The New York Times reported Saturday that the Russia investigation began in 2016 after George Papadopoulos, a junior foreign policy aide in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, told an Australian diplomat in May 2016 that Russia had “political dirt” on Hillary Clinton.
The Australians, the Times reported, informed the U.S. about Papadopoulos’s claim two months later, after hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee were released — i.e. in July 2016.
The Times concludes that the FBI’s investigation could not, therefore, have been based on the Russia “dossier,” full of uncorroborated and discredited allegations against Trump, that was funded by Hillary Clinton and the DNC:
The information that Mr. Papadopoulos gave to the Australians answers one of the lingering mysteries of the past year: What so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign months before the presidential election?
It was not, as Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged, a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired by a rival campaign. Instead, it was firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies.
The Times story is being treated as a “bombshell” by the mainstream media and the left. But the Times fails to account for reports that the Obama administration first sought a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to monitor Trump associates in June 2016. That warrant was, unusually, denied, which suggests that it may, in fact, have been based on the flimsy accusations in the “dossier.”
At any rate, if the application was indeed made in June 2016, that was a month before the DNC email leaks, and before Australia reported the Papadolpoulos claim to American intelligence authorities.
Furthermore, as Byron York of the Washington Examiner notes, it is not clear that the “dirt” Papadopoulos was taking about referred to the DNC emails, but could well have referred to the 30,000 “missing” emails that Hillary Clinton had deleted from her illicit private email server.
There is no way to know with certainty what motivated the FBI investigation until the agency begins answering questions — which it has refused to do, despite Congress’s best efforts to expose the truth.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.