Any doubt that the Trump/Russia investigation is an Orwellian plot aimed at overturning a democratic election in the name of democracy was erased on July 21 when the DOJ released FISA warrant documents used to authorize spying on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
It corroborated the suspicion that the FBI’s application to spy on an American citizen hinged on a dressed-up Clinton attack ad: the 35-page dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele for an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, that was paid millions by the Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on Trump.
The FBI regularly receives raw, unproven, ax-to-grind material. Its job is to independently investigate such allegations to determine if there is any there there. That was especially crucial in this case because Steele was not a witness to any of claims he relayed, but merely conveyed hearsay. Instead of identifying and interviewing those figures, the government committed a gross dereliction of duty by simply trusting Clinton’s henchman. No one has challenged former FBI Director James Comey’s description of the Steele dossier as “salacious and unverified.”
The DOJ then misled the court when it said, “the FBI speculates” that GPS Fusion was “likely looking for information to discredit Trump.” In fact, as liberal reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn write in their new book, “Russian Roulette,” the FBI “knew from the outset that Steele [and GPS Fusion] had an agenda and that he was likely working for the Democrats.”
The DOJ also appears to have misled the FISA judges by stating it had strong reason to believe that Page was a Russian agent. This means that in late 2016, it claims it believed Page was knowingly working for a foreign enemy. Page denies the charge and nearly two years later, he has not been charged with a crime.
As far as we can tell from the heavily redacted documents, the DOJ did not inform the judges reviewing the application that the FBI told Page in 2013 that Russians might be trying to recruit him. In response, Page became a cooperating witness for our government. As Paul Sperry reported for RealClearInvestigations, FBI special agent Gregory Monaghan described Page in a sworn 2015 complaint as a “guileless victim” who was only “interested in business opportunities in Russia.”
This deception is part a larger campaign of misinformation promulgated by Democrats and the mainstream media.
The Russia investigation has two prongs. The first involves that country’s documented efforts to meddle in the 2016 election. This is a serious matter. But it is not, as the left claims, the cyber version of Pearl Harbor. It is, in fact, par for the course. The United States, for example, has a long history of meddling in foreign elections and spying on foreign leaders. Two recent examples: In 2015 President Obama used taxpayer money to try to defeat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; in 2010 Obama also approved the tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone.
To date, the FBI has disclosed no evidence that Russia’s efforts – which amounted to the disclosure of mildly embarrassing emails stolen from the Democrats and small-bore misinformation campaigns on social media – impacted the result of the 2016 election.
While Democrats claim this “meddling” is their concern, anyone with a pulse knows almost all of their energy has been expended trying to paint Trump himself as a Russian agent.
Two years later, there is zero evidence to support this libel. The Trump associates indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller – including Paul Manafort – have been charged with crimes unrelated to the campaign or, like the low-level volunteer George Papadopoulos, with giving inconsistent statements on innocuous matters.
Nevertheless, Democrats, their media allies and, most dangerously the powers of the state, continue to push the false collusion narrative, dishonestly comparing this probe to Watergate.
The Trump/Russia probe is, in fact, a long national nightmare. This time it’s not the president but his opponents who are abusing power. Given the ugly partisanship of our politics, I fear this won’t stop with Trump, but will become the new norm.
Contributing columnist J. Peder Zane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.