December 2017 started and ended with two huge stories about the Russia investigation.
The first of these bookend bombshells came when Michael Flynn was indicted, plead guilty to lying to the FBI and surrendered to authorities on December 1st. He became the second cooperating witness in the Russia probe and the fourth individual to face legal charges along with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, his deputy Rick Gates and Trump foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos.
The latter of these individuals was back in the news for the other bombshell dropped by the New York Times yesterday. For the past several weeks, authoritarian enablers like Devin Nunes and Chuck Grassley have been howling about Fusion GPS, the firm behind the Christopher Steele dossier on Trump. You may also know it as the “piss tape file.”
Trump’s thugs have been going to great lengths to state that the dossier is tainted because the dossier was paid for by Democratic allies at the law firm Perkins Cole. While that is true, it is irrelevant for three reasons: 1. A Republican donor initially funded the dossier. 2. Some of the claims in the dossier have been corroborated by the intelligence community, so regardless of who funded it, the events actually took place. 3. The dossier didn’t initiate the investigation.
So if the dossier being passed to the FBI didn’t initiate the investigation, what did?
George Papadopoulos, drunk in London, bragged to an Australian diplomat that the Trump campaign had dirt, via Russia, on Hillary Clinton in the form of hacked emails. The diplomat then turned and passed on the information to the appropriate Australian officials who notified the FBI, who triggered the counter intelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.
Like most of Trump’s mistakes that have lowered his approval rating to record lows, it is a self-inflicted wound that put his campaign on the radar of authorities. It is these same destructive impulses, like firing Comey, that could ultimately bring down his administration.