‘Hardball’ Guest: Intel Search Into Trump-Russia Ties Biggest Since Soviets Stole Atom Bomb Plans

On Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Hardball guests Tim Weiner and Malcolm Nance equated the speculated ties between the Trump administration/campaign and Russia to “the most politically charged counterintelligence investigation since the Soviets stole the secret of the atomic bomb” or the Queen of England compromising Abraham Lincoln.

“The American people are getting a look in real-time at the most politically charged counterintelligence investigation since the Soviets stoled[sic] the secret of the atomic bomb in the end of World War II,” Weiner told host Chris Matthews.

When Matthews smirked that Weiner referred to what happened with the U.S. and Soviets thanks to Klaus Fuchs, Weiner added how that investigation “took almost ten years from beginning to end” whereas “[t]his is moving a lot faster because technology has improved in terms of intelligence gathering.”

Matthews responded: “I'm harkening back the Venona encryptions. I'm going back to Venona. I’m going back to the way we got all the communications between Moscow and America during and before the second World War. That kind of stuff.”

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The noted author in Weiner speculated that such crimes for Flynn or any other Trump officials found to be communicating with Russian operatives could include “collaboration between Russian intelligence services and Americans to disrupt the United States' electoral system and American democracy.”

Specifically, he suggested “slammer time” for Flynn if it’s found he’s been less than truthful with the FBI. After Matthews knocked pro-Flynn spin as “Flynnstoning,” Vance decided he needed to “take this one level further” with more menacing comparisons.

“I think that this scandal is unique in all of American history. This would be the equivalent of the British, you know, running Abraham Lincoln or actually funding Jefferson Davis to take over the United States. This is — there has never been anything like this,” Nance opined.

Matthews briefly stopped Nance to quibble that the British backed the South in the Civil War while the Russians supposedly wanted the North to win. Nance then continued with the Queen hypotheticals and invoked Benedict Arnold:

But this is the equivalent of the Queen of England actually handling Jefferson Davis as an agent. Right? This is different. We are in a place where we are potentially looking at people who were handled as assets or unwitting or wittingly for Russian intelligence in order to affect an election of the President of the United States and disrupting the electoral process to get that person elected. This is close to Benedict Arnold territory I'm afraid to say. 

Here’s the relevant portion of the transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on February 15:

MSNBC’s Hardball
February 15, 2017
7:26 p.m. Eastern

TIM WEINER: The American people are getting a look in realtime at the most politically charged counterintelligence investigation since the Soviets stole the secret of the atomic bomb in the end of World War II. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS: So, Klaus Fuchs involved here. That kinda thing, right?

WEINER: Yeah. That was a case that took almost ten years from beginning to end. This is moving a lot faster because technology has improved in terms of intelligence gathering, but we're in a case now, you were harkening back to Watergate, Chris. This is a case where — 

MATTHEWS: No, no, I'm harkening back the Venona encryptions. I'm going back to Venona. I’m going back to the way we got all the communications between Moscow and America during and before the second World War. That kind of stuff. 

WEINER: Sure. But here we have a case, it's not the cover-up, it's the crime. We know what the cover-up is. It's lying about the crime. What is the crime here? 

MATTHEWS: What do you think the crime could be? 

WEINER: Collaboration between Russian intelligence services and Americans to disrupt the United States' electoral system and American democracy. 

MATTHEWS: Could that be a prior, simultaneous, or after the fact? Can you be an accessory of the fact to that kind of fiddling with our election process or would it have to be prior or simultaneous — for a crime?

WEINER: I think that if you are conducting an operation wittingly with an agent of a foreign power, you are in for a world of pain. Now, Mike Flynn — if he delivered — Flynn facts, that is, falsehoods, to the FBI during his interview, he's looking at slammer time. 

MATTHEWS: I'm calling it Flynnstoning. I’m going to — we'll all have names for this. Let me go to Malcolm on this, I heard you were shaking your head. Flynnstoning is what I call not exactly telling people what you're up do in international dealing. What do you make of this potential here for a real, a real scandal involving U.S. — American collusion in foreign intervention in our political season? 

MALCOLM NANCE: Well first let me tell you, Tim has written two of the most — the seminal books on the FBI and intelligence collection and what he said is absolutely right. But I'm going to take this one level further. I think that this scandal is unique in all of American history. This would be the equivalent of the British, you know, running Abraham Lincoln or actually funding Jefferson Davis to take over the United States. This is — there has never been anything like this. 

MATTHEWS: Well, the Brits were rooting for — Malcolm, you know your history, the Brits were rooting for the South. 

NANCE: Yes. 

MATTHEWS: That is no secret. 

NANCE: Sure. They were rooting for the South, but —

MATTHEWS: The Russians were rooting for the North in that war. Remember that? That was the Russians, believe it or not. 

NANCE: Sure. But this is the equivalent of the Queen of England actually handling Jefferson Davis as an agent. Right? This is different. We are in a place where we are potentially looking at people who were handled as assets or unwitting or wittingly for Russian intelligence in order to affect an election of the President of the United States and disrupting the electoral process to get that person elected. This is close to Benedict Arnold territory I'm afraid to say. 

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