Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to determine whether or not President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian intelligence to steal the 2016 presidential election is proceeding at break neck pace. Just last week, Mueller secured another guilty plea, this time from former campaign deputy Rick Gates, the long-time assistant of Trump’s second campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
Meanwhile, the alternative narrative Republican activists and conspiracy theorists have constructed has reached its predictable next step. In their twisted world, the real collusion occurred between Russia and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
In what’s just the latest attempt to turn this conspiracy concocted out of thin air into something tangible, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced today that he’s launched an investigation into potential FISA warrant abuses committed by the FBI during the Obama administration.
Asked about his concern over the FISA warrant processes during a Q&A session at a press event Tuesday, the Attorney General said, “We believe the Department of Justice must adhere to the highest standards in the FISA court, and yes it will be investigated, and I think that’s just the appropriate thing. The inspector general will take that as one of the matters he’ll deal with.”
This announcement was the predictable next step in the desperate charade the GOP has been trying to pull-off for over a year. Their goal is to undermine Mueller’s investigation by discrediting the infamous “Steele Dossier,” the raw intelligence collected by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.
Steele was hired by Hillary Clinton in 2016 to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump. His area of expertise was Russia and Eastern Europe, where Donald Trump had numerous dubious business partners on various deals over the years.
The information Steele uncovered from his sources across the former Soviet countries so concerned him that he contacted the FBI, who obtained a copy of the dossier and used it as part of its justification to obtain a FISA court warrant to surveil Carter Page, a one time Trump campaign operative.
Carter Page had been on the FBI’s radar long before he joined the Trump campaign, and he had a history of shady associations with Russian agents and agencies linked to the Kremlin and close associates of Vladimir Putin. Interestingly, however, Page was no longer a member of the Trump campaign team when the surveillance warrant was sought, something Republicans and their minions in the right wing media consistently fail to mention.
After Buzzfeed published the dossier in January of 2017, Team Trump has been trying everything to put the genie back in the bottle. They think the best way to accomplish that is to insist that Trump is the victim of plot by the so-called “deep state” based entirely on the dossier.
Trump put the strategy in motion with his March 4th tweet, accusing the Obama administration of wire tapping Trump Tower during the campaign. Then Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) tried twice to introduce evidence into the public discourse to back that claim up.
His first attempt crashed and burned and led to his recusal from his own committee’s investigations into Russian meddling, but he succeeded the second time up to plate with his scandalous memo.
This bogus investigation AG Sessions has now launched is just one more act in this sad play.