Democrat claims of Russian-Trump plot likely to backfire

Eli Lake:

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On top of this, Trump's Russia policy, for now, hardly looks like a quo to any Russian quid. Cabinet members say the U.S. has no plans for lifting sanctions imposed on Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. The Justice Department just brought charges for the first time against Russian operatives for hacking Yahoo email accounts. Trump next month will meet China's head of state; no such meeting has been scheduled yet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russians now publicly worry that the political environment in Washington has scuttled Trump's efforts to reset the relationship with the Kremlin.

Not bad for the Democrats, considering there is no evidence yet to support the central allegation against Trump: that he is either compromised by or collaborated with Russia. But it would be a mistake to conclude that all of this is good for the republic, or for that matter those resisting the Trump presidency.


There are two reasons for this. First there is the problem of overreach. If Comey and Rogers on Monday confirm what President Barack Obama's last director of national intelligence, James Clapper, told NBC News earlier this month -- that there is no evidence of collusion between Trump's associates and Russia -- then the resistance loses credibility to go after Trump's abuses of power down the road.

But the bigger problem is the risk of "normalization," to use the language of Trump's opposition. Leaking the names of individuals currently being investigated by the FBI and the intelligence community is not unprecedented, but it's always dangerous. It's unfair to the targets of the probe, whose reputations are tarnished before the government brings a case in court against them, if it ever does. Also, counter-intelligence investigations can change dramatically as new information comes in; the target today may not be the target when it's wrapped up.
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The risk of normalization is particularly acute when it comes to selectively disclosing details of conversations monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, such as the leaks that forced Flynn to resign last month. Such leaks violate the public's trust in government eavesdroppers to not abuse their power to advance a political agenda.
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There is more.

If two can play the leak of sensitive information game, that eventually will favor Trump in a showdown with Democrats.

Meanwhile, the Democrats in the Media and in congress are playing a semantics game on the issue of wiretapping.   When they say there is no evidence of surveillance or wiretapping, what exactly would they call the transcript of Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador?  Or for that matter what about the transcript of Trump's alleged conversation with the President of Mexico or the leader of Australia?

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