Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America relish enjoy watching the credibility of the Steele dossier implode even further now that disreputable Clinton fixer Sid Blumenthal is being implicated for feeding information to Steele. They also shake their heads as President Trump says he would love a government shutdown unless he gets his way on border security just weeks after Republicans successfully convinced Americans that funding the government should not be contingent upon passing an immigration bill. And they have no problem honoring the U.S. military with a parade as President Trump wants to do, but Jim says there are more pressing national security concerns, including long-term funding and pay raises.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of National Review welcome transparency about our government, most recently the disturbing revelations about the FBI’s allegedly sloppy and politically charged approach to obtaining a FISA warrant to conduct surveillance on Trump campaign figure Carter Page. They also roll their eyes as partisans on both sides react to the memo, including Democrats who see nothing wrong with the FBI allegedly using a dossier as evidence without confirming its veracity and not telling the FISA court it was paid for by Democrats and Republicans insisting this means the Mueller investigation must be shut down immediately when the memo’s author says that is not his conclusion at all. And they’re thrilled to see the New England Patriots lose the Super Bowl, but shake their heads in disgust as Philadelphia fans destroy property, flip cars, and engage in other revolting behavior.
Rep. Jim Jordan says the connection between the Democrats and an anti-Trump dossier is well established and he says the big questions now are whether the dossier was the grounds for a FISA warrant to conduct surveillance on the Trump campaign and whether the FBI and Justice Department used it as an “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency.
Last week, Jordan and other lawmakers grilled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team, with a special emphasis on recently fired FBI official Peter Strzok and recently demoted Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.
Strzok was fired by Mueller, allegedly for his barrage of anti-Trump text messages to his mistress, FBI attorney Lisa Page. However, in addition to the political chatter came a Strzok text suggesting he expected Trump to lose the election but was planning to take action if the GOP nominee won.
“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” texted Strzok. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40,” he added in a text dated Aug. 15, 2016.
Jordan thinks there is a major story behind that text and likely explains why Mueller kicked Strzok to the curb in the Russia probe.
“Remember, Peter Strzok is Mr. Super Agent Guy at the FBI. He ran the Clinton (email) investigation, interviewed (Cheryl) Mills, (Huma) Abedin, and Sec. Clinton. He’s the guy who did the famous exoneration letter that changed the term ‘gross negligence’ – a crime – to ‘extreme carelessness.’ He’s also the guy who ran the Russia investigation and interviewed Mike Flynn.
“So he gets kicked off the Mueller team and we’re told it’s because of anti-Trump text messaging and Lisa Page. My belief is it’s got to be more than that. Because as I said in committee a couple of weeks ago, if you kicked everyone off the Mueller team who is anti-Trump, you wouldn’t have anybody left,” said Jordan.
So what might be the real reason for Strzok’s dismissal?
“It has to be something more and my contention is it goes to the dossier, the dossier that I believe was used for securing the warrants to spy on Americans, the dossier that was put into the application that was taken to the FISA court to get warrants to spy on Americans associated with the Trump campaign.
“I believe Peter Strzok, who was the deputy head of counterintelligence at the FBI and ran both the Clinton and Russia investigations, probably has his fingerprints all over that application,” alleged Jordan.
While Strzok’s direct involvement with the dossier has yet to be proved, Jordan says the FBI’s connection to the dossier seems pretty clear.
“Did they pay Christopher Steele, the guy who wrote the dossier? It’s been reported that he was reimbursed by the FBI. Why are they paying the guy who was paid at the same time by the Clinton campaign. If the answer to that question is yes, I think that shows that this took place,” said Jordan.
He says the rest of the money trail is very well established.
“The Clinton campaign and the DNC paid Russians to influence the campaign. They paid the law firm, who paid Fusion GPS, who paid Christopher Steele, who took that money and paid Russians to get false information that was used to go get warrants to spy on Americans.
Jordan adds that if the FBI did pay for the dossier, the other lingering question is even more troubling.
