by WorldTribune Staff, January 28, 2019
From July to November of 2016, reporters and commentators from the major media, like then-Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, were eager to discover any tidbits WikiLeaks was looking to reveal, “even while knowing they came compliments of the Kremlin,” said a report, citing a review of election media coverage.
Media were “pressing sources during that politically charged July-November span to find out what WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had up his sleeve,” Rowan Scarborough wrote in a Jan. 27 analysis for The Washington Times.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reminded CNN: “I was a member of the campaign, which is why I know there was, as I have said a dozen times, as the president said probably hundreds of times, there was no collusion, there was no wrongdoing by the president. What I also know is that outlets just like yours, CNN, spent a significant time not only looking for information of WikiLeaks but also reporting on it. Does that mean CNN is guilty of collusion?”
It first emerged that Democratic Party computers had been hacked by Russian intelligence operatives in a June 15, 2016 report by CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm hired by the Democrats after refusing to allow the FBI access to their compromised digital infrastructure.
A senior FBI official told WIRED that “The FBI repeatedly stressed to DNC officials the necessity of obtaining direct access to servers and data, only to be rebuffed until well after the initial compromise had been mitigated. This left the FBI no choice but to rely upon a third party for information. These actions caused significant delays and inhibited the FBI from addressing the intrusion earlier.”
President Donald Trump wrote in a June 2017 tweet: “…Why did the DNC REFUSE to turn over its Server to the FBI, and still hasn’t? It’s all a big Dem scam and excuse for losing the election!”
Scarborough said U.S. intelligence operatives discovered that two fake sites, known as DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, were the Russian vehicles which transported the stolen documents. Soon, WikiLeaks would join in.
“Meanwhile, working together behind the scenes were two committed Trump partisans: Stone, a flamboyant Republican operative known for hardball campaigns, and Jerome Corsi, a right-wing conspiratorialist, author and promoter of false Barack Obama ‘birther’ theories,” Scarborough wrote.
“The pair, who drew disdain from many of Washington’s establishment conservatives, saw their mission as finding out when the WikiLeaks splurge would happen.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller brought a seven-count indictment against Stone on Jan. 25, charging him with lying to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence about efforts to contact WikiLeaks. He also was charged with witness tampering.
Neither Corsi nor Stone is accused of colluding with the Russian government to hack computers or distribute documents, the principal reason that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May 2017. There is no charge Stone or Corsi ever possessed stolen emails before they were released publicly.
Corsi defends his queries about WikiLeaks by saying he is a journalist who had a right to ask those questions, just like CNN and The New York Times.
“As de facto Trump campaigners, observers say, Corsi and Stone should have been more cautious that summer, given the fact it became clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intelligence apparatus orchestrated the hacking,” Scarborough wrote.
Following CrowdStrike’s report, the Guccifer 2.0 persona announced on his WordPress blog that he was responsible for the cyber invasion of the DNC and released documents to prove it, including a Democratic Party opposition research paper on Trump.
“If one were to believe the CrowdStrike report, then Guccifer 2.0, in effect, admitted to being a Russian agent,” Scarborough wrote.
At the same time, Assange came forward to say he planned to release Hillary Clinton campaign emails.
As promised, on July 22, 2016, Assange “unleashed a mother lode of Democratic Party emails,” Scarborough noted. “One thread showed that the Democratic National Committee conspired with the Clinton campaign to defeat her one primary rival, Sen. Bernard Sanders.”
Guccifer 2.0 announced simultaneously that it was he who provided the material, creating further evidence of a Russian operation.
On Oct. 7, 2016, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security issued a joint statement officially blaming the Russian government for hacking Democratic Party computer networks.
“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations,” the statement read. “The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.”
The press now had evidence that the ultimate source was the Kremlin, but that didn’t seem to dissuade the mainstream media.
The New York Times headlined an Oct. 10 story, “Highlights from the Clinton Campaign Emails”.
The next month, the Times led the front page with “New Emails Jolt Clinton Campaign in Race’s Last Days”.
Politico reported Oct. 7, the same day as the government report, “The most revealing Clinton campaign emails in WikiLeaks release.”
“The late-Friday release came almost immediately after a devastating tape emerged of Donald Trump in 2005 talking about how being ‘a star’ entitled him to make aggressive sexual advances on women, fueling speculation that WikiLeaks is trying to tip the balance of the election,” Politico said.
On Oct. 13, USA Today offered “Four of the juiciest leaked Podesta emails” – as Assange methodically sent out batches nearly every day.
On Oct. 10, The Washington Times headline said, “WikiLeaks emails expose Clinton campaign’s calculations, fears”.
That same day, CNN went with this headline – “WikiLeaks post more John Podesta emails”.
Scarborough noted that, currently, the new Russia probe question is “whether Trump directed Stone to try to get a heads-up on the next WikiLeaks release. Stone, who has known the president for years and gives him advice, says he never knew for sure and relied on what Assange said in public.”
Assange has said he never communicated with any Trump person.
On Dec. 16 last year, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s legal adviser and spokesman, appeared on ABC News’ “This Week” and answered the Roger Stone question from George Stephanopoulos.
Question: And did Roger Stone ever give the president a heads-up on WikiLeaks‘ leaks – leaks concerning Hillary Clinton, the DNC?
Giuliani: No, he didn’t.
Question: Not at all?
Giuliani: No. I don’t believe so. But again, if Roger Stone gave anybody a heads-up about WikiLeaks‘ leaks, that’s not a crime. It would be like giving him a heads-up that the Times is going to print something. One the – the crime – why this thing is so weird, strange – the crime is conspiracy to hack. Collusion is not a crime, it doesn’t exist.”