Lee Smith’s book, The Plot Against the President: The True Story of How Congressman Devin Nunes Uncovered the Biggest Political Scandal in U.S. History, does more than recount the story of how Hillary Clinton was able to recruit federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies to smear her rival — an effort that became an attempt to remove the president from office. It suggests the present “impeachment inquiry” is the fruit of that poisoned tree.
Smith follows the efforts of former House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) as he discovered the truth about the outgoing Obama administration’s efforts to “unmask” the names of Americans caught up in the government’s foreign surveillance and leak them, illegally, to the media. Nunes and his “Objective Medusa” team found that the FBI had likely misled the FISA court to obtain warrants by hiding the partisan origins of evidence.
Along the way, the mainstream media colluded with the FBI — and with Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm first hired through the Washington Free Beacon to dig up dirt on Trump during the Republican primary, and then paid by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (who laundered their payments through the Perkins Coie law firm). The media relied on Fusion GPS for “scoops” and helped the FBI plant its “evidence.”
Some of the story will be familiar to those who have followed the story of the phony Russia “collusion” theory over the past three-plus years. But Smith also breaks new ground.
He argues, convincingly, that the so-called “dossier” compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele for Fusion GPS was actually a re-hash of earlier work — four “proto-dossiers” that were put together with the help of Nellie Ohr, wife of Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr.
Smith fills in key gaps in the story, suggesting that the original motivation for the “dossier” was not necessarily to stop Donald Trump from winning the presidency — since few imagined he could, anyway — but to set Trump up as the fall guy in the event Clinton’s missing emails were ever discovered and released. They wanted to make the story about how the emails were discovered, rather than how they were hidden and deleted by Clinton in the first place.
Their efforts later roped the FBI into an attempt to stop Trump from being elected — and, once elected, to stop him from taking office; and, once in office, to have him removed.
During a key period in May 2017, Smith argues, the senior levels of law enforcement in the United States held serious discussions about how to get rid of the president. Contrary to his denials, Smith writes, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was part of those deliberations.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller was meant to deliver the goods — even though everyone involved knew that the goods were not there. Mueller and former FBI Director James Comey had hoped to entrap Trump in obstructing justice — a claim that Democrats are still hoping to use as part of the basis for impeachment.
But Nunes and new Attorney General William Barr put a stop to the scheme — as did Mueller himself, in his bumbling testimony.
In criminal law, there is a doctrine known as the “fruit of the poisoned tree.” Prosecutors are barred from bringing evidence that was obtained illegally or through violations of a defendant’s constitutional rights.
In this case, the Democrats’ evidence — such as it is — of Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice was obtained through a corrupt process. Crimes may also have been committed along the way, as U.S. Attorney John Durham may soon report.
The Ukraine allegations are arguably the fruit of the same poisoned tree. They were manufactured by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who lied to the public about his contact with the so-called “whistleblower,” who himself (or herself) may have violated rules by going straight to the House Intelligence Committee with complaints about Trump’s Ukraine call. Schiff’s credibility, marred by years of lying about Russia “collusion,” also taints the latest inquiry.
Smith’s book is a chilling read. It is well-written, with all the suspense of a suspense thriller — one that documents real-life events. By sheer coincidence, it is being released as Democrats launch their latest coup effort — one that recapitulates claims of collusion, this time with Russia’s enemy.
The story told in The Plot Against the President justifies Trump’s efforts to find out Ukraine’s role in what happened — and ought to stop impeachment in its tracks.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.