The Corner

Law & the Courts

GOP Senators Refer Author of ‘Trump Dossier’ for Criminal Investigation; Ignorant Critics Leap to Conclusions

It’s not Friday afternoon without breaking news. Republican Senators Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Lindsey Graham, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, wrote a letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI director Christopher Wray referring Christopher Steele, the author of the “Trump dossier,” for criminal investigation. While the substance of the referral is contained in a classified memorandum and thus hidden from public view, the allegation appears to be that Steele made false statements to federal authorities about communications with media outlets regarding the dossier. The referral isn’t related to the substance of the dossier itself.

As usual, the online response was immediate and furious — with all the usual critics presuming that the referral was nothing but a partisan hit job designed to divert attention form the real Trump/Russia scandal. It’s as if the only relevant public corruption investigation in the United States is the investigation of Trump and his campaign. Keep in mind, they reached this conclusion without examining the classified evidence. 

That’s some framing. Steele was retained by Democrats to investigate the Trump campaign, not to “expose” Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. He’s not a whistle-blower. He’s an opposition researcher, and nothing about his role in the election (including his efforts to investigate Trump) relieves him of relevant legal obligations to tell the truth.

Since the criminal referral came from politicians, one would have to be naïve to assume that it’s entirely free of partisan taint, but it would be reckless to the point of corrupt to refer a man for investigation absent compelling evidence of wrongdoing. If Grassley and Graham did such a thing, it would exhibit a level of vindictiveness and dishonesty that’s out of character for both men. Moreover, we can’t forget that the 2016 election featured two shady campaigns fronted by two distrusted candidates. There is simply no reason to presume that Clintonworld was pure as the driven snow. 

We don’t have the classified memorandum. We don’t know if Mueller was looking at these same claims. Time will tell if the referral is legitimate, a vindictive partisan attack, or some combination of the two. In the meantime, we’re reminded once again that when it comes to the Russian investigation, anger often outstrips knowledge.

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Most Popular

PC Culture

Hate-Crime Hoaxes Reflect America’s Sickness

On January 29, tabloid news site TMZ broke the shocking story that Jussie Smollett, a gay black entertainer and progressive activist, had been viciously attacked in Chicago. Two racist white men had fractured his rib, poured bleach on him, and tied a noose around his neck. As they were leaving, they shouted ... Read More
World

Ilhan Omar’s Big Lie

In a viral exchange at a congressional hearing last week, the new congresswoman from Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, who is quickly establishing herself as the most reprehensible member of the House Democratic freshman class despite stiff competition, launched into Elliott Abrams. She accused the former Reagan official ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Strange Paradoxes of Our Age

Modern prophets often say one thing and do another. Worse, they often advocate in the abstract as a way of justifying their doing the opposite in the concrete. The result is that contemporary culture abounds with the inexplicable — mostly because modern progressivism makes all sorts of race, class, and ... Read More
PC Culture

Fake Newspeople

This week, the story of the Jussie Smollett hoax gripped the national media. The story, for those who missed it, went something like this: The Empire actor, who is both black and gay, stated that on a freezing January night in Chicago, in the middle of the polar vortex, he went to a local Subway store to buy a ... Read More
U.S.

White Progressives Are Polarizing America

To understand how far left (and how quickly) the Democratic party has moved, let’s cycle back a very short 20 years. If 1998 Bill Clinton ran in the Democratic primary today, he’d be instantaneously labeled a far-right bigot. His support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, ... Read More
Elections

One Last Grift for Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders, the antique Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, is not quite ready to retire to his lakeside dacha and so once again is running for the presidential nomination of a party to which he does not belong with an agenda about which he cannot be quite entirely ... Read More
PC Culture

Merciless Sympathy

Jussie Smollett’s phony hate-crime story could have been taken apart in 24 hours, except for one thing: Nobody wanted to be the first to call bullsh**. Who will bell the cat? Not the police, and I don’t blame them. Smollett is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump who checks two protected-category ... Read More
U.S.

Questions for Those Who Believed Jussie Smollett

The “we reported the Jussie Smollett case responsibly” contention has been blasted to smithereens. Twitter accounts and headlines in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times reported as fact Jussie Smollett’s wildly implausible allegations, and many other journalists did so as ... Read More