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- Special Counsel Robert Mueller has dispatched the Russia collusion theories to the land of cranks and bitter-enders, but there are still some loose ends. To wit, how did the partisan propaganda known as the Steele dossier become the basis for an unprecedented FBI probe of a presidential campaign, an abuse of law enforcement, and two years of media and political hysteria?
- We know the outlines of the story but not all the details, and no one has yet been held accountable under the law or even held to much public scrutiny. It’s time for both.
- The dossier was concocted in spring 2016 by oppo-research firm Fusion GPS, and financed by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Fusion hired former British spy Christopher Steele to compile sensational claims, based on anonymous Russian sources, that Donald Trump was compromised by Russian intelligence.
- Mr. Steele used his intelligence contacts to get the dossier to an Obama State Department official and the FBI. Fusion GPS chief Glenn Simpson funneled it to the FBI through Justice Department employee Bruce Ohr, and even planted it directly with former FBI general counsel James Baker via Mother Jones reporter David Corn.
- All of this should have set off FBI klaxon bells. Mr. Baker has told Congress the FBI was wary of the dossier’s provenance, but FBI Director Jim Comey and his team nonetheless made the dossier a central feature of their unprecedented counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign in July 2016.
- That included using the dossier’s allegations as part of its application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a wiretap warrant in October 2016 against former Trump aide Carter Page. The FBI obscured for the court the damning information it had about Mr. Simpson’s political paymasters. Mr. Comey has testified that the FBI targeted at least four Trump-related individuals.
- Messrs. Simpson and Steele also spread all this to their friends in the press. They obliged with stories that portrayed the Steele info as credible, validated by the FBI’s interest, including a Yahoo News piece by Michael Isikoff on Sept. 23, 2016, “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin.”
- On Oct. 31, 2016, Mr. Corn ran his story, “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging A Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.” Mr. Comey’s briefing to President-elect Trump in January 2017 was leaked and provided the media a hook to publish the dossier. The collusion panic took off.
- Mr. Mueller’s conclusion that there was no collusion suggests that he was not able to verify the dossier’s claims, and there needs to be a reckoning. The country has endured two years of angst and controversy based on a politically motivated invention financed by the Clinton campaign and promoted by former Obama CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
- The Justice Department Inspector General is investigating, and so should prosecutors. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham is promising hearings, and he should put this entire crowd under oath. The Steele dossier looks like one of the nastiest dirty tricks in political history, and its authors and promoters should be held accountable.
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