As I pointed out two short days ago, when the New York Times first ran the laughably improbable story of George Papadopoulos’s drunken boasting to an Australian in a bar being THE REAL cause for FBI concern, if you want to believe this story you are welcome to, but to believe it you either have to be an idiot or your have to have decided that everything anyone has said about the Russia probe to date, including Saint James Comey’s public testimony, is false. It is really that simple.
Today, Andy McCarthy at National Review demolishes the story. He calls it all the “Russian Reset.”
It has become increasingly clear that Steele’s claims about Page are, at best, highly dubious; more likely, they are untrue. Aside from the fact that Comey has been dismissive of the dossier as “unverified,” Page has vigorously and plausibly denied its allegations about him. The Annapolis grad and former naval-intelligence officer insists he is not even acquainted with the Russian officials with whom he supposedly had traitorous meetings. Moreover, if the Russian regime truly wanted to make insidious proposals to Trump, it had emissaries far better positioned to approach him; it strains credulity to believe the Kremlin would turn to Page — barely known to Trump and, years earlier, derided as an “idiot” by a Russian intelligence operative who tried to recruit him.
So now, with the Page foundation of the collusion narrative collapsing, and with the heat on over the Obama administration’s use of the dossier, it is apparently Papadopoulos to the rescue.
In the Times’ new version of events, it was not the dossier that “so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign months before the presidential election.” That, according to the Times, is a false claim that “Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged.” Somehow, the paper omits the inconvenient details that it was the Times that led the charge in claiming that it was Page’s trip to Moscow that provoked the investigation, and that it was the dossier that so alarmed the FBI about that trip.
In what we might think of as the latest “Russian Reset,” the Times now says the investigation was instigated by “firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies” — Australia. Turns out Papadopoulos was out drinking in London with Alexander Downer, “Australia’s top diplomat in Britain.” Tongue loosened, the “young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign” made a “startling revelation” to Downer: He had learned that “Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.”
Exactly so. You see over and over, particularly in our comments section, people claiming the Trump dossier is “verified.” Comey himself called it “unverified” in public testimony. And left unmentioned is the fact that if the dossier is “unverified,” or, more broadly put, if Comey wasn’t lying out his ass to Congress, then it means the FBI passed an “unverified” document off on the FISA court to get a surveillance warrant on both Carter Page and, in November, on Paul Manafort.
Having staked their credibility to what appears to be a FSB/SVR disinformation campaign–most of Steele’s sources were current or retired Russian intelligence officers; Steele met none of them and can’t even know if they exist; and the odds of a current or retired intelligence officer being asked information about a US presidential candidate and NOT reporting it to anyone is exactly zero–directed at Steele, the people in the FBI and Justice, those in the social/political cabal of McCabe, Strzok, Ohr, and Page, are leaking like mad to shift the focus.
To say this story has holes in it does not do justice to the craters on display. To begin with, the Times admits that “exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said” to Downer “is unclear.” What we are dealing with here is sheer supposition. And, it appears, flawed supposition.
Unclear, indeed. The Australians are declining to comment on this beyond expressing “surprise.” Surprise is what one would feel if they suddenly found themselves at Ground Zero of a political fight when they can’t deny saying what is attributed to them.
There is no evidence that Papadopoulos or the Trump campaign was ever shown or given any of the emails the Kremlin purportedly had. The evidence, in fact, undermines the collusion narrative: If the Trump campaign had to learn, through Papadopoulos, that Russia supposedly had thousands of emails damaging to Clinton, that would necessarily mean the Trump campaign had nothing to do with Russia’s acquisition of the emails. This, no doubt, is why Mueller permitted Papadopoulos to plead guilty to a mere process crime — lying in an FBI interview. If there were evidence of an actual collusion conspiracy, Papadopoulos would have been pressured to admit guilt to it. He wasn’t.
Even a cursory FBI investigation of Papadopoulos would have illustrated how implausible it was that he could have been integral to a Trump-Russia plot. Anonymous intelligence and law-enforcement officials have been leaking collusion information to the Times and other media outlets since before Trump won the November 2016 election — that’s why we’ve spent the last year-plus hearing all about Page, Manafort, Flynn, et al. If Papadopoulos had really been the impetus for the investigation way back in July 2016, what are the chances that we would never have heard his name mentioned until after his guilty plea was announced 15 months later? What are the chances that we’d only now be learning that he was the real stimulus for the investigation? I’d put it at less than none.
There’s another interesting word that does not appear in the Times’ extensive Papadopoulos report: surveillance. Despite being “so alarmed” by young Papadopoulos’s barroom braggadocio with the Australian diplomat, and his claimed Russia connections, there is no indication that the Obama Justice Department and FBI ever sought a FISA-court warrant to spy on him.
No, the FISA warrant was sought for Carter Page, after his trip to Moscow. The trip the Times used to say incited the Trump-Russia probe.
You can’t have it both ways. This latest story is simply a smokescreen thrown out to divert attention from the utterly corrupt document being used by utterly corrupt officials to attack an incoming president.