A Few Thoughts on the Farkas Interview

This interview with Evelyn Farkas (goo.gl/M0j0vh) is getting a lot of attention. It certainly deserves it, but not for the reason people are saying (for example, here: goo.gl/gEYaJU). Farkas is not admitting that the Obama administration spied on Trump illegally (although I believe it did, as I argue here: goo.gl/zUBRiw). What she is admitting — unintentionally — is that the Obama administration, in its final days, was hyping the Trump-Putin conspiracy theory.

Farkas was out of government at the time. She didn’t have direct access to the intelligence. Her testimony is valuable not as evidence of what the Obama administration was actually seeing in the intelligence, but of how it was characterizing that material to people like her — former officials whom it was using as surrogates.

In her conversation with Mika Brzezinski, Farkas explains that, back in January, she was telling the Hill to get its hands on as much intelligence as possible, before Obama leaves office. “I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior people who left, so it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy, that the Trump folks … if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staffs’ dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods; meaning, we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So, I became very worried because not enough was coming out into the open, and I knew that there was more.”

She knew there was more? Really? How? Because that’s what her former colleagues in the Obama administration were claiming. But we now know, from multiple sources, that they were lying. For example, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper later told NBC’s Chuck Todd that he had “no evidence” of collusion between Trump and Putin (goo.gl/U9uATy).

Clapper’s admission is especially damning when we take into account something else that Farkas told Brzezinski: “We have very good intelligence on Russia.” In fact we do. It’s probably better on Russia than on any other country. If by the time the Obama administration left office it had no proof of collusion between Trump and Putin, then the safe bet is that no such proof exists.

But that’s not what Farkas, hair on fire, was telling the Hill back in early January — and it is not what she is telling Mika Brzezinski now. The White House lied to her so effectively that, it would seem, she still believes the lie to this day. Why? Who knows? Perhaps because if she admitted she’d been duped, she’d feel like a sucker — one of the most unpleasant feelings there is. Or perhaps because on some level she recognizes that she is most valuable as an MSNBC talking head when she is flogging the Trump-Putin conspiracy theory. But that is exactly what she is doing.