absolutely, 100 percent politics, and really in the current environment given what’s going on in the country, I think is really a disgraceful abuse of the declassification system and an unfair disparaging of the intelligence community process.

BLITZER: You know, John, does this fit into the President’s directive, and he used the words, to investigate the investigators?

JOHN KING: Wolf, we have seen this movie in all of its pieces before. In the 2016 campaign, when people started to see —- question Donald Trump’s personal character, question his trustworthiness, he ramped up about the Clinton e-mails, he ramped up about the Clinton Foundation. They threw all these innuendo [sic] out there, essentially if you don’t trust me, I’m going to make you not trust the other person too. I’m going to drag that person down with me, so when we have an election, you don’t have a clear distinguishing between one candidate and the other on issues of trust and honesty and character. This is the pigpen strategy, just throw up as much dust as you can. We’ve also seen the President’s Republican friends in Congress come to his aid now increasingly in this gimmick….They throw out the innuendo, they throw out the allegation and they won’t follow up in a fair setting where Democrats too could ask the questions, where they could call it if they wanted to. Mr. Brennan and General Clapper and layout what happened if they wanted to do that. But then they would actually have to put all of the facts on the table, not just the little snippets they want to cause a little smoke.

(….)

6:42 p.m. Eastern

BLITZER: You know, Carrie, you know, you have a lot of experience. You’re the former counsel to the assistant U.S. attorney general for national security, so you understand how the intelligence community works and these sensitive documents to be sure, but when you ask for a name to be unmasked as they did in this particular case, you don’t necessarily know who that person is going to be? Do you? Is it even possible to target someone this way?

CORDERO: Well, it would depend on the content of the conversation, so normally what would happen is a senior official’s reading this intelligence information, it’s relevant to ongoing intelligence investigations, other national security and foreign policy activities that the United States was engaged in that time because remember, this was all in the context of Russian interference in the U.S. election and intelligence community work that was going on with that and then if they really need to understand and that’s the standard. Is the unmasking — is the revealing of that U.S. person’s name needed in order to understand the intelligence and so if they meet that standard, then they have to go to the NSA and ask permission and the NSA director, so it goes up to a very senior level — has a process that that information would then be revealed. So, everything here was done according to rules. It’s not as if the intelligence community was just including U.S. person information in their report and that was spreading around to all the different intelligence community elements and personnel. These names were protected. His name was protected and then they went through the process, senior officials who needed access to that information.

BLITZER: John King, what does it say to you that the President, who’s been in office now for more than three years, that he’s still obsessing over President Obama, calling it Obamagate, at one point saying Obama committed the biggest political crime in American history? What does that say to you?

KING: It says he believes his path — his path in politics has always been grievances. Finding an enemy, run your grievances against that person. Right now, if you look at the polling, he’s in a very competitive election, but even his own campaign is alarmed. If you look at his handling of coronavirus, the American people don’t like it. Nearly six in 10 Americans disapprove. He’s in a fight today with his top infectious disease expert who believes there could be a resurgence of cases. The President wants to say no, no, no, all is good, safely reopen the economy. When he’s looking to change the subject and when he is looking to air his grievances, he often goes back to the prior administration. Now, President Obama has been a favorite target since day one. President Obama’s vice president is now the presumptive Democratic nominee. So, again, we lived through this in 2016 with how the President tries to smear and use innuendo against his opponents. I would just say this. Even as the President’s director of acting intelligence in the letters to Congress says all the procedures were followed properly, so then what is wrong? If you’re going to say there’s Obamagate, the Vice President is an unmasker, all these other people, lay it out. Lay it out. You can’t just — you can’t have your own people say they followed the rules and then have the President say and his allies say there’s a crime here or there’s some scandal here. Lay it out. They have — they are — as I said before, they control the United States Senate. Call a hearing. Have a fair hearing and lay this out. If something wrong happened, good. Lay it out. Hold those accountable if they did something wrong, but that’s not what they do, Wolf. And President Obama is a favorite pinata if you will for the current President of the United States because it stokes up his base and some of his base and some of those red states has [sic] a coronavirus problem right now and he wants to change the subject.

BLITZER: You know, Evan, very quickly, we made the decision in the U.S. intelligence community to go ahead and release all the documents right now?

PEREZ: Rick Grenell, who’s the acting director of national intelligence. A lot of these informations, Wolf, Republicans wanted it out much earlier and there had been some resistance in the government to releasing it. This is stuff that doesn’t get released hardly ever. The government doesn’t even acknowledge there’s this program that captures this kind of intelligence — this type of intercept, so it’s very sensitive information that is normally not release and one thing — the one last thing I should mention what they’re not releasing is the actual call between Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, the — the Russian ambassador at the time. We should see that transcript of that phone call, so we can see what people were looking at, why they were so concerned and that’s what, I think, would explain a lot of what’s happening.



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