The Russian probe is the greatest American political scandal ever because it began with the worst political felony there could be, short of assassination.
Petty bureaucrats fabricated high crimes and misdemeanors to sway an election and then, failing in that, they attempted to thwart a duly elected president.
It was an attempted coup in the way a pot-bellied demagogue in a banana republic orchestrates one, by using the government’s power to defeat its authority.
Here is what we know, so far, about how they did it.
In a newly relevant piece first published on January 11, 2017, headlined “Ukrainian Efforts to Sabotage Trump Backfire,”Politico reported that Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American operative, began doing opposition research for the Democratic National Committee about Donald Trump and Russia in late 2015.
Her efforts increased when Paul Manafort joined the campaign. Manafort had done work for pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych before he was deposed in 2014, but so had Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta.
DNC contractor that she was, Chalupa was selective in her ire. She sent emails to highly placed Democrats and members of the media accusing Manafort of being Putin’s puppet.
The Ukrainian embassy worked closely with Chalupa in her efforts to undermine Trump’s campaign. AsPolitico noted, “The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia.”
The work of a single uncredentialed agitator, though, could not have had that much of an impact. Which is the best explanation for why the Clinton campaign commissioned the Steele dossier, to give British spy credibility to Chalupa’s Chicken Little act.
One person influenced by this Ukrainian interference was Obama CIA Director John Brennan. He could not, though, investigate the Republican presidential campaign, because there are rules against spying on Americans.
A formal alliance permits intelligence agencies from the United Kingdom and the United States to engage in common spying in limited circumstances. Called “Five Eyes,” the alliance also includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Brennan could seed the investigation to foreign intelligence services.
Suddenly, minor members of the Trump campaign, including Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, were invited to London to talk to Cambridge professor Stefan Halper. An Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, recorded a drunken conversation he had with Papadopoulos.
The Russia stuff probably would have remained innuendo and rumors parroted occasionally by Democratic shills in the media. But then something extraordinary happened.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign lost all of its emails in phishing scheme. John Podesta fell for a ridiculous contrivance and disclosed to unknown actors that his email password was “PASSWORD.”
The emails revealed coordination between the Clinton campaign and the Democratic party to fix primaries against Bernie Sanders. These people needed a cover story, quickly.
The Steele Dossier, which the FBI would have seen right about this time, reported among other falsehoods that, “TRUMP associate admits that Kremlin behind recent appearance of DNC emails on WikiLeaks . . . .”
Suddenly, FBI agents were flying to London to check in on the existing Russian investigation. The FBI opened “Crossfire Hurricane” seeking to connect Trump to the lost emails.
Two lovestruck agents instrumental in the FBI’s efforts would text one another a short time later that “we’ll stop” Trump and calling the investigation an “insurance policy” against his presidency.
Shockingly, the FBI never examined the compromised computer servers, delegating its investigatory function to CrowdStrike, whose CTO and co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a Russian expat and a senior fellow at an anti-Putin think tank, the Atlantic Council.
The Atlantic Council is funded by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, a $10 million donor to the Clinton Foundation. Clinton’s paid consultant found evidence of a Russian hack even though it is ontologically impossible to determine the source of a phishing scheme by mere computer examination.
(For more complete and incisive analysis of the hack that wasn’t, please read Michael Thau’s series here at American Greatness.)
Instead of “Hillary fixed the primaries” the story became “Trump and Putin stole her emails.”
Trump was placed on the defensive. He protested by stating that the federal government has “no idea” who was behind the hacks.
Obama’s FBI and CIA called him a liar, issuing a “joint statement” that falsely suggested 17 intelligence agencies agree that it was the Russians.
Hillary Clinton cited this “intelligence assessment” in the crucial October presidential debate to portray Trump as Putin’s stooge. The media’s fact checkers blasted Trump for not conceding Russian interference.
Trump won anyway. The response to his victory among his political opponents ranged from apoplexy to hysteria, and the Russian collusion story became the preferred form of denial.
A special counsel, Robert Mueller, was appointed to investigate Russian interference. Curiously, it appears that he never examined the servers that the Russians allegedly hacked, deferring instead to the conclusions of CrowdStrike.
Mueller arrested Paul Manafort as well as minor functionaries associated with Trump’s campaign, accusing them of things unrelated to Russia and process crimes, and offered to cut favorable deals if any would admit to Russian collusion; or to “compose” as U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III put it.
In the end, nobody played along. They suffered their punishment rather than lie for Mueller. His investigation ended last week not with a bang, but with a whimper.
Ironically, the only nation that has been cleared for colluding with an American political campaign in the 2016 election is Russia. Great Britain, Australia, and especially Ukraine (which recently opened an investigation into its hand in the charade) have some explaining to do.