The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The media is ignoring ties between the Clinton campaign and Russians

The Russia probe got its start with a drunken conversation, an ex-spy, WikiLeaks and a distracted FBI. (Video: Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)
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While the media is filled with stories and theories about Trump’s interactions — or lack thereof — with Russia, not enough attention is being paid to revelations about pro-Hillary Clinton operatives’ use of opposition research that ostensibly came from Russia. With the Democrats unable to govern and lacking much of an affirmative agenda, they want Russia to be the story. Yet with each passing day, more seems to be revealed that not only undercuts the absolute faith Democrats have in the Trump-Russia collusion narrative but also demonstrates just how much they did and how far they were willing to go to establish an improper or embarrassing link between Trump and Russia.

There is no better illustration of this than what we now know went on between Clinton allies Sidney Blumenthal and Jonathan Winer and the author of the infamous dossier, Christopher Steele. We know that Steele was paid with Clinton campaign money and that he was “passionate about [Trump] not being president.” We know that Winer, an old Washington hand and former John Kerry staffer was Steele’s man at the State Department and, incredibly, admitted to distributing more than 100 of Steele’s commercial business documents within senior offices at the State Department. Soon enough, we will know who Steele’s clients were that paid for their views to be disseminated within the Obama administration and what Russian interests were involved. And by the way, it turns out Blumenthal, a long-time specialist in the political dark arts, had his own anti-Trump dossier, authored by political activist Cody Shearer, which he gave to Winer; Winer passed it to Steele, and Steele passed it to the FBI. Presto. Keeping someone between the political operatives and the FBI: That’s how real pros do it in the swamp.

Anyway, you would think this operation would warrant appropriate news coverage and multiple follow-up questions from the mainstream media. But instead, it is mostly crickets. Compare the coverage of the Blumenthal-Steele-Winer troika and their work to influence the FBI and supply anti-Trump campaign dirt to the media with the coverage of a single meeting that took place with a Russian lawyer and Trump campaign personnel. Ask yourself which is most significant: Donald Trump Jr. — the hapless, amateur son of then-candidate Trump — having a one-off, stray meeting in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer who perhaps promised, but did not deliver, compromising information on Clinton, or Winer, Blumenthal and foreign national Steele all playing a role in getting campaign dirt through Steele’s and State Department channels into the hands of the FBI? With all the breathless scrutiny surrounding Trump Jr.’s meeting, one would think there would at least be a modicum of interest in Blumenthal, Winer and Steele.

The idea that the Democrats were the ones who solicited and utilized Russian-supplied, damning information about Trump instead of Trump using Russian-supplied, damning information about Clinton is something that Trump’s opponents cannot process. So, today, when the Democrats and their allies in the media insist that we need to know what the Russians did to influence the election and interfere in the democratic process, it is fair to ask which Russians are they talking about? Are they talking about the Russians who were solicited by Steele and his Democrat paymasters? What were the Russians’ interests and were any of them paying Steele? (A new story links Steele to Putin ally Oleg Deripaska.) And what about the sources that Shearer solicited for the anti-Trump dossier he gave to Blumenthal? It seems that there were a lot more meetings with Russians and information collected from Russians on behalf of the Clinton campaign than there ever was on behalf of the Trump campaign.

It may be difficult for Democrats to accept this, but their outrage towards the president doesn’t change the fact that neither he nor his campaign colluded with the Russians. And it must be difficult knowing that more evidence or downright admissions keep surfacing pointing to Democrats facilitating Russian influence in the 2016 campaign. Russian fingerprints are all over the work of Blumenthal, Winer and Steele. Exploring their actions must be a priority for the media.