In a normal presidential election year, the influences responsible for the outcome of the vote would trace back two years to the results of the previous midterm election. Enough time would have passed for the leaders of each major party to have absorbed the necessary lessons from the previous two national elections to select the most effective issues and candidates for the upcoming presidential election. But in the current election cycle, those rules did not apply, because of the traumatic and highly disruptive impact of the 2016 race on the entire national electoral process.
By the start of the 2016 election cycle, Hillary Clinton and her supporters had recovered from her embarrassing defeat at the hands of Barack Obama in 2008 and had taken back effective control of the national Democrat party apparatus. Obama had made his peace with Mrs. Clinton soon after his victory by offering her the post of Secretary of State, and he and his supporters eventually agree to turn over the White House to Mrs. Clinton in a return for her protecting his legacy by continuing to support his liberal agenda.
The Obama Justice Department and the FBI had also agreed to protect Mrs. Clinton?s candidacy by not investigating the criminal conduct of the Clinton family charitable foundation, which was openly selling its political influence to foreign agents. They also, handcuffed the FBI investigation into her private email server for her government documents, to hide the incriminating evidence they may have contained from a Republican-led congressional committee investigating the 2012 terrorist attack on a US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
In the process, Mrs. Clinton had clearly violated federal statutes by putting classified government documents on her personal server, and then ordering the destruction of tens of thousands of emails, before they could be turned over in response to a subpoena issued by the committee.
THE FIX WAS IN FOR HILLARY CLINTON
The fix was in for Mrs. Clinton, and everybody knew it. Her nomination was assured. The Obama administration would find a way to avoid indicting the person destined to become the nation?s first woman president, as the immediate successor of its first black president.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump, a media-savvy and politically well-connected real estate developer recognized and seized the opportunity to take over the ongoing Tea Party political revolt of grassroots conservatives against the Washington-based establishment of the Republican party.
As 2016 unfolded, two highly unlikely figures, Trump and Vermont?s socialist Senator Bernie Sanders?surprised the political establishment and the media by making themselves the agents and spokesmen for tens of millions of angry and alienated American voters. Longtime members of both major political parties had good reason to believe they had been betrayed by their party leaders. The candidates whom they had sent to Washington had sold out their voters? interests in favor of the wealthy corporate executives and powerful special interest groups who had long been in entrenched control of the government.
Sanders filled the political vacuum created after the leaders of the Democrat National Committee (DNC) had quietly warned off all potentially viable challengers to Mrs. Clinton?s bid for the presidential nomination, including then-vice president Joe Biden who had failed to win Obama?s support. When Sanders? popularity with young progressive activists emerged as a serious threat to Clinton, the leaders of the DNC manipulated the primary process to suppress Sanders and give Clinton an unfair advantage in the televised candidate debates.
The pro-Clinton conspiracy by Democrats, as well as Mrs. Clinton?s deliberate dishonesty in her statements to voters, were exposed by the publication of hacked emails from her campaign and the DNC. To limit the damage to her campaign, the media cooperated in a largely successful effort to redirect the most of the blame at the most convenient target, the alleged ?Russian hackers? who had stolen the emails and engineered the publication of the evidence on WikiLeaks.
It was not the first or the last time that the Democrats and their friends in the media would divert the public?s attention away from their own wrongdoing and towards Trump, for allegedly conspiring with the Russians to corrupt the American political process. The same bogus Russian conspiracy charges against Trump and members of his campaign and inner circle would be recycled endlessly, in slightly different forms, both before and after the 2016 election.
ESTABLISHMENT PRO-CLINTON CONSPIRACY EXPOSED
The Democrat party apparatchiks whose conspiracy on Mrs. Clinton?s behalf was exposed by the publication of the hacked emails, received a public scolding and a slap on the wrist, but were allowed to rejoin the party establishment as members in good standing after enough time had passed for the public to have forgotten the embarrassing headlines.
The FBI?s investigation into Mrs. Clinton?s emails was deliberately designed to fail. It ground on inconclusively until the fix was exposed by the revelation of a June 2016 meeting on the tarmac of a Phoenix airport between Mrs. Clinton?s husband, the former president, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. With Lynch?s credibility irreparably compromised, FBI Director James Comey decided to intervene by holding a press conference just a few weeks before the Democratic convention was scheduled to give Mrs. Clinton the presidential nomination. After documenting the clearly incriminating evidence against her, Comey simultaneously announcing that she would not be subject to criminal prosecution for violating national security protocols, as was clearly required by the relevant federal statute.
Comey?s statement infuriated both Republicans and Democrats, but enabled Mrs. Clinton to claim the presidential nomination she had won through the fixed primary process. By that time, the vicious mainstream media campaign against Trump, alleging his collusion with Russia and other kinds of wrongdoing, had convinced most Democrats that he was totally unacceptable as a presidential candidate?but most were also unenthusiastic about voting for Clinton because of the mounting evidence of her dishonesty.
A VOTER CHOICE BETWEEN TWO EVILS
For many Democrats, the 2016 election became a choice between the lesser of two evils. Many decided to stay home on Election Day because just 11 days earlier, Comey announced the re-opening of the FBI?s email investigation against Mrs. Clinton. Comey closed the FBI investigation again, just three days before the election, but the damage had already been done to Mrs. Clinton?s reputation, and may have accounted for Trump?s narrow margin of victory in the three crucial Rust Belt states.
