Dispatch October 17, 2019

OP-ED: Bill Barr’s Witch Hunt

Attorney General Bill Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham are traveling around the world trying to get foreign governments to give credence to a conspiracy theory that they believe will undermine the FBI’s decision to open an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. This effort is an abuse of power, purely designed to help President Donald Trump politically. The fact is, it would have been malpractice if the FBI had not opened its investigation in the summer of 2016.

Barr and Durham’s quixotic journey has resulted in the chief law enforcement officer of the United States traveling to Italy to review deposition tapes, pressing the United Kingdom for cooperation, and Trump himself pressuring the Australian prime minister for assistance in the matter. The conspiracy theory doesn’t contest the findings of the Mueller investigation, instead, it aims to prove that the trigger for the FBI launching its original inquiry into Russian interference was, in fact, a set up.

For months, Trump and his supporters pushed the idea that the Steele dossier was the impetus for the FBI to launch its investigation into Russian interference and whether the Trump campaign was playing any role in it. Their strategy was to discredit Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent and author of the now-famous dossier, and thereby throw the entire U.S. investigation into question. But the Steele dossier is not what prompted the FBI to start its investigation. Instead, it was the activities of Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos.