Washington Press Corps engaged in ‘willful blindness’ of Obama’s spying on Trump campaign

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Legal expert Jonathan Turley ripped the “Washington Press Corps” in a Saturday column, accusing outlets of “willful blindness” in ignoring “what should be one of the biggest stories in decades,” the Obama administration’s spying on the 2016 Trump campaign without evidence.

“The Washington press corps seems engaged in a collective demonstration of the legal concept of willful blindness, or deliberately ignoring facts, following the release of yet another declassified document that directly refutes past statements about the Russia collusion investigation,” the George Washington University law professor wrote in The Hill.

Turley noted that the document reveals the FBI utilized an August 2016 intelligence briefing to then-GOP nominee Donald Trump and a few advisers as cover to gather evidence for its “Crossfire Hurricane” counterintelligence probe alleging ‘Russian collusion.’

“What is astonishing is that the media has refused to see what should be one of the biggest stories in decades. The Obama administration targeted the campaign of the opposing party based on false evidence,” Turley wrote.

Meanwhile, the constitutional law expert continued, the same media widely covered former Obama administration officials and operatives who mocked “suggestions of spying on the Trump campaign” as well as “improper conduct in the Russia investigation.”

In citing one example, Turley noted that the media focused extensively on a response from fired FBI Director James Comey, whose roles in the proliferation of the phony counterintelligence investigation are now well-known to millions of Americans.

During testimony before the Senate in 2019, after Attorney General William Barr said he believed without question that “spying” had occurred against the Trump campaign, the media focused on Comey’s mocking “wow” response.

And yet, as Turley notes:

The new document shows that, in the summer of 2016, FBI agent Joe Pientka briefed Trump campaign advisers Michael Flynn and Chris Christie on national security issues, a standard practice ahead of the election. It included a discussion of Russia interfering in the election. But this was different. The document detailing the questions asked by Trump and his aides and their reactions was filed a few days after the meeting under Crossfire Hurricane and Crossfire Razor, the FBI investigation of Flynn. The two FBI officials listed who approved the report are Kevin Clinesmith and Peter Strzok.

Clinesmith, reports have noted, is a former FBI lawyer who was behind the FISA court-authorized surveillance conducted against members of the Trump campaign — warrants that were fraudulently obtained, according to a Justice Department inspector general probe.

Previous reports have also noted that Clinesmith was vehemently opposed to President Trump’s victory, sending an email after the election in which he declared “viva the resistance.” Turley writes that Clinesmith may currently be under criminal investigation by the Justice Department for his alleged role in altering at least one FISA court filing in which he hid the fact that then-Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had been an asset for the CIA.

In his column, Turley ticked off several pieces of evidence indicating that the Obama administration — up to and including Obama himself, along with his vice president and now presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden — staged the ‘Russian collusion’ operation against the GOP nominee as a means of disrupting and undermining it and, later, Trump’s presidency.

And yet, Turley observed, the Washington press corps is largely ignoring all of it.

“Willful blindness has its advantages. The media eagerly covered the original leak and the false narrative of collusion, despite mounting evidence that it was false,” he wrote. “They filled hours of cable news coverage and pages of print on a collusion story discredited by the FBI.

“Virtually none of these journalists or experts have acknowledged that the collusion leaks were proven false, let alone pursue the troubling implications of national security powers being used to target the political opponents of an administration,” Turley added. “But then, in Washington, success often depends not on what you see but what you can unsee.”

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Jon Dougherty

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