G Gordon Liddy once quipped, “Obviously crime pays, or there’d be no crime.” The get-Trumpers can be described similarly—if it didn’t make money, they would have stopped doing it by now.
My review of the record leads me to conclude that the get-Trump project started with Hillary Clinton laundering campaign funds through Perkins Coie to hire Fusion GPS to frame Donald Trump with the charge of colluding with the Russians. By that measure, we’re closing in on the fourth anniversary of the project. While Trump is still president, the project nevertheless has succeeded in enriching its worst villains.
Let’s start with Perkins Coie where it all started. The law firm generally and its partner Marc Elias specifically have been accused of violating campaign finance law by disguising as “legal fees” the money it paid to hire Fusion GPS to frame Donald Trump. (You can read one such complaint here.)
Perkins Coie attorney Michael Sussman even met with the FBI’s general counsel, James Baker, during the election as the FBI’s contribution to the effort to get-Trump, “Crossfire Hurricane” began to materialize. In testimony to the House Oversight Committee, Baker said Sussman handed over information to him to help bolster the Trump-Russia collusion project.
The August 2018 complaint against Perkins Coie alleges, “Perkins Coie hired and paid over $1 million to Fusion GPS, a ‘strategic intelligence’ firm, to perform opposition research on then-candidate Trump for [Hillary for America] and the [Democratic National Committee]. This opposition research was for purely political purposes, and completely unrelated to the provision of legal advice or any ongoing or impending litigation.”
The Federal Election Commission currently lacks a quorum of commissioners to take action. But FEC commissioner (and Perkins Coie alumnus) Ellen L. Weintraub nevertheless issued a statement condemning foreign influence in American elections. Did she condemn her former law firm’s use of Fusion GPS’s subcontractor and foreigner Christopher Steele who, desperate to stop Donald Trump peddled foreign gossip to interfere in the 2016 election? Heavens, no! She used her perch to add to the “Russia, Russia, Russia!” hysteria. Perkins Coie is still a successful law firm taking clients in need of its election-related services.
Our trail next takes us to Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie paid Fusion GPS substantial sums to smear Trump. In addition to its part in the aforementioned campaign finance shenanigans, Fusion GPS also paid the wife of a senior Justice Department attorney for “research” into Trump. That Justice Department attorney, Bruce Ohr, then passed the information to the FBI. I’m not going to use the word “bribery” to describe this arrangement. But I will call the reader’s attention to 18 U.S.C. § 208, which makes it a crime for Ohr to participate in a particular matter in which his wife has a financial interest. Ohr still works for the Department of Justice (pronounced, “Just Us”) as an attorney.
Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) accused Simpson of lying to Congress about when he met with Ohr and whether he continued the anti-Trump work after the election. Fusion GPS has received plenty of money to keep things going against Trump after the election.
According to the Washington Examiner, a former staffer for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Daniel Jones, “had privately claimed to the FBI that he raised $50 million from ‘seven to 10 wealthy donors primarily in New York and California.’ That money reportedly funds Fusion’s ongoing post-election efforts to vindicate the dossier. It’s unclear how much Feinstein and her staff knew about this at the time.” Simpson has since invoked his Fifth Amendment rights to block further questions into his actions.
Similarly, Grassley referred Christopher Steele for prosecution for potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. Grassley wrote that Steele “materially misled the FBI about key aspects of his dossier efforts, one of which bears on his credibility.”
The recent Justice Department inspector general report details a number of Steele’s lies to the FBI, including lying about leaking the investigation to the press and lying or exaggerating what his sources told him. Steele has not been prosecuted but he did get paid for his “work” for the FBI. This, on top of the $168,000 Fusion GPS paid him to do essentially the same work.
No list of Russian collusion hoax profiteering would be complete without the former deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe. In 2016, while overseeing the Clinton email investigation that went nowhere, McCabe began taking heat over a perceived conflict of interest resulting from Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe recruiting and lavishly funding his wife for a state-level election.
McCabe decided it would be a good idea to leak to the Wall Street Journal the existence of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation in order to make himself appear to be (falsely) tough on Clinton. As noted in the inspector general report, McCabe was caught leaking and then he lied about it four times to the FBI. Since the discovery of his own lying he has been identified as an indispensable witness to prove Michael Flynn lied to the FBI. McCabe has received a book deal, a lavish “legal defense” fund, and a paid television contract with CNN.
Then there’s the insufferable James Comey. The former FBI director committed multiple misdeeds too numerous to list. But here’s one example: he authorized and then lied to obtain and reauthorize the electronic surveillance warrant on Carter Page. Comey has been made rich by the royalties from his book, A Higher Royalty . . . excuse me, A Higher Loyalty, which, as the title suggests, proves he’s loyal to his self-interest above all else.
Which brings us to U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who recently tortured his counterparts in the Senate with an unbearable vanity project known as the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.
For some time, Schiff has monetized the Russian collusion hoax to raise greater and greater sums for his reelection campaign. Laugh at Schiff for the impeachment debacle if you will. But he’s laughing all the way to the bank with an additional $1.8 million in cash in just the first three months of 2019. OpenSecrets has the details.
In particular, notice the dramatic spike in his fundraising since the Russia collusion hoax started. Notice, too, the yellow line showing how his fellow House Democrats have actually done worse as he’s prospered. While Schiff has repeatedly lied to Americans to further the Russian collusion hoax, it wouldn’t be right to call those lies “crimes.” But it’s still very bad behavior.
The fact is that hating Donald Trump is good business and it works as a near-guaranteed immunity from prosecution. In other words, crime does pay if it’s done to get Trump.