As a result, by the morning after the 2016 presidential elections, the entrenched political establishment of both parties had been thoroughly compromised and discredited. The bulk of Republican primary voters put their faith in Trump because he was emphasizing issues important to them that ordinary GOP candidates had long ignored, and because he was so thoroughly reviled by the Republican party leaders and their candidates whom the base no longer trusted. Trump then richly rewarded his voters, first with his totally unexpected victory over Clinton on Election Day, and then during the subsequent four years by doing his best as president to keep the promises he made to them in 2016?with better than expected results, in many cases.
Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, realized their faith had been misplaced in a cynical candidate who didn?t really believe in the watered-down progressive policies that Obama had been promoting. But rather than accepting Clinton?s well-deserved defeat due to the incompetence and hubris of her campaign, and learn the lessons from their mistakes, Democrats found it more comforting to accept the morning-after excuses promoted by the Clinton camp and the Obama administration. Instead of recognizing that Trump?s unlikely campaign strategy had succeeded, they preferred to believe the mainstream media-promoted narrative that Trump had stolen his electoral victory with the help of the Russians.
THE BIRTH OF THE TRUMP RESISTANCE
Thus, the anti-Trump ?Resistance? was born, which would continue to challenge the legitimacy of his 2016 victory and his subsequent presidency for the next four years.
By promising voters that if elected he would ?drain the swamp? in Washington, Trump made himself the mortal enemy of the establishment who saw his candidacy as a serious threat, even though most Democrats and Republicans believed at the time that he could not possibly be elected. But just to make sure, leaders of the Democrat party and the Clinton campaign conspired to pay for the creation of a false Russia-Trump conspiracy theory which came to be known as the Steele dossier. Its wild and unverifiable accusations were promoted by Clinton allies in the FBI and the mainstream media, and the dossier?s bogus allegations later served as the blueprint for a formal FBI national security investigation into the mythical Trump-Russia electoral conspiracy.
The FBI probe was formally launched in July 2016 by senior agent Peter Strzok, who later called it ?insurance? against the still unthinkable possibility that Trump might be elected. But informally, the Trump campaign had been under surveillance for months by a group led by then-CIA Director John Brennan, with assistance from Strzok, other senior FBI officials, and members of the British intelligence services.
ORIGINS OF THE RUSSIA-TRUMP COLLUSION PROBE
Senior Obama administration and law enforcement officials had been alerted months earlier that the Russians had high level contacts inside Trump campaign. The White House was aware and approved of the informal investigation Brennan had launched into the Trump campaign, long before there was any evidence to support their suspicions that it was colluding with Russia to defeat Mrs. Clinton.
Two meetings were reportedly held in late spring among officials in the Obama administration to discuss the reports of Russian influence on the Trump campaign. They were reportedly held after the Trump campaign announced in March that Carter Page would become a Trump foreign policy advisor along with George Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos was virtually unknown to the Washington foreign policy community, but Carter Page was a well-known public apologist for Putin.
If the White House believed that Page might be acting as a Russian agent, normal procedure would have been for administration security officials to provide the Trump campaign with a defensive warning briefing. The fact that no such warning was issued indicates that the Obama administration preferred to maintain its silent surveillance of the Trump campaign, hoping to find evidence of collusion.
Despite months of intensive investigation, the FBI failed to find any hard evidence that would verify the Steele dossier?s accusations of collusion against Trump and members of his campaign. Other senior members of the FBI who participated in the effort to prevent Trump from being elected president, and later find ways to force Trump to leave the White House, included Comey?s assistant, Andrew McCabe, and FBI lawyer Lisa Page. Her correspondence with Strzok was discovered by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, and it provided the first running narrative describing the progress of the anti-Trump conspiracy.
MUELLER REACHES A DEAD END
The FBI?s investigation of the Trump-Russia allegations would be continued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for two more years and would end in ignominious failure. Yet diehard anti-Trump Democrats, such as Congressman Adam Schiff, continue to publicly promote the discredited allegations against President Trump to this day.
Based upon the underlying assumption that Trump?s presidency was illegitimate, and its policies and statements based upon corruption and dishonesty, the supporters of the Resistance and their allies in the media felt justified in hurling every conceivable accusation against Trump and his administration, whether there was any evidence or logic to support them or not.
By the time the initial vote count on Election Night was over, it was clear that Trump had won a substantial majority in the Electoral College. Both major political parties had long been committed to respecting the will of the people, as expressed at the ballot box, and the orderly transfer of power in accordance with the results of a presidential election had long been considered one of the proudest traditions of American politics.
However, prior to the 2016 election, Trump, citing the documented cheating by Democrat party officials during the primaries on behalf of Hillary Clinton, had warned that he might not accept a defeat if there was any similar evidence of organized misconduct on Election Day. Trump?s warning prompted an outraged reaction from the Democrats and many media commentators as a potential threat to American democracy. But the morning after the election, the shoe was on the other foot, and it was the members of the Clinton camp and their supporters who were challenging the clear outcome of the electoral process by refusing to accept the decision of the voters.
CLINTON CAMP DEMOCRATS IN DENIAL
Less than 24 hours after Mrs. Clinton made her post-election concession speech to her disappointed supporters, her campaign chairman John Podesta and campaign manager Robby Mook assembled their team at the Clinton headquarters in Brooklyn to plot an effort to convince the public that ?Russian hacking was the major unreported story of the campaign,? in an effort to avoid responsibility for Trump?s victory and justify any moves the newborn ?Resistance? might make in the days and weeks ahead to discredit the election, prevent Trump from assuming office, or cripple his ability to govern.
