Kim Strassel devotes her weekly Wall Street Journal Potomac Watch column — “The Russians and the Dossier” — to a question that has intrigued me since I actually went to the trouble of reading the Steele Dossier back in early 2017: who was colluding with whom? Working on behalf of the Clinton campaign, ex-British spy Christopher Steele purported to draw on his relationships with the friends of Vladimir Putin to create the phony narrative that consumed the first two years of the Trump administration.
Kim has read the Steele Dossier too, along with the Mueller report, and takes it at face value (i.e., she assumes that Steele wrote it and that he drew on Russian sources as described in it):
The Mueller report exposes the dossier claims as pure fiction. Yet in describing the actions of the Trump campaign figures the FBI accused, the report assiduously avoids any mention of the dossier or its allegations. Mr. Mueller refers to Mr. Steele and his work largely in passing, as part of the report’s description of how former FBI Director James Comey informed Mr. Trump of the dossier’s existence. The dossier is blandly described several times as “unverified allegations compiled” by Mr. Steele.
Once Mr. Mueller established that the dossier was a pack of lies, he should have investigated how it gained such currency at the highest levels of the FBI. Yet his report makes clear he had no interest in plumbing the antics of the bureau, which he led from 2001-13. Instead, he went out of his way to avoid the dossier and give cover to the FBI.
The special counsel had another, more pressing reason to look at the dossier: It fell within his core mission. Since its publication by BuzzFeed in January 2017, we’ve learned enough about Mr. Steele and Fusion GPS to wonder if the Russians used the dossier for their own malign purposes.
If the Steele Dossier is a pack of lies, how about the Mueller investigation?
What a farce.
Strassel concludes with a question and a hope:
How did Mr. Mueller spend two years investigating every aspect of Russian interference—cyberhacking, social-media trolling, meetings with Trump officials—and not consider the possibility that the dossier was part of the Russian interference effort?
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Attorney General William Barr may answer some of the questions Mr. Mueller refused to touch. Thanks to the special counsel we know Republicans weren’t playing footsie with Russians. But thanks to BuzzFeed, we know that Democrats were. America deserves to know how far that interaction extended.
Hope abides but the clock is ticking.