Let’s assume your neighbor is a jerk. His kid broke your window playing ball and he doesn’t think he should pay for it. He throws empty beer cans over his fence into your backyard. His 10 dogs, all the size of Shetland ponies, use your yard for a toilet and snarl if you try to shoo them away. You complain but he laughs it off. “Kids break stuff, you can get a nickel back on those cans, and dogs go where they want. They wouldn’t bother you if you stayed inside and didn’t bother them.” You go to the authorities but as is too often the case, they just file a report. But even this is too much for your jerk neighbor. You disrespected him. He knows how to get even. He’ll SWAT you.
By SWAT, he doesn’t mean smack you like a mosquito. The authorities take physical violence more seriously than broken windows, beer cans, and defecating dogs. Instead, he’ll use the authorities against you. One night, he calls 911. With a bit of tech foolery, he managed to spoof your phone number so that the 911 operator believes the call is coming from your house. She hears an insane voice wailing that he’s high on something nasty and that he has killed his wife, has taken hostages, and wants to kill some cops. She quickly dispatches a police special weapons and tactics team. Adrenalin pumping, they surround your house and smash their way in, guns at the ready. If you’re lucky, you don’t get killed but under the age-old rule of smoke-meaning-fire, your neighbors wonder what you did to get all those cops so excited.
This sort of thing has happened with fatal results. In December, Wichita police shot and killed Andrew Finch after Tyler Raj Barris allegedly got upset over a $1.50 bet. Barris, a Los Angeles man known online as “SWAuTistic,” set up his opponent for a “swatting,” but got the address wrong and sent the police to Finch’s home. Police mistakenly thought Finch was pulling a gun when they shot him.
President Donald Trump is the victim of something much like a SWAT attack. The jerk neighbors behind it are Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee she controlled operating through the law firm Perkins Coie. The firm served as a “cut out,” allowing unethical and perhaps criminal actions to be concealed using attorney-client privilege. The fake 911 call was the Steele dossier, which asserts that Trump colluded with the Russians to win the election. One year and millions of taxpayer dollars later, those assertions remain unsubstantiated.
The dossier was composed by Christopher Steele, a British ex-spy associated with Fusion GPS. The “GPS” in Fusion GPS doesn’t refer to the Global Positioning System that helps you drive to the dentist. It stands for “Global Research, Political Analysis, Strategic Insight.” “GPS” is shorter than “GRPASI,” which sounds like a foreign expression for what those dogs were doing in your yard.
The accuracy of Fusion’s “intelligence” product doesn’t appear to be a top concern. It is the damage the information can do that’s important. Vague, mysterious sources make creating dirt easier. They also make refuting it more difficult.
Steele claimed he got his information from “assets” in Russia that included members of its intelligence service. If those sources weren’t imaginary, they must have barely contained their giggles as they invented their stories. Real Clinton associates also helped Steele compile his dossier, feeding him allegations about Trump. They probably giggled, too. It must have been fun for them to concoct fanciful charges against the man who dared to oppose the coronation of Clinton.
Once the dossier was compiled, it had to be made public. Somebody had to place the 911 call so the authorities would respond spectacularly. Steele shopped the dossier around, hoping to find someone gullible enough or hateful enough to publicize it. In a SWAT attack, the caller puts as much lurid drama into the fake call as possible to grab the dispatcher’s attention. The dossier did this with a sleazy story—an allegation that Trump had paid Russian prostitutes to urinate on a bed where President Obama and his wife once slept. Despite this bit of shock schlock, the news media held back—at first.
Fortunately for Clinton and the DNC, they had allies in the FBI and the Justice Department who also wanted to destroy Trump. One of Fusion GPS’s employees was Nellie Ohr, an opposition researcher assigned to Trump. She passed on Fusion GPS’s dirt to her husband, Bruce Ohr, an associate deputy attorney general in the Justice Department. Ohr, in turn, passed the dossier along to the FBI. There anti-Trumpers joined in the swatting. It was as if the neighborhood watch and the homeowners association helped your jerk neighbor SWAT you by shrieking in the background while he made his fake 911 call: “Murder! Murder! Heeelllppp! He’s gonna kill us alllll!
The FBI and Justice Department presented the Steele dossier to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as containing credible information and got a FISA warrant to secretly spy on Carter Page, a low-level volunteer foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign who apparently had never even spoken with Trump. He wasn’t even a part of the campaign when the FISA court approved the first of three warrants authorizing a year-long surveillance. The warrants allowed the FBI to retrieve past electronic communications from when Page was a part of the campaign. Consequently, the FBI saw everything the campaign had shared with Page, and some of that information may have found its way to the Clinton campaign.
To bolster their case for the warrant, the FBI included an article from Yahoo! News. They didn’t tell the court that nothing in the dossier had been verified, that its sources, including Russian intelligence agents, had never been checked out, that the author of the Yahoo! article had gotten his material from Steele, and that the dossier’s creators had been paid $12.4 million by Clinton and the DNC.
Defenders of the warrant claim the surveillance was a continuation of FBI scrutiny of Page begun in 2014. He had done business with Russians there and in America and given a public speech at a Moscow university dealing with U.S.-Russian relations. That scrutiny, however, hadn’t produced evidence of wrongdoing or reason to spy on him during the 2016 presidential race. The only new allegations against Page came from the dossier.
The memo released by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes revealed that FBI Deputy Director Andrew G. McCabe admitted the Bureau wouldn’t have obtained the FISA warrant without using the Steele dossier. Federal law enforcement relied on a bunch of lies from Russian agents, hearsay three times removed, and other guff to justify spying on the campaign of a presidential candidate they detested.
Steele would eventually be hired to “research” more smears for the FBI then fired for lying about leaking information to the media. That must have burned as his boss, FBI Director James Comey, would later confess to leaking details of the investigation to the press through a buddy, Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman. Richman now claims to be Comey’s attorney, so again attorney-client privilege will help hide alleged lawbreaking, in this case, by “straight-shooter” Comey.
The SWAT attack on Trump has yet to be resolved but as it would be with your jerk neighbor, Clinton and the DNC have succeeded in turning phony smoke into phony fire. Who should we blame? The promoters in the media are certainly unethical and unfair, those in government are unethical and some are felonious, but the jerk neighbor is Hillary Clinton.
A presidential campaign doesn’t spend millions on a complicated dirty trick involving the FBI and the Justice Department without the boss authorizing it. The polls showed her victory was certain, so she may have felt little need to push the scam hard during the election. It only became urgent when she lost. Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes in Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign described how Clinton summoned her top minions the day after the election and they determined that they would not blame her lousy campaigning, her many scandals, her record of failure as secretary of state, the corrupt Clinton Foundation, the pay-for-play sale of American uranium to Russian interests, her imperial sense of entitlement, or her pantsuits. They blamed subversion by a Russian-Trump cabal that not only let her off the hook for her defeat but also provides her with a heroic victim narrative for another presidential run. She may be 73 next time around but that won’t reduce her ambition.
As evidence of Clinton’s single-minded drive to be president, we should recall an effort backed by her campaign to influence the Electoral College. A month after the election, 68 electors, led by Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, demanded that Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper provide a briefing to all of the electors. The substance of this briefing would have been the Steele dossier. The idea was to use the dossier’s lies—shrouded in the prestige of Clapper’s office—to convince electors to reject the outcome of the election and hand the presidency to Hillary. Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta sanctimoniously declared that the electors “have a solemn responsibility under the Constitution and we support their efforts to have their questions addressed.”
All Clinton needed was 39 Trump electors to switch. The swatting of the Trump presidency would have been complete.