Republicans Weaponizing the Law Against Trump’s Enemies
Republican senators Charles Grassley and Lindsey Graham have made a criminal referral to the Justice Department against Christopher Steele. It is unclear what crime they have in mind. Steele’s underlying offense is having been hired to investigate Donald Trump’s murky connections with Russia, and then having the leads he compiled published without his knowledge. While the FBI had other reasons to investigate Trump besides Steele’s reporting — reportedly the investigation began after Trump aide George Papadopoulos shot off his mouth to an Australian diplomat — Steele’s dossier became a source of humiliation for Trump. The president has been raging for the last year about the “fake” dossier — the veracity of which has been unverified, though many of its elements have been borne out by subsequent reporting. And now two Republican senators, one of whom chairs the Judiciary Committee, have taken up Trump’s demands to treat the dossier’s author, a well-respected British intelligence agent, like a criminal.
In the meantime, the FBI is investigating the Clinton Foundation. It is conceivable they have found evidence of genuine criminality. But years of investigations into the foundation have found nothing more than a typical pattern of fundraising and access. The foundation’s arrangements may have been unwise, or even unethical, for a presidential candidate, but it has survived intense scrutiny without a hint of any criminal behavior.