To me, one of the most amazing phenomena to come out of the whole Trump-election/Russia-collusion investigation is the willingness of significant numbers of people on the right who oppose Trump to virtually worship anyone who says anything bad about Trump. Who among us can–or even wants to–forget the leader of Lebanese Hezbollah calling President Trump an “idiot” being favorably cited by anti-Trump people as proof of something other than an Islamofascist terror chieftain didn’t like Trump? Since that time, McCabe, now under criminal investigation for lying to federal agents, has been made into a martyr–he’s no Democrat, we were told. There was a brief period when Sally Yates was a hero for flatly refusing to carry out her legal obligations. Stormy Daniels has become a feminist icon. But, perhaps, no one has collected a larger fan club than James Comey. Saint James, he’s called–or so I understand. Comey was the valiant truth teller. Comey is the stand-up guy who faced down the Anti-Christ. In fact, Comey became such a cult figure that when he said things that contradicted the anti-Trump narrative that people would parse his words to discover deeper, hidden layers of truth that were only apparent to the truly cognizant. It was sort of Comey worship blended with Gnosticism.
Let’s go back to January 2018. National Review’s Andy McCarthy wrote a piece As the Dossier Scandal Looms, the New York Times Struggles to Save Its Collusion Tale. FWIW, McCarthy is one of maybe four writers at NRO who I think should be required reading. In it, McCarthy shows how for a year the NYT has flogged Carter Page and the Trump dossier prepared by Christopher Steele as a subcontractor to FusionGPS, the opposition research firm the Clinton campaign hired via their use of a law firm, Perkins Coie, as a cutout to hide the expenditure from campaign finance disclosure. Then, suddenly, they abandoned the dossier story in favor of the new hotness of the George Papadopoulos. Why?
When it emerged in October that the dossier was a Democratic-party campaign product, Representative Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) recounted that, for months, the Justice Department and FBI had stonewalled House demands that they fess up about whether dossier allegations were used in applying for the FISA-court warrant to surveil Page. But though the DOJ and the Bureau have struggled to lock the barn, the horse left long ago. Shortly before the Times ran its Page extravaganza last April, CNN confirmed that the dossier had indeed been used to obtain the FISA warrant — the network relying on unnamed “US officials briefed on the [Russia] investigation.”
I won’t hazard a guess on which of CNN’s anonymous sources are also the Times’ anonymous sources. But it is safe to say the intelligence community, still suffused with Obama holdovers, has been undone by its own illegal leaking. Back in April, they leaked because they figured it would wound President Trump: After all, if the dossier had been used to obtain a FISA warrant, that must mean that the dossier’s sensational allegations of a traitorous Trump-Russia conspiracy were true. That is, the leakers assumed, just as many of us familiar with the FISA process assumed, that the Justice Department would never put information in a FISA warrant application unless the FBI had first corroborated it.
Subsequently, however, former FBI director James Comey told a Senate committee that the dossier remained “salacious and unverified.” Obviously, if the FBI had not verified the dossier by the time Comey testified in June 2017, then the Bureau cannot possibly have verified the dossier when DOJ sought the FISA warrant nine months earlier, in September 2016.
The last paragraph is key. If the dossier was “unverified” then why was it even relevant to anything more significant than TMZ or BuzzFeed, to the extent they are different? Why would it have merited use in a FISA application? And the anti-Trump machine ground into action. You can find several dozen articles of the time all making this exact argument:
In this passage, Comey seems to apply the terms “salacious and unverified” to “this material,” which in turn refers to the earlier reference to “some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.”
At the very least, this passage doesn’t suggest it’s a slam dunk that the entire dossier is “salacious and unverified.” It refers to “some potentially sensitive aspects” of the dossier.
In short, never mind what he said, this is what he actually meant.
Fast forward to last weekend and the inaugural event of Comey’s media orgy:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you mentioned something about– since you brought up the Steele dossier again, you mentioned that the parts about– the prostitutes was– unverified. You don’t know whether they’re true or not. What about the rest of the Steele dossier? Has it checked out? Is it a credible document?
JAMES COMEY: The answer is, I don’t know. When I left the F.B.I when I was fired in early May of last year, an effort was underway by the F.B.I. to try to verify as much as pos– rule in or rule out what– and that work was still ongoing. So I don’t know what the answer is. It came from a credible source.
Well, Steele was using third parties to interview Russians in intelligence positions to get oppo on a US presidential candidate and he was fired by the FBI for lying to the agency about leaking the dossier but, then again,
Special Agent Andrew McCabe stood tall over the last 8 months, when small people were trying to tear down an institution we all depend on. He served with distinction for two decades. I wish Andy well. I also wish continued strength for the rest of the FBI. America needs you.
— James Comey (@Comey) January 30, 2018
Comey seems to have a pretty expansive definition of credible.
So, to recap. Andy McCarthy was right. Comey was not just referring to the “salacious” portions of the dossier. Comey says that when he was fired, in May 2017, the dossier was still unverified…even though it has apparently been laundered and dry cleaned sufficiently to be used as backup for a FISA warrant and appointment of a special counsel.
The next nail in this nasty little cult’s coffin is when the substance of George Papadopoulos’s activities is finally made public. Then we are going to see the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign for what it was and is. A political hit job.