WASHINGTON – Something very odd but extremely significant just happened in American politics, in practically the blink of an eye.
The establishment media have gone from virtual 24/7 coverage of the narrative that President Trump colluded with Russia to crickets, and they did it overnight.
How far has Russia fallen off the media’s radar? So far, that, in a jaw-dropping role-reversal, it is actually the White House now pushing the story on the media.
And why is the White House suddenly embracing the Russia story? Because it is now poised to boomerang on the Democrats, big time, following a pivotal Senate Judiciary committee hearing on Thursday.
At the end of Thursday’s daily press briefing, a visibly bemused White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders chided reporters, “You guys love to talk about Russia, and there’s been nonstop coverage. And the one day that there might have been a question on Russia, there wasn’t.”
So she raised the topic herself, noting, “[T]here was public testimony that further discredited the phony dossier that’s been the source of so much of the fake news and conspiracy theories. And we learned that the firm that produced it was also being paid by the Russians.”
That revelation didn’t just chill mainstream media interest. The Democrats also suddenly stopped uttering their Russia mantra.
That’s because Thursday’s testimony indicated the entire Russia collusion story may be turned on its head in fantastic fashion.
While there is still no evidence the president or his associates colluded with Russia against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, evidence may be emerging that there was collusion by Democrats with Russians against Trump.
The FBI investigation into possible Trump team collusion with Russia seems to have been based entirely, as WND has reported, on an infamous dossier of dubious veracity.
After the Senate hearing, a Capitol Hill source with knowledge of the investigations told WND, “Democrats have peddled the dossier’s claims, but if it turns out Democrat groups actually cooperated with Kremlin-linked individuals in compiling the dossier or funding its compilation, they may have to explain that under oath.”
That would make it the Democrats who colluded with Russia.
And that would turn upside down the Democrats’ entire six-month relentless and vociferous effort to discredit the Trump presidency.
That dossier is key. As are its origins.
Filled with errors and discredited salacious allegations against Trump, the dossier was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, who wildly claimed the hackers who obtained the leaked Democratic Party emails were “paid by both Trump’s team and the Kremlin.”
The dossier was commissioned and peddled by a company called Fusion GPS. Aimed at Trump, it is now backfiring on Democrats.
As WND has reported in depth, top Democrats on investigative committees and former Obama administration intelligence official have had to admit repeatedly they have seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign or administration and Moscow.
But Thursday’s hearing revealed evidence possibly tying Democrats behind the dossier to Russia.
As former WND Washington bureau chef Paul Sperry outlined in the New York Post in June, although Fusion GPS describes itself as a “research and strategic intelligence firm,” congressional sources said it’s actually an opposition-research group for Democrats.
As Sperry documented:
- Clinton allies “bankrolled” Fusion GPS.
- An unidentified Democratic ally of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was paying Fusion GPS when it hired Steele “to dig up dirt on Trump.”
- Co-founder Peter R. Fritsch contributed at least $1,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund in September 2016, “while Fusion GPS was quietly shopping the dirty dossier on Trump around Washington.”
- Co-founder Glenn Simpson did opposition research for a former Clinton White House operative before joining Fusion GPS.
Simpson refused to testify before the Senate Judiciary committee Thursday.
The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel reported, “Word is Mr. Simpson has made clear he will appear for a voluntary committee interview only if he is not specifically asked who hired him to dig dirt on Mr. Trump.”
And, “Democrats are going to the mat for him over that demand. Those on the Judiciary Committee pointedly did not sign letters in which Mr. Grassley demanded that Fusion reveal who hired it.”
Strassel also observed that although the left was “salivating at the prospect of watching two Trump insiders,” Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort, “being grilled about Russian ‘collusion,’” suddenly Democrats on the committee “meekly and noiselessly retreated,” and let both men speak to the committee in private.
“Turns out Democrats are willing to give up just about anything—including their Manafort moment—to protect Mr. Simpson from having to answer that question,” Strassel surmised.
However, a witness who did testify publicly made the potentially game-changing disclosure that Fusion GPS is also on the payroll of the Russians.
Investor William Browder testified that Fusion GPS should have registered as a foreign agent because it was acting on the behalf of the Russians.
Seemingly taken aback by that bombshell disclosure, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked Browder, “The group that did the dossier on President Trump hired this British spy, wound up getting it to the FBI, you believe they were working for the Russians?”
Affirming that, Browder replied, “And in the Spring and Summer of 2016 they were receiving money indirectly from a senior Russian government official.”
Browder said Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya had hired Fusion GPS, via a lobbying firm, to lobby against the 2012 Magnitsky Act.
That law was designed to punish Russian officials thought to be responsible for the death of tax-fraud whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky by prohibiting their entrance to the United States and denying their use of the American banking system.
