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Russiagate Probe: Empty Threats, Broken Promises

Lindsey Graham vowed to get to the bottom of the scandal. We’re still waiting.


- August 16th, 2019
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Nearly a year ago, President Trump ordered the declassification of documents related to the FBI’s investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign. The requested trove included several redacted pages from the final FISA warrant issued against Trump campaign aide Carter Page; all FBI reports related to the preparation of that FISA application; and text messages between key officials, including former FBI Director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe.

This week, the government finally released one set of materials—interviews with Bruce Ohr, a top Justice Department official whose wife worked for Fusion GPS on its Trump-Russia dirt-digging project funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. The FBI made the notes public after Judicial Watch, a government watchdog group that does the heavy lifting Congress consistently fails to do, forced the Justice Department to hand over the so-called 302 forms after attempting to thwart the group’s Freedom of Information Act requests since last summer.

The documents confirm that Ohr acted as Fusion GPS’ personal handler in the Justice Department; he continued communicating with Fusion chief Glenn Simpson and dossier author Christopher Steele after the election. “Bruce Ohr, who was serving as the highest ranking-career official in the DOJ in 2016, played a crucial role in passing on unfounded allegations against Donald Trump from . . . Steele . . . and Simpson to the FBI,” according to Epoch Times reporter Jeff Carlson. 

Bruce Ohr is still employed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Delay, Delay, Delay . . . Deny, Deny, Deny

While Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s name quickly has vanished from the front pages following his disastrous testimony before Congress last month, the investigation into “Russiagate”—how top officials in the Obama Administration fabricated the phony Russian collusion hoax and weaponized the country’s most powerful law enforcement tools against an American political campaign—appears to be moving at a snail’s pace. 

The results of a long-awaited probe by the Justice Department’s inspector general into potential abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court by Comey’s FBI has been delayed again until at least early fall. In a separate inquiry, Inspector General Michael Horowitz reportedly concluded that Comey illegally leaked classified information and referred the former FBI director to the Justice Department for possible prosecution, but Attorney General William Barr reportedly rejected that advice: “Prosecutors found the IG’s findings compelling but decided not to bring charges because they did not believe they had enough evidence of Comey’s intent to violate the law, according to multiple sources,” reported John Solomon at The Hill earlier this month. 

The House Intelligence Committee last year asked the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify and publish depositions by dozens of people the committee interviewed about the Trump-Russia collusion hoax. That request remains unfulfilled. 

We’re gonna look at the FISA warrant process,” Graham said. “Did Russia provide Christopher Steele with the information about Trump that turned out to be garbage? I don’t know but we’re gonna look.” 

In May, the White House empowered Barr to declassify all materials needed to expedite his office’s investigation into Russiagate. 

“Today’s action will help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred, and the actions that were taken, during the last Presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions,” announced former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. Nearly three months later, the public has not seen one document.

In January 2018, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) referred Steele to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation for lying to federal officials. Steele has not been charged. In April 2018, 11 House Republicans sent a letter to the DOJ asking for criminal investigations into Comey, McCabe, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and others for various offenses. Comey continues to rant on Twitter and write anti-Trump columns for the New York Times; McCabe is a regular on MSNBC and now is suing his former employer for wrongful dismissal based on—get this—political reasons. McCabe also has been under grand jury investigation for at least a year.

The Mueller report concluded that Joseph Mifsud, the man who allegedly triggered the FBI’s probe into the Trump campaign in July 2016 after he met with George Papadopoulos, lied three times to investigators. Unlike several other Trump associates, including Papadopoulos, Mifsud has not been charged with perjury.

‘This is the Tip of the Iceberg’

The reason for the utter lack of accountability so far, we are assured, is the ongoing investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham. Barr appointed Durham earlier this year to lead the probe into the corrupt origins of Crossfire Hurricane, the official name of the FBI’s counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign, and questionable activities between Election Day and Inauguration Day, including an early January 2017 briefing between Trump and Comey.

But that should not stop Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) from keeping his oft-made promise to find out exactly what went down in 2016 and early 2017. Graham was instrumental in supporting and protecting the Mueller investigation; now, he needs to fulfill his oversight duties as head of the committee that has legislative authority over the Justice Department.

After the Mueller report was submitted to the Justice Department in March, Graham held a news conference. “When it comes to the FISA warrant, the Clinton campaign, the counterintelligence investigation it’s pretty much been swept under the rug except by a few Republicans in the House,” Graham told reporters. “Those days are over. Going forward, hopefully in a bipartisan fashion, we’ll begin to unpack the other side of the story.”

In May, after reading aloud a series of biased texts between FBI lovers Lisa Page and Peter Strzok during a committee hearing with Barr, Graham said that he would “look long and hard at how this all started. We’re gonna look at the FISA warrant process. Did Russia provide Christopher Steele with the information about Trump that turned out to be garbage? I don’t know but we’re gonna look.” 

Graham in June to Fox News’ Sean Hannity: “Let’s look at Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, all these other people and see how we got into this mess to begin with.”

Graham in response to Ohr’s 302s: “This is the tip of the iceberg, I know there’s a lot more out there,” he told Hannity last week. “The counterintelligence investigation is something we need to look at really closely.”

It’s past time Graham followed through on these numerous promises. The lack of action and accountability is a source of great frustration to Trump’s base. While political attention now is focused on the mysterious death of Jeffrey Epstein, with Barr and Republicans lawmakers making similar commitments to find out what happened, the perpetrators of the Russiagate scandal cannot go unpunished for much longer. Public trust in our institutions, including our justice system, is at a dangerously low level. It’s time for Republicans to use their power, make good on their threats, and expose the truth.

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