Five years ago this week, Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, boarded a train in Washington, D.C. bound for Philadelphia. The Democratic National Convention was in chaos after WikiLeaks released emails that showed party officials rigged the primary process in favor of Hillary Clinton.
Bernie Sanders supporters were mutinous; Debbie Wasserman Schultz, then-head of the Democratic National Committee, resigned on July 25, 2016.
Simpson and his business partner hightailed it to the City of Brotherly Love to woo the media away from the escalating scandal. The well-connected pair met with top journalists and editors, including New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, to spin a dark tale about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia including rumors of prostitutes in a Moscow hotel.
It worked like a charm.
“The WikiLeaks dump had forced every publication to devote multiple reporters to dig through the cache of emails,” Simpson wrote in his 2019 book, Crime in Progress. Simpson bragged of his success. “The Russia element was beginning to snap into focus.”
While Fusion spin masters were doing damage control in Philadelphia, their hired British source, Christopher Steele, was in Washington, D.C., meeting with a top Justice Department official. Steele was being paid by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign while working as an FBI source at the same time.
On July 30, 2016, Steele met with Bruce Ohr, the assistant deputy attorney general, to discuss his dirt-digging on Donald Trump. Also present at the breakfast: Nellie Ohr, Bruce’s wife, who also was working for Fusion GPS on the Trump hit job.
The next day, James Comey’s FBI opened a counterintelligence probe into Donald Trump’s campaign team. Steele’s unsubstantiated dossier on Team Trump’s ties to the Kremlin served as the pretext to infiltrate, spy on, and destabilize Trump’s presidential campaign.
That last week of July 2016 exposed the seamless and shameless web of paid political operatives, top news organizations, Democratic Party honchos, and the upper tier of the most powerful government agencies in the country. It culminated with the official launch of Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, 2016, an investigation ostensibly about four campaign associates’ collusion with Russia but which, in reality, targeted Trump himself.
For the past five years, Donald Trump and the country have been subjected to various iterations of Crossfire Hurricane: Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, numerous U.S. Senate and House inquiries, the first and second impeachment trials, and countless media microaggressions sought to achieve what Comey’s FBI ultimately did not—the personal and political destruction of Donald Trump.
The Capitol breach probe, the title of the Justice Department’s “unprecedented” investigation into the events of January 6, is the latest version of Crossfire Hurricane. Tuesday’s maiden meeting of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s select committee on January 6 provides the stage where partisan actors will overdramatize what happened that day. Attention-seeking police officers will emote about the psychological trauma they suffer from the roughly four-hour disturbance, which, by the way, largely was stoked by police officers themselves.
Trump, the public would be told over and over, incited it all.
But this time, Donald Trump isn’t the only one in the crosshairs. Democrats, the media, and plenty of Republicans have leveraged every moment of January 6 not only to finish off the former president but also his supporters in Congress and across the nation. More than 500 Americans have been arrested and charged in connection to the Capitol protest, and Joe Biden’s Justice Department isn’t done yet.
The five-year arc from July 2016 to July 2021 is stunning.
It took less than five years from the time the Justice Department told a secret court that Carter Page was a foreign agent to the Justice Department telling a federal judge that a working-class Trump supporter from Florida is a domestic terrorist.
It took less than five years from the time the FBI ambushed National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in the White House to the FBI ambushing Iraq war veterans and Alaskan spa owners in their own homes. And it took less than five years from the time Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was placed in solitary confinement under a pre-trial detention order to dozens of Trump supporters languishing in solitary confinement conditions in jail under pre-trial detention orders for mostly nonviolent crimes.
Meanwhile, those protected by the legal system and the news media roam free—and continue to rake in the dough.
Hunter Biden for years acted as a pass through between corrupt foreign regimes and the Biden family’s flush bank account. But while Biden still faces no criminal charges related to his overseas grift—in fact, we just learned federal prosecutors delayed any overt action to keep an investigation into Hunter Biden concealed until after the 2020 election—Tom Barrack, the chairman of Trump’s 2016 inaugural committee, was indicted on July 20 for several counts of foreign lobbying violations and obstruction of justice.
The investigation into Barrack, who was released after posting a $250 million bond, began under Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who took the reins of Crossfire Hurricane. “The special counsel’s work put a spotlight on violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, known as FARA, and led to a greater effort by the Justice Department to enforce it,” the New York Times reported last week. “The law requires those who work for foreign governments, political parties or other entities to influence American policy or public opinion to disclose their activities to the department.”
Except if your last name is “Biden” or “Podesta.” Hunter Biden worked as an unregistered foreign lobbyist disguised as a “board member” for years, pocketing millions while his father was vice president and continuing after the “Big Guy” left office; he now collects steep fees for his artwork.
Tony Podesta, a longtime D.C. lobbyist and brother of John Podesta, was investigated by Mueller for violating foreign lobbying rules but not charged. He just signed a lucrative gig lobbying for Huawei, a Chinese telecom company at odds with the U.S. government.
It’s unclear how Barrack, a billionaire, profited from his alleged lobbying activity, or even if the accusations laid out by prosecutors represent legitimate “lobbying.” But none of it matters. The only thing that matters is Barrack’s longtime friendship with the Beltway’s bogeyman, Donald Trump.
Just ask Rudy Giuliani or Roger Stone or Mike Flynn or anyone in Trump’s inner circle how that works.
As cases pile up against Trump pals and supporters, no charges are forthcoming for Hunter Biden. Ditto for the corrupt architects of Crossfire Hurricane. John Durham, the U.S. attorney appointed in 2019 to investigate the origins of Crossfire Hurricane, seemingly has disappeared. Trump-Russia collusion perpetrators such as Lisa Monaco and Avril Haines, not to mention Joe Biden himself, now hold powerful posts in the federal government so they can continue what they started five years ago.
And, like five years ago, when Glenn Simpson and the Democrats used Trump-Russia collusion to obscure a legitimate scandal and then destroy Donald Trump, the Capitol breach probe and January 6 select committee are the diversion from a real American scandal: a rigged presidential election that gave Joe Biden the White House. The media, as usual, is playing along, insisting January 6 was a terror attack comparable to 9/11 while claims of election fraud are a “Big Lie.”
The only question now is—will it work?