As the special counsel team wraps up their prosecution of Paul Manafort on old loan fraud and tax charges that had previously been examined by the FBI and dropped, the most interesting findings having to do with Russia are being uncovered by others. And they center not on the President and his campaign associates but on Hillary’s campaign and HER associates and supporters, notably Glenn Simpson at Fusion GPS; the law firm Perkins Coie; British ex-spy and “dossier” author Christopher Steele; several top-level FBI and DOJ personnel, notably Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie, who worked for Fusion GPS and was an expert on Russia; and numerous others (including Russians) who are just coming into focus. Robert Mueller, ostensibly investigating “Russia,” had nothing to do with connecting these dots, as he likely doesn’t want to see the finished picture.
That’s because in this picture, Donald Trump is the victim, not the perpetrator.
The more we learn, the more complicated the story gets, and the stronger the temptation may be to just stop trying to follow it and let it go. We all know people who are “taking a vacation” from anything having to do with this investigation, or even anything political because of all the rancor. Plus, we get frustrated at the time it’s taking and all the misinformation floating around. But I believe we really are witnessing an extraordinary moment in American history. We’re in the midst of exposing and gradually taking down a culture of bureaucratic corruption within our government that abused its power in an attempt to control the outcome of a Presidential election. Thank God it didn’t work.
And it’s going to come out.
Lacking evidence of any “collusion” between Trump and Russia, the Mueller team obviously wants to get the President on perjury or obstruction, or to gain leverage over him by going after a member of his family. (That, reportedly, is what may have caused former national security advisor Michael Flynn to plead guilty to lying when his questioners didn’t even think he lied.) One way to go after Trump’s family is to attach a great deal of importance to that Trump Tower meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya and other Russians, because Don Jr. was there. Trump’s adversaries are full of questions about the meeting and who knew what when, with any discrepancy sending them into fits of hysteria.
But the most interesting questions are the ones Trump’s adversaries are NOT asking: How did this meeting really come about? Why would Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, who was reportedly paid $1 million by Clinton operatives and engaged Christopher Steele to produce that Trump-savaging “dossier,” also be representing Veselnitskaya? Isn’t that an incredible coincidence? How is it possible that Simpson could have dined with Veselnitskaya both the night before and the night after her now-infamous meeting with Don Jr. in Trump Tower and never hear a thing about it from her? (He testified that he was unaware of that meeting until it was reported about a year later. Not buying it.) What was Bruce Ohr, the fourth-highest ranking official at the DOJ but not assigned to the “Russia” case, doing having such frequent contact with Glenn Simpson? Finally, what was going on with all the offers to the Trump team of damaging information on Hillary, and why were these offers being made by FBI confidential sources and people associated with the Clinton campaign?
This smells like a set-up. As Lee Smith of Real Clear Investigations tells it, “The Trump Tower meeting appears to have been the most successful of these approaches, since it was the one instance where the Trump campaign signaled it was willing to receive incriminating information on its opponent...At the center of it all was Fusion GPS, which had two clients whose interests were served by the Trump Tower meeting: the Russians and the Clinton campaign.”
Another mystery: the role played by British music publicist Rob Goldstone in arranging the meeting. Recall that he was the one who emailed Don Jr. promising him “official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father.” That was the offer Don Jr. wanted to jump on, as any campaign would. He certainly knew that Hillary had had dealings with Russia, likely very shady, and he would have wanted the details.
But the specificity in Goldstone’s email really suggests a set-up: “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support of Mr. Trump.” Gosh, that really spells it out, doesn’t it? You’d think it had been deliberately included for the benefit of investigators.
Anyway, when you have a little time, read Smith’s analysis. Yes, it's getting complicated, but just think of it as a real-life mystery story –- maybe one of the most important mysteries we’ll ever crack.