A massive hole was shot through the Trump-Russia collusion narrative (hysteria, really) last week. The Democrats funded it all. Marc Elias, a lawyer with the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, hired research firm Fusion GPS, who then retained a former MI6 operative, Christopher Steele, to compile this dossier from sources within the Kremlin. In July, The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel posited that the Democrats funded this whole affair. She was right [emphasis mine]:
We know Fusion is a for-hire political outfit, paid to dig up dirt on targets. This column first outed Fusion in 2012, detailing its efforts to tar a Mitt Romney donor. At the time Fusion insisted that the donor was “a legitimate subject of public records research.”
William Browder, a banker who has worked to expose Mr. Putin’s crimes, testified to the Grassley committee on Thursday that he was the target of a similar campaign, saying that Fusion “spread false information” about him and his efforts. Fusion has admitted it was hired by a law firm representing a Russian company called Prevezon.
Prevezon employed one of the Russian operators who were at Trump Tower last year. The other Russian who attended that meeting, Rinat Akhmetshin, is a former Soviet counterintelligence officer. He has acknowledged in court documents that he makes his career out of opposition research, the same work Fusion does. And that he’s often hired by Kremlin-connected Russians to smear opponents.
We know that at the exact time Fusion was working with the Russians, the firm had also hired a former British spy, Christopher Steele, to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump. Mr. Steele compiled his material, according to his memos, based on allegations from unnamed Kremlin insiders and other Russians. Many of the claims sound eerily similar to the sort of “oppo” Mr. Akhmetshin peddled.
Here’s a thought: What if it was the Democratic National Committee or Hillary Clinton’s campaign? What if that money flowed from a political entity on the left, to a private law firm, to Fusion, to a British spook, and then to Russian sources? Moreover, what if those Kremlin-tied sources already knew about this dirt-digging, tipped off by Mr. Akhmetshin? What if they specifically made up claims to dupe Mr. Steele, to trick him into writing this dossier?
If Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Democrats and the media really want answers about Russian meddling, this is a far deeper well than the so-far scant case against Mr. Trump. If they refuse to dive into the story, we’ll know that the truth about Russia and the election was never what they were after.
Oh, and what about the indictments doled out against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair, and his associate Rick Gates. Well, it’s really just contained to him. There’s no mention of collusion in the 31-page document. So, once again, there is zero evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials to tilt the 2016 election (via Fox News) [emphasis mine]:
Over the weekend, the mainstream media was absolutely giddy with delight upon learning there would be an indictment by special counsel, Robert Mueller.
This was proof positive, they insisted, that Trump “colluded” with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Their exuberance was the equivalent of a two day-long tailgate party. Too bad it was premature.
The celebration came to a crashing end when the indictments of Paul Manafort and his business associate, Rick Gates, were unsealed Monday morning. It turns out the charges are, basically, a tax fraud case. The two men stand accused of hiding their income from their lobbying work for Ukraine in order to avoid paying taxes, then lying about it. That’s it.
The 31-page indictment makes no mention of Trump or Russia or “collusion.”The media seemed as dejected as a kid who wakes up on Christmas morning, only to find there are no presents under the tree. Gee whiz.
The truth is, it should have come as no surprise to anyone, much less the media, that Manafort was in legal jeopardy for his business dealings. The FBI raided his home over the summer. It was later learned that the FBI wiretapped his conversations as far back as 2014. And it was widely reported that Manafort had been told by Mueller’s team that he would be criminally charged.