“If that in fact happened, that definitely shows there was an effort to go after the Trump people and the Trump campaign with this ridiculous report the Clinton campaign paid for that we call a dossier,” said Jordan, who is stunned that Mueller is spending all his energies looking at possible crimes on the GOP side of this campaign.
“[The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee] paid Russians with campaign dollars to influence the election and what’s Mueller’s investigation looking at? The other campaign,” said Jordan.
When it comes to Bruce Ohr, at first blush there appears to be circumstantial evidence of impropriety, as a result of Ohr’s consultation with Fusion GPS Co-Founder Glenn Simpson and the revelation that Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS during the final months of the campaign.
Jordan says it goes a lot deeper than that.
“His wife not only worked there, she was hired specifically for the Russian project. Second, Bruce Ohr met with Christopher Steele during the campaign. So at the same time the DNC is paying Christopher Steele to put together this dossier, he’s also meeting with a top Justice official. That’s kind of strange,” said Jordan.
But he says the unlikely coincidences keep coming, mostly notably the post-election meeting between Ohr and Simpson.
“Did they meet to get their story straight and get their story straight and figure out, ‘We did this. What do we have to do to correct it and get our story straight.’ Or – maybe and – did they meet to say, ‘Maybe it’s time to double down. Maybe it’s time to go after President-Elect Trump,” said Jordan.
Jordan is increasingly confident his suspicions are correct given that the “unmasking” of Trump campaign officials began during the transition period.
“Never forget, it was during the transition, from Election Day until Inauguration Day, that we started to see all of this unmasking and all of these leaks from the intelligence community,” said Jordan, suggesting that timeline alone requires detailed testimony from Ohr.
Jordan says Congress will continue to pursue answers, beginning with deposing Strzok, Ohr, Page, and Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. He also wants to see the FISA application and what evidence was submitted to obtain warrants. He also wants all of this to take place in public so the American people can evaluate the facts for themselves.
The congressman also demands a second special counsel to look into all this since – if there’s any fire to the smoke – the Justice Department and FBI are incapable of investigating the matter.
“I don’t like special counsels. I never have. But I don’t know any other remedy,” said Jordan.
The revelation that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded the ongoing production of the infamous anti-Trump dossier leads former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy to assert there are even more critical questions that need answers now.
On Tuesday, the Washington Post revealed that after months of denying any connection to the dossier, it is now confirmed that the Clinton campaign and the DNC provided part of the funding for the ongoing work into the dossier after the still unknown Republican who first started the project backed down.
The Post story points out the funding from the Democrats and the Clinton team ran from April-October 2016. It was only after the Democrats got involved that former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele was brought onto the investigation.
In addition, the report states the FBI briefly picked up the tab for the work on the dossier to continue even after Election Day. The bureau dropped the effort after Steele’s identity was made public.
McCarthy says some things are now clearer about this controversy.
“What we now know is that the source of all this, to the extent that it was funded, were obviously opponents of Donald Trump.
“Apparently, it was initially a Republican outfit or rival of Trump’s that started this ball rolling. Around April or so of 2016, the effort was taken up by the Clinton campaign and the DNC through a law firm called Perkins Coie,” said McCarthy.
As the Washington Post explained, the Washington-based research firm Fusion GPS was already working on the dossier when the Democrats and the Clinton campaign started funding the effort. Perkins Coie did the finances, paying Fusion GPS from the Clinton campaign and the DNC through the law office.
And McCarthy says that’s not the only odd role played by Perkins Coie in the sordid 2016 campaign.
“That…is the same law firm that retained Crowdstrike, which is the cybersecurity outfit that examined the Democrat National Committee servers when they learned that they were hacked, also around April of 2016. I think it’s a very interesting coincidence that these two scandals seem to be colliding at this point,” said McCarthy.
