Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.
  • Washington Establishment, Media Hypocritically Using Russia Narrative to Bring Down Trump While Political Noise Leaves Americans Misinformed

    By Neil A. Carousso

    President Donald J. Trump has vowed to “drain the swamp,” but the swamp is fighting back against the Washington outsider.

    Establishment politicians and the media are calling for President Trump’s head after unnamed sources in a Washington Post story claim the Commander-In-Chief gave classified information to the Russian ambassador at The White House last week.

    National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster defended the Trump Administration Tuesday after a Washington Post story, citing unnamed sources alleges Trump gave classified information to Russia. (Associated Press Photo)
    National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster defended the Trump Administration Tuesday after a Washington Post story, citing unnamed sources alleges Trump gave classified information to Russia. (Associated Press Photo)

    National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster gave an on-camera briefing at The White House today, saying, “The premise of that article is false.” McMaster repeated that President Trump’s interactions with the Russian ambassador last week in the Oval Office were “wholly appropriate” in the topics and information discussed.

    President Trump tweeted this morning that he wants Russia to “step up their fight against ISIS and terrorism.”

    McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informed the media Monday that “sources and methods” for defeating the Islamic State were not revealed to Russia.

    Let’s be clear: The President has the absolute right to declassify intelligence. He may declassify any intelligence he wants, according to the Chief Executive’s Constitutional authority. In fact, it is common practice for presidents to share classified information with foreign leaders when it may assist in a foreign policy goal.

    Therefore, President Trump cannot be impeached, if the story turns out to be true; Mr. Trump also cannot be impeached for firing the FBI director, as he has the unfettered Constitutional authority to do so, much to the dismay of his critics.

    Israel was the source of intelligence that Trump allegedly gave to Russia last week, according to The New York Times. The Associated Press reported Tuesday morning that a European official claims that if the Washington Post report is accurate, they may not feel comfortable sharing valuable national security intelligence that saves American lives with President Trump.

    The Commander-In-Chief will embark on his first Middle East on Friday where he will meet with Muslim leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Pope Francis at The Vatican.

    What is alarming here is that, according to the Washington Post, unelected Washington bureaucrats including White House officials and intelligence officials leaked classified information to the press – a felony of the Espionage Act. Leaking out of Washington, D.C. is nothing new, but it is a serious offense and it causes severe damage to our national security and key diplomatic relationships.

    In February, the Washington Post relied on an unnamed source, potentially from the intelligence community, who said President Trump had a combative phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Both Trump and Turnbull denied having a contentious phone call through statements, and recently, in person when the two met in New York City to commemorate the 75th anniversary of an important World War II naval battle.

    The larger point is that conversations between a U.S. President and foreign leaders are highly sensitive and should never be illegally leaked to the press, no matter the substance or optics, which the media latches on to frame Washington gossip scenarios. Few people in the White House and the intelligence community have access to Oval Office meetings.

    Instead of telling both sides of the story and letting the American people make up their minds, the media has been rushing to put out unbalanced information, without context, in an effort to destroy President Trump and give voice to the critics who have been calling for impeachment since before the inauguration.

    James Comey says "no reasonable prosecutor" would pursue charges against Hillary Clinton despite laying out a case of illegalities and saying the former Secretary of State was "extremely careless" in handling top secret, special access program classified materials. (Associated Press Photo)
    Ex-FBI Director James Comey says “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue charges against Hillary Clinton despite laying out a case of illegalities and saying the former Secretary of State was “extremely careless” in handling top secret, special access program classified materials. (Associated Press Photo)

    Some are comparing this unverified incident to Hillary Clinton’s illegal use of a private email server, but that is misleading. Mrs. Clinton has never been the President of the United States who is the only person who can declassify intelligence on his own. As former-FBI Director James Comey revealed on July 5, 2016, the ex-Secretary of State broke the law by using the server for classified information with foreign actors “likely” to have gotten hold of American secrets, and deleting 33,000 emails. Clinton also gave U.S. Department of State access to foreign human rights violators.

