Deception & Misdirection

Top Cop Screwups of Russiagate

A major objective of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation and the subsequent probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller was to find out “whether individual(s) associated with the Trump campaign are witting of and/or coordinating activities with the Government of Russia.”

The answer was a definitive “no.” Four years and tens of millions of taxpayer dollars failed to uncover even a single person who collaborated with the Russian government while working on the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. But what the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (IG) has discovered are “serious performance failures” by federal law enforcement in the conduct of the investigation.

A new and comprehensive profile at InfluenceWatch lays out the gory history of the Trump-Russia Collusion Claims (“Russiagate”) and why the world’s only superpower credulously fell for them.  This information is also being posted in an archive of the who’s who of Russiagate.

A sample of the information available in the InfluenceWatch profile is today’s ranking of federal law enforcement’s worst misdeeds.

GOLD: Christopher Steele

For the first three years of the Trump presidency, too many prominent journalists couldn’t say enough about the salacious Steele dossier. But most FBI officials involved with Christopher Steele’s discredited information now wish they had never heard his name. If Russiagate has an “original sin” origin story, then Steele was the serpent, and his discredited hoax was the apple.

Remove Steele’s stories from the equation and the DOJ inspector general says the FBI never gets its Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) electronic spying warrants against Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Page was the only Trump campaign official targeted for such snooping, and he was never charged with any wrongdoing. Without the reported rumors illegally leaked to media that Page was under FBI scrutiny and the Steele-generated gossip that made it possible, most of the oxygen fueling the media’s fixation on the Russiagate scandal gets sucked away.

The FBI should have known it was getting a rotten apple. The inspector general reviewed the FBI’s case research and revealed that the FBI had no corroboration for Steele’s allegations and even Steele’s primary source refuted many of the conclusions. Even after the FBI learned of highly disturbing holes in the Steele dossier from interviewing this primary source in January 2017, the FBI supervisor said it gave him “no pains or heartburn” to continue using Steele’s information.

To believe otherwise, that FBI supervisor would have been forced to confront the possibility that a major part of the investigation had subjected an innocent man to “among the most sensitive and intrusive investigative techniques,” as described by the inspector general. The inspector general cited 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the FBI applications for FISA warrants to spy on Page, and many of those misdeeds were directly sourced to the Steele dossier.

The FBI ate the serpent’s apple and believed his tall tales for too long, and the bureau’s reputation ended up on an escalator going down.

SILVER: James Comey Leak to New York Times

In May 2017, shortly after President Donald Trump had fired him, former FBI Director James Comey leaked to the New York Times the substance of his notes from private meetings with the president.

The nation’s former top cop claimed he was operating under the understanding that he personally owned these memos, even though the memos were generated in his official capacity as a supposed servant of the taxpayers while speaking with the president.

Investigating this leak, the DOJ Inspector General later reported that Comey’s senior staffers disagreed with their former boss’s conduct. The inspector general found “no support in the law” for Comey’s assertion that he owned the notes and that Comey’s belief otherwise was “wholly incompatible with the plain language of the statutes.”

Explaining his motive, Comey said he wanted to create pressure for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

The inspector general’s report sharply criticized both the motive and the method:

By not safeguarding sensitive information obtained during the course of his FBI employment, and by using it to create public pressure for official action, Comey set a dangerous example for the over 35,000 current FBI employees—and the many thousands more former FBI employees—who similarly have access to or knowledge of non-public information.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed the day after the New York Times posted the story of Comey’s leak. The nation’s former top lawman had gotten his way by breaking the rules. In the process, he significantly amplified and extended the Russiagate collusion hoax.

BRONZE: Robert Mueller’s Mifsud Mystery

Before the discredited Steele dossier asserted its place in the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation as the driving force behind the spying on Carter Page, a third-hand rumor had been sent from an Australian diplomat to the FBI concerning Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos. The DOJ inspector general report would later conclude this rumor was the pretext for opening the collusion investigation that later devolved into Russiagate.

In May 2016, before Wikileaks obtained and then released emails that had been stolen from Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee, the Australian claims that Papadopoulos had told him that Papadopoulos had in turn heard from a Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud that the Russian government had and would soon release incriminating information regarding Hillary Clinton. In July 2016, soon on the heels of the Wikileaks release of the emails, the Australian provided to the FBI his version of the discussion with Papadopoulos.

Papadopoulos confirmed receiving the vague rumor from Mifsud but told the FBI he didn’t pass it along to anyone in the Trump campaign or take action to make use of it. And the FBI found no evidence that Papadopoulos had done so.

But Mifsud denied ever starting the rumor, an assertion that should raise several serious concerns for federal investigators.

According to Georgetown University law professor Jonathan Turley:

The Mueller report indicates Mifsud lied repeatedly to investigators on sensitive national security issues—and yet Mueller did not charge him with a single count. Cooperating witnesses were sentenced for lying but not Mifsud.

When pressed to explain this mystery, Special Counsel Robert Mueller unloaded only more confusion. According to the InfluenceWatch profile:

Asked about Mifsud during a July 2019 Congressional hearing, Special Counsel Robert Mueller repeatedly refused to discuss him. Referring to a finding in the Special Counsel’s report, U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked Mueller: “He [Mifsud] lied three times, you point it out in the report, why didn’t you charge him with a crime?”

Mueller replied: “I can’t get into internal deliberations with regard to who or who would not be charged.”

Jordan pressed further, stating Mifsud was the “guy who launches everything, the guy who puts this whole story in motion, you can’t charge him . . .”

Mueller responded: “I can’t get into the evidentiary filings.”

Jordan tried to obtain a simple clarification regarding Mifsud’s loyalties: “Is Mifsud Western intelligence or Russian intelligence?”

Mueller’s answer: “Can’t get into that.”

Runner Up: FBI Lawyer Kevin Clinesmith

In August 2020 FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty to making a false statement in the FBI’s filing for one of the espionage surveillance warrant applications targeting Carter Page. In receipt of a presumably important email from the CIA stating Page was a source of information for the agency, Clinesmith inverted the truth by adding the statement “not a source” to the message.

In most government scandals, an FBI agent pleading guilty to a federal offense would shoot to the top of the “bad cop” stories. But Russiagate is so rich with reckless law enforcement that the luckless counselor Clinesmith doesn’t even belong on the medal stand.

Ken Braun

Ken Braun is CRC’s senior investigative researcher and authors profiles for and the Capital Research magazine. He previously worked for several free market policy organizations, spent six…
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