Marcy Wheeler is one of the most trustworthy folks out there working the national security beat (and civil liberties, which are basically two sides of the same coin). Many national security journalists fall prey to essentially repeating the party line of our powerful intelligence services (paging David Ignatius), and so it can be difficult to discern what is truly going on, and what the Pentagon wants us to think (ie: the NYT helping lead us into Iraq).
The vast apparatus that is “national security” is simply an area that’s difficult for any non-expert to wrap their head around—including this one—which is why I’m thankful for people like Marcy Wheeler and the wealth of talent on her blog, Emptywheel. It’s an incredibly difficult beat to cover, due to the arcane technical and legal knowledge required, as well as the ability to discern facts from official proclamations emanating from sources who are privy to information that very few others have seen. I couldn’t do my job here at Paste without citing the expertise of people like Wheeler. For the uninitiated, I will let her establish her bona fides. Per Marcy Wheeler’s about section on Emptywheel:
Marcy serves on the Advisory Committee for the House Fourth Amendment Caucus, is a senior fellow at GWU’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, and was declared an Internet Human Rights hero by AccessNow.
Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and for reverse-engineering government surveillance years before it otherwise gets disclosed.
Wheeler entered this whole Trump-Russia ordeal as a skeptic, but now she has become convinced that something went down, even throwing out the possible notion that Vladimir Putin helped Trump write his statement to the New York Times last July (which would help explain Mueller’s strange focus on the statement, given that lying to the press is not a crime).
That is just a theory of hers (albeit fairly compelling). This story? This is different. This is a reporter reporting on themselves. Per Wheeler:
I apologize, but I’m going to be deliberately obscure on this point (and will neither confirm nor deny if I’m asked, as it’s not something I’ve run by the Mueller team). As I have said, I don’t think I was the first person to provide information on the person I went to the FBI about. I’ll add that this person has no discernible tie to Trump or the Republican Party. But I do think I was the first person to provide certain information about him that may have widened the scope of FBI’s understanding of the matter.
Subsequent to my interview with the FBI, I realized certain things about publicly available information. I’ve never shared that realization with the government, but it’s a realization they undoubtedly came to on their own from the same publicly available information.
And that realization I had and the government surely also had would have changed the importance of evidence Mueller received via means unrelated to Peter Strzok.
That evidence likely implicates the President directly.
A new, more direct development in the case affecting Trump than his campaign manager going to prison prior to his trial over unrelated tax fraud would explain the uptick in unhinged behavior by the president and his allies in the Republican Party.
Trump tweets about the “witch hunt”
May 2017: 3 times
June 2017: 5 times
July 2017: 6 times
Oct 2017: 1 time
Dec 2017: 2 times
Jan 2018: 1 time
Feb 2018: 3 times
March 2018: 2 times
April 2018: 9 times
May 2018: 20 times
June 2018: 26 times
July 2018: 6 times— David P Gelles (@gelles) July 11, 2018
As I write this, House Republicans are embarrassing themselves trying to turn FBI Agent Peter Strzok's texts (that clearly demonstrated a bias against Trump…and Hillary Clinton…and Bernie Sanders, but I digress…) into a wide-ranging deep state conspiracy. Things got so bleak that at one point, Republican Chairman Bob Goodlatte tried to hit a bank shot off of Hillary Clinton into Donald Trump in order to prove some sort of amorphous and indescribable (not to mention contradictory) institutional bias within James Comey and the FBI.
Goodlatte, bizarrely, is using his time to grill Strzok about his opinions on the conduct of James Comey and Loretta Lynch during 2016. (REMINDER: Comey went out of his way to hurt Hillary.) pic.twitter.com/Ii2y5DUQEO— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 12, 2018
I mean, look at this shit. Does this look like a group of folks who have any kind of a firm grip on reality?
Goodlatte wants to prevent Strzok from conferring with an FBI attorney, EVEN THOUGH HE'S AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FBI. What an embarrassment. pic.twitter.com/Kur0rABHeO— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 12, 2018
Trump is spooked. The GOP is scrambling. Trump's campaign manager is in solitary confinement. Something's up. Here's a sampling of the madness our commander-in-tweet has displayed in the last few months.
A complete Witch Hunt!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2018
WITCH HUNT!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2018
....The greatest Witch Hunt in political history!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2018
The Russian Witch Hunt is Rigged!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 23, 2018
Comey gave Strozk his marching orders. Mueller is Comey's best friend. Witch Hunt!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2018
Trump's National Security Adviser pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI over his contacts with Russia. His campaign chair is currently sitting in prison because Robert Mueller alleged that Paul Manafort used his longtime buddy from Russian military intelligence to obstruct the investigation this year. It simply requires a bigger conspiracy to assert that something did not happen between at least a portion of team Trump and the Russians, than if it did. There is a mountain of evidence suggesting some sort of attempted collaboration, and that's just from Trump Jr.'s inbox.
It’s difficult to tell when this investigation will wrap up. I know that it seems like it’s taking an interminably long time, but it’s actually flying by for a probe of its massive size and scope—and when compared to other special counsels, it seems to just be getting started.
FiveThirtyEight made a handy chart putting the Mueller probe on the same timeline as others in America’s history. Be patient, folks. A big part of the problem in this case is that highly classified evidence cannot go into the public record (for now), so properly presenting it in court (if at all) is something our justice system has always wrestled with. This is why investigations like this usually hinge on someone on the inside “flipping,” and working with the FBI. From the start of the probe, it was clear that Paul Manafort is Mueller’s central target to flip. If Trump’s former campaign manager decides that he is willing to earnestly cooperate with the Feds, then we will be in a brand-new world, and hopefully closer to one without a President Trump.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.