Crossfire Hurricane: Bad Timing Caused NYT to Help Trump Win (That’s What She Said)

NYT burn e1526563569497The New York Times helped Donald Trump win the election with their Oct. 31st article saying there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.  Now, they’ve put out a new article, basically apologizing for their previous article (NO, YOU ARE NOT FORGIVEN) and laying out how the investigation began and dropping some fact bombs.

So, basically, George Papadopoulos, a former member of the foreign policy advisory panel to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, got drunk and was bragging to the Australian ambassador, who told the F.B.I. about his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.  All this occurred just days after they closed their investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.  The treatment of the two cases by the FBI could not be more different.

Agents considered, then rejected, interviewing key Trump associates, which might have sped up the investigation but risked revealing the existence of the case. Top officials quickly became convinced that they would not solve the case before Election Day, which made them only more hesitant to act. When agents did take bold investigative steps, like interviewing the ambassador, they were shrouded in secrecy and fearful of leaks.  Only about five Justice Department officials knew the full scope of the case, officials said, not the dozen or more who might normally be briefed on a major national security case.

The facts, had they surfaced, might have devastated the Trump campaign: Mr. Trump’s future national security adviser was under investigation, as was his campaign chairman. One adviser appeared to have Russian intelligence contacts. Another was suspected of being a Russian agent himself.  In the Clinton case,  Comey, Former Director of the FBI, has said he erred on the side of transparency. When The New York Times tried to assess the state of the investigation in October 2016, law enforcement officials cautioned against drawing any conclusions, resulting in a story that significantly played down the case. At least, this is the excuse the NY Times is putting forth for helping the Trump campaign (No, you are STILL not forgiven).

The result, though, is that Comey broke with both policy and tradition in Clinton’s case, but hewed closely to the rules for Trump. Crossfire Hurricane began with a focus on four campaign officials.  A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Trump’s advisers to the hacking or linking Trump himself to the Russian government’s disruptive efforts. But the NYT article’s tone and headline (the one we won’t forgive them for)  — “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia” — gave an air of finality to an investigation that was just beginning in the week before election day.  Two weeks before Trump’s inauguration, senior American intelligence officials briefed him at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Russian hacking and deception. They reported that Vladimir Putin had tried to sow chaos in the election, undermine Clinton and ultimately help  Trump win.

Comey met with Trump privately, revealing the Steele reports and warning that journalists had obtained them and assured  Trump that the F.B.I. intended to protect him on this point.  Mr. Trump was not convinced — either by the Russia briefing or by Comey’s assurances. Hours earlier, Trump told The NY Times that stories about Russian election interference were being pushed by his adversaries to distract from his victory and he debuted what would quickly become a favorite phrase: “This is a political witch hunt.”

For more: NY Times