Even as some Republicans are distancing themselves from Trump and his rapidly expanding Russia scandal, others are trying to squeeze that toothpaste back into the tube, or at least delay the inevitable:
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is demanding details on the funding of a controversial opposition research dossier on President Trump from the 2016 campaign.
The chairman of the Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Fusion GPS — a firm that reportedly hired former British spy Christopher Steele to investigate the then-GOP candidate — asking for details on Steele, who hired the firm and if it shared the document with the FBI.
Pick your metaphor: Fishing expedition, Hail Mary, Spanish Inquisition (nobody expects it!), etc. Grassley is hoping to find something, anything, to discredit Trump's "golden shower" dossier that, salacious ickiness aside, continues to be borne out by a growing mountain of evidence. It reeks of desperation and Fusion GPS should fight it every step of the way.
For instance, why in the world would Grassley need to know this?:
Who first hired your company to conduct opposition research relating to Mr. Trump and his associates? When did this engagement begin and end? What were the terms of the engagement? Please provide copies of all related contracts. In total, how much did this first client pay Fusion GPS for this work?
It could be the Democrats. It could be other Republicans. It could be my local PTA. Unless Grassley suspects that a foreign government was behind it, it's irrelevant and if Grassley were actually concerned about that kind of collusion with a foreign power, he'd probably be better served investigating Trump. Grassley is crossing his fingers that the money behind the research will be someone highly partisan ("Please Saint Ronnie, let it be George Soros!") so it will be that much easier to muddy the waters.
Here's another revealing bit:
To whom did Fusion GPS provide the dossier or any other memoranda created by Mr. Steele and/or Orbis Business Intelligence? Please list all recipients, the materials they received, and the dates the materials were provided.
Translation: Who else did you give this incredibly damaging information to so we can drag them through the mud as well?
Most of the rest of the questions involve who paid Steele, and how much. The intent is clear: If it was a lot of money, that will be used as "evidence" that Steele made up the whole thing to make bank. Sorry, America, please ignore all of the confirmed facts contained in the dossier, it was just a hoax. Now go back to bed and let us dissolve NATO, lift all of the sanctions on Russia and pull all of our troops out of Eastern Europe. Nothing to see here...
Grassley's justification for this obvious and ham-handed witch hunt is stunning. Since the dossier started out as opposition research and was turned over to the FBI, this is somehow politicizing law enforcement:
When political opposition research becomes the basis for law enforcement or intelligence efforts, it raises substantial questions about the independence of law enforcement and intelligence from politics. The Committee requires additional information to evaluate this situation
But here's the problem with Grassley's paper-thin rationale: The Trump dossier goes far beyond simple opposition research and exposes an operation to commit actual, literal, treason against the United States. That the FBI (and the NSA and the CIA, etc.) have confirmed far too much of the contents of the report to ignore its conclusions doesn't seem to matter to Grassley; he's got an administration to protect until it's served its purpose of rubber-stamping the Republican agenda.
The spectacle of a senator of 36 years so debasing himself and his office by putting party ahead of country in such a crude and transparent fashion should be shocking but, frankly, I'm surprised it took this long. The Republican Party has jettisoned almost every last shred of its dignity to run cover for Trump. Now it's our job to make sure no one forgets how much effort they spent to obscure treason from the public.
There are 588 days left to the 2018 elections.
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