- - Tuesday, October 24, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A good dog comes home clenching a bone in his teeth. A bad dog drags home a bloody remnant of skeleton. Bad dogs are on the loose around Washington and they’re beginning to dig a little too deep into the Russian collusion scandal, so called. Sensitive noses in polite places are beginning to detect a stink worse than something from the swamp, and it’s not coming from the Trump White House.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of Russian hounds have spent five months tracking down evidence of Russian efforts to tip the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Central to their probe is the so-called Trump dossier, a 35-page compilation of salacious rumors about the Republican candidate, assembled during the campaign by a onetime British spy named Christopher Steele for an opposition research firm called Fusion GPS. The dirty document elicits gasps over lurid allegations of sexual misconduct and leaked accusations of intelligence and bribery, but nothing revealed so far is anything but pulp fiction.

While Mr. Mueller digs for a tell-tale bone at the White House, deploying his G-men on pre-dawn raids to intimidate Trump associates, hinting of indictments and prison, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is attempting to discover who paid for the bogus dossier that triggered the collusion confusion. It used to be so elementary: to uncover the guilty, follow the money.

Fusion GPS has resisted a congressional subpoena demanding company records, arguing the necessity of confidentiality in its hot pursuit of smarm. A federal judge is expected to rule Wednesday on whether the House committee may have access to Fusion GPS’ bank records to determine who paid for the anti-Trump “dossier,” reported to have cost $50,000. For his part, the president took to Twitter over the weekend to prod for full disclosure of the source of that $50,000: “Officials behind the now discredited ‘Dossier’ plead the Fifth. Justice Department and/or FBI should immediately release who paid for it.”

In his exhausting if not necessarily exhaustive search for Russian collusion, it’s curious that the special counsel hasn’t bothered to look at a bone known to the authorities for years. The Obama administration’s 2010 Uranium One deal that gave Moscow control of 20 percent of U.S. uranium was rife with corruption, but the FBI is said to have looked the other way to protect one of the candidates, and that candidate was not the Donald, but the Hillary.

Bribes and kickbacks between Russian and American uranium firms that would have invalidated the deal were well known, but buried deep. Mrs. Clinton, as secretary of State, approved the deal and watched $145 million flow to the Clinton Foundation from sources connected to the Russians. Bubba got $500,000 for a single speech delivered in Moscow.

If foreigners attempted to influence an American election, Americans deserve to know about it. Mr. Mueller’s search for evidence of collusion between Russians and Mr. Trump’s campaign appears to be what oil drillers call “a dry hole.” Mr. Mueller, who has spent millions already, giving employment to dozens of lawyers without clients, is feeling pressure to give the government something for the money. He may be tripping over skeletons looking for bones in all the wrong places.

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