Confused? Here’s This Week’s Russia/Clinton/DNC News Distilled Down to Bullet Points

This Russia / Trump / Comey / Clinton campaign / DNC story is complex and has become unwieldy. Add to that the first charges in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election were filed yesterday, and it’s enough to make anyone feel like the first time they waded into The Lord of the Rings: Too many names and places and dates.

The instinct is to tune out because we’re all busy and we don’t have time to weed through all of this. Because of that, I thought I’d boil it down for you so you could be informed in the quickest way possible. This story is important for many reasons. Please don’t tune out.

The Players:

Fusion GPS: A law firm hired to do opposition research

Christopher Steele: Former MI6, hired by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, compiled the salacious and not-entirely-corroborated “Trump Dossier”

James Comey: Was FBI director at the time; Used Christopher Steele’s dossier on Trump (paid for by the Clinton Campaign and the DNC) to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign in 2016

Natalia Veselnitskaya: Russian lawyer, met with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016, claiming to have dirt on Hillary Clinton

Rinat Akhmetshin: In the same meeting with Donald Trump Jr.; former Soviet counterintelligence officer, reportedly worked for GRU (Russian Military Intelligence), specializing in subversive political influence operations involving disinformation and propaganda. He was working with Fusion GPS lobbying for Kremlin interests to ease international sanctions.

Why is this just now coming to light:

The Fusion GPS, on Tuesday, was released from their client confidentiality obligation, which is how we now know about the Clinton campaign and DNC involvement in all of this.

The New York Times published an expose on this earlier in the week, with correspondent Maggie Haberman angrily tweeting, “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year”

What happened:

  • It has now been revealed that Fusion GPS was originally hired by Free Beacon to do opposition research into Trump and other GOP candidates from Fall 2015—Spring 2016.
  • When they discontinued with Fusion GPS, the Clinton campaign and the DNC picked up where they left off and additionally hired Christopher Steele (MI6 Trump dossier guy).
  • Steele came up with the Trump dossier and spread it around D.C. (including the FBI) in the summer of 2016.
  • The FBI (remember James Comey?) used the dossier (paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC) to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.
  • Steele also spread the dossier to reporters in the fall of 2016 in the weeks leading up to the election, but reporters chose not to report on it until January 2017 (you know, when Trump was being inaugurated?).
  • An additional part of this story is a meeting which took place in June 2016 between Donald Trump, Jr., Natalia Veselnitskaya (Russian lawyer), and Rinat Akhmetshin (former Soviet counterintelligence officer specializing in disinformation and propaganda).
  • Trump, Jr. took the meeting because he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton (which he never got).

Here are the main points (and why you should care) :

1) The Russians were playing both sides against the middle in last year’s campaign. They were involved, clearly, but their main goal was to sow division among us. This kind of scheming is old hat for them (I mean, hello, this is the former Soviet Union we’re talking about. If you’re unfamiliar with their tactics, I would encourage you to brush up on their history).

The question is: Will we continue to walk blithely along, not acknowledging that a foreign government would use underhanded means to cause our nation harm by influencing our elections?

2) Whichever side of the political spectrum you fall on, if anyone is found to have committed criminal activity, they should go to jail like you or I would if we had committed the same crimes.

We were always supposed to be “a nation of laws, and not of men,” meaning that it didn’t matter what your connections were or how powerful you were—justice was blind. At this point, we can either return to being the constitutional republic we once were, or we can embrace cults of personality, complete with the corruption characteristic of every other banana republic.

3) At the end of the day, we still need to look at as the responsible parties for this pile of political puke. It’s taken us a long time to get here, and it will take us a long time to clean it up, but our politicians are a reflection of us. Yes. They are.

You may hate Donald Trump—or you may hate Hillary Clinton. But we must get back to the core of truly wanting justice no matter who’s involved. Look. James Comey had to have known that Dossier was funded by the Clinton Campaign and the DNC.

If you hate Donald Trump and are glad he acted the way he did (meaning, as FBI director, he was acting in a thoroughly political manner), just consider: Would you be glad if the Trump FBI chief did the same thing?

I suspect not. Corruption is corruption, and if we don’t return to being the people who require honesty and blind justice from their politicians (because we are honest and require that of ourselves), we can, ultimately, wave goodbye to our freedoms and admit that our side winning was more important than the freedoms it was our duty to preserve for our children.

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Heidi Munson

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