We truly live in two Americas. Every day the divide between Democrats and Republicans, Trump fans and Trump haters, seems to grow deeper. For the Trump haters, each day brings news of some dastardly treachery, some unprecedented betrayal of America and the American people.
After Monday’s hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers, Rep. Maxine Waters tweeted out, “Get ready for impeachment.”
She has pinned to the top of her Twitter feed a wall-sized poster featuring Vladmir Putin, top Kremlin officials, Julian Assange, and a bevy of Trump associates, with the headline, “Trump’s Kremlin Klan.”
I am not suggesting that Waters has finally joined the mainstream of the Democrat party. However, she has succeeded in drawing some of her colleagues into the fever swamps of left-wing conspiracies with her. I suggest psychotherapy.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, seems to be in Waters’ feverish company. He spent much of his time at the hearing repeating the wild claims of an opposition research report penned by a former British intelligence officer, claims so fantastical that not even “journalists” at CNN — let alone the CIA under Obama appointee John Brennan — have been able to substantiate them.
For these Democrats, it’s The Russia House meets “House of Cards.” Unfortunately for them, the Comey hearing wouldn’t last one night on Netflix where there is real competition, as far as entertainment is concerned.
Former NBC anchor Brian Williams claimed breathlessly that Comey confirmed that “an active and open investigation is underway” of alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, a “story that dominated today and will keep dominating the headlines into tomorrow.”
Williams, of course, was demoted to MSNBC after his claims of having been shot down in a U.S. Army helicopter in Iraq in 2003 were exposed as lies, so his penchant for hyperbole comes as no surprise.
The real story, the unavoidable, hard-fact story, is the pace of the Trump presidency and the thick-skin of this president, who shrugs off political assassins like Sylvester Stallone pops bad guys. The Comey hearing slipped from the headlines even before the headlines had a chance to sink in.
This prompted former Clinton campaign aide Jennifer Palmieri — speaking with Brian Williams on Tuesday morning — to call Trump’s pace “unsustainable.”
We shall see about that. But I tend to suspect that this president is going to roar ahead full speed, damn the torpedoes, and continue to do the unthinkable in Washington: Act on his campaign promises to deliver jobs for American workers, lower their taxes, and expand opportunities and security for Americans stuck in failed inner cities.
Comey did confirm one thing of substance: that neither he nor the Justice Department had any information that could substantiate Trump’s tweets about Obama ordering the “wiretapping” of Trump Tower.
While that caused a tempest in the Twitter teacup for a few hours (and undoubtedly will contribute to the prosperity of the psychiatrists treating Trump derangement syndrome), forgotten in the maelstrom was the significance of Comey’s statement.
Donald Trump never claimed that he had access to intelligence information in making that spectacular claim about his predecessor. As he told Tucker Carlson in a recent interview, he was referring to a story in the New York Times, which reported wiretapping of Trump aides.
In other words, Comey had just exposed the New York Times as Fake News — a detail curiously missing from the New York Times account of the Comey hearing.
One other exchange during the hearing is worthy of note. Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy grilled Comey on who might have leaked the identity of a Trump administration official discovered during a FISA-court ordered wiretap of Russians.
The identities of U.S. persons whose conversations get swept up in foreign intelligence surveillance and FISA-court controlled wiretaps are closely protected. At NSA, twenty people have the authority to “unmask” them. Comey revealed that officials at FBI, CIA, and the Department of Justice have similar authority, as did the acting Attorney General at the time of the leaks, Sally Yates, and then National Security advisor Susan Rice.
“Can you ensure the American people that (the leaks) will be investigated?” Gowdy asked.
When Comey said that he could not give such a guarantee, Gowdy went steely cold. “One thing you and I agree on is the felonious dissemination of classified material most definitely is a crime,” he said.
Indeed, the leak of classified information to the media was the only sure crime that has been committed in and around the entire Russian “scandal,” Gowdy pointed out.
And now we know that it’s the only one the FBI is not yet investigating.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Hill.