- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 26, 2019

President Trump has been labeled repeatedly as a Moscow agent by top Democrats and their intelligence officers, but in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report he comes up clean.

An analysis by The Washington Times didn’t find one instance in which Mr. Mueller found that the businessman-candidate communicated with Russian government officials, was spying for Moscow or was being blackmailed.

The lack of evidence is important. Attorney General William Barr has assigned U.S. Attorney John H. Durham to investigate how the FBI decided in July 2016 to open a counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign — meaning in effect the president. The FBI specifically targeted Mr. Trump in May 2017 as a possible Moscow agent.

Inside the Obama administration, some of the same officials who nurtured those investigations, such as then-CIA Director John O. Brennan and then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, are the same people who strongly suggested on TV that Mr. Trump was a Kremlin asset.

Conservatives suspect the FBI was influenced by the anti-Trump dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. It is a well-circulated Democratic Party-financed opposition research paper that accused Mr. Trump of being a Russian informant. Today the dossier has been officially debunked by the Mueller findings.

Mr. Mueller had access to 40 FBI agents and U.S. intelligence community files to make the case that Mr. Trump is in bed with the Kremlin. Instead, Mr. Mueller said his 22-month investigation failed to establish an election conspiracy between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

In the report section titled “Russian government links to and contacts with the Trump campaign,” there is no evidence that Mr. Trump maintained communications with the Kremlin.

Mr. Mueller’s assignment from the Justice Department was to investigate “any links” between a Trump person and Moscow. If he had found such a Trump-Kremlin relationship, it almost certainly would have been detailed in a report that tried to capture all Russian contacts.

As the Mueller report noted, immediately after Mr. Trump’s election win, the Kremlin scrambled to make contact with the transition office but didn’t know how.

“As soon as news broke that Trump had been elected President, Russian government officials and prominent Russian businessmen began trying to make inroads into the new Administration,” the report said. “They appeared not to have preexisting contacts and struggled to connect with senior officials around the President-Elect.”

Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Mr. Brennan, President Obama’s White House adviser and CIA director, has painted a far different picture of a president who is somehow deeply tied to Moscow.

Some examples:

⦁ Mrs. Pelosi. Last July she asked reporters, “What do the Russians have on Donald Trump — politically, financially and personally?”

On Jan. 25, she tweeted, “What does Putin have on @realDonaldTrump, politically, personally or financially?”

(Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, now a Trump antagonist, testified to Congress this year that he knows of no Russian loans or investments flowing to the Trump Organization.)

⦁ Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He said in January, “Counterintelligence concerns about those associated with the Trump campaign, including the President himself, have been at the heart of our investigation since the start.”

He told ABC News last July, “I certainly think he’s acting like someone who is compromised. And it may very well be that he is compromised or it may very well be that he believes that he’s compromised, that the Russians have information on him.”

⦁ Mr. Brennan. He has been the harshest critic among Mr. Obama’s team. He called Mr. Trump “treasonous” at one point and predicted multiple indictments for election conspiracy with Moscow. They never materialized.

“I think he is afraid of the president of Russia,” Mr. Brennan said in March 2018 on MSNBC, where he is a paid commentator.

“The Russians could have something on him personally that they could always roll out and make his life more difficult,” he said.

The Russians “have had long experience with Mr. Trump and may have things that they could expose and reveal,” he said.

⦁ Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. He is a paid analyst on CNN.

Mr. Clapper has implied repeatedly that Mr. Trump is a witting or unwitting “asset,” spy language for an agent.

“I’ve speculated in the past that the way Putin behaves is to treat President Trump as an asset,” he said this year.

⦁ Mr. McCabe. He was a go-between on dossier information from Fusion GPS, Mrs. Clinton’s opposition research firm, to FBI agent Peter Strzok, who opened the probe.

After Mr. Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey, Mr. McCabe opened a counterintelligence investigation targeting the president on suspicions he was a Russian agent.

Mr. McCabe’s book “The Threat” made no mention of the dossier, Mr. Steele or his own role as a conduit.

He said in interviews last winter that “I think it’s possible” Mr. Trump is a Russian agent. He also said “we don’t know” if the Kremlin ordered Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Comey.

Again, there is no evidence of this in the Mueller report.

The Justice Department fired Mr. McCabe after a Justice Department inspector general report said he lied to investigators. Federal prosecutors are reviewing the charges.

The liberal news media, not just Clinton and Obama Democrats, have accused Mr. Trump of being a Russian agent.

Perhaps the most flamboyant was a long July 2018 article in New York Magazine that weaves a series of business contacts and a few trips to Moscow into a theory that Russian President Vladimir Putin is Mr. Trump’s “handler.”

Part of the Trump suspicions are rooted in the Kremlin’s hacking of Democratic Party computers and releasing stolen emails to help the Republican and hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The Trump Organization has had business contacts with several Russians. Mr. Trump and NBC Universal staged the Miss Universe Pageant in 2013 in Moscow in partnership with a Russian oligarch. Mr. Trump looked at building a Trump tower complex at that time. Later, during the campaign, then-Trump lawyer Cohen took the lead in trying to secure a deal to build a tower in Moscow.

Russians were hacking the Democrats during the failed 2015-16 negotiations. The Mueller report has no evidence that Trump aides knew of the computer intrusions until they became public that summer.

The Obama administration’s official policy was to encourage Americans to do business in Russia. Mrs. Clinton, as secretary of state, personally urged such contacts. Relations with Mr. Putin soured in 2014 after his forces invaded Ukraine.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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