Andrew McCarthy, a former Justice Department official who is the big legal mind at National Review, has spent a lot of time over the past year throwing cold water on claims that there was skulduggery afoot at DOJ under the Obama administration. He couldn't believe or imagine his old pals would be hacks and criminals. They would never abandon integrity, would they? Not them!
Well, he's starting to figure it out:
In May 2017, as I have detailed (here), Steele was required to respond to interrogatories. He emphasized that his dossier allegations were “raw intelligence” that was “unverified” and “warranted investigation.” He further described his reports as “limited intelligence” that described mere “indications” of “possible” coordination between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. He was not in a position to vouch for the accuracy of what he’d been told, he explained; he passed it along because it needed further investigation.
Yet, far from reporting Steele’s retreat to the FISA court, Grassley and Graham report that the FBI and Justice Department continued vouching for the reliability of his allegations.
Beyond all that, we now learn through the senators’ memo, and some follow-up reporting, that two longtime Clinton cronies, Cody Shearer and Sidney Blumenthal, fed their own anti-Trump dossier to Steele, through a State Department official, Jonathan Winer. In the fall of 2016, Steele, while working on his Clinton-funded project, reported this Clinton-crony information to the FBI.
Still, the FBI and Justice Department elected not to tell the FISA court that the Clinton campaign was paying for Steele’s unverified, unverifiable anti-Trump research.
I spent many months assuring people that nothing like this could ever happen — that the FBI and Justice Department would not countenance the provision to the FISA court of uncorroborated allegations of heinous misconduct. When Trump enthusiasts accused them of rigging the process, I countered that they probably had not even used the Steele dossier. If the Justice Department had used it in writing a FISA warrant application, I insisted that the FBI would independently verify any important facts presented to the court, make any disclosures that ought in fairness be made so the judge could evaluate the credibility of the sources, and compellingly demonstrate probable cause before alleging that an American was a foreign agent.
I was wrong.
Yes. Yes, you were. I was, too. I'm still not crazy about many things Donald Trump does, but there's no evidence he would sink to the level of his predecessors, levels that are now amply documented, if not yet widely disclosed. To be fair, McCarthy wasn't nearly as much of a NeverTrumper as some of his colleagues at NR, but he made common cause with them. The scales have fallen from his eyes.
I continue to wait for the rest of the NeverTrumpers to understand that, in their zeal to condemn the uncouth orange haired-occupant of the Oval Office, in their bien pensant efforts to signal their own virtue, that they are in the same camp with people who spent the period of 2009-2017 wiping their asses with the Constitution. If you want to pretend you are principled, it is best you don't hang out with vipers like James Comey. They may have been your colleagues, but they were never your friends.