- - Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A fully told story begins with a conflict and ends with a resolution. When Robert Mueller’s redacted report is made public this week, Americans will have a chance to read for themselves the final word on suspected collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. That should be the end of the story, but given that many Democrats still think that a coup is the only way they can get rid of the president, it probably won’t be. Still untold is an accurate account of how a charge of collusion got started in the first place. The last chapter of this sordid story must be the prequel.

Attorney General William Barr says to stay tuned as he investigates how the Obama administration, through its Justice Department, trained a spyglass on the rival Trump campaign. “I think spying did occur,” Mr. Barr told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee. “But the question is whether it was adequately predicated and I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that.”

He went further: “I am going to be reviewing both the genesis and the conduct of intelligence activities directed at the Trump campaign during 2016. I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal.”

In fact, it might be bigger than a big deal, a case of domestic collusion to steal a presidential election. President Trump clearly believes it is right and proper to inquire into whether his campaign was the target of dirty cloak-and-dagger deeds. “I think what [Mr. Barr] said was absolutely true,” the president told reporters. “There was absolutely spying into my campaign. I’ll go a step further. In my opinion it was illegal spying, unprecedented spying and something that should never be allowed to happen in our country again.”

Passionate opinionating is a luxury Mr. Trump is free to indulge, but as the nation’s top cop, Mr. Barr is obligated to stick to “just the facts, ma’am.” There are some that have come to light already, which suggests that supporters of Hillary Clinton tried to tip the scales in her favor. James Comey, who was then the director of the FBI, detailed in a press conference in July 2016 Mrs. Clinton’s apparent violations of the Espionage Act by mishandling of classified material. Then he declined to prosecute her. This raised a reasonable suspicion of high-level corruption.

We learned after that of the shady schemes, originating in the FBI, that painted the Republican candidate as an enemy of the state. Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, lovers and officials in the high echelon of the FBI, exchanged texts expressing the opinion that “Hillary should win 100 million to zero.” A patina of “justice for all” has been peeled back, exposing partisanship among top law enforcement professionals.

Senior department bosses, including Mr. Comey and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are said to have approved the so-called Steele Dossier — a paper that British intelligence author Christopher Steele himself characterized as “raw intelligence” that “warranted further investigation.” Nevertheless, this was the document that was submitted to persuade the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court to issue warrants to spy on Trump associates. The government did not tell the court that the dossier was derived from opposition research paid for by the law firm representing both the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Lest the embarrassed offenders argue they were unaware of the unreliable and partisan nature of the dossier, Bruce Ohr, who was then the associate deputy attorney general, testified that he made it abundantly clear to FBI and Justice Department officials that the dossier material originated with unsavory sources.

James Clapper, then the director of National Intelligence, and John Brennan, then the director of the CIA, lent their credentials to discourage skepticism of the Russia-Trump collusion scheme. Mr. Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller report put the lie to that fairy tale. “Well, I don’t know if I received bad information but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was,” Mr. Brennan said. A pathetic whimper like that should be beneath a tough-guy director of the CIA.

Mr. Barr will have the benefit of inquiries into aspects of the Trump-Russia investigation as he conducts his search for the facts. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz says the findings will be made public as early as May. A separate inquiry by U.S. Attorney John Huber into the Obama Justice Department’s lies to the FISA court, and the exoneration of the Clinton campaign, was an attempt to steal the 2016 election. Only when the prequel to the Russia-Trump collusion story is written will we know whether the attempted coup has been fully exposed.

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