“It’s all a hoax.” That’s what my 62-year-old father, a Cruz-Rubio supporter, has been telling me since the very first time the media uttered, “Trump may have colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.”
I wasn’t so sure he was right. After news broke indicating Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had met with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in June 2016 to get “dirt” on the Clinton camp, the situation for Trump looked worse than ever.
“It’s a hoax,” my father reassured me. “Maybe Trump Jr. did meet with the Russian lawyer, but there was no collusion. This is a plan put into place by the Clintons. You’ll see.”
“How can you possibly know that?” I responded. “You have absolutely no reason to believe it’s a hoax.”
“I’ve been watching the Clintons work for 30 years. That’s all the evidence I need,” he answered.
In the rollercoaster ride since word of the Veselnitskaya meeting first reached the public, there have been numerous ups and downs. Like most Americans, I’ve been left wondering exactly how far the Trump team was willing to go to win the 2016 election. Were they really open to trading away American interests, as the Clintons appeared to have done many times, to capture the White House?
Although there remains a possibility someone on the Trump team struck a deal with Russian operatives in an effort to win the election, new revelations about the role the Clintons may have played in the infamous Christopher Steele dossier seem to suggest a large portion—and perhaps all—of the Trump-Russia narrative was invented by the Clintons, the Hillary Clinton campaign, or their sycophants.
The Steele Dossier Included Clinton Campaign Gossip
On Tuesday, Fox News reported that a recently unclassified (but still heavily redacted) memo from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) claimed, “Clinton associates were ‘feeding’ allegations to former British spy Christopher Steele at the same time he was compiling the controversial anti-Trump dossier paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign.”
We already know Steele’s work on the dossier was being funded by Democrats and the Clinton campaign in the middle of the 2016 election, and a recent memo made public by the House Intelligence Committee says the FBI relied on Steele’s memo to obtain an important Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant from a federal judge.
The House memo also claimed the FBI did not disclose to the court that Democrats and Clinton had paid for the dossier. Further, the House memo showed the FBI relied in part on a news story to corroborate the findings of the Steele dossier, even though that report had also been based on information fed to reporters by Steele himself.
That’s Nowhere Near the End of It, Either
As damning as all this is—and it’s clearly damning—there’s even more evidence pointing to the Clintons’ involvement in the FBI’s investigation and the creation of the dossier. On Jan. 30, The Guardian reported its sources claim the FBI has also relied (and may still be depending on) a second dossier, this time written by Cody Shearer, a long-time Clinton associate who has ties to past Clinton campaign efforts to destroy opponents. Those efforts include California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who ran against Bill Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in the 1990s; Ross Perot, also a Clinton opponent from the 1992 election; and Gennifer Flowers, who accused Bill Clinton during the 1992 primaries of having an affair with her.
Additionally, although it’s unclear how many people connected to the Clintons may have been “feeding” information to Steele for his dossier, we know Obama State Department official Jonathan Winer received from Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal in September 2016 at least some of Shearer’s information and passed it along to Steele, who was then still working closely with the FBI. Winer also admitted he passed the information to another State Department official, who then gave it to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Blumenthal’s role in both dossiers is not an insignificant detail. Not only is Blumenthal an extremely close ally to Hillary Clinton, he is also closely linked to Shearer. Shearer worked with Blumenthal to help tear down Clinton opponents in the 1990s, and reportedly helped Blumenthal provide Hillary Clinton intelligence about the Libyan revolution in 2011.
According to Winer, who wrote an opinion article about his experiences for the Washington Post on Thursday, Steele said at the time Winer gave him the information from Blumenthal that the Shearer report and his own research had a lot of similarities. But, of course, there’s no way to know Winer is telling the truth. He was, after all, an important member of Obama’s State Department who says Blumenthal is an “old friend.”
So Here’s the Quick and Dirty Summary
Piecing all this together is difficult, but the broad strokes are as follows: (1) Much of the Trump-Russia collusion evidence comes from the Steele dossier. (2) The Steele dossier was created during the 2016 election, at the behest and funding of Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
(3) Grassley and Graham’s memo and Winer’s op-ed show Steele was given some information from at least one source tied directly to the Clintons. (4) The FBI is likely using a second dossier in its investigation, one authored by Cody Shearer. (5) Shearer has close ties to Blumenthal and the Clintons.
(6) Top officials at the FBI and Department of Justice, including members of the team working on the Trump-Russia collusion investigation, had ties to the Democratic Party; or the dossier; or expressed their dislike of Donald Trump, a conflict of interest for their work; or all three. For instance, DOJ official Bruce Ohr’s wife worked for Fusion GPS, which paid Steele to make the dossier while it was being created.
(7) The FBI used the Steele dossier and maybe even information from Shearer to get a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign team, but it failed to tell the FISA court of the dossier’s connection to the Clintons or that Blumenthal’s information reached Steele. (8) The vast majority of “evidence” supposedly linking Trump to Russia resulted directly or indirectly from the FISA warrant and the investigation that followed.
The evidence above doesn’t prove the Trump campaign didn’t “collude” with Russian officials, but it certainly makes my father’s “hoax” argument a heck of a lot stronger. Did Steele use Shearer’s information to craft his dossier? Is it possible the Russian sources giving information to Shearer and Steele were part of an elaborate Kremlin misinformation campaign?
Did the FBI also rely on the Shearer information, in addition to the Steele dossier, when making their FISA application? Who are all the sources feeding information to Shearer and Steele? Regardless of the answers to those questions, one thing is certain: Clinton associates were far too involved in this investigation to not look closer.
It looks like I owe my father an apology. Perhaps there is wisdom in experience after all—especially when dealing with the Clintons.