There’s not much intelligence on the Senate Intelligence Committee. It’s one of those oxymorons so endemic in Washington.
It took the committee three years to figure out the obvious. Its report released Tuesday said there is “absolutely no evidence that then-candidate Donald Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russian government to meddle in the 2016 election.”
Maybe next week the geniuses on the bipartisan committee will announce that the Earth is round.
You’d have to be intolerably ignorant not to have recognized long ago that the whole Trump-Russia collusion narrative was a deviously contrived fiction — a collection of politically driven fables designed to defame and discredit Trump.
A year-and-a-half ago, the report by then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no collusion conspiracy. Two-and-a-half years ago, the House Intelligence Committee (the so-called “Nunes Memo”) reached the same conclusion.
But let’s not stop there. It turns out that then-FBI Director James Comey’s agency knew it was all a hoax as early as January 2017 — the very month Trump was inaugurated. That was three-and-a-half years ago.
So, excuse me for mocking the Senate Intelligence Committee. But their report is like the mailman who delivers a draft notice years after the war is over.
Most of the wild accusations against Trump were based on the fabricated dossier composed by ex-British spy Christopher Steele and funded by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Their goal was to smear Trump with phony Russian information in advance of the 2016 election.
The new Senate report reiterates old truths. That is, Comey’s FBI deceived the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to gain an unlawful warrant to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The bureau knew that Steele was unreliable and biased. It knew that the dossier was unverified and not remotely credible. The FBI knew the dossier was conjured up and commissioned by Trump’s political opponents.
Yet, Comey and others at the FBI deliberately concealed all of this vital information from the FISC. In legal terms, they committed fraud on the court.
In January 2017, the FBI belatedly discovered from Steele’s primary source, Igor Danchenko, that the dossier was garbage cobbled together from speculation, rumors, innuendo and multiple instances of hearsay. Danchenko’s supposed sources were “random associates” and his drinking buddies. Steele then proceeded to embellish the conjecture.
Upon discovering this, did Comey notify the FISC and withdraw (with apologies) the wiretap warrant for Carter Page? No. He continued to seek new warrants to spy on Page.
Did Comey notify Congress, the president, or the American people that the dossier being peddled on a daily basis by the mainstream media was nothing more than a ledger of lies? No. Did the FBI, bereft of any credible evidence, halt its investigation of Trump? Of course not.
When those who are entrusted to enforce the law instead abuse their power to pursue innocent people in the name of justice, they commit the worst kind of oppression.
The Senate Intelligence Committee faulted the FBI for giving the Steele dossier “unjustified credence,” as if that constitutes a stunning revelation. It does not. And neither is the finding that the FBI itself fell victim to Russian “disinformation” paid for by Clinton’s campaign.
In fact, Comey and his confederates were witting accessories to the disinformation. They knew it was bogus, but didn’t care. Destroying Trump was all that mattered. So they scrupulously hid the truth.
There are other aspects of the Senate report that attempt to transform the banal into sensational. Did people on Trump’s campaign try to obtain “advance information” about WikiLeaks’ email dumps? Sure. So did journalists everywhere, myself included. So what?
Was it unwise to hire Paul Manafort as Trump’s campaign chairman, given his business dealings in Ukraine and contacts with Russian-connected clients? It was more than unwise. It was stupid. The campaign failed to vet him. Manafort’s presence posed a counterintelligence risk. Later, when alarms went off, he was promptly fired.
The Senate Intelligence Committee seems to be operating under the illusion that its delinquent and unoriginal report serves as the final word on the hoax that begat a scandal. It is not.
U.S. Attorney John Durham, who recently issued the first felony charge against former FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith accusing him of falsifying evidence, continues his criminal investigation into suspected malfeasance, corruption, and abuse of power at the FBI and elsewhere.
Attorney General William Barr appeared to offer a preview when he said this in a recent interview: “I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by a completely irresponsible press. I think there were gross abuses and inexplicable behavior that is intolerable in the FBI.”
Barr is right. When those who are entrusted to enforce the law instead abuse their power to pursue innocent people in the name of justice, they commit the worst kind of oppression. This is what the FBI did in launching its investigation of Trump.
Unprincipled high-ranking officials were animated by their antipathy for Trump. Their motives were impure. Armed with nearly unfettered authority, they targeted a presidential candidate for plainly political reasons. They were determined to tip the scales of justice and, in the process, undermine electoral democracy.