Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin –- hey, that rhymes –- has just subpoenaed FBI Director Christopher Wray in the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s investigation into the origins of the “Russia” probe.
The subpoena, issued Monday, requires Wray to turn over “any and all” documents related to Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign. Johnson said he issued it because “transparency in government is essential and...the American people have waited too long for the truth.” No kidding.
The FBI has said they would cooperate.
But over the weekend, Lindsay Graham accused Wray’s FBI of deliberately misleading the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2018. (Graham chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.) They essentially stuck to their (fake) story and told the same lies about the Steele “dossier” to the Senate that they had told the FISA court in their application to spy on Carter Page, testifying they “had no reason” to distrust the dossier or its sources. Heck, we know they’d been aware for at least a year that the dossier was unverified political oppo research and that Steele’s sub-sources had disavowed it.
Why would the FBI keep lying? So they could keep investigating Trump, of course, and also to keep the focus off what they themselves had done.
Legal analyst Jonathan Turley has been following the media’s “pattern of willful blindness” about the FBI’s apparent falsification of evidence and subsequent lies. The transcript of that 2018 hearing Sen. Graham referenced has been declassified, and, in Turley’s words, “It is hard to read the document...and not conclude that the FBI misled the Congress on the subject.”
The FBI told Congress that the primary sub-source “did not cite any significant concerns with the way his reporting was characterized in the dossier to the extent he could identify it.”
But we know from the declassified transcript that the sub-source, in his 2017 interview that took place over three days, had expressed very significant concerns. He’d said he had “no idea” where some of the information in the dossier that was attributed to him had come from. Some he'd specifically denied giving Steele. What he told Steele had not been meant seriously; he’d just repeated some stories told in jest after a few drinks.
Though Steele’s allegations were discredited by early 2017, the FBI kept right on using them. Even Peter Strzok had said there was no evidence of any members of Trump’s campaign being in collusion with Russians. Didn’t matter.
The media were obsessed with the “Russia” story, but not in finding out whether it was true or not. To them, it WAS true. As Turley said, “the media spent years exploring every possible claim of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, which was found to be baseless.”
But they’re conspicuously silent now on the exposure of the FBI’s dishonesty. The “Trump/Russia” story has been going on for so long that even many Republicans have forgotten how serious it was for Obama’s administration to spy on the presidential campaign of the opposing party. Watergate started with the attempted bugging of one office, that of the Democratic National Committee headquarters. The firestorm over that was so great, it ended up toppling an entire administration. Where have Woodward and Bernstein been this time? We sure won’t find their equivalent at the WASHINGTON POST.
WAPO’s most recent contribution to this area of investigation was a laughable op-ed written by Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal accusing Sen. Johnson of “perpetuating Russian disinformation in the U.S. Senate.” Thanks, WaPo! (The piece is behind a paywall, but here’s a link to Sen. Johnson’s refutation.)
Even when it was confirmed that the FBI had used its intel briefing with the new President to SPY ON HIM and his new national security adviser, Michael Flynn, the media refused to pay attention. What they did was imply a kind of (to use the cringeworthy new expression) “new normal” in which it’s not even noteworthy for the FBI to target the President, as long as it’s Trump. Why he’s a Russian agent! NATURALLY, they’re investigating him!
And now, as Turley sees it, “The problem is that there seems a virtual news blackout on the new evidence being declassified. After using tanker loads of ink on the unfounded collusion theories, the media seems unwilling to use a drop of ink on the evidence of misconduct in pursuing that investigation.”
The media have been, and continue to be, complicit. A couple of weeks ago, another of Turley’s columns (four stars –- highly recommended) detailed some of the media’s most blatant coverage lapses, including George Stephanopoulos’ avoidance of a huge breakthrough that seriously undermined the credibility of the dossier: the identity of Steele’s sub-source, who lived not in Russia but America and had worked for Hillary ally Strobe Talbott at the Brookings Institute. Anybody watching ABC News that Sunday would have remained blissfully unaware of any problem with Steele’s claims about Trump. Let’s call this what it is: lying by omission.
FOX News will continue its coverage, of course. And here’s some good news: in the latest TV ratings, FOX News is up, rated higher than any other news source, in fact, and not just on cable. It beat all the broadcast news, too. Even so, it’s going to take the release of the Durham report –- and, especially, some well-deserved arrests –- to create any real stir, and even then, be prepared for it to be downplayed. This has taken so long, they’ll just feign boredom and say it’s “old news,” even though it’s the biggest political scandal of our lives.