Forgive yourself if you are confused about developments in the Russia, Russia, Russia storyline. In fact, there are so many moving parts that you shouldn’t trust anybody who isn’t confused.
Consider this, then, a guide to the perplexed, where we start with two things that are certain. First, special counsel Robert Mueller will never be able to untangle the tangled webs with any credibility and needs to step aside.
Mueller, whose office is apparently leaking the “secret” news that a grand jury has approved charges against an unidentified defendant, assumed his role with one big conflict, his relationship with his successor at the FBI, James Comey. That conflict has morphed into several more that are fixable only by resignation.
That became obvious last week when events showed that any honest probe must examine the Obama White House and Justice Department. Mueller served as head of the FBI for more than four years under President Obama and cannot be expected to investigate his former colleagues and bosses.
But without that necessary step, his work would be incomplete at best. So it’s time for him to say bye-bye.
The second thing we know for certain is that Hillary Clinton had a worse week than Mueller. Much worse.
The revelation that her campaign and the Democratic National Committee secretly funded the discredited dossier on Donald Trump’s supposed connections to Russia rocked the political world. The Clinton connection, denied by the campaign for a year, throws more doubt on the entire Trump-Russia-collusion narrative and shows that Clinton worked with Russian officials to meddle in the election.
The Washington Post reported that her campaign and the DNC paid millions of dollars to a law firm, Perkins Coie, which hired a shadowy company called Fusion GPS, which hired a former British spy, Christopher Steele, to compile the dossier, much of which was said to be based on Kremlin sources.
The bombshell sent Clinton into hiding, and no wonder. She probably thought three degrees of separation from the dossier would be enough to insulate her. In her absence, her defenders offered a dog’s stew of evasions, half-truths and diversionary attacks.
Their claim that nobody in the campaign or the DNC knew anything about the deal doesn’t pass the smell test. When as much as $12 million goes out the window for a document that aimed to win the election — and failed — everybody knows something.
While the link to Clinton answers some questions, it raises others. For example, while it is certain her campaign spread the dossier among the media last summer, it remains uncertain whether the dossier was used by the White House and the FBI to justify snooping on the Trump campaign.
One hint that it was is that Comey, while still in office, called the document “salacious and unverified,” but briefed Obama and President-elect Trump on its contents last January. And the FBI never denied reports that it almost hired Steele, the former British spy, to continue his work after the campaign.
The mystery might soon be solved because the FBI, after months of stonewalling, agreed last week to tell Congress how it used the dossier and detail its contacts with Steele.
If the bureau did use the dossier to seek FISA warrants to intercept communications involving the Trump campaign, it would mean the FBI used a dirty trick from the candidate of the party in power as an excuse to investigate the candidate from the opposition party.
Somewhere, Richard Nixon is wondering why he didn’t think of that.
There is also the issue of the “unmasking” of Trump associates caught up in the snooping, with the names leaked to anti-Trump media. It is essential to investigate that angle, but it would lead right to the Obama White House, which is why Mueller is not the man for the job.
As for Clinton, the dossier revelation was not her only new problem. In fact, the second blow might be the most serious yet.
At the urging of Congress and Trump, the Justice Department lifted its gag order on an informant who can now testify to Congress about bribery and other wrongdoing surrounding Moscow’s gaining control of 20 percent of US uranium production.
The 2010 transaction was approved by Obama officials, including Clinton, then secretary of state. About the same time, Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 for a speech to a Russian bank involved in the transaction. Later, tens of millions of dollars — $145 million by one estimate — were said to be donated to the Clinton Foundation by individuals having a stake in the deal.
The informant’s lawyer, Victoria Toensing, told Fox News the speech fee and the donations amount to a “quid pro quo” for Hillary Clinton’s help.
“My client can put some meat on those bones and tell you what the Russians were saying during that time,” Toensing said.
Clinton called the accusations “baloney,” but that’s what her team said about any connections to the dossier — before the truth came out.
Finally, another event is worth mentioning: the release of thousands of files from the JFK assassination trove. There were lots of juicy tidbits, but no final clarity, which raises the horrifying idea that, 50 years from now, we might still be waiting for the truth about Russia, Russia, Russia.
Heaven help us.
Coward on the run
“He can run but he can’t hide,” boxing legend Joe Louis said about an opponent. He might have been talking about Mayor de Blasio.
A federal corruption trial against Norman Seabrook, the former head of the correction officers union, has turned into a daily barrage against the mayor.
Faced with a convicted felon on the stand insisting he bought City Hall with contributions and top cops with gifts, an honest mayor would be outraged and immediately defend himself.
Instead, de Blasio scurries from the press for two days like a coward before finally denouncing the testimony as “false” and said it was an exaggeration.
De Blasio doesn’t fight back with details because he can’t. The testimony rings true because there’s no question the mayor gave big favors to big donors. Prosecutors said it wasn’t a crime they could prove in court, but it sure looks corrupt as hell in the light of day.
Maybe voters will deliver a Joe Louis knockout punch on Election Day.
Cuo’s uncivil war on GOP
Gov. Cuomo is going ’round the bend with incendiary name-calling. Afraid the federal tax- reform plan will eliminate the deduction of state and local taxes, Cuomo twice accused New York Republicans who support the measure of “treason.” On Friday, he also called them “Benedict Arnolds.”
Any day now, he’ll lecture us on the need for civility in public discourse. You know, do as he says, not as he does.
“Truth” in the cards
Headline: “MetroCard Replacement Will be Safe, Officials Say.”
Well, then, nothing to worry about.
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