So now it was the Australians who triggered the Russia, Russia, Russia investigation?

With some curious timing, the New York Times has come out with a story about how the FBI started its probe of the Trump campaign after a tipoff from an Australian diplomat. Sounds like a bid to downplay that Steele dossier.

According to the Times:

During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.

About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.

Exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said that night at the Kensington Wine Rooms with the Australian, Alexander Downer, is unclear. But two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts, according to four current and former American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians’ role.

Funny that the story came out about now, because the story of the day is how the Office of the Special Counsel, under former FBI Director Robert Mueller, has seen its case against Trump fall apart due to its reliance on the "Steele dossier" of lascivious, Kremlin-sourced rubbish about the supposed sexual proclivities about a pre-presidential Donald Trump. They may well have been fooled by a Russian disinformation or 'dezinformatsiya' campaign as I wrote yesterday.

So in what was likely an FBI leak, the Australian angle suddenly comes to light. Cover your keister, as they say in those parts.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line has the lawyer's takedown of the suspicious timing, and some notations from Byron York:

I assume the Times’ report was fed to it by current and/or former FBI officials and/or others in the Obama administration with an interest in dismissing the role of the dossier. This doesn’t mean the story is false. It may well be true.

York, he said, asks why the bureau took so long to interview Papadapoulos - two months into the Trump presidency, when the news was reported to them in the summer of 2016. York also wants to know whether a surveillance warrant was requested, given that it was supposed to be such a big deal.

There's also the question of why the Australian ambassador waited two months to report it to  the FBI after hearing it in the barroom setting.

What it sounds like is a bid to make the Papadopoulos angle stronger than it is to support and justiify the Mueller investigation.

If this is all they have to go on, it sounds like things are pretty grim indeed for both the FBI's investigative reputation and Mueller's special counsel probe.

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