Busy mounting the most blatant and un-nuanced congressional attempt to distract from a single president’s troubles, Republicans in the House continue to use whatever gears of the government they have to delay, if not try to dismantle, investigations focusing on Donald Trump and the criminality that surrounds him and his 2016 campaign.
With all the subtleties of a sledgehammer, Republicans are doing everything possible to save Trump by trying to tarnish the reputations of federal law enforcement as investigators zero in.
Among those appointed to run interference for the White House is House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), who has threatened to subpoena FBI officials and hit them with contempt charges if they don’t turn over more documents and information about the so-called Steele dossier.
That’s the widely confirmed intelligence document that was created during the 2016 campaign that detailed Trump’s many shocking connections with Russian business operatives over the years. Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele was hired to assemble the information.
On Monday night, Nunes met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and the two agreed to a deal in terms of handing over more documents.
Nunes and Republicans harp on the dossier obsessively, convinced that if they can raise doubts about its legitimacy and how it was used (or not used) by the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, they will somehow be able to taint the entire probe into Trump’s past.
That’s highly unlikely since it’s the only the GOP that seems to think the dossier is some sort of all-important document around which every Trump-related investigation revolves. Mueller has already secured two guilty pleas in his investigation, and it doesn’t appear the dossier was central to either case.
Secondly, the more Republicans find out about the dossier, the less they’re going to like. That’s according to former Department of Justice prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Michael Zeldin.
Conceding that Nunes is at the forefront of a widespread distraction campaign, Zeldin said Republicans are likely to discover the famous dossier “is more valid than invalid”:
ZELDIN: But to your exact question, it seems to me that what he is interested in is this collateral matter of the dossier and how it was prepared and did the FBI have any role in paying for it. And all of this is a bit of a sideshow, save for the fact that I think they’re going to find this dossier is more valid than invalid when they look at the heart of the matter. So he may be in this be-careful-what-you-wish-for situation where he gets access to what did the FBI do to validate the dossier’s findings, who did Steele speak to in the FBI to confirm to them that this was legitimate intelligence and he was gathering? So while Nunes, I think, is on a bit of a sideshow, the consequences of what he’s getting may actually be more harmful to what he’s trying to do, which I think is to divert attention, than helpful.
On Monday, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, who founded Fusion GPS, the research company behind the dossier, fought back against the GOP smear campaign that’s underway. Writing in the New York times, they denied their document prompted the FBI to start investigating Trump’s ties in 2016. Instead, they wrote, “Our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp.”
And they stand by the report: “Mr. Steeles sources in Russia (who were not paid) reported on an extensive and now confirmed effort by the Kremlin to help elect Mr. Trump president. Mr. Steele saw this as a crime in progress and decided he needed to report it to the F.B.I.”
If that’s the kind of information Nunes and Republicans are going to highlight, they might soon regret it.