by James O’Neill*
For months, the public has been regaled with repeated claims that the Russian government, or its agencies, interfered with the US presidential election of 2016. As recently as 27 January 2018 the Sydney Morning Herald’s Nick O’Malley wrote an opinion piece that included the lines that “despite overwhelming evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Trump believes Putin over his own intelligence agencies.”
This canard has been endlessly repeated, despite the complete absence of the “overwhelming evidence” that O’Malley and others claim exists. The release on Friday (US time) of a memo prepared by the US House Intelligence Committee contains explosive revelations that should put paid to those allegations. Unfortunately, that is not likely to be the case.
Following the release of the memo, the mainstream media who have been promoting the Russian interference meme, switched tack. The emphasis was now placed on the release of the memo ‘undermining’ the US’s intelligence agencies, and ‘endangering national security’. These allegations are as bereft as the original allegations of actual evidence that Trump’s election was in some way masterminded by the evil geniuses in the Kremlin.
The focus should however, be on the incontrovertible fact that senior officials in the US intelligence community, the FBI and the Department of Justice conspired to prevent the election of Donald Trump, and after he was unexpectedly elected, to undermine his presidency and set the stage for impeachment proceedings.
How was this done? The plan was deceptively simple. Its essential elements were set out in the House memo. Among the expostulations and feigned outrage that have accompanied the documents release, a single element remains unchallenged. The central claims of the House memo have not been rebutted, nor could they be because, to borrow O’Malley’s phrase, there is overwhelming evidence as to their veracity.
The essential points that have emerged both from the memo and from other independently verified sources are these:
– In 2016 a US firm, Fusion GPS, contracted with former(?) UK spy Christopher Steele, to produce a dossier, the contents of which could be used to discredit Trump and undermine his campaign.
– The research conducted by Steele was paid for by the Democratic National Committee on behalf of the Clinton campaign.
– Steele duly produced his report, the contents of which were described by former FB I Director James Comey as “salacious and unverified.”
– Steele himself, in the course of UK legal proceedings has admitted as much, saying it was “merely a compilation of bits of raw intelligence that were unverified.”
– Notwithstanding the seriously flawed content of the Steele dossier, it formed the basis of an application to a special United States Court, to obtain a warrant for surveillance of one of Trump’s campaign officials, Carter Page.
– The application to the FISA court also cited in support an article written in Yahoo News focusing on a July 2016 trip to Moscow by Mr Page. The Court was not told that the Yahoo article was itself based on information given to its author by Christopher Steele. In other words, the Steele dossier was used to confirm the Steele dossier!
– The FISA warrant is valid for only 90 days and must then be renewed, but tellingly, with a requirement of separate findings of probable cause each time.
– At the time of the original FISA application and subsequently, the FBI and the Department of Justice knew of the unproven provenance of Steele’s claims, and that its origins were as a commissioned document sought and paid for by the Democratic National Committee for the purpose of smearing Trump.
– None of this was disclosed to the FISA court. This was not only stupid, it was illegal and a breach of a lawyer’s fundamental duty, as an officer of the Court, not to mislead the Court.
– The various applications to the court were signed by senior intelligence, FBI and Department of Justice officers who now prospectively face charges of perjury, of obstructing justice, and willfully misleading the court.
A number of other details have also emerged in recent days and weeks. Even after Steele’s contract with the FBI (for whom he was a paid informant) had been terminated, he maintained contact with Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, whose wife was employed by Fusion GPS.
A very large cache of emails that’s passed between another senior FBI official Peter Strzok and his mistress, another employee of the FBI, reveal the existence of extensive planning within the FBI in conjunction with senior officials of other intelligence agencies to undermine Trump, both before and after his election.
As yet unconfirmed are the identity of the “senior intelligence officials” that were helping the FBI build its fallacious case against Trump. The usually well-informed website Sic Temper Tyrannis has suggested that they included Jim Clapper and John Brennan. The former had previously been Director of National Intelligence, and the latter was the Director until January 2017.
The ramifications of these revelations are huge, potentially bigger then Watergate. That senior public officials should act, not only illegally, but in a manner that undermines the very principles of a democratic society governed by the rule of law with the intention of defeating the electoral process, should be unimaginable. The revelations disclose not only that they were indeed thinkable, but that there are elements within the US elites who are completely untroubled by such illegal and unconscionable conduct.
There was interference in the US presidential election of 2016, but not by the Russians. Far more insidious, and dangerous, was that the interference came from men and women supposedly entrusted with upholding the system that Americans claim should be a world model. The interference went beyond lying to a court, but involved an actual conspiracy to replace a man whom they disliked and distrusted with another person more to their liking.
The ramifications of this betrayal of trust have only begun to emerge. The mainstream media have already begun their counterattack, as Alexander Mercouris has shown www.theduran.com 5 February 2018. A great deal more will surely follow.
*Barrister at Law and geopolitical analyst. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org