WASHINGTON — For years, I have been saying that the Clintons lie when they do not have to, and that they tell a gigantic whopper when a little white lie would be perfectly adequate. This time-honored observation explains many of their past run-ins with the law.
Now, in the lurid aftermath of Hillary Clinton's surprising defeat by Donald Trump, we see a variation of my observation playing itself out. Eventually, it will probably land some of Clinton's associates in jail; it will possibly snag even her. In 2016, despite being well ahead in the polls, the Clintons committed various misdemeanors when they did not have to, and they and their associates committed obvious felonies when simple misdemeanors would have been perfectly adequate.
Let us begin by following the money. The Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign were represented by the legal firm Perkins Coie. At least $1.02 million went from Perkins Coie to Fusion GPS in 2015, an obvious pass-through. Finally, it reached its destination: Christopher Steele, an ex-British intelligence sleuth who was contemptuous of Trump, had close ties with the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies, and boasted of his worldwide connections with Russians, among others. He reportedly took $168,000 as payment for his services. That the DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign were firmly under Clinton control has been widely reported, most recently by former DNC head Donna Brazile in her angry book about the campaign, "Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-Ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House."
Now let us follow some of the characters in this emerging scheme. To begin with, there is Steele feverishly flogging his famous "dossier." It contains "salacious" material about Trump supposedly paying Moscow prostitutes to evacuate on a bed in which President Barack Obama once slept. The report is dubious because Trump is a well-known germaphobe, and because he was born fully equipped to befoul a bed on his own. But there is more. The dossier also contains information about Trump conducting business in Russia, presumably while he was fully dressed.
Steele took this information to the FBI, which then took it to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to get permission to spy on Carter Page, a low-level Trump adviser on foreign policy matters during Trump's campaign. Actually, by the time the FISA warrant was issued on Page, he no longer worked for the Trump campaign — not that that matters. Steele also went around peddling his dossier to members of the media. It would seem to me that in doing so Steele broke the law, having promised the FBI not to talk to the media. What is more, the FBI broke the law; it apparently did not inform the FISA court of the provenance of the material it provided and the material's funding sources. Ultimately, Washington lawyers are going to be in high demand.
By the way, it appears that at least some of Steele's information could have come from Russians, like the salacious stuff. So who has been colluding with the Russians? Agents of Trump, or agents of Hillary Clinton?
It is at this point I shall introduce another set of characters who could have come from no other source than Clinton: Sidney Blumenthal and a man that The American Spectator profiled last week, Cody Shearer. The latter has not been heard of for some 20 years.
Shearer, The New York Times told us Saturday, "has been crisscrossing Eastern Europe for more than six months to secure the purported kompromat from a different Russian ..." Supposedly, Shearer was dealing with Russians besides Steele's contacts. Incidentally, Shearer is only identified by The Times as "an American political operative with ties to the Democratic party." The Spectator identified him more completely as a longtime "hatchet man" for the Clintons. We supplied evidence. Shearer gave the fruits of his labors to Blumenthal, who handed them over to a former employee of the State Department named Jonathan M. Winer, whom Blumenthal had known for 30 years. These fellows go way back. Winer insists that he did not share them with anyone at the State Department but did share them with Steele, who noted their similarities with his dossier. Steele then gave Shearer's material to the FBI, which presumably showed it to the FISA court.
While the Clinton campaign took considerable care to cover its tracks with its money trail, and the commingling of obvious Clintonistas like Blumenthal and Shearer with less well-known characters such as Steele, their efforts were not sufficient, as we can now see. Actually, they rarely are. If the Clintons were expert crooks, they would not have been caught so many times over the years. When caught, they always take refuge with their political friends and the press. Perhaps this time they did not think they would have to, for they were so far ahead in the polls. It is bracing to think that if the Clinton campaign had won the presidency, we would know nothing of their perfidy.
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator. He is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author, most recently, of "The Death of Liberalism," published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.