As we watch the DOJ launch investigations of concerned parents and 2020 election skeptics with the pretext of countering “domestic terrorism,” it’s easy to see how facile they are at creating issues essentially out of thin air. They do it over and over. Another example of this –- evident in President Biden’s Wednesday press conference –- is the fiction that Republicans, in their opposition to the so-called “voter rights” bill, are trying to suppress the minority vote. That is a detestable lie, made up out of whole cloth, but Biden just keeps saying it, anyway. He’ll say it as long as he and his advisers think he’s getting something out of it.
The Democrats have a singular talent for whipping up huge, complex narratives out of nothing, waving their magic wand to get the media obsessed with them, and keeping them going for years. It’s a make-work program for DC lawyers, keeping their political opponents busy fighting in court, and maintains for the public whatever fiction they choose to tell. They illustrate the accuracy of the statement that if you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth. That’s why many in our country actually believe that millions of Trump supporters are white supremacists and dirty Jim Crow-style segregationists. Just turn on MSNBC to hear that idiotic lie.
But there has never been a bigger and more consequential example of this flair for fiction than the Russia Hoax.
While President Biden has been busy this year failing to live up to even the lowest of expectations –- though he brags that he has exceeded them –- Special Counsel John Durham has been quietly looking into the origin of that Biggest of Big Lies, the lie that actually turned into an attempted coup against a sitting President. Aaron Mate at RealClear Communications has just written an excellent commentary that compares the unsatisfactory investigation completed by “Justice” Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz two years ago with the broader probe headed by Durham. The Special Counsel really is getting to the heart of just how ridiculously flimsy the “evidence” was that the FBI exploited to start spying on Trump’s people.
Horowitz, in his report of December 2019, faulted the FBI for its handling of the Russia probe but still, unbelievably, concluded that it was launched in good faith. If that seems laughable now (and it sure does), keep in mind that Horowitz was only conducting an internal investigation, so he was limited to speaking with “Justice” Department employees. That meant Hillary’s campaign and some of their most notorious helpers were essentially out of his reach.
His report taught us a hard lesson, too, about internal investigations in general. When departments investigate themselves, they tend to cut themselves a ridiculous amount of slack. (See “Capitol Hill Police Lt. Michael Byrd.”) In fact, to reach his conclusion Horowitz had to essentially disregard evidence that was included in his own report.
The media loved that conclusion, though, and danced with delight. As Mate tells it, “Horowitz’ report, wrote Mother Jones reporter (and early Steele media contact) David Corn, ‘concluded that the Trump-Russia contacts had been legitimately launched,’ thereby proving that ‘there was no hoax.’”
But we know differently today –- that they used fake information in the unverified “dossier” to launch the probe and later get their spy warrants. So the question is, who is ultimately responsible for the creation of that work of fiction?
“As he documents the role of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in generating false allegations of Trump-Russia collusion,” Mate writes, “Special Counsel John Durham has also previewed a challenge to the FBI’s claims about how and why its counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign began. At stake is the official reckoning within the U.S. government over the Russiagate scandal --- and whether there will be an accounting commensurate with the offense: the abuse of the nation’s highest law enforcement and intelligence powers to damage an opposition political candidate turned president, at the behest of his opponent from the governing party he defeated.”
Horowitz criticized the FBI for using the Steele memos --- taken together, the “dossier” --- but took them at their word that they didn’t use them to actually open Crossfire Hurricane. They had other evidence, he said, that met the “low threshold” needed for opening an investigation.
Recall that when his report came out, we were scratching our heads over that conclusion. How could there be a low threshold for opening an investigation on a major-party candidate RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT? That was not something to be undertaken lightly. It seemed that, if anything, there should have been a higher-than-normal threshold for the FBI to get involved in something that political.
But apparently Durham was scratching his head over it, too. When it came out, he announced that his office had “advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication [reason] and how the FBI case was opened.” And because Durham’s was not just an internal investigation, it was “not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department” and has instead obtained “information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside the U.S.”
The story about Trump campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos telling Australian diplomat Alexander Downer that the Russians had political dirt on Hillary was so flimsy that it couldn’t have been the pretext for an investigation, as the FBI claimed it was. Besides, we know they got the names Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Mike Flynn, who were all investigated, right out of the “dossier.” And while the FBI investigators claimed they didn’t see it until mid-September of 2016, we know that some at the FBI had seen “dossier” material prior to opening Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016.
In fact, Christopher Steele, working on behalf of the Clinton campaign through Fusion GPS, first contacted someone with the FBI on July 5, three weeks before Crossfire Hurricane was opened. That was Michael Gaeta, a senior FBI agent he had worked with before and who was now working as a legal attache in Rome. Gaeta was excited to receive a copy of Steele’s “report” and quickly passed it along to eager colleagues.
Interestingly, Mate reports that before Gaeta took off for London to meet with Steele, he got the approval for his trip from Victoria Nuland, who then worked in the State Department and is now Biden’s Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Those at the State Department who saw a few pages of what Steele had given Gaeta said, “This needs to go to the FBI.”
It’s hard to know why Horowitz took the FBI’s word when they said they didn’t use the unverified “dossier” to open their investigation, when he’d documented so many of their other lies. Mate outlines these under the subhead, “On Steele, a Pattern of FBI ‘Factual Misstatements and Omissions.’”
The Bureau has already been caught relying on Clinton-funded disinformation and lying about that. It could get a lot worse. Mate anticipates that Durham is in his “final months” of the investigation and is honing in on his ultimate targets.