After a fast paced sequence of events over the weekend which involved everything from a secret meeting between the Senate Intelligence Committee and James Comey in the Senate basement, to a Reuters revelation that the FBI was investigating front companies financially connecting Donald Trump to Russia, I predicted on Sunday night that “things may strategically get quiet for a bit.” Sure enough, this week we’ve seen no new intel leaks, and not a squawk from the Senate Intel Committee. But as I said at the time, this means good news for the investigation.
After the Democrats on the Senate Intel Committee left their meeting with Comey on Friday night, they skipped their usual round of complaining to the media about a lack of action from Comey and the Republicans. This a fairly clear sign that, for the first time, the Democrats on the committee were satisfied with what they heard from Comey, and that they were satisfied with the actions of their Republican counterparts on the committee. That left no reason for the Democrats to continue publicly badgering their counterparts over Trump-Russia. And if the Republicans on the committee are now cooperating, as it appears they are, the last thing the Democrats want to do is make it look partisan.
Accordingly, the point of the intel community leaking Trump-Russia details to the media was to turn the public against Trump, and drive his approval rating so low that people like Comey and the Senate Republicans would feel pressured to get on board with the investigation – if only to protect their own political futures. If they’re now on board, then there isn’t much reason in the short term for the leaks to continue. Why should the intel community risk tipping off Trump and his allies as to which of his skeletons are being dug up if they don’t have to? They’re still investigating and uncovering new evidence, but for now, they’re just strategically choosing not to leak it in real-time. The leaks were all about pressuring officials into action, and it’s worked.
So the people doing the investigating, and the people in charge of the investigations, now appear to be in a no-talk all-action phase. Given what we now know, don’t get discouraged that things have gone quiet this week. At this point a lack of noise doesn’t mean a lack of investigating; in fact a lack of noise right now suggests that things are accelerating. As a journalist and as a citizen, I find it aggravating not to know what’s going on right now. But it’s heartening to know that things are now being taken seriously and have entered the action phase.
And if people like James Comey or the Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Community do start dragging their feet again, the Democrats on the committee will resume their complaints to the media, so there’s plenty of failsafe. As long as the seven Senate Democrats on that committee aren’t publicly complaining, that’s a good sign about the progress being made behind closed doors. Contribute to Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report