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Here is Donald Trump a few days ago:
WOW, @foxandfrlends “Dossier is bogus. Clinton Campaign, DNC funded Dossier. FBI CANNOT (after all of this time) VERIFY CLAIMS IN DOSSIER OF RUSSIA/TRUMP COLLUSION. FBI TAINTED.” And they used this Crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump Campaign!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 26, 2017
This is Exhibit A in the conservative agit-prop campaign to discredit the Trump-Russia investigation: It was all kicked by the Steele dossier, which was just a Hillary-funded hit job that the Trump-haters in the FBI used as an excuse to go after him.
But here’s the thing: Steele shared his dossier with a Rome-based FBI agent in August 2016. In October he briefed a larger group of FBI agents in Washington. But the FBI had quietly begun its investigation three months earlier, in July. Obviously the dossier is not what kicked off the FBI investigation.
So what did? Today the New York Times tells us:
During a night of heavy drinking at an upscale London bar in May 2016, George Papadopoulos, a young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, made a startling revelation to Australia’s top diplomat in Britain: Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton. About three weeks earlier, Mr. Papadopoulos had been told that Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign….Two months later, when leaked Democratic emails began appearing online, Australian officials passed the information about Mr. Papadopoulos to their American counterparts.
….It is unclear whether Mr. Downer was fishing for that information that night in May 2016….It is also not clear why, after getting the information in May, the Australian government waited two months to pass it to the F.B.I. In a statement, the Australian Embassy in Washington declined to provide details about the meeting or confirm that it occurred.
Ah yes, George Papadopoulos, one of the charter members of Trump’s foreign policy team formed in March. Back then he was an “excellent guy,” but after he pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI earlier this year he was immediately derided by Trumpies as a mere “coffee boy” that nobody took seriously.
Well, who knows about that? But Trump did pick him, and apparently he did get crocked in London and tell the Australian ambassador that the Russians had thousands of pages of compromising emails about Hillary Clinton. In July, sure enough, WikiLeaks released thousands of emails hacked from the DNC server. Apparently this lit a fire under the Australians, who passed along Papadopoulos’s drunken intel to the FBI, and that’s when the FBI began investigating Trump. They were shocked—as anyone would be—that apparently the Trump campaign had advance knowledge of Russian dirty tricks aimed at the Clinton campaign.
Ten months later Trump fired FBI director James Comey for keeping the investigation alive, and the rest is history.