******The below is #JustMyTake. While I reference MANY official government posts and texts, this is not an official press release.******
I had a back and forth earlier today where Twitter user expressed concern about “our president’s worst scandal.” I asked them to list which scandals they were referring to. Here is what they had to say:
I have decided to address each of the listed “scandals.”
The first scandal referenced Trumps press conference in Helsinki with President Putin. The particular question from that was:
Q Thank you. A question for each President. President Trump, you first. Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. What — who — my first question for you, sir, is, who do you believe?
My second question is, would you now, with the whole world watching, tell President Putin — would you denounce what happened in 2016? And would you warn him to never do it again?(Source)
Now, to put this in context we have to look at what we know now, and what President Trump would have known then. This question is based upon Hillary and the general media reporting that 17 intelligence agencies all agreed that Russia was behind the hacks into the DNC emails. In actuality, it was not 17 agencies, we can narrow it down to that quickly, thanks to Politifact.
“Four out of the 17 were involved in the January assessment about Russia: CIA, FBI, NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which is an umbrella agency that oversees all 17 organizations.”– Politifact (Source)
This analysis refers to another earlier analysis of theirs that says:
“We don’t know how many separate investigations into the attacks they were. But the Director of National Intelligence, which speaks for the country’s 17 federal intelligence agencies, released a joint statement saying the intelligence community at large is confident that Russia is behind recent hacks into political organizations’ emails.”– Politifact (source)
The source was the ODNI, who spoke on behalf of the U.S. Intelligence Community
“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations.”– Office of the Director of National Intelligence (source)
At the time, the Director of National Intelligence was James Clapper, who we can all agree is a fervent opponent of Donald Trump. We also know that James Comey (former FBI Director) and John Brennan (former CIA Director) are avid opponents of his. Trump would have known this during this press briefing which is why he phrases his response the way he does. At no point does he say that he takes Putin’s side over the Intel community, but he does raise flags about things the Intel community has and has not done, which alludes to knowledge of bias or opposition within those agencies. He says:
“So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server. Why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months, and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server? And what is the server saying?”(Source)
This is referring to the DNC server that the Intelligence Community is referring to in their statement listed above. The first basic phase of computer forensics is collection. When doing this, you identify the attacked system and label it, record and acquire details from all related personnel who have access to the system, as well as the evidence material, and you maintain the integrity of the data. You cannot do this without collecting the physical machines. So already you know that there is no chain of custody or verification that what we know of the attack is valid. Next, Trump says this:
“With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me — Dan Coats came to me and some others — they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia.”(Source)
Here he is acknowledging that Dan Coats, Trump’s DNI, expressed that he was told the Russians did it by presumably James Clapper (who, again, we know hates Trump.) You also have Trump acknowledging that President Putin said Russia did not do it. This is not Trump saying they didn’t, but stating exactly what both involved parties said. Trump goes on to say:
“I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server. But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don’t think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They’re missing. Where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton’s emails? Thirty-three thousand emails gone — just gone. I think, in Russia, they wouldn’t be gone so easily. I think it’s a disgrace that we can’t get Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.”(Source)
Trump is pointing out severe neglect in general with computer forensics within the investigative community. Each instance he refers to are real issues with process and chain of custody with IT related occurrences. The last part of Trumps response was:
“So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. And what he did is an incredible offer; he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that’s an incredible offer.”(Source)
So, Trump believes in the people that he appointed who he knows do not have a vendetta. At no point in Trump’s entire response did he take a side. He danced around the question and raised concern with the situation like a politician would do. With hindsight, I think that it is easy to understand why he would be hesitant to accept the word of the gentlemen who led Obama’s Intelligence Community, especially with their more than obvious contempt of him on network television and social media.
This Twitter user goes on to list some more recent “scandals,” the next of which being the alleged withholding of military aid with the intent of coercing Ukraine into investigating Biden. Here I could quote the actual transcript but everyone wants to read into that how they are biased to see it. The ONLY official statement I could find before the phone call on July 24th was from the DoD announcing $250 Million dollars to go to Ukraine for funding.
The first release expressing concern about the holding up of funds to be released was by Senator Menendez on August 30th. This release was issued as a response to a Politico story that, while based on more anonymous officials states the first documented reason as to why the funds were withheld. One thing to make clear is that the Trump administration was the first to officially authorize any additional Security Assistance to Ukraine in the FY2018 budget ($150 million) that was passed in December 2017. The Politico article said:
“President Donald Trump asked his national security team to review the funding program, known as the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, in order to ensure the money is being used in the best interest of the United States, a senior administration official told POLITICO on Wednesday.”– Politico (source)
The review is also occurring amid a broader internal debate over whether to halt or cut billions of dollars in foreign aid.– Politico (source)
And most importantly:
Now, that funding is being called into question. The senior administration official, who asked to remain anonymous in order to discuss internal matters, said the president wants to ensure U.S. interests are being prioritized when it comes to foreign assistance, and is seeking assurances that other countries are “paying their fair share.”– Politico (source)
I think all of these state most clearly, though from an anonymous official, the original reason for the hold on aid to Ukraine.
The third scandal that @CitizenBatman brought up was about the “disastrous pullout”. I believe we are too close to this matter to be able to see clearly but the mutual agreement on a ceasefire is very promising. That announcement was made by Vice President Pence on October 17th.
“THE VICE PRESIDENT: One week ago, Turkish forces crossed into Syria. Earlier this week, President Trump took decisive action to call on Turkish forces to stand down, to end the violence, to agree to negotiations. And today, I’m proud to report, thanks to the strong leadership of President Donald Trump and the strong relationship between President Erdoğan and Turkey and the United States of America, that today, the United States and Turkey have agreed to a ceasefire in Syria.
The Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow for the withdrawal of YPG forces from the safe zone for 120 hours. All military operations under Operation Peace Spring will be paused, and Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal.”(Source)
We won’t know how “disastrous” all of this is until the dust settles, so any attempt to call it during the fog of war is hysterics/partisanship.
And President Trump must have realized what I was doing and made the last scandal really easy for me to address, as he tweeted while I was researching.
At this point I am comfortable resting my case. I hope this is able to provide some insight into “the other screen”
ADDENDUM: Editor in Chief of UncoverDC.com Tracy Beanz promptly made me aware that even as far back as March 31 2016, during his campaign that Donald Trump was in favor of having European countries be responsible for Ukranian aid.
Gordon stated that he flagged this amendment because of Trump’s stated position on Ukraine, which Gordon personally heard the candidate say at the March 31 foreign policy meeting—namely, that the Europeans should take primary responsibility for any assistance to Ukraine, that there should be improved U.S.-Russia relations, and that he did not want to start World War III over that region.(Source, page 125 of the report)