As the Russian hacking story continues to unfold and the media goes to war with itself over what we can trust, it is becoming increasingly difficult to discern fact from fiction.
With the latest revelation that the Russians may potentially have incredibly damaging intel on Trump and are using it for leverage, Matt Taibbi is calling for immediate action and a full scale public inquiry. This after the Rolling Stone journalist urged caution over the hacks, telling his readers last month that "something about this Russian story stinks". Fast forward to this week and Taibbi's tune has changed quite markedly. He writes:
Ynet in Israel is reporting that Israeli intelligence officials are deciding not to share intelligence with the incoming Trump administration. The report indicates they came to this conclusion after a recent meeting with American intelligence officials, who told them the Russians have "leverages of pressure" to use against Trump.
This is an extraordinary story. If our intelligence community really believes this, then playtime is over.
No more Clapper-style hedging or waffling. If Israel gets to hear why they think Trump is compromised, how is the American public not also so entitled?
But if all they have are unverifiable rumors, they can't do this, not even to Donald Trump.
The only solution is an immediate unveiling of all the facts and an urgent public investigation. A half-assed whispering campaign a week and a half from a Trump presidency, with BuzzFeed at the center of the action, isn't going to cut it. We need to know what the likes of Clapper and Comey know, and we need it all now, before it's too late.
Trump could of course release his tax returns and prove definitively that he at least has no business ties to Russia -- something the president-elect has vigorously denied. As Ron Wyden writes in the New York Times:
They [the public] will also be unable to tell whether Mr. Trump is telling the truth when he claims to have no connections to Russia, contradicting public evidence and statements by his own son. His stated excuse about being under audit doesn’t pass the smell test. Previous presidents and nominees have released their returns under the same circumstances.
This likely won't happen, so Taibbi is right. We need a full scale public investigation immediately, otherwise America faces four years of policies potentially crafted for the benefit of Russia, and not themselves.