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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Priebus calls Russian story "garbage'

Reince Priebus the White House Chief of Staff spoke on "Fox News Sunday" saying that top intelligence officials assured him President Trump's campaign did not collude with Russia to win the election--Hillary simply sucked as a candidate. 

Hopefully for Trump, this will put an end to new reports about potentially compromising illegal talks with Russia.

"I can assure you, the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that [the allegation] is not only grossly overstated, but also wrong," Priebus told Chris Wallace. "They have made it very clear that the story is complete garbage."

Perhaps that's why it has been recycled so often.

The fact is, Priebus' statement will probably not end the controversy as there are bipartisan demands on Capitol Hill to hold investigative hearings. 

New allegations about a potential Trump-Russia connection bubbled up to the surface in the 2016 presidential campaign when then candidate Trump praised Putin's forceful governing style.

Saddam Hussein also had a forceful governing style. Perhaps Mr. Trump should have chosen his words more carefully as he often neglects to do.

But the bubbles reached their peak after Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn spoke with a Russian official about U.S. sanctions. That alone is not grounds for dismissal, but Flynn failed to tell Vice President Pence the truth about it and lost the trust of the administration, they said. Flynn, of course, was asked to resign.

In a somewhat frenetic press conference Thursday, Mr. Trump repeatedly said he had no knowledge of his campaign officials talking to Russian officials. [He also said that he had more electoral votes than anyone in history except for Ronald Reagan. That turned out to be false but if you're curious about those kinds of things, go here.]

Priebus tried to end the discussion about the campaign-Russia story but he refused to name his source(s) within the intelligence community. This raises the problem about using anonymous sources for a story the Trump administration opposes.

He added that intelligence officials have dismissed reports that they've denied Trump access to intelligence reports, fearing a national security breach. He also defended Trump's tweet that called the news media the "enemy of the American people."

"I understand where he is coming from," Priebus said. "There are certain things that are happening in the news that just aren't honest. We aren't talking about everyone . . . There is nothing wrong with background. We need to communicate with reporters and give context."

I don't believe delegitimizing the reporting of most media outlets is the way for Trump to attack, but he's never one to not counterpunch when being punched. On one hand it's refreshing to see the bully pulpit strike back at the media bullies. On the other hand, the media bullies aren't going to stop and they're too distracting for someone running the country.

I think by focusing on the issues and by continuing to get things done, the media will be exposed for the biased bullies they are and the GOP will become even more powerful.