The initial moves by the Resistance movement included a series of violent leftist-organized demonstrations protesting Trump?s victory in major cities across the country, including Chicago, New York City, Portland, and Washington, DC. They received sympathetic coverage from the anti-Trump mainstream media, accompanied by dire predictions that Trump would be a corrupt, incompetent and dangerously dictatorial president. The Resistance also enjoyed the public support of former President Obama, who defied precedent by declaring that he would publicly challenge Trump?s policies whenever they conflicted the progressive agenda Obama had set for the country, which Mrs. Clinton had promised to continue.
OBAMA?S PEOPLE CONTINUED TO WORK AGAINST TRUMP
Obama and other senior members of his administration, including then-vice president Joe Biden, were well aware of the secret FBI investigation and surveillance of the Trump campaign. During the transition and after Trump?s inauguration, holdover Obama administration officials served as the anonymous sources for an endless series of media stories accusing Trump and members of his inner circle, especially his national security advisor, former General Michael Flynn, of collusion with Russia as well as general incompetence in running the government.
Democrats justified their refusal to accept Trump?s electoral victory by raising objections which would have been routinely dismissed had they been offered on behalf of any other defeated presidential candidate. They claimed that the outcome in the Electoral College should be ignored, and Mrs. Clinton awarded the presidency, because she had won the overall national popular vote, mostly due to big majorities she piled up in California, New York and other large Democrat urban bastions.
THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE STILL WORKS
In fact, the Electoral College worked in 2016 as had been intended by the authors of the US Constitution. It was designed to make sure that a candidate like Clinton, who dominated a handful of states with largest populations, could not overwhelm an opponent like Trump, who demonstrated broader support in states across the heartland of country.
Both the Clinton and Trump campaigns had never challenged the Electoral College system prior to the elections. Instead, they designed and executed their respective campaign strategies with the goal of winning an Electoral College majority.
Several recently elected presidents had won without receiving a majority of the general election votes; George W. Bush had won in 2000 while losing the popular vote count to his Democrat opponent, former vice president Al Gore. Democrats had challenged the legitimacy of Bush?s 2000 victory only because he had won the initial count of the popular vote in Florida, which determined the outcome in the Electoral College, by such a small margin that the subsequent recount might have easily overturned the result, had not the Supreme Court intervened to stop it and declare Bush the winner.
Once the high court had ruled, Gore publicly recognized the finality of its verdict, even though a substantial number of embittered Democrats never really accepted Bush?s victory as legitimate. They provided a precedent which would be followed on a much larger scale by members of the Democrat Resistance to Trump?s 2016 victory.
Members of the Resistance movement, with the public encouragement of the Clinton camp and the mainstream media, fought tooth-and-nail to discredit the election night results. They supported legal challenges filed by the campaign of liberal third-party candidate Jill Stein to the official vote counts in three crucial Rust Belt states?Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin?each of which Trump one with less than a 1% margin over Clinton, and which, together, provided him with his 304-227 victory in the Electoral College.
WHY HILLARY CLINTON LOST IN 2016
Political analysts from both parties have long agreed that Clinton lost in 2016 because her campaign had made the crucial mistake of taking the votes of traditionally pro-Democrat blue collar workers in the Rust Belt states for granted. For decades, Democrats ignored their economic interests, and deliberately sacrificed their jobs to low-wage countries in the name of globalization and international free trade. Trump won the 2016 presidential election recognizing the growing anger and frustration of those mostly white, less educated voters, and made restoring their lost industrial sector jobs a central theme of his campaign.
Throughout the latter half of the 2016 presidential campaign, starting as soon as Trump locked up the GOP nomination, his policies came under attack and his character was demonized by a blatant disinformation campaign conducted by previously respected and fair-minded mainstream media journalists.
THE MEDIA?S WAR ON TRUMP
In August 2019, New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg wrote that most of his fellow reporters and media commentators saw Trump ?as an abnormal and potentially dangerous candidate? influencing them to abandon their traditional duty as journalists to report on him in a fair and even-handed manner.
?If you believe all of those things [about Trump], you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century,? Rutenberg wrote in an attempt to justify the deliberate bias which he had allowed to color his reporting.
Rutenberg admitted to feeling particularly guilty because his bias gave ?the advantage to [Trump?s] news conference-averse opponent, Hillary Clinton, who should draw plenty more tough-minded coverage herself.? It seems ironic that four years later, the same criticism could be made against the mainstream media journalists who excused Joe Biden from all serious questioning during this year?s campaign because of their same personal aversion to the idea of another Trump victory.
Those reporters convinced themselves, once again, that another term for Trump would be so catastrophic for the country that they were justified in using every means to prevent that from happening. In fact, selective reporting by journalists amounts to an attempt to deprive the voters of all the information they need to cast a fully informed vote for the candidate of their choice. In the end, a still-troubled Rutenberg wrote that he would have to wait for ?history?s judgement? to decide whether his abandonment of his professional journalistic ethics was justified.
At the end of the 2016 campaign, Liz Spayd, the public editor of the New York Times, harshly criticized the fairness of its election coverage, concluding that its stories were slanted ?to make the Clinton campaign look functional and organized and the Trump campaign discombobulated.?
Shortly after the election, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of the newspaper, and his executive editor, Dean Baquet responded in a letter to their readers by insisting, ?We believe we reported on both candidates fairly during the presidential campaign.? But they also admitted that ?Donald Trump?s sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters,? and promised ?to rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor, striving always to understand and reflect all political perspectives and life experiences in the stories that we bring to you.?
But unfortunately, the one-sided anti-Trump bias in the Times? news coverage and on its opinion pages further increased over the next four years, as the paper ruthlessly eliminated virtually all pro-Trump comments and reporting.
