- - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

In January, I wrote in these pages about the Democrats’ dossier on Donald Trump. Much of what seemed likely about it at the time has since been confirmed. No surprise there. Hillary Clinton has confessed. But what is surprising is the general lack of appreciation for the significance of this sordid episode.

Democrats have elevated delusion to an art form by insisting the funding of the dossier is irrelevant, and that what really matters is its unverified and unverifiable allegations of collusion between President Trump and Russia. Alternatively, the White House has asserted that the dossier proves that it was the Democrats themselves who were colluding with the Russians.

Neither perspective is accurate, of course, and the press is willfully ignorant about, and mostly disinterested in, its significance. The implications of the dossier are much more serious, and sinister, than these narratives suggest. It is time to put it in some context.

First, the dossier is espionage, not research. The Clinton campaign was paying a former British spy to get confidential information from Russian government sources. The fact that it was clumsy and amateurish does not change what it was, and the Russian government would have known all about it. As any spy can tell you, espionage is a two-way street. Do not spy on someone if you do not want to be spied upon. So the Clinton campaign is not just the victim — it is also the instigator — of Russian misconduct. Team Clinton asked for it, and by any historical standard, they deserved it.

Second, the dossier is the height of hypocrisy. It is exactly what the Democrats accuse the Trump campaign of doing, namely attempting to obtain dirt on another candidate from a foreign government. The excuse that the Clinton campaign tried to get that dirt by paying for it, as opposed to merely colluding for it, is a bit like saying prostitution is more reputable than consensual relations.

Third, the Clinton campaign lied about it. For more than a year, Team Clinton did what it has always done — obfuscate and dissemble about its own role — proving once again that Mrs. Clinton is chronically incapable of learning anything from her past scandals.

Fourth, the dossier threatened national security. Assume for a moment that Mrs. Clinton had won the election, that something in the dossier was actually credible, and that the dossier might have played some small role in the election. The Russian interests that were aware of her spying, and that would include the Russian government, would have been able to use that information to discredit her — in other words, blackmail her. Michael Flynn’s indiscretions are small potatoes in comparison.

Fifth, the dossier is an intelligence failure. Team Clinton spied on the Russian government right under the oblivious noses of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey. The dossier was even distributed to the intelligence community, and its members apparently had no idea that it was bought and paid for by the campaign. Of course, Mr. Comey was also apparently fooled by other Russian disinformation. And you wonder why the public did not pay more attention to their warnings about Russian interference.

The Supreme Court has explained that a conspiracy to defraud the United States includes interference with or obstruction of the lawful functions of government by deceit, craft or trickery, or dishonest means. If Mrs. Clinton’s commissioning of the dossier does not meet that test, it is hard to imagine what does.

We learned last week that Mrs. Clinton paid the Democratic National Committee to influence the primaries. She also paid for the dossier to influence the general election. She has no one to blame but herself for the debasement of our electoral processes. That is “What Happened” last November.

• Warren L. Dean Jr. is a lawyer and adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.

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