When the Nunes memo finally became public, the media immediately went to work to say it was “nothing.” Really? Replace the names “Comey,” “Strzok” and “McCabe” with “Haldeman,” “Ehrlichman” and “Mitchell” and reread it, please.
The Washington Post would be all over that story, lest democracy die in darkness. Here’s how it would look, in the movie at least: “All the President’s Men II: Dirty Tricks with a Vengeance.”
[Scene: Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein have uncovered information that shows President Nixon secretly went to the court for a warrant to surveil George McGovern’s campaign based on his purported connections with Russia. They are discussing their story with their editor, Ben Bradlee.]
Bradlee: You’re telling me they lied to get a wiretap on the McGovern campaign?
Woodward: It’s worse than that, Ben. They used opposition research funded by the Nixon campaign. Mitchell had a flunky who once worked at MI6 do some kind of dossier—uncorroborated, unverified.
Bradlee: How was there even an investigation about McGovern’s ties to Russia? The FBI has to open an investigation. Who did that?
Woodward: It gets better. The FBI’s chief of counterintelligence did that. He hated McGovern.
Bradlee: How do you know?
Bernstein: He was having an affair. He wrote that to his mistress in interoffice memos. She was also an agent.
Bradlee: Did they pay the spy?
Bernstein: There was $9.1 million paid to the law firm Perkins Coie. They laundered the money to the Brit through the law firm. There was no campaign finance reporting that way.
Bradlee: Did they use any other wiretaps?
Woodward: That’s how they got McGovern’s national security adviser. They unmasked his conversation with the Russian ambassador to set a perjury trap.
Bradlee: Wait, they questioned him in this fabricated investigation then checked his answers against a transcript illegally unmasked from a foreign surveillance wiretap and indicted him for minor inconsistencies that have nothing to do with Russian collusion?
Bernstein: Bingo, Ben. He’s a General—a war hero—and they pulled that on him.
Bradlee: These people are ruthless. Did the British spy get the full $9.1 million?
Woodward: No, Perkins Coie laundered part of it to a company called CrowdStrike.
Bradlee: What is CrowdStrike?
Bernstein: CrowdStrike is a private contractor whose CTO and co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a Russian ex-pat and a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank with an anti-Russian agenda.
Woodward: Here’s where it gets cozy. The Atlantic Council is funded by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, a $10 million donor to The Pat and Dick Nixon Charitable Foundation with millions in additional funds committed.
Bernstein: CrowdStrike had skin in the re-elect Nixon game.
Bradlee: How do they fit into this?
Woodward: Remember the RNC’s computers, the ones they say the Russians hacked?
Bradlee: Go on, you have my attention.
Bernstein: The FBI never tested the computers. CrowdStrike did. They’re the ones who made the connection with Russia and started this whole thing. Perkins Coie paid them with Nixon campaign funds.
Bradlee: [lights a cigarette and takes a puff] You’re running in the fast lane now, boys.
Woodward: The Nation is ahead of us there. They reported that the email files were removed from the computer at a speed that makes an off-site download from Russia impossible. It was probably an inside job.
Bradlee: What happened with that?
Woodward: It ticked a lot of their readers off, so The Nation went back to their experts who confirmed the original story. They did not retract.
Bernstein: Word is that the Justice Department’s Inspector General is also sniffing around this and may test the computers.
Bradlee: Do we have anyone at the IG?
Woodward: Nobody’s leaking. It’s a tight drum. The only leaking is coming from the people inside the departments who want to help Nixon.
Bradley: Are you saying this whole Russian collusion thing is fake?
Bernstein: Like a hooker’s smile, Ben.
Woodward: Look, the Russians are messing with us and we’re messing with them all the time. There’s plenty of evidence of that. But nothing had McGovern’s fingerprints on it. Except what Nixon’s men put his fingerprints on.
Bradlee: I want you boys to go home and get a couple of hours of sleep. You’re going to need it. Talk to The Nation’s experts. Try to get someone at the IG. Did the FISA judge know Nixon was behind this? I want to see everything that was filed at the FISA court. If the special counsel has not uncovered any evidence of Russian collusion yet, find out why the investigation hasn’t ended. I want background on everyone on the special counsel’s team.
Woodward: Can we get a sandwich first?
Bradlee: No. You can eat after we win the Pulitzer Prize….
I know there are some anachronisms. The Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act wasn’t passed until well after Nixon was gone, computers weren’t prevalent in campaigns back in ’72, and Pat and Richard Nixon did not run a charitable foundation to front pay-to-play schemes, but still. This would make a great movie.