THE END OF JOURNALISM AS WE KNOW IT
The New York Times is not alone. The partisan polarization and conscious abandonment of even the pretense of unbiased reporting has infected many other respected news outlets and threatens to permanently change the fundamental character of journalism. From now on, there may be two significantly different versions of each partisan news story competing with one another for acceptance by a public, with both sides accusing one another of promoting ?fake news.?
Trump was unfairly accused of being against Hispanics for seeking to build a wall to close the Mexican border to caravans full of illegal immigrants from Central America, and for publicly criticizing a Mexican-born federal judge who had ruled against Trump in an unrelated case.
Just a week after he took office, in the wake of an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack on American soil, Trump was accused of being prejudiced against Muslims for issuing a ban on visitors arriving from seven Muslim-majority terrorist-dominated states. The media made a spectacle out of apparently innocent Muslim travelers stuck at airports by the hastily implemented ban, supported by rowdy anti-Trump demonstrations, as an army of liberal immigration lawyers rushed to federal courts presided over by Democrat-appointed judges to obtain orders declaring the Trump travel ban to be illegal.
During the first weeks and months of his presidency, a well-orchestrated series of planned protests against Trump was staged by agitators just waiting for a suitable excuse, such as the terrorist travel ban, to launch them.
A LEFTIST CONSPIRACY
Aside from protesting Trump?s agenda, the goal of the organizers of the national Resistance movement has been to move the Democrat party and its candidates further to the left, closer to the ?Democrat Socialist? ideology of Bernie Sanders and AOC. They are part of a larger ideological strategy generously funded by billionaire George Soros, and encouraged by former-president Obama whose initial goal was to undermine the legitimacy of Trump?s presidency.
Soros has been indirectly funding a broad network of ultra-liberal groups with activist agendas through grants from his Open Society Foundation for more than two decades. These include radical movements and organizations such as Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Moveon.org, and ACORN, who have been behind often violent protests in recent years intended to disrupt the fabric of American society.
The charge that Trump was prejudiced against Muslims originated at the 2016 Democrat National Convention from the Gold Star parents of an American soldier, Captain Humayan Khan, who had been killed in action in Iraq in 2004, and to which Trump had unwisely responded with harsh criticism.
TARGETING MICHAEL FLYNN
But the most damaging attack on Trump?s newly launched presidency was inflicted by holdover Obama administration FBI and Justice Department officials. They set out to destroy the credibility of General Flynn as his national security advisor through leaks of a conversation between him and the Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak on December 29, during the transition, and the same day that President Obama announced new sanctions on Russia in retaliation for its meddling in the US election.
The conversation was leaked to the Washington Post, whose January 12 report suggested that Flynn had improperly promised the Russian ambassador that Trump would not maintain the new sanctions on Russia after he took office. Flynn?s conversations with the ambassador had been innocent, but his later recall of the conversations had been imperfect, which would get him into serious trouble. He would be accused of misleading Vice President-elect Mike Pence, forcing Pence to issue an embarrassing retraction of a statement he had made based upon Flynn?s faulty recollection. Flynn later apologized to Pence, admitting he had made a mistake, but the resulting brouhaha ultimately forced Trump to demand Flynn?s resignation after only 22 days in office.
All the top intelligence officials in the Obama administration were aware of Flynn?s conversation with Kislyak, including John Brennan, the head of the CIA; James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence; and FBI Director Comey. They knew that Flynn had misled his colleagues on the Trump team about what he had said to Russia, but after consulting with one another, they decided not to notify Trump and his team that Flynn was not telling them the whole truth until a few days after Trump took office.
Yet meanwhile, they shared the information with numerous Obama appointees and intelligence officials, who then told reporters at the Washington Post and New York Times all about it and suggested that Flynn and other Trump team members had something to hide about their contacts with the Russians. This constant flow of negative stories played into the Democrat political narrative and gave credibility to ongoing efforts to discredit Trump?s presidency.
FLYNN MADE DANGEROUS ENEMIES
Flynn had long been an irritant to the Obama camp. As the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, he had been the most vocal critic within the Obama administration of its tolerant attitudes towards Iran and international Muslim terrorism until he was forced to resign in 2014.
Flynn publicly called the Muslim faith a political ideology and the root cause of Islamic terrorism. After his retirement, Flynn frequently appeared on the Russian government-owned RT cable TV channel as a paid security analyst. He was also criticized for having attended a gala 2015 dinner with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Flynn became an influential advisor on national security issues to the Trump presidential campaign. He was also one of Trump?s most effective surrogates, speaking out and leading chants of ?Lock her up!? against Mrs. Clinton at campaign rallies across the country.
The official FBI investigation into the Trump campaign?s alleged electoral collusion with the Russians had looked into Flynn?s earlier Russian contacts, and had found nothing incriminating. FBI agents running that segment of the investigation were ready to close the case, until Peter Strzok told them to wait until after a crucial meeting in with Obama at which the plans for supporting the Resistance to the Trump presidency were discussed among the president and several of his senior administration officials, including then-vice president Biden.
OBAMA?S FINAL OVAL OFFICE INSTRUCTIONS
The only record of that meeting is a series of emails that Obama?s national security advisor, Susan Rice, sent to her own government account, just hours before Trump took office. The emails were intended to make Obama?s participation in the meeting appear to be innocent., with Rice quoting the president as instructing FBI Director Comey to conduct the investigation into the Trump campaign ?by the book.?
