Are Investigators Looking in the Right Place for Russian Collusion?
By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security
Since the 2016 presidential election ended, Washington has been consumed by the Russian interference probe. With Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, many people have said that Mueller and his team would find evidence to prove Donald Trump had colluded with Russia.
So far, Mueller’s 15-month investigation has indicted various Trump associates. But, the only crimes that occurred happened well before those associates worked for the 2016 campaign. It seems that the investigation has expanded beyond its original mandate and is now looking into all aspects of Trump’s life.
Are Investigators Missing the Real Russian Collusion?
Once the 2016 election was over, the American people were inundated with various lawmakers and news reports showing Trump had colluded with the Russians. However, Mueller has not found any evidence this illegal activity took place so far.
However, other issues have arisen that question the impartiality of Mueller’s investigation. These issues show that those pushing the hardest for a collusion narrative were themselves colluding with the Russians.
Just last month, we learned more about how the Department of Justice and the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Their intent was to obtain warrants on Trump campaign officials, most notably Carter Page.
FISA Court Held No Hearings on Surveillance Warrant
Judicial Watch announced last Saturday that the Justice Department (DOJ) admitted in a court filing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held no hearings on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) spy warrant applications targeting Page. Page is a former Trump campaign part-time adviser who was the subject of four controversial FISA warrants.
The unverified and unsubstantiated dossier was presented to the FISA court by the DOJ and FBI. However, both agencies did not disclose to the federal judge what role the principles played, who originated the dossier, how the information was gathered and how it was funded. The FISA court was not aware of Steele’s strong animus toward Trump, nor were they told that he had been fired by the FBI for lying and leaking information to the media.
DOJ Official at Center of Russian Dossier
At a House Judiciary and Oversight Committee meeting last month, the fourth ranking official at the Department of Justice, Bruce Ohr, said that he had been in direct contact with Fusion GPS President Glenn Simpson and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Steele prepared the Russian dossier describing salacious activities against candidate Trump’s alleged involvement with the Russian government.
Over the past year, the narrative regarding Ohr was far different than the public originally knew. Ohr had been in contact with Simpson and Steele during and after the 2016 presidential election; information from those talks was passed to the FBI.
Ohr Involves Himself in Russian Collusion Investigation
The confusing aspect of this situation is why Ohr was even involved in this investigation in the first place. Ohr’s responsibility at the Justice Department was related to organized crime and drug investigations; he has no experience or training in counterintelligence.
In his House testimony, Ohr stated that throughout his 30-year service, he never involved himself in other investigations outside his primary scope. What motivated him to become involved?
We have learned more about Nellie Ohr, the wife of Bruce Ohr, and her involvement with the Steele dossier. She was employed with Fusion GPS since 2015, working on the opposition research which produced the infamous dossier.
In testimony from Congressional sources, Ohr warned the FBI and the DOJ of a credibility problem with regard to Steele’s political motives and that they were told of his wife’s employer. According to Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), a member of the committee, Ohr also mentioned that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was given this information. McCabe signed off on one of the FISA warrant applications.
Clinton Campaign and DNC Paid for Russian Dossier
The Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) paid Steele, who was working with Russian sources, to gather information on Trump. The payment by Clinton for the dossier was funneled through the Perkins Coie law firm and Fusion GPS, which is a violation of federal campaign laws.
Leadership at CIA and NSA Also Involved with Dossier
Leaders at the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA) used the Steele dossier as part of an Intelligence Community assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The dossier was later released to media sources and was part of the unmasking of names of the people being monitored.
Since the election, dozens of FBI and DOJ officials have been fired, resigned or retired. Others have been reassigned due to political animus against Trump and/or extreme investigative irregularities.
Why would the DOJ and the FBI pay for a dossier from an individual they fired for lying and who worked for a company that originated the opposition research document paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC? Why would CIA and NSA leaders use the same dossier to brief a sitting president of one party and the incoming president of an opposing party, but not tell that incoming president the origin of the dossier or who funded it? Why would those same intelligence officials then leak the dossier to the press?
Maybe the only way to get real answers is to unclassify all documents and deal with whatever information is revealed. Only then may we get real answers.