The Russians interfering in the American political process and the Americans expressing the most outrage that Russians interfered in the American political process share much in common.
Robert Mueller’s indictment released on Friday charges the defendants with attempting to “hide the Russian origin of their activities and to avoid detection.” One could say something very similar about the whole catalyst of Mueller’s investigation.
The origins of it prove terribly inconvenient to Mueller. This explains the reticence of so many of the president’s adversaries to talk about how campaign contributions paid for the information that gained the warrant for electronic surveillance on Donald Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and provided a patina of legitimacy to the appointment of a special counsel in the matter.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid more than a million dollars to the Perkins Coie law firm, which paid over a million dollars to Fusion GPS, which paid $168,000 to former MI6 agent Christopher Steele to compile the “dossier.” For a long time, the public did not even know the document’s author. Even now, questions remain regarding Steele’s authorship. Former Bill Clinton advisor Dick Morris expressed his belief in an interview with The American Spectator last week that longtime Clinton goons Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer served as the primary authors. Clinton paid the British intelligence officer, he suspects, to put his clean name on a file compiled by dirt dealers.
Why did not the Clinton campaign cut out the expensive middlemen and pay money directly to the compiler of the dirt? Because the Clinton’s team did not want the public to know that they paid for the dossier containing slanders and gossip seeking to derail Donald Trump’s candidacy and now his presidency. They wanted to dodge campaign-finance regulations aimed at transparency to preserve the fiction that an independent investigator, a former respected intelligence officer at that, alleged various nasty things about Donald Trump, the Russians, and Donald Trump and the Russians.
To pay the money directly to Steele (or Blumenthal and Shearer) transforms the dossier into opposition research — and makes it plain in Federal Election Commission reports just who paid for the research. Credible media outlets, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and much of the public immediately dismiss the claims of the “dossier” with the knowledge that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee bankrolled it. Even when journalists did not know the Democrats paid for the memo, few took it seriously. Remember: after various outlets passed on publishing the memo, BuzzFeed did. That’s not exactly the New York Times, is it? Even James Comey, who took the memo to the intelligence court, called it “salacious” and “unverified” last year. That classification came before the public, but almost certainly not Comey, connected the dots between the Clinton campaign and the opposition research repackaged as an intelligence dossier.
The only explanation for this money laundering of sorts remains the desire by Democrats to keep their funding of the “dossier” a secret. They knew that only the most stalwart partisans would fall for its contents given the knowledge of its origins. So, they muddied the waters, and people missed what lay beneath the muck. Now, after months of embracing Steele’s research, Democrats appear all-in — too heavily invested in its veracity, and in Trump’s failure, to abandon it. And as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence memo points out, “Deputy Director [Andrew] McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.” In other words, Mueller’s Russia investigation as it pertains to figures close to Donald Trump — the electronic surveillance on American citizens — does not happen without that controversial information paid for by the Democrats.
Robert Mueller charges the Russian conspirators with wanting to “hide” the “origin of their activities.” That is precisely what Hillary Clinton and the Democrats did. They both ran afoul of U.S. campaign law.
We expect foreigners interfering in an election to employ secrecy and subterfuge. When American campaigns and government officials do the same, it amounts to a much larger scandal.
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