In mid-2016, the FBI got word that Russian intelligence believed Hillary Clinton’s campaign was planning to frame Donald Trump as colluding with Russia’s Vladimir Putin to hack her computers. Yet somehow, the crack agents never connected the dots when handed the Steele “dossier” commissioned and paid for by the Clinton campaign that claimed Trump was colluding with Putin.
Instead, the Justice Department used that dossier as a pretext to spy on at least Trump aide Carter Page as it investigated the clearly spurious charges. Justice also distorted the facts about Page’s past relations with the CIA to suggest he had a history of working with Russian agents when his actual record involved turning them in. Meanwhile, it buried the fact that Steele’s main source was himself a suspected Russian agent.
Nor did it connect the dots to another “Russiagate” lead, the third-hand rumors passed along by a Clinton-allied diplomat that supposedly implicated another Trump aide, George Papadopoulos.
The news of the 2016 intel comes from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s gradual release of Russiagate records — which show that the true scandal was the investigation itself.
Maybe the Russian analysis was mistaken. But the info should have prompted far greater skepticism on all the Clinton-connected “dirt” on Trump, none of which ever panned out, despite years of investigation.
From Justice to the CIA, the Obama administration politicized a host of nonpartisan institutions to stain the Trump campaign and then sabotage the Trump administration. And, with selective leaks to major media, the plotters managed to convince much of the country.
The info was credible on its face: US intelligence “obtained insight” into the Russian analysis using highly classified methods (which are redacted in the now-public documents). The Russians had determined that Clinton wanted to blame Trump for the hacking of Democratic National Committee e-mails to distract from the growing scandal over her use of a non-secure home-brew server for official business as secretary of state.
The US intel community found it was authentic Russian analysis, though it couldn’t judge the veracity of the claim. And President Barack Obama was briefed on it, per his CIA director, John Brennan. In notes also released last week, Brennan describes telling Obama about the “alleged approval by Hillary Clinton on July 28 of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to villify [sic] Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by Russian security services.”
Brennan, as Andrew C. McCarthy details in his book “Ball of Collusion,” was the main driver of the early Russiagate investigation. Soon after the start of Crossfire Hurricane (as the investigation was code-named), Brennan briefed Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on alleged Russian election interference. Reid then wrote to then-FBI Director James Comey, warning him not to ignore “the evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.” Reid pointed to reporting that said Page had met Kremlin agents in Moscow — information that came from the Steele dossier, which was nothing but gossip fed to Steele by a man America deemed a security risk.
Soon the FBI began applying to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a surveillance warrant on Page — applications the DOJ inspector general later found riddled with errors and misstatements.
Attorney General Bill Barr has tasked US Attorney John Durham with getting to the bottom of all this: How did Crossfire Hurricane start and how did it continue for months and months after it was clear investigators could find no evidence of Russian collusion and realized the Steele dossier was utter junk?
Yet Durham seems bent on building criminal cases — not on clearing the air before Election Day. That’s a prosecutor’s job, but the greater public interest probably lies in getting all the info out as soon as possible. Americans deserve more answers before going to the polls.