The Clinton Machine.
Being from the world of Arkansas politics, I know what that is: an entrenched group of powerful Bill-and-Hillary loyalists. In the old days, they were called “F.O.B.,” for Friends Of Bill. Always a force to be reckoned with, the group metastasized over the decades into a mechanism that reached virtually everywhere, even around the world.
To have an idea of how connected, moneyed, powerful and intimidating the Clinton Machine became, think back to her 2016 run for her party’s nomination for President. While the Republicans had a healthy 17 primary candidates --- so many, they had to split us into two groups for the debates --- Hillary ran in the Democratic primaries almost unopposed, as the Anointed One.
No one within the Democratic Party with a realistic chance of winning dared challenge her.
Those in her party who did not like her as a candidate had to accept that it was “Hillary’s turn.” She was going to do this, even with a boatload of baggage that would likely sink anybody else. Given the choice, many Democrats would have preferred Joe Biden, who at that time was grieving over the loss of his son, Beau, to cancer. But it seems to me that even without that tragedy casting its long shadow over him, he would not have dared to challenge Madame Hillary. He (and all the other Democrats) knew better than to go up against her at that particular time. As is often said when speaking of Hillary, “the fix was in.”
Bernie Sanders dared, coming as he did from outside the Democratic Party, but the Clinton Machine reigned supreme and did what it took to keep her “the presumptive nominee.” What we’ve learned about the things they did to ensure this is probably just the tip of the iceberg, but through emails released by WikiLeaks, we know that the Clintons funded the DNC and Hillary and her people essentially ran it.
I mention these things now because a new report from John Solomon really blows the lid off the story of how the Clinton Machine operated in the summer of 2016 –- not just within Democratic party leadership but within the government and even foreign governments –- to get the FBI to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump for his “Russia” connections. Even with leadership at the Bureau being solidly pro-Hillary (as we saw from the Strzok-Page texts and the life preserver James Comey threw her in July), it apparently took some doing to link Trump with Russia and get the FBI to open a case against him based on the Steele dossier.
According to Solomon, the political pressure on the FBI from “Team Clinton” had come from many sides, including the State Department, the Justice Department, the Senate, and a well-connected Democratic attorney.
Between July and October of 2016, he reports, there were over a half-dozen uninvited overtures to U.S. officials by “Clinton-connected lawyers, emissaries, and apologists,” each tapping some political connection to get questionable evidence, in the form of the Steele “dossier,” into the hands of counterintelligence agents, who should have known it was a political dirty trick.
Indeed, according to testimony from Bruce Ohr, they DID know, because he warned officials at both the FBI and DOJ of that very fact.
The FBI used it anyway, but not right away. It took a series of steps, like this one: Attorney Michael Sussman from the Perkins Coie law firm, which represented Hillary Clinton and the DNC (same thing; see above), approached then-FBI general counsel James Baker, whom he already knew, and personally delivered the dossier they’d had produced by Christopher Steele through Fusion GPS. “You’d have to ask him why he decided to pick me,” Baker said in testimony before Congress last October.
That was on September 19, 2016 –- getting pretty close to the election. By then, the dossier had already been passed along to others at the FBI. Sussman was just amplifying it with cyber evidence that he claimed further linked the GOP campaign with Putin. Some of it was on a thumb drive. Baker told his colleagues to “please come get this.” They did as he said, given that he was the top lawyer at the Bureau, but he later testified before Congress that this isn’t the normal way evidence comes into the FBI.
Steele himself had made the first overture to the FBI, back on July 5, which happens to be the same day James Comey stunningly announced that “no reasonable prosecutor” would indict Hillary on charges relating to setting up a personal email server for her State Department business. When the Bureau didn’t immediately run with the “dossier,” Steele had to intensify his efforts, reaching out to a few highly credentialed officials. One was Jonathan Winer from the State Department, whose network of connections is intriguing. He had previously worked for the lobbying and public relations firm APCO Worldwide, which was a contractor for the Clinton Global Initiative AND for Russia’s main nuclear fuel conglomerate that won big decisions from the Obama administration. (Can you say Uranium One?)
He also contacted Bruce Ohr, fourth in command at the Justice Department, as well as then-deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.
On July 30, Steele had breakfast with Ohr and his wife Nellie, a Russia specialist who just happened to be working for Fusion GPS, the company who had hired Steele to create the dossier. (Cozy little group --- let’s pause for a moment to let that sink in.)
The next day, Ohr took Steele’s material to then-FBI deputy Director Andrew “Andy’s office” McCabe.
It was around this time that Alexander Downer, Australia’s ambassador to London, also reached out to the FBI. That was with the George Papadopoulos story (which appears to have been a set-up) about the Russians having dirt on Hillary.
Efforts continued to push the “Russia” narrative with the FBI. In September, Clinton associates Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer passed another version of the dossier to Winer and Victoria Nuland, Winer’s boss at the State Department. They passed it to the FBI.
It was only two months away from the election, so they pushed harder. Steele, who was desperate to keep Trump from winning, and Glenn Simpson, who had hired him to do just that, started briefing reporters on the dossier –- that’s what got Steele fired by the FBI, even though they kept using him as a source anyway. According to Ohr’s testimony, Simpson called this a “Hail Mary” approach to get the information in front of voters.
Finally, to get the FBI to use the dossier, the Clinton Machine rolled out the big guns. Then-CIA Director John Brennan briefed then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on the “Russia” allegations, and Reid wrote a letter to the FBI demanding to know if agents were looking into them. Of course, the letter leaked.
The point of all this is, the FBI wasn’t operating in a vacuum. As pro-Hillary as those upper-level FBI officials were, the investigation of Donald Trump and Russia, based as it was on “salacious and unverified” political opposition research, didn’t just happen. It was MADE to happen, guided every step of the way, through wave after wave of contacts from a variety of well-connected people around the world.
All part of the Clinton Machine.