Trump’s Attack on FBI Signals His Concern About Steele Dossier

Do you remember when Donald Trump accused his predecessor of wiretapping him? He also accused Obama’s national security advisor, Susan Rice, of illegally unmasking the names of Trump campaign staff in intelligence reports. Both claims were proven false. Today, he did it again.

Since it was written in the form of a question, the president might claim plausible deniability that he just accused the FBI of paying for the Steele dossier. But his inference is reprehensible. He even suggests that the FBI might have colluded with the Russians (and Democrats) to produce the dossier.

There are signs that all of this is a planned strategy to create a distraction for the president. First of all, while we don’t know the names of particular individuals or groups that were involved, it has been widely reported that Fusion GPS (the firm that employed Christopher Steele) was initially hired by “Never Trump” Republicans during the 2016 primary. Once Trump won the nomination, Democratic donors funded the continuing efforts. There’s no story there.

This all started when Rep. Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a subpoena to people involved with Fusion GPS—without consulting Democrats on the committee. Beyond that, he forced them to appear before the committee yesterday to publicly state that they were pleading the fifth. It is worth noting that Trump’s foreign policy advisor Carter Page has also stated that he will plead the fifth rather than cooperate with the Senate Intelligence Committee. But we haven’t seen an attempt to make him come before the committee to do so.

What Nunes did reeks of an plan to create a public relations moment. Of course, Fox New cooperated.

That was followed by Trump’s tweet.

You might recall that this wouldn’t be the first time Rep. Nunes used his position on the intelligence committee to provide a distraction for Trump. He is the one who, after Trump made the allegations about being wiretapped by Obama, held a clandestine meeting in the White House with Michael Flynn protege Ezra Cohen-Watnick and then rushed to the press with allegations that he had seen intelligence reports that indicate Trump and his associates were included in electronic surveillance. That whole story eventually morphed into the allegations about Susan Rice unlawfully unmasking the names of Trump’s staff in intelligence reports.

Back when Nunes first subpoenaed people involved with Fusion GPS, Matthew Miller, former spokesperson for DOJ during the Obama administration, sent out a very prescient tweet.

Nunes issued his subpoenas to Fusion GPS less than a week after two news stories broke about the Steele dossier. The first was that Mueller’s team had taken over the investigation of the dossier from the FBI. That was immediately followed by news that investigators on Mueller’s team had recently met with Christopher Steele.

That timing could shed some light on why Nunes planned his public display of Fusion GPS pleading the fifth, followed up by Trump’s scandalous accusations about the FBI. Do you think that maybe this president is worried about the allegations contained in that dossier?

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.