Strzok insisted that the FBI investigation into Flynn remain open because he was aware that Flynn?s inaccurate recollection of the phone call with the Russian ambassador could be used to incriminate him. Flynn took the phone call on his cell phone while out of the country on vacation, without the means to make a proper record of the conversations, which were being wiretapped by US national security agents.
HOW COMEY SET UP FLYNN
Flynn would be accused of lying to FBI investigators about the conversation during an ambush interview at his White House office set up by Comey, deliberately avoiding proper procedure which called for the FBI to notifying the White House counsel that such an interview would be taking place. As Comey had intended, Flynn was caught in a perjury trap when his account of his conversation with Kislyak did not exactly match the wiretap transcript.
FBI knew that Flynn was clearly innocent of the charge, but that did not stop them and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who took over the investigation, to use Flynn?s alleged perjury to destroy his professional reputation, subject him to unwarranted criminal prosecution, ruin his finances, threaten to send him and his adult son to jail, and make a forced, false guilty plea before a federal judge.
Flynn?s only real crimes, in the eyes of the Clinton supporters persecuting him, were his loyalty to Donald Trump, and his insider?s knowledge of security information which could expose President Obama?s tolerance for international Muslim terrorism and Iran?s state sponsorship of it.
Flynn was the most prominent victim of the four-year-long Democrat effort to undermine Trump?s presidency and force him from office. Two other innocent victims were former Trump campaign policy advisors Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. They would be falsely accused of serving as middle men in the alleged conspiracy to collude with Russia to defeat Clinton.
In fact, Carter Page had served as an FBI informant in a previous case involving Russian spies, but his public record as an apologist for the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin made the allegations against him in the Steele dossier believable enough, at least on the surface, to serve as the misleading basis for the request that the FBI submitted to the secret FISA court to spy on the Trump campaign.
As a volunteer foreign policy advisor, Page was never more than a peripheral figure in the Trump campaign. The Steele dossier claimed that during a trip to Moscow in July 2016 to deliver a commencement speech, Page secretly met with senior Russian officials who allegedly promised him a fee for brokering a sale of Russian energy assets if he used his influence with the Trump campaign to roll back US sanctions on Russia. Page vehemently denies that any such meeting ever took place.
There was never any evidence to support the dossier?s allegation against Page. Nevertheless, the FBI submitted the dossier to the FISA court, knowing that its charge against Page was unverifiable, yet claiming it amounted to sufficient evidence to justify the secret surveillance of him and other members of the Trump campaign. In later congressional testimony, then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe would admit that ?no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the [FISA Court] without the Steele dossier information.?
After a year under FBI surveillance, Page was never accused of having committed a crime, and he is now suing those who smeared his reputation by using the false allegations in the Steele dossier as evidence to justify the bogus FISA search warrant which the court issued under false pretenses.
George Papadopoulos appeared to have been duped, either by a Russian intelligence agent or someone posing as a Russian agent, who was trying to peddle allegedly incriminating information about Mrs. Clinton to the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos then unwisely talked about the offer with Australian diplomat Alexander Downer in London in May 2016. Downer later told his country?s intelligence agency that Papadopoulos claimed to have been contacted that March by a Maltese professor living in London named Joseph Mifsud, who offered the Trump campaign Kremlin ?dirt? it could use against Clinton.
Papadopoulos reported the Mifsud offer to his superior in the Trump campaign, Sam Clovis. Papadopoulos made several more efforts to set up meetings between senior members of the Trump campaign and his Russian contacts, until then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort ordered that all such proposals be rejected. Mifsud, who initiated contact with Papadopoulos and reportedly was known to British intelligence, has since disappeared.
Papadopoulos now claims he was set up as a fall guy by those out to destroy Trump. His involvement with the Russians as the alleged trigger for the FBI investigation was a substitute explanation after embarrassing problems surfaced with the New York Times? original version of how the investigation started. The explanation is doubly dubious, because Downer, who originally fingered Papadopoulos as a middleman between Trump and Russia, has a long prior history as a pro-Clinton activist. Like Flynn, Papadopoulos was also apparently tricked into making misleading statements to the FBI. The charges that Mueller team prosecutors ultimately filed against Papadopoulos resulted in a token jail term handed down by a federal judge who did not believe there was any substance to them.
We have also learned that the CIA dispatched one of its veteran spies, former Republican operative and Cambridge professor Stefan Halper, to question both Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, as well as Trump campaign official Sam Clovis, and check out the reports of their Russian contacts. In the end, Halper came up with no new information to support the Russian-Trump collusion allegation.
THE STORY OF THE STEELE DOSSIER
The convoluted story behind the thoroughly corrupt creation and motives behind the allegations in the Steele dossier will undoubtedly become known as the most audacious and successful political dirty trick in American history.
It began in October 2015, when a conservative newspaper, the Washington Free Beacon, hired Fusion GPS, the well-connected PR firm, to find political dirt?euphemistically known as ?opposition research??from public sources to use against Donald Trump during the GOP presidential primary campaign. The Free Beacon canceled its contract with Fusion GPS when the never-Trump campaign failed to stop Trump in April 2016, enabling him to secure the GOP nomination.
The owners of Fusion GPS then tried to peddle the same political dirt on Trump to the Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee. At that point, few political professionals thought Trump had any chance of defeating Mrs. Clinton in the November general election. Nevertheless, the Democrats thought that having the dirt uncovered by GPS Fusion to use against Trump was a reasonable contingency plan in case Trump turned out to be a more serious opponent than they expected.