The reaction to the Democrats being deeply connected to the dossier is drawing an interesting response from the left. Just months after accusing Trump campaign officials of collusion and possible treason for being willing to meet with Russians at Trump Tower to get a look at opposition research on Clinton, they say there’s nothing to see in Clinton and the DNC funding an effort, based largely on Russian contacts, to torpedo Donald Trump.
“The first I learned of Christopher Steele or saw any dossier was after the election,” former Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon told the Post.
“But if I had gotten handed it last fall, I would have had no problem passing it along and urging reporters to look into it.Opposition research happens on every campaign, and here you had probably the most shadowy guy ever running for president, and the FBI certainly has seen fit to look into it. I probably would have volunteered to go to Europe myself to try and verify if it would have helped get more of this out there before the election,” said Fallon.
McCarthy says the differing responses are jarring.
“The media acts horrified that Trump would be doing opposition research on Hillary and with respect to this story on the dossier, we’re now supposed to see it as politics as usual. So there is a double standard in the coverage,” said McCarthy.
However, McCarthy is not letting the Trump team off the hook. He says they created their own public relations nightmare.
“The biggest problem the Trumps had is that they weren’t forthcoming about the reason for the meeting. When they were originally asked about it, they said there had never been any such meeting. Then when it turned out there was a meeting, they said it was about one thing and then when it turned out the New York Times had their emails, they came clean about what the meeting was about,” said McCarthy.
McCarthy says there are many critical questions going forward. For him, the most important issues concern the federal government use of a dossier funded by partisans to instigate surveillance on Trump associates.
“Specifically, there’s a claim that they’ve used information that was in this dossier that we now know was paid for by the Clinton campaign. The report is that they used information from that dossier in presenting their warrant application to the FISA court and then they were given authority to do this eavesdropping,” said McCarthy.
He says that may or may not constitute a scandal depending upon the facts.
“That’s not necessarily a scandal, as long as they corroborated whatever information from the dossier they used before they brought it to the court and as long as they had a good faith reason for the people they wanted to surveil were actually acting as Russian agents.
“If any of those things isn’t true, that would be a big problem,” said McCarthy.
He says another key question is what the court was told about how and where the feds go their intelligence.
“It would also be very useful to know what representations did they make about the source of the information that they got from the dossier, assuming they did that as reported,” said McCarthy.
The dossier story is just one headache for the Clintons and their associates. In the past week, reports also reveal special counsel Robert Mueller is now conducting a criminal inquiry into the Podesta Group, which has close ties to Clintons. John Podesta served as chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
In addition, congressional hearings will soon be held to follow up on revelations that the FBI conducted an undercover investigation into the Russian bribery scheme to steer U.S. nuclear policy in Moscow’s favor, including the awarding of 20 percent of America’s uranium supply to the Russians. Despite years worth of evidence, the FBI did not intervene to stop the Uranium One contract.
McCarthy says there are two critical questions to be answered on that emerging story.
“I’d like to see testimony from this witness who’s been identified as they informant in that Uranium One deal, where Russia ended up getting 20 percent of our uranium reserves and the Clinton Foundation was grotesquely enriched,” said McCarthy.
He’s especially dumbfounded that the uranium deal was allowed to proceed.
“Not only how did it help the national security to allow Russia to acquire these reserves, but why was that allowed to be done when we had a pending provable, prosecutable racketeering investigation on the outfit that was acquiring the reserves?” said McCarthy.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss the Washington Post revelation that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee provided some of the funding for the infamous and largely discredited Trump dossier that involved significant collaboration with officials in Russia, and they shake their heads as Democrats insist this was just simple opposition research. They’re also unmoved by Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake’s denunciation of President Trump or Flake’s decision to fight back by retiring from the Senate, when it’s obvious the real reason he ended his campaign was because he can’t win. And they get a kick out of the Washington Post fact checkers making a big deal out of determining that Virginia GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie was wrong by claiming there were 2,000 MS-13 gang members living in one Virginia county when the best guess of law enforcement is there are just 1,400 violent criminals from that gang roaming area streets and neighborhoods.