Indeed James Comey did know before the 2016 Presidential election about possible Russian collusion and undeniable Russian interference in the election.
A year ago, following a memo published by Republican Congressman Devin Nunes accusing the FBI of anti-Trump bias in its investigation of Russian collusion, I posted a blog that deconstructed the provenance of the FBI investigation - which preceded and was eventually taken over by the Mueller investigation - of the Trump campaign for possible collusion with Russia.
For the sake of anybody who's still interested, and who still has trouble wrapping their head around that whole squirmy, smelly primeval kettle of fish, including Fusion GPS, the Steele Dossier, FISA, et al, I've re-posted that blog below.
Have your brain do a few push-ups before reading.
Extra credit if you can connect the dots between Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Fusion GPS, opposition research, the Steele Dossier, the Strzok-Page texts, and FISA.
I for one have been having a time trying to wrap my head around the whole Nunes Memo thing, The Memo supposedly either proving FBI bias against Trump or not proving anything in the special investigation that started out as an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election but could end up, well, who knows where?
But has anyone actually tried reading The Memo? Darned thing was only 3 1/2 pages long but reading it was like trying to push your brain through oatmeal. Greek legalese oatmeal.
Still, I've been attempting to unravel the tangle which spawned The Memo, and for those who'd like to give their tired brains a break from trying to figure out this integrated differential quadratic post-graduate calculus word problem on their own, I'll share what I've been able to come up with, though I can't even guarantee I've got it all right. But I'll try.
As there are several story lines to this narrative, I'm going to break it down, hopefully for the sake of a smidgen of clarity. So:
Carter Page is a 47-year-old American energy industry big wig with long, strong ties to the Russian Kremlin.
In 2016 the Trump campaign took Page on board as a foreign policy adviser but dumped him in September when his unsavory reputation started creating bad PR. In October Carter Page was put under surveillance by the FBI. He is currently suspected of having passed to Russian agents sensitive documents related to our national security for his own financial gain. Now hold this thought.
George Papadopoulous is a 30-year-old...well, I don't know what he is now,
During this time young Papadopoulous began meeting with Russian agents who told him that there were Russians who had dirt on Hilary Clinton. These agents pushed Papadopoulous to arrange a trip for the Trump campaign staff, or even the Donald himself, to Russia to pick up the Hillary dirt.
However George could never get the trip-to-Russia idea off the ground with the rest of the Trump campaign team.
One night, mayhaps in disappointment and frustration that he wasn't going to get to go to Russia with the gang, Boy George, after a few too many drinks in a London bar, spilled to an Australian diplomat that his Russian friends had dirt on Hilary.
The Australian went straight to the FBI, who subsequently interviewed George Papadopoulous about his dealings with the Russians.
But George forgot what his mother taught him and lied to the FBI.
The FBI figured that George - along with a good many other Trump staffers and former staffers - had lied and by October of 2017 he'd been arrested, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and has been cooperating with Robert Muller's investigation ever since. So, even though Donald Trump has tried to throw George Papadopoulous under the bus, the kid'll probably be okay.
Okay, I'm now realizing that George Papadopoulous doesn't actually have anything to do with The Memo. But he's still kind of an interesting side plate.
Here's what Fusion GPS is:
After Trump became the Republican Presidential candidate The Washington Free Beacon stopped funding the dirt-hunt on Trump; however at that time the Democratic National committee and the Clinton campaign took over funding the investigation. In other words, now Fusion GPS was doing their opposition research on Trump for the Democrats instead of the Republicans.
In the course of their investigation, Fusion GPS approached British ex-spy Christopher Steele,
It turned out that, besides giving the poop scoop about Donald's supposed romp with a couple of Russian prostitutes during the course of which they all went wee-wee for fun and which was clandestinely filmed by Putin's agents for future blackmail use against Trump in case he won the American Presidential election, anyway, besides containing that narrative, the dossier had some nasty dope on...Carter Page.
According to the dossier, Carter Page, in July 2016 while part of the Trump campaign, flew to Russia for clandestine meetings with Russian officials on the subject of trading lucrative contracts to U.S. corporations in exchange for getting Trump, if he were elected President, to lift U.S, sanctions against Russia.
Okay, stay with me now:
By October of 2016 it was clear to the FBI that there was Russian interference in the Presidential election and an investigation into possible Russian collusion with members of the Trump campaign was well underway, though, unlike the FBI investigation into Hillary's emails, ...FBI Director James Comey did not think it necessary to share the existence of this investigation with the public.
Those ill-advised emails kind of energized the Republicans - and Trump himself - who wanted the Trump-Russia investigation to go away and might have given Republican Congressman Devin Nunes - who'd already screwed up once in his roll as member of the House Intelligence Committee - the moxie to write up his memo - The Memo - charging anti-Trump bias in the Mueller investigation.
But I've gotten 'way ahead of the story; still, pay close attention here, I'm about to get into the meat and potatoes:
In October of 2016 the FBI was suspicious enough of Carter Page's activities that the agency sought a warrant to put him under surveillance. They sought a surveillance warrant from the United States Foreign Intelligence Court, known as FISA, which is a federal court that oversees granting warrants for U.S. intelligence agencies against foreign spies in the United States. Which is what the FBI suspects Carter Page of being. The FISA court granted the FBI the warrant. One of the pieces of evidence considered in the granting of the warrant was the Steele Dossier.
Fast forward to 2018. the Mueller investigation has been rolling along, slowly, day by day, for the better part of a year, closing in, inching closer and closer to the truth about Russian interference in the 2016 elections and no doubt other things yet to be revealed about... well, who can say who might be implicated before the Mueller investigation is over?
So, weakening the Mueller investigation and whipping up popular sentiment against it was the hoped-for outcome for of The Memo.
(Sigh) Sorry, I know the whole thing is probably too gnarly for most mortals to digest. Me included, even after writing out all of the above.
But Anyway, now the Democrats want to release a 10-page rebuttal memo filling in all the important info that The Nunes Memo left out. And Nunes has come back by saying that he's going to release a rebuttal memo to the Democrats' rebuttal memo.
Unless, God forbid, it ends up being a too-short investigation.