They also understood that for the political dirt to most effective, its connections to the Democrats and the Clinton campaign had to be camouflaged. As a result, the business arrangements with Fusion GPS were handled discreetly by Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias and his Perkins Coie law firm. In their campaign finance filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the DNC and the Clinton campaign reported giving $12.4 million to the law firm as payments for unspecified ?legal services.?
Three-quarters of that money?about $9 million?went to Fusion GPS, which hired former British MI6 intelligence agent Christopher Steele for $160,000 and a research assistant, Nellie Ohr, the wife senior Obama Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, to dig up the dirt that the Clinton campaign and the Democrats had paid for.
The dossier claimed that Russian government officials had been setting up Trump as a potential target for blackmail ?for at least five years,? and that the Kremlin had been providing members of Trump?s inner circle, including Carter Page and Michael Cohen, with damaging intelligence on Hillary Clinton.
SELLING THE DOSSIER TO THE MEDIA
The dossier was given credibility when FBI Director James Comey insisted on including a two-page summary of its allegations in Trump?s first classified intelligence briefing as the president-elect on January 10. Word of the summary?s inclusion in the briefing was then leaked to CNN, which immediately headlined the story in a special report, and provided some of its allegations.
A few hours after the CNN report, the liberal BuzzFeed website published the original 35-page document which was the source of the two-page summary used at Trump?s intelligence briefing. Neither news organization made any effort to independently validate the outrageous allegations against Trump and his campaign that the dossier contained, relying on the likelihood that the US intelligence agencies must have done so prior to presenting them to Trump.
Fusion GPS also agreed to place the information and encourage its distribution by mainstream media outlets, elected government officials and even the FBI.
Those efforts led to a copy of the Steele dossier reaching Senator John McCain late in 2016. He was so alarmed by its accusations against Trump that he passed it along to Comey, unaware that the FBI had already seen the dossier and even agreed to hire Steele to provide them with more such information from his Russian sources to help them with their own investigation of the Trump campaign.
FBI USED THE DOSSIER AS ITS ROADMAP
Using his previous contacts with the FBI, Steele provided investigators with a copy of his dossier, which then became a ?roadmap? for its probe into the Clinton campaign which Strzok had launched that July. After Mueller?s team took over the FBI investigation, the dossier continued to serve as the blueprint for two more years of investigations which failed to produce any evidence to back up its allegations of Trump collusion with the Russians.
At that time, Steele was running his own private intelligence firm, called Orbis, and was no longer working for British intelligence. However, the FBI still considered him to be a reliable source because in 2010 he had supplied the agency with accurate information on the corruption at FIFA, the international soccer organization. In May 2015, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch publicly thanked Steele as an unnamed ?international partner? in the FIFA investigation for his ?outstanding assistance.?
At one point, the FBI offered to pay Steele to continue his investigations into Trump after the election. Reports disagree as to whether any payments were made, but the FBI dropped the idea after details of the dossier became public, and the FBI became aware that Steele had violated the terms of their agreement by sharing his dossier with at least two publications.
Through the contacts of Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, Steele was the primary source of a story by Yahoo News reporter Michael Isikoff, published on September 23, 2016, claiming that Trump advisor Carter Page was under federal investigation for opening a private channel of communications with ?senior Russian officials.?
Former FBI lawyer James Baker provided the substance of the Steele dossier?s allegations to David Corn, a reporter for the liberal Mother Jones magazine. Corn?s article was the first published report to mention the Trump dossier on October 31, eight days before the 2016 presidential election. It said that ?[A] former senior intelligence officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence tells Mother Jones that in recent months he provided the [FBI] with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump,? and that the FBI requested more information from him.
Referring to Baker, Corn wrote that a ?senior US government official not involved in this case but familiar with the former spy,? described Steele as ?a credible source with a proven record of providing reliable, sensitive, and important information to the US government.?
STEELE?S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT BACKCHANNEL TO THE FBI
After Steele was fired as an official FBI source, he continued to feed it information on behalf of Fusion GPS through his informal meetings with then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, the fourth highest-ranking DOJ official.
According to a House memo, as early as September 2016, ?Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president. This clear evidence of Steele?s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files but not reflected in any of the FISA applications.
?During this same time period, Ohr?s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife?s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs? relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the [FISA court].?
Bruce Ohr, in turn, reported to then-deputy attorney general Sally Yates. She had been one of those who reported to Trump officials that Michael Flynn had misled them about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition. Yates was later fired by Trump as acting attorney general when she refused to order DOJ lawyers to defend his travel ban in court again lawsuits brought by liberal immigration lawyers.
As the House memo notes, ?Steele should have been terminated [from the FBI] for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September before the [Carter] Page [search warrant] application was submitted to the FISA court in October, but Steele improperly concealed and lied to the FBI about those contacts.?
Meanwhile, thanks to Glenn Simpson?s efforts, the allegations in the dossier continued to circulate among Washington officials. On August 27, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid indirectly referred to the dossier in a letter to FBI Director Comey, demanding a full investigation and public disclosure of ?the evidence of a direct connection between the Russian government and Donald Trump?s presidential campaign.?
On October 30, Reid sent Comey a second letter repeating the demand and citing the existence of ?explosive information? against Trump that the FBI had in its possession.
WHO WAS STEELE?S SOURCE?
One of the remaining missing pieces in the intelligence puzzle was the identity of Steele?s primary Russian source for the information in the dossier. We now know that the FBI identified Steele?s source in December 2016, shortly after the FBI severed its formal relationship with Steele himself.
