January 11, 2018

YEAH, BUT HILLARY!:

GOP's crazy Russia probe conspiracies are crushed in Fusion GPS transcript (Tom Nichols, Jan. 11, 2018, USA Today)

Let's start by piecing together, as best we can, what various critics of the investigation, including the most vociferous Trump supporters, think is going on. 

By now we're all familiar with the "Steele dossier," a raw -- in every way -- report from a British spy who was engaged by an opposition research firm called Fusion GPS. It makes sensational claims about years of Russian operations against President Donald Trump. 

If not for Steele's file, the GOP reasoning goes, the FBI would never have started down the path of investigating Trump, which would never have led to FBI Director James Comey approaching Trump about the file; absent this, Comey would never have been fired, there would be no Mueller probe, and all would be right with the world.

But what about Trump officials meeting with the Russians during the campaign? Indeed, in the telling of at least some Trump defenders, these were the result of orders issued from Clinton's volcano lair for Fusion to lure Donald Trump Jr. and others into a room with shady Russians for meetings that were unwise -- or even "treasonous," if banished Trump advisor Steve Bannon is to be believed. Somehow, after all this slick tradecraft, Clinton's people never saw it coming when the Russians betrayed them and hacked the DNC anyway.

Think about the size of the claim here: the Clinton campaign, which was convinced it was going to beat Trump in a landslide, funded an espionage-laden high-wire act with a firm whose clients included some unsavory Russians themselves, in which a highly experienced British spook got suckered by the Democrats into weaponizing some Russian disinformation. (Steele could outplay the Russians, but he couldn't outplay Robby Mook?)

There are other variations on this theme, but central to all of them was the idea that without Fusion there would be nothing, and that we would know this if only we could know what Simpson said to the Senate investigators. But since the Senate intelligence committee wouldn't release the transcript, we couldn't know just how much Simpson had spilled his guts.

So now we know, and none of it supports the rickety Jenga pile of Republican conspiracy theories. 

Posted by at January 11, 2018 7:47 PM

  

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