We all know that money-laundering is illegal. Simply put, criminal proceeds are passed through a series of legitimate portals, like legitimate businesses and bank accounts. Once this has been done, the money looks clean because the pass-throughs give it credibility and obscure its origins.
Laundering lies is little different. Let's take the Steele-Trump dossier as an example. The research was paid for by Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton, as well as the DNC. Specifically, Nellie Ohr, wife of high-ranking DoJ official Bruce Ohr, was paid by Fusion GPS, which was hired by Clinton and the DNC. Bruce Ohr later passed the dossier on to the FBI, without disclosing his wife's involvement, for which he was demoted. Needless to say, if the truth of the dossier's origins were known, it would have had little credibility. It had to be laundered.
In July 2016, Steele passed his dossier along to an FBI contact in Europe. That same month, Steele gave off-the-record briefings to several journalists, obviously to get the story out there. This was apparently at the instructions of Fusion GPS, which was working on behalf of Clinton-DNC. Yahoo later published an article based on the Steele briefings. In August, James Comey was briefed on the dossier. A copy made its way to John Brennan, Obama's CIA director, who shared it with former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who promptly made it public.
In September, Steele allowed a State Department official to review the dossier. In October, as instructed, Steele met again with Yahoo, the New York Times, and the Washington Post about the dossier. After the election, Steele got a copy to Sen. John McCain.
All of these pass-throughs and sharing of an unverified dossier were for one purpose: to give it credibility and obscure its origins, just as with money-laundering. The ultimate goal was to harm Donald Trump, first as a candidate, then as an elected president.
With the heavily redacted FISA court application to surveil Carter Page recently released by the FBI, we now know that the FBI withheld from the FISA court the true nature of the dossier: that the dossier was opposition research paid for by Clinton and the DNC and that it was unverified. The court was not advised that the Yahoo article in support of the application was in fact based on a briefing by Steele. All these omissions and misrepresentations violated protocols, if not much worse.
Some might argue this that was good tradecraft, but we are not dealing with spycraft as in a spy novel. We are dealing with unleashing the awesome power of our federal government to obtain a questionable surveillance order on an American citizen whose only "crime" appears to be that he was a Trump-supporter. He has never been charged with anything.
We are also dealing with dirty politics worthy of the worst of Chicago, and in a presidential election at that. The fact that so many government officials participated in this slanderous behavior is inexcusable. Revoking their security clearances is not nearly enough. Criminal investigations need to start immediately.
Image courtesy of Flickr.