03.26.2019 0

We need a new Church Committee to expose who in the Obama administration was behind the Russia collusion hoax

By Robert Romano

No collusion, no obstruction. That’s what we know now from Attorney General William Barr’s summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

The Justice Department and the nation’s intelligence agencies spent almost three years and perhaps longer investigating the Trump campaign and then President Donald Trump for a crime alleged by his political opponents — coordinating with Russia to steal the 2016 election — that was never committed.

How could this happen in America?

Mueller in his final report ultimately determined that “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Consider that. In 2016, the Obama administration launched the investigation and ordered surveillance of the opposition party’s presidential nominee, Trump, based on unsubstantiated allegations by former British spy Christopher Steele that were bought and paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

It alleged, among other things, that Trump campaign advisor Carter Page had traveled to Moscow in July 2016 at the direction of then campaign manager Paul Manafort to coordinate the DNC email hacks and put the emails on Wikileaks later that month. The dossier claimed that the hacks had been perpetrated with the “the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team.”

Page, who was in Moscow at the New Economic School to deliver a benign commencement address, was never charged with any crime and as for Manafort, he was prosecuted and convicted of unrelated bank and tax charges.

The Steele dossier alleged that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had traveled to Prague, Czech Republic in the summer of 2016 to meet with Russian intelligence officials “in order to clean up the mess left behind by western media revelations of Trump ex-campaign manager [Paul] Manafort’s corrupt relationship with the former pro-Russian [Viktor] Yanukovych regime in Ukraine and Trump foreign policy advisor, Carter Page’s secret meetings in Moscow with senior regime figures in July 2016.”

It turns out, Cohen had never been to Prague in his life. So, he very well couldn’t have been there talking to Russian agents about a plot to steal emails. Before the House Oversight Committee in February, Cohen testified, “I’ve never been to Prague. I’ve never been to the Czech Republic.”

None of it was true. There was no Trump-Russia conspiracy to steal the emails and put them on Wikileaks — or any other plot by Trump to do with Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 elections. They were fake, uncorroborated allegations from day one that Trump was behind it all.

There never should have been an investigation into the Trump campaign in the first place and it is preposterous to suggest otherwise now that we know it was a witch hunt all along, lest we invite the FBI to investigate every phony accusation by a presidential candidate into their opponent. There was no collusion by Trump. No conspiracy. It was all made up.

But that didn’t stop the Obama administration, which got multiple Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against at least Carter Page to spy on the Trump campaign.

Then-incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s conversation with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak in Dec. 2016 after the election was surveilled by the U.S. government and then leaked to the news media. Flynn was then fired, and then after Mueller was appointed, prosecuted and then convicted for lying or not fully recollecting to investigators about the conversation and whether it covered sanctions on Russia enacted after the election meddling.

Former Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos was convicted for lying or not fully recollecting to investigators about when he began working for the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos says he was set up by Western intelligence agencies to meet with Joseph Mifsud under a phony pretext of getting Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Roger Stone is being prosecuted for lying or not fully recollecting to investigators about contacting Wikileaks after it was already public knowledge that Wikileaks had emails from the DNC that would be damaging to the Clinton campaign.

But none of it should have ever gone down that way, if the Obama administration had just sought to verify the Steele dossier in the first place before launching a national security investigation and setting up the surveillance.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions would have never recused himself and there never would have been a special counsel without the dossier. It was a dirty trick, and obvious that it was fake from day one. So, now what?

Declassification. The American people are ultimately the final safeguard for liberty that there is, and they need to know what happened here and who perpetrated the Russia collusion hoax, no matter who they were, so they know who not to trust in the future.

Which U.S. allies were a part of this plot to delegitimize the Trump presidency?

What role did U.S. intelligence agencies play in sourcing the Steele dossier and setting up the meetings to entrap Papadopoulos?

What did former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden know, and when did they know it?

What impacts has this episode had on U.S.-Russian relations? Are we now in a new nuclear arms race with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty ending and perhaps the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty being next because of this fallout?

Will Congress support President Trump’s efforts now to defuse hot spots in Ukraine and Syria that implicate the possibility of American and Russian forces becoming engaged in conflict?

Ultimately, to figure out the extent of this hoax and the damage it has caused, we need a select committee in the U.S. Senate, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning is calling for, saying, “We need a new Church Committee. The FISA court system was set up as a result of intelligence agency abuses in the 1960s and 1970s as a means to prevent this sort of thing from happening. It failed. The Obama administration’s politicization of the career foreign intelligence and counterintelligence operations, spying on the opposition party in an election year, has effectively destroyed public confidence in these institutions. The American people need to know who perpetrated this hoax, whoever they are, and make certain this never happens again.”

Here, Manning is referring to the select committee headed by Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), which was convened in 1975 to get to the bottom of revelations by Seymour Hersh’s explosive report to the New York Times on Dec. 22, 1974 that the CIA had been engaged a mass, domestic surveillance program against anti-war protestors, members of Congress and other political figures.

On NBC’s Meet the Press on Aug. 17, 1975, Church who had led the committee warned, “If this government ever became a tyranny, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology…”

Church added, “I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

The committee led to the adoption of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 1978, which sought to reform how intelligence is gathered and the limited circumstances it can be used in the U.S. We need to rethink that whole system now. The incumbent party was spying on the opposition party in an election year with fake allegations, and the FISA court rubber stamped it. Individuals who became embroiled with the investigation based on fake allegations were then prosecuted on unrelated crimes. A presidency lost two critical years in an attempt to undermine the will of the American people. How can anyone be okay with this?

This can never be allowed to happen again. We might expect the nation’s intelligence agencies to be engaged in disinformation operations against our enemies overseas, not here. Starting wars based on dubious intelligence — the Spanish American War, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident and the Iraq War come to mind — and overthrowing governments overseas, not here. It’s not good and we should only go to war when we’re directly threatened but the American people will tolerate that.

The American people tacitly consent to the conduct of intelligence agencies, but once those powers are maliciously used against political opponents, that contract is revoked. Those who were once willing to excuse for example the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the 2000s are now less willing to talk away the intelligence failure that occurred with Russiagate. After all, it’s one thing when these vast surveillance powers are used against America’s enemies, and quite another when it’s used against the American people here, against a political party, especially under false pretenses.

This was not justice. It was a travesty to overturn the outcome of the 2016 election. This was an operation to take down President Trump. That goodness it failed. But we do not applaud failed coups.

Look at what almost happened here. If this is what they can do to the President, what chance do the American people have? We need a new Church Committee to make certain this never happens again.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

Correction: Carter Page visited Moscow in July 2016, not June.

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