On Monday FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence as part of the committee's investigation into whether the Russian government attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Most of the questioning and testimony provided an object lesson in how the government can spin nothing into an alleged great scandal.
Perhaps the most instructive question and answer series on how this is done was a series of questions put to Comey by Congressman Adam Schiff.
It went like this:
SCHIFF: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I just want to follow up with a few questions about Roger Stone that I had started with earlier before I passed it to my colleagues. Director Comey, are you aware that Roger Stone played a role in the Trump campaign?
COMEY: I'm not going to talk about any particular person here today, Mr. Schiff.
SCHIFF: I'm going to continue to ask these questions because among other things, I want to make sure you are aware of these facts whether you're able to comment on them political dirty tricks?What's this, Roger Stone communicating with the Russian GRU?
COMEY: I'll give you the same answer, sir.
SCHIFF: I mentioned before that Mr. Stone was in direct communication with a creature of Russian GRU, Guccifer 2.0 and that's something the intelligence assessment talked about, the role of Guccifer 2.0.
Mr. Stone on August 17, are you aware, received communication from Guccifer 2.0 that said, quote "I'm pleased to say that you are great. Please tell me if I can help you any how. It would be a great pleasure to me." Are you aware of that communication from essentially Russian GRU through Guccifer to Mr. Stone?
COMEY: I have to give you the same answer.
The exchange that went on between Stone and Guccifer 2.0 indicates otherwise. It was Stone reaching out to Guccifer after Guccifer had leaked some DNC and DCCC emails. Keyword: after.
There is no indication that Stone had contact with Guccifer 2.0 before the emails were leaked. Indeed, the exchange (via direct message twitter) between Stone and Guccifer would suggest they hadn't.
And there is no indication that Stone had any inkling at the time that Guccifer 2.0 is a Russian operative if indeed he is one.
Here's the essence of exchange. It starts off with Stone welcoming Guccifer 2.0 back to Twitter after his account had been reinstated. He tells Guccifer 2.0 that he is delighted that Guccifer's twitter account is restored."Fuck the state and its MSM lackeys," Stone adds.
Then Guccifer writes “wow. thank u for writing back, and thank u for an article about me!!! do u find anything interesting in the docs i posted?”
Guccifer wrote to Stone, referring to an article Stone wrote for Breitbart News on Aug. 5 which attributed the DNC breach to Guccifer.
“i’m pleased to say that u r great man. please tell me if i can help u anyhow. it would be a great pleasure to me,” Guccifer wrote in a message to Stone.
On August 16, Stone had posted on Twitter a link to a story he authored about how the presidential election could be “rigged against Donald Trump” through the manipulation of electronic voting machines. Stone sent a direct message to Guccifer asking him to Retweet.
Note: This is just smart marketing. It was attempting to get his article out in front of Guccifer's followers.
Guccifer did retweet and sent Stone this message:
In a further direct message, Guccifer tweeted without a response from Stone:
"I am pleased to say u r great man
"and I think I am going to read ur books"
And then a final direct message from Guccifer asking a question about Democratic turnout and how many Democrats might cross over to vote for Trump.
Again no response from Stone.
So that's it. A reach out by Stone and a successful attempt by Stone to get his name in front of Guccifer's followers.
This is what Congressman Schiff wasted time on asking the head of the FBI director about. This "intelligence assessment."
Here's my assessment: The Twitter exchange shows how sophisticated of a networking man and marketer Stone is.
Stone's a player, he reaches out to anyone he considers a player. That's networking 101. David Rockefeller, R.I.P., had collected a contact list of 150,000 (I wonder who is on that contact list). This is what the pros do.
Stone got Guccifer to retweet an article that Stone wrote. That's genius marketing. End of story. End of tweets.
I wish I was half the marketing genius that Stone is.
So while U.S. military escalation continues in Yemen and Syria, and North Korea is taunted, Schiff wastes his Congressional time attempting to spin an absurd narrative that Stone is colluding with Vladimir Putin because he got Guccifer to retweet his article. How sad is this?
FULL DISCLOSURE: I occasionally communicate with Roger. Recently on an unrelated topic, he retained me to do a research project for him. According to a DNA test, I am 3% Russian.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.com and Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. The Robert Wenzel podcast is on iphone and stitcher.