- - Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Forty days, give or take a few. That’s how much time is left on the calendar for justice to take hold in “Spygate,” nickname for the operation to take down Donald Trump. Americans wait expectantly for U.S. Attorney John Durham to produce documents, indictments, exonerations — anything — that could bring resolution to a long-running saga stranger than fiction. Failure to act soon would allow suspicions of past wrongdoing to taint the future.

After Labor Day, the 2020 presidential campaign, now in warm-up mode, will kick into high gear. From then on to Election Day, fresh revelations spilling into the public square construed as having an impact upon the vote become a no-no. With no further illumination, Americans would be forced to enter the polling booth with little more than their dark suspicions about whether the dirty tricksters running the scheme belong behind bars or simply in the gutter.

It has been well established from the conclusions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation last summer that there was no collusion between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia. Still, new information continues to expose the machinations behind that false narrative.

Documents declassified last week add new details of the extent to which agents of the Obama Justice Department were willing to go to derail a possible Trump presidency. Memos released by newly installed Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe detail how FBI officials used an August 2016 national security counterintelligence briefing, supposedly for the benefit of the then-Republican nominee, as a pretext for spying on him.

Papers made public contain notes written by FBI agent Joe Pientka describing the deception that played out during the course of the Trump briefing, which also included campaign advisers Chris Christie and Michael Flynn. The agent documented the attendees’ responses to information presented and his notes turned up among FBI records for “Crossfire Hurricane,” the code name for the anti-Trump operation, and “Crossfire Razor,” the secret probe leading to the prosecution of Mr. Flynn for lying.

President Trump, harboring suspicions that the trail of blame leads to the Obama White House, isn’t shy about voicing frustration over the snail’s pace of the Durham probe: “So we catch Obama & Biden, not to even mention the rest of their crew, SPYING on my campaign, AND NOTHING HAPPENS?” Mr. Trump tweeted recently. “I hope not! If it were the other way around, 50 years for treason. NEVER FORGET!!!!”

The president may be getting a little ahead of the evidence, but not by much. Top officials of the Democratic Obama administration present during a Jan. 5, 2017 Oval Office meeting to discuss “Crossfire Hurricane” included President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, FBI Director James Comey, CIA Director John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and others, according to notes taken contemporaneously and made public.

Judicial Watch, a Washington-based, conservative watchdog organization, last week filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, seeking all records related to the pivotal Jan. 5 meeting. Accessing all of the relevant memorializations could be the key to triangulating the truth.

Democrats charge that the investigation is simply a ploy to tarnish their image ahead of the 2020 election. They needn’t fear for their candidate, Mr. Biden, nor their godhead, Mr. Obama: Attorney General William Barr has already made clear that the long arm of the law isn’t likely long enough to reach them.

Free passes all around, though, would undermine remaining public faith in foundational institutions of government. Furthermore, it could embolden like-minded schemers still ensconced in the corridors of power to hatch fresh mischief during the 2020 election season. After all, while exposure has led some plotters to quit their jobs and others to be fired, no one has yet to be prosecuted for attempting to expel the president from office.

The days are counting down on the chance for accountability before summer melts into fall. If Joe Biden were to win in November, odds are any further developments in the Durham investigation of “Spygate” would wind up collecting dust on a shelf marked “Fiction.” Only accountability — pronto — can assure Americans that justice still matters in their nation.

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