Veselnitskaya met in June 2016 with Donald Trump Jr., which Democrats initially claimed proved collusion by his father’s campaign with Russia.
But Trump Jr. said when he quickly found Veselnitskaya had no opposition research on Clinton and only wanted to talk about the Magnitsky Act, he deemed it a complete “waste of time” and devised an excuse to abruptly leave the meeting.
Browder said he believed that meeting was just part of a massive Russian effort to lobby against the Magnitsky Act.
But the key revelation at the hearing was the depth of the ties of Fusion GPS to the Russians.
And as those ties begin to come more into public view, Strassel wondered:
“What if, all this time, Washington and the media have had the Russia collusion story backward? What if it wasn’t the Trump campaign playing footsie with the Vladimir Putin regime, but Democrats? The more we learn about Fusion, the more this seems a possibility.”
She noted it was also revealed that present at the meeting between Veselnitskaya and Trump Jr. was former Soviet counterintelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin, who 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.”
That led Strassel to an increasingly plausible conjecture that would turn the entire Russia collusion story on its head, and explain why Democrats and the media are suddenly treating it as radioactive.
“Here’s a thought,” she mused:
“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?”
Strassel speculated that if Russia were really looking to meddle in the 2016 election and sow chaos, “few things could have been more effective than that dossier,” which drove the FBI investigation, congressional investigations and deeply wounded the president, all of which worked to the benefit of Russian President Putin.
The question, she added, “Is whether Russia engineered it.”
WND has long documented the suspicious nature of the dossier, reporting:
- Not one of the charges in the dossier against Trump or his aides has ever been publicly verified.
- The charge that Trump attorney Michael Cohen met in August in Prague with Russian agents to cover up payments to Russian hackers was disproved when he produced his passport and travel documents.
- Four other targets of Steele’s allegations have denied them, including a Russian diplomat formerly stationed in Washington.
- Obama’s former National Intelligence Director, James Clapper, said his agency could not confirm Steel’s charges or identify his sources.
- According to the Washington Times, Obama’s former acting CIA director, Mike Morrell, said, “Steele paid intermediaries to talk to former Russian intelligence officers who are noted for peddling ‘innuendo and rumor.’”
- Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward called the dossier “garbage.”
Yet, when former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence committee on June 8, it became clear there was no evidence of potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign other than the dossier.
“There simply has been no evidence of collusion whatsoever,” a congressional source familiar with the Russia investigation confirmed to WND.
The dossier was published on Jan. 10 by Buzzfeed and included such salacious allegations against then-President-elect Trump that Democrats initially claimed it would make him susceptible to blackmail.
The dossier accused the Trump campaign of conspiring with Russia to hack Democratic Party computers and leak politically embarrassing emails, but it was the bizarre and unseemly allegations that made so many find it entirely suspect.
Trump called an accusation that he engaged in perverse behavior in a Moscow hotel “horribly made up,” and “disgusting.”
A parade of Democrats in a position to know have since said they have seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump team and Russia, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Mark Warner and Joe Manchin of the intelligence committee, Obama’s former spy chiefs, CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
So, if there never was any real evidence of collusion, how did the FBI’s Russia investigation ever get started back in July 2016?
As WND reported, Brennan testified before the House Intelligence Committee on May 23 that he saw no signs of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. But he saw some contacts. And he was worried that might lead to collusion. So he recommended the FBI launch an investigation.
“I know what the Russians try to do,” testified Brennan. “They try to suborn individuals and they try to get individuals, including U.S. persons, to act on their behalf, either wittingly or unwittingly.”
He continued: “And I was worried by a number of the contacts that the Russians had with U.S. persons and so, therefore, by the time I left office on Jan. 20, I had unresolved questions in my mind as to whether or not the Russians had been successful in getting U.S. persons, involved in the campaign or not, to work on their behalf, again, either in a witting or unwitting fashion.”
Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy said, “That’s a weasel’s way of saying he’s got nothing.”
Nonetheless, Brennan then concluded, “And so, therefore, I felt as though the FBI investigation was certainly well-founded and needed to look into those issues.”
Following that testimony, McCarthy suggested in National Review that Trump should flip the script on his inquisitors in three bold moves that would turn Democrats from hunters into the hunted. And, following Thursday’s testimony by Browder, McCarthy’s suggestions may be a more plausible-than-ever:
1) Appoint a special counsel to investigate political spying, including unmasking and leaks to the media.
2) Have Congress hold hearings on whether the Obama Justice Department colluded with the Hillary Clinton campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
3) Have Congress hold hearings on collusion between the Clinton Foundation and Russia.
McCarthy contended those investigations could succeed where the Trump-Russia collusion investigation failed, because, unlike the latter, there is evidence of actual wrongdoing.