    Unlike President Trump’s alleged revelations to Russia about the U.S. fight against the Islamic State, former-President Barack Hussein Obama ordered U.S. intelligence officials to share classified information with the communist regime Cuba – one of America’s biggest espionage threats.

    While President Trump’s ambitious policy platform includes “eradicating ISIS” and working with any country that will join the U.S. in defeating the radical ideology that is a global threat, politicians, pundits and journalists are quick to run with flashy “scandalous” stories without the full scope or understanding of a story. In this era of instant gratification, it is more important than ever to take a step back and critically pick apart every angle of the story, which is not happening.

    There are many in Washington, and in the media, who do not believe Mr. Trump is worthy of the Office of the President have been running wild trying to play “gotcha” games to undermine President Trump, which is having an adverse effect of separating the elitists and regular Americans who care about their money, their healthcare and their safety.

    Instead, Washington Post “journalists” literally applauded the unbalanced report because it broke their newspaper’s record for total reads that was previously held by the NBC-leaked “Access Hollywood” video tape that revealed off-camera remarks by Mr. Trump in 2005. The leaked tape was intended to bring down Trump’s run for the White House, days before the second presidential debate in October. The Post’s Glenn Kessler tweeted Monday: “Applause in the newsroom as the Russia-leak scoop breaks the Hollywood Access record for most readers per minute.”

    Frankly, there is too much noise and too many unsourced allegations for Americans to digest.

    Tuesday evening, The New York Times published a story, citing a February memo written by Comey that said President Trump asked the former FBI director to end an investigation into former-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The New York Times reporters did not read the memo for themselves; they quoted people who allegedly saw the memo. NBC News, in reporting on The New York Times story, wrote their reporters did not read the memo, either. The standards of journalism dramatically changed when journalists felt it was their duty to prevent Trump from winning the presidency, instead of just reporting facts and policy positions without editorial.

    The unverified story has been denied by The White House in a statement.

    “While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn. The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.” – White House Statement on The New York Times story “Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation”

    Comey has refused to speak with Congressional intelligence oversight committees in private. Under oath, the former FBI director has refused to answer questions in which answers would reveal classified information to the public.

    Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) are calling for Trump’s impeachment based on unverified stories, claiming the President obstructed justice. Trump’s critics have been calling for his impeachment since before the January 20 inauguration.

    Meanwhile, former-President Obama made numerous public comments claiming Mrs. Clinton did not commit a crime. Obama also publicly denied the Internal Revenue Service illegally targeted conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status during the 2012 election. Public documents and statements by former-Exempt Organizations Unit Director of the IRS Lois Lerner contradict Obama’s comments on the IRS scandal. Republicans believed Obama obstructed justice in both situations.

    Former-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said under oath, “There is no evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia.”

    The ongoing, lengthy investigation is being played out in the public instead of in private by FBI investigators. The crimes we know of are apparently not being investigated: illegal leaking to the media, illegally leaking unmasked names in intelligence reports and Mrs. Clinton’s crimes that have publicly been announced.

    The time is overdue to support the President and return credibility to the intelligence agencies and the rule of law without politicizing everything out of Washington because it fits an ideological agenda of “resistance” and bringing down a duly elected President. Without ever giving Mr. Trump a chance, he has been held to a different, unreachable standard than any politician in American history. If Trump committed a crime, he’d be impeached by now.

    Journalists and news organizations need to check their biases and agendas at the door and fairly and truthfully interpret the law and the Administration’s policies while citing reputable, named sources.

    Unnamed sources should be the exception, not the norm. Illegal activities such as leaking should not be glorified in the mainstream media and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.


    Featured Image Courtesy of the Russian Foreign Ministry via Getty Images. President Trump met with Sergey Lavrov, minister of foreign affairs of Russia, and Sergey Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the U.S. on May 10.

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