Hillary Clinton and Democrats lose the high ground on Russia

Perhaps the greatest mechanism built into the founding of our Republic is the simple fact that we, as a country, and we, as a people, will stand or fall based on the decisions we make collectively at the ballot box. The power is ours alone on which leaders we choose to represent us.

In the 2016 election we just happened to narrow our choices down to two borderline octogenarians under FBI investigation and – as it was revealed earlier this week in the Washington Post – both flirting with foreign influence as their campaigns looked for even the slightest edge. Go America!

As questions were lingering over Paul Manafort and a crucial meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, former Clinton campaign operatives ran from cable news network to cable news network screaming “collusion!” – collusion with a foreign adversary none of them seemed to care about much until the 80s came calling.

Whether it’s truthful or not, representatives of the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump Jr., have stated the said meeting was set up on the premise that Veselnitskaya had information in the form of opposition research on Hillary Clinton and they felt it necessary to at least hear her out. This explanation has prompted calls for impeachment from Democrats.

The one thing the losing Clinton campaign always had going for it, we were told again and again as Hillary Clinton’s never-ending campaign morphed into the form of a book tour – is that, at the very least, neither she nor anyone on her campaign ever worked with foreign adversaries of America to secure a place in the Oval Office and history.

Clinton allegedly thought allocating campaign funds to a dossier with more holes in it than a timeline of her Benghazi whereabouts was more important than allocating them to Wisconsin or Michigan in the final weeks of the campaign.

That all went out the window earlier this week when the Washington Post reported in a blockbuster story that the infamous Steele dossier – the same one that has landed Buzzfeed in legal hot water for publishing unsubstantiated claims – was partially funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign itself.

The infamous dossier – which suggested Trump himself was compromised and open to financial blackmail by the Kremlin, resulting in collusion between the two – was a collaboration between former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele; Fusion GPS, a Clinton-linked strategic think tank firm out of D.C.; and, as revealed in the Washington Post story, party funded and researched by the Clinton campaign.

This all possibly could be written off as opposition research, but the dossier was also used, in part, as justification by a FISA court to obtain a surveillance warrant on members of the Trump campaign, and is part of an ongoing investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election by special prosecutor Robert Mueller. 

Even more revealing, though, is that the FBI continued to employ and pay Steele as a source – even after the Trump dossier became public and the information it contained remained unverifiable.  They did cut him loose shortly after the Buzzfeed report, but questions remain as to how this dossier played into former FBI Director James Comey’s decision-making in regards to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and revelations that Comey himself drafted a June letter clearing Clinton of any and all possible charges, months before she was to be interviewed by investigators.

This was also months before Comey’s infamous “letter” about the FBI taking hold of Anthony Weiner’s laptop in October of 2016 – an event Clinton has pointed to as basically costing her the election. Adding on top of that Bill Clinton’s poor judgement to walk on then Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s plane on a Phoenix tarmac and you have all the makings of another Clinton “vast right wing conspiracy theory.”

The revelations of the Steele dossier’s connections to the Clinton campaign will undoubtedly undermine Mueller’s investigation going forward, and defenders of the president will, with some justification, call it nothing more than a political hit job. Trump will also no doubt exploit the fact that the investigation has now also snared up John and Tony Podesta, both closely connected to the Clintons.

Hillary has of course denied all knowledge of these developments, because of course she has, despite former campaign spokesman and political commentator Brian Fallon appearing on CNN and stating he’s not sure how much she would or would not know. It never ceases to surprise how the candidate Barack Obama called the most qualified candidate in history, apparently never has clue about the dealings of those closest to her.

The problem with all of this, obviously, is that the very same members of Clinton World who were screaming for months about collusion and treason to anyone and everywhere are now simply writing off a dossier which involved members of her campaign actually colluding with Kremlin assets (or wishing they could) as “opposition research” – while purposely deceiving the media and claiming it’s just something every campaign does, which is ironic given their claims that the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower amounted to high treason, in their eyes, and not just opposition research.

Democrats have lost the high ground with President Trump on Russia – the one parallel they used to separate their own bold claims of patriotism in the 2016 election – and once again, they have Hillary Clinton to thank for it. Clinton allegedly thought allocating campaign funds to a dossier with more holes in it than a timeline of her Benghazi whereabouts was more important than allocating them to Wisconsin or Michigan in the final weeks of the campaign.

What the disclosures in the Post also reveal are that Americans’ worst fears about Clinton at the ballot box last year proved out. Donald Trump was always the wild card, an unstable force of unpredictability – but one the country was willing to roll the dice on instead of a political oligarch whose career in the White House, Senate and as Secretary of State courted numerous scandals.

This is exactly the kind of situation Americans feared with a President Hillary Clinton, had she won last November. Nine months into her young presidency, that a scandal such as this would surface and the country would once again be dragged along for the ride – more investigations, more hearings, more whispers of impeachment. Any bold agenda she might have had would stall out and we would all once again be taken back to the future of the late 90s.

Both sides are now tainted by Russia’s meddling in the election, and any conclusions that Robert Mueller arrives at concerning the Trump campaign are almost certainly to be polluted in a cloud of whataboutism. It’s true Hillary Clinton is not the president, and therefore any investigation into her or her campaign over the Steele Dossier would seem like overkill. But she also no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt as she continues her tour across the country, fielding softball questions from late night TV hosts while simultaneously making accusations of collusion between Trump and Vladimir Putin.

If there is any excuse for the Democrats to move on from declarations of a stolen election from Team Clinton, and get back to the business of figuring out how to win elections – this would be their perfect out. Hillary lost an election she should have won, handily, and she has now compromised the Russia investigation and its outcome, perhaps beyond repair.

It’s time for Hillary Clinton and her band of campaign messengers to realize the part they too played in all of this, and kindly slink away into the dustbin that is the 2016 election. The DNC would be best off moving on without them and the country will move forward, for better or worse, with President Trump.  

Stephen L. Miller has written for Heat Street and National Review Online. Follow him on Twitter at @redsteeze.