The Republicans Just Scored a Spectacular Own Goal

Trey Gowdy and co. aren’t helping themselves—or President Trump.

 John Brennan, the former director of the CIA, stopped by the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. He was there to talk about Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election. The Republicans on the committee responded by chalking up a bushel of own goals. Brennan set the stage in his opening statement.
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“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals. It raised questions in my mind about whether Russia was able to gain the cooperation of those individuals.”

Brennan also testified that he personally contacted Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the FSB, about the Russian meddling as long ago as the beginning of last August.

But it was under the questioning of the committee members, particularly under the questions of the committee’s majority members, that Brennan discreetly released several kitties from the burlap. For example, Trey Gowdy, the lopheaded Javert of the endless Benghazi investigations, asked Brennan whether he had seen evidence of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russians. This allowed Brennan to say that he saw evidence that “in my mind raised questions of whether it was collusion” and that he’d seen enough to encourage the FBI to keep “pulling threads” on that particular issue.

GOOOAAAALLLLLL!

Gowdy tried to come back later—he put on his big-boy prosecutor’s voice—and he got some help from other members of the committee who kept yielding their time over to him so he could fish for whatever material the Russians might have had on Hillary Rodham Clinton. But he’d screwed up, and the bell couldn’t be unrung.

Later, Congressman Tom Rooney, Republican of Florida, opened a door wide enough for Brennan to sail the Nimitz through.

Can you tell us that it’s looking like the intelligence shows that Moscow was actually for Donald Trump and rooting against Hillary Clinton?

Anchors aweigh!

They believed that Secretary Clinton was going to win the election and so their efforts were to diminish her efforts and I believe they had a more favorable view of Mr. Trump and trying to increase his prospects and they probably felt that they were going to increase his prospects…They felt that Mr. Trump, being a bit of an outsider, that they had in the past good relationships with businessmen who happened to elevate into positions of governmental authority…I believe they tried to damage and bloody her before but I believe that, had she been elected, their efforts to denigrate her and hurt her would have continued during her presidency. If they did collect more information that they did not release, I think they were probably husbanding it for another day.

Please, Republicans, stop helping the president*. Keep this up and he’s going to end his grand tour of Europe in the dock at the Hague.

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