Officially, Mueller investigated Trump’s alleged collusion and obstruction. We now know that there was collusion and obstruction — but not by Trump.
The investigation into Trump’s campaign began with the ludicrous hearsay (in some cases, multiple levels of hearsay) allegations compiled by Michael Steele, paid for by the DNC, provided to the FBI before the 2016 election, and briefed to every major media outlet as part of an “October surprise” that failed to derail Trump. It is worth quickly reviewing what those allegations were. To summarize the charges in the original Buzzfeed “report”:
- Trump was a Russian intelligence asset who had been working for Russian intelligence for at least seven years.
- Trump, who had no business interests in Russia, was being paid in Russian prostitutes for his services.
- Russian intelligence has a tape of Trump inviting prostitutes to his hotel room during the 2013 Miss Universe contest held in Moscow and so they could perform a “golden shower” on the bed.
- Trump was handling the payment of Russian assets in New York through a complicated money laundering scheme.
- Trump coordinated with Russian intelligence through Paul Manafort, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, and his private attorney, Michael Cohen.
- Carter Page’s business trip to Russia in 2016 was cover for a meeting with Russian intelligence.
- The Trump campaign coordinated with Russia for the release of DNC emails hacked by Russian intelligence. Papadopoulos admitted to knowing this information in near real time, before it was made public by the DNC.
- Michael Cohen was subject to Russian influence through his Russian wife (she is not Russian, by the way). Cohen traveled to Prague to coordinate with Russian intel on behalf of Trump once Russian involvement in the campaign became public knowledge.
All involved denied those allegations. Moreover, Mueller’s $30 million-plus, two year-plus investigation either affirmatively disproved them or was unable to find any facts that might prove them. None are supported in the Mueller Report. And indeed, Mueller makes only passing reference to the Steele Dossier.
Now recall that, once it became apparent that the Steele Dossier did not provide probable cause for anything, because all of its wild allegations were affirmatively false or incapable of proof, a story appeared in the NYT on Dec. 30, 2017, based on a leak, that the investigation was warranted because Papadopoulos in fact knew of the theft of DNC emails before that theft was made public.
There’s only one problem with the NYT’s “bombshell of the moment”: Reviewing the FBI affidavit that supports charging Papadopoulos with the crime of lying to investigators, it is readily apparent that Papadopoulos had said nothing at all that tied the hacked DNC emails to Russia. As I wrote at the time, anyone paying attention to the Hillary email scandal suspected that Hillary’s emails had long before been hacked by foreign intelligence from her time as Secretary of State.
Yet, “even in the FBI’s indictment against Papadopoulos for lying, the “FBI” seems to go the extra mile not to clarify precisely which emails Papadopoulos was talking about.” In other words, the FBI was assuming without reasonable justification, that Papadopoulos was talking about the Wikileaks emails, not her emails from Secretary of State. The implication then, is that Papadopoulos was in on the Russian hack into the DNC, which he knew about before it went public, rather than his referring to Hillary’s own unsecured server.”
And that factually unsupported indictment was the basis for three years of investigating Trump and placing a millstone around his ability to execute his duties as president?
I wrote the above quoted paragraph when the NYT published its December 30, 2017 report. Since then, the Mueller Report did nothing at all to challenge my conclusions. And today retired DOJ attorney Andrew McCarthy sums up what was really going on — The FBI’s Trump-Russia Investigation Was Formally Opened on False Pretenses:
There is no evidence whatsoever, including in the 448-page Mueller report, that Papadopoulos was ever told that Russia intended, through an intermediary, to disseminate damaging information about Clinton in a manner designed to hurt Clinton’s candidacy and help Trump’s. There is, furthermore, no evidence that Papadopoulos ever said such a thing to anyone else — including Downer, whom he famously met at the Kensington Wine Rooms in London on May 6, 2016.
The claim that Papadopoulos made such a statement is a fabrication, initially founded on what, at best, was a deeply flawed assumption by Downer, the Australian diplomat.
On July 22, 2016, the eve of the Democratic National Convention and two months after Downer met with Papadopoulos, WikiLeaks began disseminating to the press the hacked DNC emails. From this fact, Downer drew the unfounded inference that the hacked emails must have been what Papadopoulos was talking about when he said Russia had damaging information about Clinton.
Downer’s assumption was specious, for at least four reasons.
1) In speaking with Downer, Papadopoulos never mentioned emails. Neither Downer nor Papadopoulos has ever claimed that Papadopoulos spoke of emails.
