- The Wall Street Journal editorial board accused Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party of colluding with Russia earlier this week.
- The board also called for special counsel Robert Mueller to resign, and for the FBI to be investigated for its “role in Russia’s election interference.”
- There is no evidence that the FBI, the Clinton campaign, or the Democratic party colluded with Russia.
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board called this week for a full Russia investigation — not into President Donald Trump, but into the Democratic party, the FBI, and special counsel Robert Mueller.
“It turns out that Russia has sown distrust in the U.S. political system—aided and abetted by the Democratic Party, and perhaps the FBI,” the editorial began. “This is an about-face from the dominant media narrative of the last year, and it requires a full investigation.”
The editorial argued that a Washington Post report published Tuesday “revealed” that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee hired the Perkins Coie law firm, which in turn retained the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and funded a now-infamous dossier containing salacious allegations about Trump’s ties to Russia. The dossier was compiled by ex-British spy, Christopher Steele, who has several deep Russian sources.
“Strip out the middlemen, and it appears that Democrats paid for Russians to compile wild allegations about a US presidential candidate,” the editorial said. “Did someone say ‘collusion’?”
It had been previously reported that Democrats took over funding for the opposition research from anti-Trump Republicans after Trump won the GOP nomination. On Friday, lawyers for The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative publication, told the House Intelligence Committee that the outlet originally funded the dossier’s production.
The FBI also reached an agreement before Election Day to continue paying Steele for his work, though the plan was terminated after BuzzFeed published the dossier in January.
CNN reported in April that the bureau used information in the dossier to bolster its case for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting early Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The Journal’s editorial board said revelations about who had financed the Steele dossier indicated that the “FBI’s role in Russia’s election interference must now be investigated.”
Mueller, the board continued, is a former FBI director who worked closely with former FBI director James Comey. Mueller was appointed special counsel after Trump fired Comey in May, and he is tasked with investigating Russia’s election interference, as well as whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the election in his favor.
Comey was spearheading the bureau’s Trump-Russia investigation in 2016, when it was in possession of the Steele dossier. “It is no slur against Mr. Mueller’s integrity to say that he lacks the critical distance to conduct a credible probe of the bureau he ran for a dozen years,” The Journal’s editorial board said. “He could best serve the country by resigning to prevent further political turmoil over that conflict of interest.”
They continued and said the revelations about who funded the Steel dossier posed a “troubling question” regarding the FBI’s involvement in what it called a “Russian disinformation campaign.”
“Did the dossier trigger the FBI probe of the Trump campaign, and did Mr. Comey or his agents use it as evidence to seek wiretapping approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Trump campaign aides?” the editorial said.
Legal experts said in April, however, that if CNN’s report was true, it indicated that the FBI had enough confidence in the dossier’s validity to work to corroborate it and present it in court.
“In my long experience in dealing with FISA processing, unconfirmed information about a potential target cannot (and has not been) included in the application,” John Rizzo, the former acting general counsel of the CIA, told Business Insider in an interview at the time.
“So, if the CNN report is accurate, then I have to believe that the FBI and Department of Justice concluded (and the Court agreed) that the info in the dossier about Page was reliable,” Rizzo said, “and in all likelihood was backed up by other available intelligence.”
And while the document does contain several unproven allegations, it has been reported that the FBI is using it as a “roadmap” for its investigation. The Senate Intelligence Committee also revealed earlier this month that it has been “working backwards” to verify the document’s allegations.
Nevertheless, The Journal’s editorial board called for Congress to home in on the FBI’s role in producing the dossier and to reinstate the embattled Rep. Devin Nunes as chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Nunes recused himself from the panel’s Russia investigation after it emerged that he bypassed his own committee and briefed the White House on classified intelligence.
Despite recusing himself, Nunes quickly began conducting his own investigation into “unmaskings” by the Obama administration and the credibility of the dossier, and subpoenaed Fusion GPS to appear before the committee.
Natasha Bertrand contributed reporting.