By John O’Connor
That the fraudulent, media-hyped Russiagate fiasco was a colossal waste of civic energy is now beyond doubt to all but the most bitterly partisan. But scant attention has been paid to its enablement of the tragic Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The premise of “Russian collusion” was that Vladimir Putin was assisting Donald Trump in defeating Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Even though collusion was never proven, the conclusion is still being bruited about that Putin wished Trump to win.
If, to the contrary, Putin was in fact actively seeking to defeat Trump, this attempt may provide insight into the whys and wherefores of his Ukraine invasion.
To be sure, the trivial and ineffective Russian bot farm postings were laughable and likely done for private profit, not geopolitical effect. But whatever the motivation, they were admittedly inconsequential. But what did move the needle in our domestic politics was the Russiagate scandal itself, interfering with Trump’s agenda while magnifying his contentious style, perhaps causing enough marginal diminution in his support to affect the 2020 U.S. election outcome.
So, yes, the Clinton campaign may have unwittingly caused the election of Joe Biden in 2020. But was this collusion hoax solely the action of Clinton and her domestic supporters in the media and government? More to the point, was Vladimir Putin a willing ally of Clinton in this fabrication? Let’s examine the evidence.
Prior to 2016, Clinton had been nothing but a seemingly corrupt and compromised patsy of Putin, a fact ignored by the media. One of the first acts of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton was to unilaterally, without quid pro quo, remove military installations in Poland and the Czech Republic pointing sophisticated defensive missiles toward Russia. This technology could have been used as an effective deterrent or a weapon in defense of Ukraine.
Clinton also encouraged, as part of the “Russian Reset,” the transfer of dual-use technology to the “Russian Silicon Valley” at Skolkovo, over the objection of the U.S. Defense Department, enriching Clinton Foundation supporters in both Russia and America. Then, when Clinton’s State Department held the sole “equity” vote, it approved the sale of Uranium One, quickly transferred to Putin’s Rosatom. Now Putin had enhanced military power as well as uranium pricing power, including to America’s nuclear power industry. The financial beneficiaries of the Uranium One deal contributed $150-350 million to the Clinton Foundation, which housed many of her campaign staff. Eleven Russian intelligence agents hovering around the Uranium One deal were arrested and sent back quickly to Russia, without any attempts to cajole the inside story of a seemingly corrupt transaction.
Clinton’s heirs then pushed the destabilizing Iran Nuclear Deal, with Russia the major nuclear contractor for Iran, using Russia as an intermediary for the negotiations. Of course, this same State Department approved of Putin’s march across Ukraine to take over Crimea in 2014, with our government providing only non-lethal assistance such as blankets and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) in support of Ukraine.
And let us also not forget that in 2010, Clinton’s State Department encouraged and facilitated Ukraine’s surrendering of over 1.1 million light arms and shoulder-fired missile launchers in exchange for vaguely worded security assurances.
So, when the 2016 U.S. presidential election came around, would any rational person believe that Putin wished Trump to defeat the highly compromised and highly compromisable Clinton? But what evidence is there that Putin sought to help Clinton and defeat Trump?
Hired by the Clinton campaign through Fusion GPS, ex-spy Christopher Steele (author of the infamous Steele Dossier) had as a longstanding client Oleg Deripaska, Putin’s close friend and aluminum oligarch. For years, Steele’s Orbis Business Intelligence had touted Deripaska as a “good oligarch” in over 100 intelligence reports to U.S. government agencies.
In 2016, Steele was hired by Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS to perform lucrative work for Prevezon Holdings, a Russian company owned by the family of oligarch Denis Katsyv. Prevezon was fighting a U.S. court seizure of $230 million taken by the American government under the Magnitsky Act, an anti-Putin law caused by the killing of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Who did Steele hire as his primary subsource to prepare his Dossier? One Igor Danchenko, suspected and never exonerated as a Russian spy. Danchenko received a crucial piece of his false narrative from close, longtime Clinton ally, Charles Dolan, connected to him through seeming Russian intelligence asset Olga Galkina. But was Dolan also a Russian agent? Yes, he was a publicly disclosed Russian PR agent whom the Washington Postreportedhad the trust and respect of Putin’s inner circle. While Danchenko hid Dolan’s involvement, Dolan at the time of the Dossier was actively working with Russian Embassy officials (read: intelligence agents).
Steele also informed the State Department that he used as his sources Vyacheslav Trubnikov, the former Director of Russian intelligence service SVR, and Vladislav Surkov, “Putin’s Rasputin,” working closely with Putin in the Kremlin.
Were these Russian agents working against Putin’s wishes in exposing a Putin-Trump conspiracy? If they were doing so, wouldn’t their faces soon be found in their cereal bowls?
So, it seems obvious that, completely contrary to the cartoonish narrative adopted by the media, this Russian collusion story was actively assisted by Vladimir Putin, and that there was indeed collusion … between Putin and Clinton.
Recall that as of July 28, 2016, John Brennan’s CIA had already gained Russian intelligence showing that Clinton’s foreign policy advisor, Jake Sullivan, had been the author of the hoax, and revealing that Russia was up to the minute on it.
What was Putin’s motive in assisting Clinton by allowing his close allies to participate in the hoax? There is no reason to believe but that in 2016 Putin wished to make Ukraine a vassal state. He knew then that Clinton would likely willingly play ball, and in any case could be so compelled by strong kompromat.
While in office barely three months, Trump lobbed missiles into the joint Syrian-Russian Shayrat airbase in retaliation for use of chemical weapons. He also ordered a successful drone strike against Iran (Russian ally) General Qassim Soleimani, seemingly planning terrorist action. During Trump’s term, Putin did not even feint at full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
But, as soon as Joe Biden was elected, Putin amassed troops on the Ukraine border. Meanwhile, Biden, through National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the author of the Russiagate fabrication, sought Russian and Iranian oil to backstop dwindling American fossil fuel production, while seeking Russian aid to restart the Iranian nuclear talks.
Almost immediately, Biden and Sullivan paused a large package of lethal American weapons aid to Ukraine, later halting the transfer to Ukraine of MIGs from Poland, while doing nothing to rattle sabers at Putin in advance of the invasion. Indeed, Biden seemed to be offering Putin an engraved invitation, assuring him that America would not take action in Ukraine’s defense.
In short, Putin did not suddenly, in early 2021, begin to wish a Ukraine invasion. Even though he did not successfully help Clinton get elected in 2016, because of his support of the Russiagate deceit Putin got an even weaker United States President in Biden.
So, the Russiagate canard had far more than domestic partisan effect, as wished by Clinton, American intelligence agencies and the partisan media. Our nation’s global security, and that of our allies, as well as food and energy security, have all been catastrophically impacted by a media hungry to accept uncritically any leftist partisan narrative, no matter how obviously fabricated.
This media malpractice has harmed our country profoundly. Will there be any media self-reflection, or at least criticism of Clinton and Biden for their longstanding weakness toward Russia?
Don’t count on it.
John D. O’Connor is a former federal prosecutor and the San Francisco attorney who represented W. Mark Felt during his revelation as Deep Throat in 2005. O’Connor is the author of the book, Postgate: How the Washington Post Betrayed Deep Throat, Covered Up Watergate, and Began Today’s Partisan Advocacy Journalism and the host of the podcast series and forthcoming book, The Mysteries of Watergate.