Politico published a long interview with Michael Morell, longtime deputy director of the CIA, occasional acting director, and former personal daily intelligence briefer for W Bush around the time of Sept 11.
https://www.politico.com/magazine/story ... ell-216061
Super interesting, very worthwhile read. Looks like a transcript of a podcast, so you might be able to listen to it rather than read it, if that's your preference.
Two interesting sections relevant to this thread. On the one hand:
The Russian 2016 hacking, Morell told me, was in fact a U.S. “intelligence failure” in multiple ways. It was, he argued, at the least “a failure of imagination that’s not dissimilar to the failure of imagination that we had for 9/11,” with America’s spy agencies apparently unable to have conceived of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and electronic hacking of Gmail being used to attack the country’s election.
But it was another kind of failure, too, Morell argued, of shifting money away from Russia and elsewhere in the name of fighting terrorism. “As we were trying to protect the country from terrorists,” he said, “we became more blind to what was going on in the rest of the world, both from a collection perspective and from an analytic perspective. And that was a cost…. When you make choices, you leave significant risk on the table.”
But on the other hand:
Morell: So, let’s talk about what I think the possibilities are, going forward. So, I would not be surprised if Bob Mueller concludes that the Trump campaign did not violate the law with regard to its interactions with the Russians. I’m really open to that possibility. Why? Because, as you know, The New York Times, The Washington Post, every media outlet that is worth its salt has reporters digging into this, and they haven’t found anything. And I think that, had there been something there, they would have found something. And I think Bob Mueller would have found it already and it would have leaked. So, I’m really open to the possibility that there’s no there there on a crime being committed by the campaign and the Russians. Right? That interaction leading to criminal charges.
The second point I’d make is that I wouldn’t be surprised if there were single individuals who were associated with the campaign who violated the law with respect to their interactions with the Russians on the election. Paul Manafort comes to mind. I think he has little to no integrity. There’s no way you spend that much time with the old Ukrainian government and not bump up against Russian intelligence officers a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were single individuals who faced criminal charges here with regard to their interactions with the Russians, and Paul Manafort’s a possibility. But that’s different than a conspiracy by the campaign, right?
The third thing I’d say is, every FBI investigation that I’ve ever had visibility into or been involved in, the people who they’re looking at actually don’t end up getting charged with the crime they were being investigated for. They get charged with something else. Right? And that something else in this case could be the laundering of Russian organized crime funds. And if that was done by the Trump organization – if that was done knowingly – it’s a criminal violation. If it was done unwittingly, because you didn’t do the due diligence that’s required under U.S. law for where the money is coming from, from overseas – it’s a civil penalty. And the Trump organization gets fined. What the politics of all that is, I have no idea. That’s the third thing I’d say.
The fourth thing I’d say is, the obstruction of justice issue. In my view, when I read the statute, boy, it looks – you know, it looks like you could make a case. Now, the hard part is intent. Right? You have to intend to violate the statute. You have to intend to obstruct justice. That’s the difficult piece to prove here. You need something on paper, or you need somebody who heard the president say something about what he was trying to do here, or you need him to tell you that. Right? Well, he’s not going to do that. And so, while it looks like it to all of us, that that’s what he was trying to do – you’ve got to get to that intent part, and that’s what’s hard from a criminal perspective.