The source?s name is Igor Danchenko, and he was on Steele?s payroll. But in 2005, Danchenko reportedly told a Russian intelligence officer that his allegiance was to the Russian government. The FBI interviewed Danchenko for three days in January 2017, and when they asked him about his source ?network? supplying the information he gave to Steele for the dossier, Danchenko admitted that it consisted of a group of drinking buddies, other friends, and another anonymous Russian source that Danchenko once talked with over the telephone for 10 minutes, but whom he could not otherwise identify.
This raises the possibility that the anonymous source had supplied Steele, through Danchenko, with disinformation for the dossier on Moscow?s order. The fact that Steele made no effort to go to Russia and verify the stories supplied by Danchenko?s questionable sources means that there is reason to suspect that every claim in the dossier had been planted by Russian intelligence in an effort to undermine the American people?s trust in their elected leaders.
STILL UNRAVELING THE CONSPIRACY
More than four years after the formal FBI investigation started, Attorney General Bill Barr and US Attorney John Durham are still trying to uncover the full story behind the anti-Trump conspiracy and bring to justice all those who committed crimes in the process.
The story is interconnected with many related sub-plots intended to destroy President Trump?s reputation by prosecuting his friends and supporters in an effort to pressure them into turn into witnesses against him to save themselves. The effort didn?t work with Paul Manafort, the veteran Republican political operative who was originally hired to help keep Trump delegates to the 2016 Republican National Convention from being poached by other GOP presidential candidates, but who was eventually promoted, briefly, to serve as Trump?s campaign manager until damaging stories emerged in the mainstream media about Manafort?s earlier corrupt ties with a pro-Russian former Ukrainian president.
To pressure Manafort into giving testimony against Trump, Mueller?s prosecutors subjected him and his wife to a pre-dawn raid on their home. They revived old charges of illegal financial dealings with the Ukrainians for which Manafort was convicted or forced to plead guilty in federal court?but he still refused to turn against Trump.
Lawyer Michael Cohen was another not-so-innocent Trump associate who did agree to give evidence against the president after being convicted of lying to Congress, as well as other crimes he committed which were totally unrelated to Trump. However, Cohen?s constantly changing testimony turned out to be so full of internal contradictions that his credibility was completely destroyed, making him virtually useless to prosecutors as a witness against the president.
Over the course of their two-year investigation, conducted at great taxpayer expense, the Mueller team went through President Trump?s records with a fine-tooth comb, looking for evidence to support the many allegations which his enemies made against him.
They include all kinds of business-related corruption, abuse of the state and federal tax codes, shady real estate deals with Russian partners, bribing potential witnesses against him, taking advantage of his status as president to increase the profits of his worldwide business empire, compromising personal material that the Russians or others might be able to use to blackmail Trump, and any other indication of wrongdoing which could possibly serve as a basis for impeachment?or more likely, another damaging leak the anti-Trump media would be happy to use against him.
Mueller?s mandate as special counsel also included investigating the charge that Trump used his executive power to obstruct justice by firing FBI Director Comey to halt the FBI?s ongoing investigation of Russian collusion, and then by refusing to offer full White House cooperation with the Mueller investigation itself. Comey had carefully set up that accusation by arranging for the leaking a memo of his private conversations with Trump to the New York Times on February 14, 2017, the day after Flynn was fired, in which the president had asked Comey to go easy on General Flynn.
COMEY?S REVENGE ON TRUMP
Comey had just participated in a terrorism threat briefing for Trump with other senior national security officials. When the briefing ended, Trump asked Comey to stay behind as the others left. Trump began by asking Comey to put pressure on reporters who publish classified information leaked to them to reveal their sources. According to the memo, Trump then changed the topic to the FBI?s investigation of Flynn and told Comey, ?He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.? Comey?s response, according to the memo, was non-committal.
Comey later admitted he had written the memo and then arranged its leak to the New York Times to take his revenge on Trump for firing him, by forcing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel to assure the independence of the investigation. The leak worked as Comey had intended?Rosenstein appointed Comey?s predecessor as FBI Director, Robert Mueller, who acquired a reputation for politically neutrality.
But Mueller chose a staff of prosecutors made up of former Hillary Clinton supporters, including one who had become notorious in legal circles for his previous use of hardball tactics to pressure defendants. The way the investigation was conducted made it clear that Mueller understood his job to be finding solid evidence to back up the potentially impeachable charges being made against the president?but his effort came up empty.
COMEY DESERVED TO BE FIRED
Trump clearly had the legal authority to fire Comey as well as ample justification to do so, but the firing and public messaging explaining it were poorly handled by Trump and his team, enabling Comey to exact his revenge by forcing the appointment of Mueller as special counsel to continue the FBI investigation and set the stage for Trump?s impeachment by the Democrats.
The political firestorm of protest created by Trump?s sudden firing of Comey tended to obscure the many sound reasons for his dismissal, explained in a memo written by Rosenstein, and endorsed by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Comey exceeded his authority and violated the FBI principle of non-partisanship when he closed the investigation into Hillary Clinton?s mishandled emails without recommending her criminal prosecution, and then reopened the investigation less than two weeks before the 2016 election. Democrats were more than willing to support the Mueller-led investigation into Trump that Comey engineered, but they will still never forgive him for having undermined Hillary Clinton?s chances to defeat Trump at the ballot box.
Since his firing, Comey has continued trying to portray himself as Washington?s last Boy Scout, struggling to do the right thing. But Comey clearly didn?t do the right thing during the four months prior to the 2016 election, and the honorable thing for him to have done would have been to voluntarily resign as FBI Director immediately after that election rather than beg Trump to keep him on.
