April 18, 2019

WHOA. Did not see this one coming, but apparently, Senator Richard Burr - Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and member of the Gang of Eight was the mole everyone assumed Devin Nunes was. Jim Comey briefed the highly selective, allegely secure group of House and Senate leaders on this matter of grave national interest and safety — Russian interference into the 2016 election, and the people targeted by Mueller's investigation — and Richard Burr felt it his business to immediately turn around and brief the White House on that information.

Matt Miller, in helping MSNBC viewers digest the Mueller report, made this discovery while poring over its many pages. We all wondered how Trump found out about who and what was being investigated. We now have our answer: Senator Richard Burr, serving as this back channel. Miller and Brian Williams seem surprised, as Burr was generally considered a pretty upstanding member of the Gang of Eight throughout this entire investigation. Well, not any more.

It's not bad enough that he is now the documented mole, but do we have to feel bad that we unfairly maligned imminently dislikable and obsequious Devin Nunes about this, too? That, my friends, would be a bridge too far.

MILLER: I want to go back from the forest into the one of the trees, because there's something rather remarkable I found here about when the president first finds out about how serious the investigation is and how he finds out about it. On March 9 of 2017, Comey, then still the FBI director, goes and briefs the Gang of Eight leaders and there's always been a lot of speculation that Devin Nunes was serving as a back channel to the White House. If the report finds that, I haven't gotten to that section, yet, but what it does find is the Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr was a back channel. That Jim Comey went and briefed the Gang of Eight and told them who the targets are, and then Richard Burr has a meeting or phone call with the White House Counsel's office and informs them of the targets. Annie Donaldson, who is Don McGahn's Chief of Staff has notes going through, "Flynn, the Greek guy," who they think refers, obviously, to George Papadopolous, Carter Page, and others. The president in reaction to that, "POTUS is in panic, chaos. Need binders to put in front of him. Two things I take from that. One, it's a real breach of appropriate behavior by Richard Burr who was thought was behaving responsibly in this investigation, especially as opposed to Devin Nunes.

WILLIAMS: A model of proper behavior.

MILLER: For him to go and feed information back channel to the president is really inappropriate. I think he's going to have to answer questions about that. Second, that gives you something about this president's state of mind early on before he fired Jim Comey. He finds out, through a back channel from the Hill, just what the FBI is investigating and he goes into a panic and then starts to take the obstructive acts that we later see.

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