2) Papadopoulos did not tell Downer that Russia was planning to publish damaging information about Clinton through an intermediary. There is no allegation in the Mueller report that Mifsud ever told Papadopoulos any such thing, much less that Papadopoulos relayed it to Downer. Mueller’s report says:
Mifsud told Papadopoulos that he had met with high-level Russian government officials during his recent trip to Moscow. Mifsud also said that, on the trip, he learned that the Russians had obtained “dirt” on candidate Hillary Clinton. As Papadopoulos later stated to the FBI, Mifsud said that the “dirt” was in the form of “emails of Clinton,” and that they “have thousands of emails.”
(Vol. I, p. 89 & n. 464). In neither the Mueller report nor the “Statement of the Offense” that Mueller filed in connection with Papadopoulos’s plea (pp. 6–7) have prosecutors claimed that Mifsud told Papadopoulos what Russia was planning to do with the “dirt,” much less why. And, to repeat, Mifsud denied telling Papadopoulos anything about emails; Mueller never alleged that Mifsud’s denial was false.
3) Papadopoulos says the emails he claims Mifsud referred to were not the DNC emails; they were Clinton’s own emails. That is, when Papadopoulos claims that Mifsud told him that Russia had “dirt” in the form of “thousands” of “emails of Clinton,” he understood Mifsud to be alluding to the thousands of State Department and Clinton Foundation emails that Clinton had stored on a private server. These, of course, were the emails that were being intensively covered in the media (including speculation that they might have been hacked by hostile foreign intelligence services) at the time Mifsud and Papadopoulos spoke – i.e., April 2016, when neither Mifsud nor Papadopoulos had any basis to know anything about hacked DNC emails. . . .
The State Department and the FBI Distort What Papadopoulos ‘Suggested’
Downer’s flawed assumption that Papadopoulos must have been referring to the hacked DNC emails was then inflated into a Trump-Russia conspiracy theory by Clinton partisans in the Obama administration — first at the State Department, and then in the Justice Department, the FBI, and the broader intelligence community — all agencies in which animus against Donald Trump ran deep.
There is much more, so I would suggest that you read McCarthy’s entire article. The main takeaway is that the Fourth Amendment requires probable cause before law enforcement can conduct the type of investigation launched against Trump and his associates. In the absence of probable cause, the Trump investigation was unlawful — a political dirty trick that broke the law, involved misuse of the police power of government on a scale not seen outside a police state, and resulted in a scandal that dwarfs the facts of Watergate. It also makes the push to punish Trump for “obstructing” this investigation utterly surreal.
If you want to see obstruction in action, look today at what the Left is doing to try and savage Barr and Trump. Rep. Jerry Nadler has scheduled a vote of contempt against AG Barr for failing to appear before the House Judicial Committee. Virtually every Democrat is screaming to the rafters that AG Barr lied to Congress and now needs to resign.
Then there is Jim Comey, who is also criticizing Barr. Let’s not forget him because, if the facts are as I suspect they may be, he is dirty as the day is long. This from Victor Davis Hanson today:
Comey seems to be prepping his own defense by a transparent preemptive attack on the very official who may soon calibrate Comey’s own legal exposure. Comey should at least offer a disclaimer that the federal prosecutor he is now attacking may soon be adjudicating his own future—if for no other reason than to prevent a naïf from assuming that Comey’s gambit of attacking Barr is deliberately designed to suggest later on that prosecutor Barr harbored a prejudicial dislike of likely defendant Comey.
How ironic that Comey who used to lecture the nation on “obstruction” and the impropriety of Trump’s editorializing about the Mueller prosecutorial team, is now attacking—or perhaps “obstructing”—the Attorney General before he has even issued a single indictment.
Three, Comey somehow remains seriously delusional about the abyss between his sermonizing and his own unethical and likely illegal behavior.
Remember, James Comey assured the nation that the Steele dossier, contra the testimony of his subordinate Andrew McCabe (already facing criminal referrals) was not the chief evidence presented to a FISA court. That is likely untrue. And if it is not, Comey’s other evidence he presented is likely to be just as compromised.
Comey also misled a FISA judge by not admitting 1) that his submitted dossier evidence was compiled by a contractor paid by Hillary Clinton; 2) that ex-British spy Christopher Steele’s work was unverified; 3) that Steele’s relationship with Comey’s FBI has already been severed due to Steele’s unprofessional behavior; and 4) that submitted news accounts of “collusion” were in circular fashion based on the dossier itself. Had Comey’s behavior ever become standard procedure in FISA applications, there could be no longer a FISA court.
Comey also misled about his meetings with President Trump, as memorialized in his now infamous memos. He briefed the president on the Steele dossier—without telling Trump that it had been paid for by Hillary Clinton.
Comey likely also lied in telling Trump he wanted to brief him on the dossier in worries that the press might otherwise report on it first. In fact, his meeting with Trump by design was the necessary imprimatur the press had been waiting for to leak information from the dossier, which shortly followed. . . .