MUELLER?S DEAD-END REPORT
Two years later, Mueller was forced to admit in the first part of his final report that evidence of the alleged Trump-Russia collusion could not be found. Mueller did find plenty of evidence that Russians tried to influence the election, using hackers and fake social media posts. Russian agents had also approached members of the Trump campaign on several occasions, but none of those contacts led to any cooperation by the Trump campaign with the Russians in their election interference effort.
The second part of Mueller?s report, discussing the charges of obstruction of justice, cited various actions which might have been interpreted as such interference, and all but suggested that Congress look into them as part of a separate impeachment inquiry. But the report never came out and made such an accusation against the president.
By the time Mueller submitted his report to Attorney General Barr, the media pressure for its immediate release was overwhelming. However, Mueller deliberately ignored Barr?s instructions to annotate the sections of the report based upon information which would, according to law, have to be kept confidential, so that a redacted version of the report could be quickly published.
Mueller was apparently hoping that the forced delay in publication would give members of his team time to leak the parts of the report that were most damaging to Trump to the media, increasing public pressure for the start of impeachment hearings. But Barr frustrated that effort by quickly producing and publishing a summary of the report?s findings, with Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein?s cooperation and approval, which effectively exonerated the president of collusion with the Russians, and made it clear that the allegations that Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice remained unproven.
Democrats immediately accused Barr of distorting Mueller?s findings to protect the president from impeachment and demanded that Mueller be called before a public congressional hearing to testify on his findings in his own words. That hearing turned out to be a political fiasco for the Democrats. It revealed that Mueller was unfamiliar with key sections of his own report on which he had been working for two years and had nothing of substance to add to its written findings.
The three-year-long Democrat attempt to prove their allegations that Trump was guilty of colluding with the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election, or at the very least, was guilty of a coverup by firing Comey and trying to sabotage Mueller?s investigation, had hit a dead end. However, the momentum of the media-driven Democrat campaign to demonize Trump and find any excuse to drive him from office had long since passed the point of no return.
AN IMPEACHMENT EFFORT DOOMED TO FAIL
Democrat leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, knew that any effort to impeach Trump without evidence that he had met the constitutional requirement of ?high crimes or misdemeanors? would be doomed to fail in the Republican-controlled Senate. Their impetus came in the form of reports about an anonymous ?whistleblower? complaint to the inspector general of the intelligence community about allegedly improper remarks by Trump to the president of Ukraine in a congratulatory phone call whose transmission to Congress was being delayed.
The media immediately pounced on the story, increasing the pressure on Democrats like Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler to fulfill their long-stated desire to launch a formal House impeachment procedure, regardless of its fate in the Senate. Pelosi was forced to agree, only to be surprised by Trump?s decision to release the transcript of his phone call with Ukrainian president which clearly lacked the smoking gun evidence needed to give the impeachment effort any chance of success in the Senate.
UNDERSTANDING THE IMPORTANCE OF UKRAINE AND RUSSIA
The recurring involvement of Ukraine to the long-term struggle between Trump and the Democrats has been almost as important as the allegations of Trump electoral collusion with the Russians. Accusations by the Trump campaign of influence peddling against Hillary Clinton go all the way back to the Clinton-approved sale in 2010 of American uranium deposits to a Russian-controlled company, whose main investors were also major donors to the Clinton family charitable foundation. Just prior to the 2012 election, President Obama was caught in an open mike moment assuring Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev of more US concessions to Russia?s demands after Obama?s re-election.
Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly outmaneuvered President Obama, especially during his second term. Obama caved in to Putin?s demands to halt the buildup of NATO defenses opposite the Russian border, and he let Putin get away with invading and annexing Crimea, reinserting Russian troops in the Middle East, and re-asserting Russia?s Cold War status as an international nuclear superpower at America?s expense. Yet during the 2012 election campaign, Obama ridiculed the assertion by his GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, that Russia posed the greatest threat to America?s leadership position in the world.
Ironically, Obama?s would-be successor, Hillary Clinton and her supporters, turned that position on its head in 2016, portraying Russia as a prime spoiler of American elections and saying Donald Trump cooperated with Russian efforts to defeat her.
Democrats are still alleging that Trump is in cahoots with Putin, despite the fact that he has maintained tough sanctions on Russia, sent US arms to enable Ukraine to defend itself against ongoing Russian aggression?which Obama had refused to do?and stationed US troops in NATO?s Eastern European member states in response to further Russian military intimidation.
REVIVING THE BIDEN-UKRAINE SCANDAL
This recent history reveals why the fate of Ukraine is so important to the struggle for dominance in Eastern Europe between the US and its NATO allies and Russia, and helps to justify the prominence of Ukraine in the political contest between Trump and Biden.
Biden?s son Hunter was appointed to a lucrative paid position on the board of a corrupt Ukrainian energy company, for which he was totally unqualified, shortly after Obama made his father the point man on Ukraine policy. The vice president later used that power to pressure the Ukrainian government into firing a state prosecutor investigating his son?s company. Trump?s demand last year that Ukraine?s newly elected president investigate that highly suspicious set of circumstances triggered the failed Democrat impeachment effort.
In recent weeks, further allegations contradicting Joe Biden?s denials that he had any connection to that same Ukrainian company have been deliberately suppressed by the pro-Biden mainstream media and social media outlets to prevent the story from damaging Biden?s chances for election victory.
The Democrat ?Resistance? effort to force President Trump out of the White House went dormant shortly after Senate Republicans quashed the impeachment effort and was quickly replaced in the headlines by the Democrat presidential primary process, followed by the Covid-19 epidemic.