It is becoming ever more clear that the “Russian collusion” narrative against Donald Trump was the result of a Kremlin disinformation effort transmitted by a dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign and knowingly pushed into the justice system by willing allies at the FBI. The more we learn about the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign, the more troubling it gets.
In recent weeks, there have been several important revelations about the “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation that further damages the reputation of the Bureau and others involved in the case. The notion that there was any collusion between the Trump team and Russia has, of course, long been debunked. But now it seems more likely that the real collusion was between the Kremlin and Trump’s detractors.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on FBI misconduct was supposed to clear up these questions. But key aspects of that report were redacted, supposedly “in the interests of national security.” Yet, as in other cases, when the redactions are revealed, it turns out they have more to do with saving the investigators from embarrassment than protecting sources and methods.
Key here is information that was buried in footnotes of the Horowitz report, and recently partly declassified through the efforts of Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI). They show that the anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele drew from sources traceable back to Russian intelligence.
One U.S. agency assessed that the sections of Steele’s work which detailed Donald Trump’s supposedly scandalous behavior during a 2013 trip to Moscow were “false” and “the product of RIS [Russian Intelligence Services] ‘infiltrating a source into the network’ of a [redacted] who compiled a dossier of information on Trump’s activities.” Why was this critical information hidden in a redacted footnote in the Horowitz report? It should have been a major headline, but that’s exactly why someone redacted it.
Another section dealing with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s supposed trip to Prague as part of the imaginary collusion scheme was criticized by an intelligence agency which “did not have high confidence in this subset of Steele’s reporting and assessed that the referenced material was part of a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate US foreign relations.”
Again, why was this critical finding that the collusion narrative was being fed by Moscow kept out of the spotlight? President Trump should unilaterally appoint a Special Counsel to investigate all the previous corruption of the prior “Russia” investigations and the outrageous abuses of process lurking beneath the reports of Horowitz and Mueller.
Other new information details the underhanded way the Bureau obtained FISA warrants to spy on members of the Trump campaign. The Horowitz report already noted the FBI’s omission of evidence that ran counter to their narrative, such as a statement by George Papadopoulos in late October 2016 “denying that the Trump campaign was involved in the circumstances of the DNC hack.” And a newly released transcript of that conversation shows an FBI confidential human source working very hard to entrap Papadopoulos – and Papadopoulos refusing the bait at every turn.
Meanwhile, another report from the Inspector General found that 39 of 42 recent FISA applications had major defects. It’s no wonder nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that “the FBI routinely breaks the law and illegally spies on American citizens.” Why do Americans believe that? Because it’s true. The FBI is outrageously corrupt and, frankly, has a horrific track record. It’s not just “a few people in the DC HQ.” Judicial Watch’s own investigations of the FBI have documented serial abuses across the country.
The evidence that the Russian collusion story was an attempt to destabilize the United States is bad enough. The fact that the FBI and other government agencies knew about this and ran with it anyway is positively criminal. And that no one has been held responsible for it is a travesty of justice.
But justice may not be denied for long. Last week, Attorney General Bill Barr said that he believed that “the evidence shows that we’re not dealing with just mistakes or sloppiness, there was something far more troubling here; and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.” He added, “if people broke the law, and we can establish that with the evidence, they will be prosecuted.” Let’s hope the truth comes out soon, whole and unredacted. It’s long past time for indictments and prosecutions.
Chris Farrell is director of investigations and research at Judicial Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog. He is a former military intelligence officer.