Finding gaps in much of the coverage of the Trump administration, RealClearInvestigations has been exploring them, chiefly through the original work of two reporters, Lee Smith and Paul Sperry. Here is an archive of their recent work.
John Huber, Justice Dept. Sheriff Who Never Quite Rode Into Town, Paul Sperry, Dec. 22
The Salt Lake City-based prosecutor has developed almost mythical status among pro-Trump tweeters since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed him to investigate why the FBI spied on Trump’s aides and whether they protected Hillary Clinton and her foundation over alleged misdeeds. But more than a year since his appointment, his lack of traction on either front is leading many once hopeful supporters to dismiss his investigation as a “sham."
Cohen's 'Appointment in Prague' Was Dossier Bunk, Mueller Files Indicate, Paul Sperry, Dec. 11
It was one of the most incendiary allegations in the Clinton-financed opposition research known as the Steele dossier. But a flurry of court filings by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller appears to blow it out of the water, strongly suggesting that Donald Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen never met with “Kremlin officials” in Prague in 2016.
For Trump, Cohen Plea Deal's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Exoneration, Paul Sperry, Dec. 3
Contrary to media speculation that Robert Mueller is closing in on President Trump, the special prosecutor’s plea deal with Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen offers further evidence that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russians during the 2016 election, according to congressional investigators and former prosecutors.
The Silence of Mueller's Trump-Russia 'Canaries,' Paul Sperry, Nov. 12
People with direct knowledge of the situation say it's highly unlikely that former Trump associates who have struck deals to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller are singing about Russian collusion.
'Nothing to Gain,' Kavanaugh Accuser Raises Nearly $1 Million, Paul Sperry, Oct. 29
During Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearings, Democrats repeatedly asserted that Christine Blasey Ford had “nothing to gain” by coming forward with her explosive accusation of attempted rape against the Supreme Court nominee. In fact, Ford stands to gain some $1 million and counting from national crowdfunding campaigns launched by friends and other supporters, while she is said to be fielding book offers.
Justice Department Ties a Trump FISA Release to Obstruction, Lee Smith, Oct. 26
In court filings, the Department of Justice has deployed what could be its nuclear option to prevent President Trump from declassifying information about spying on his campaign: For the first time, it is claiming that such a move would interfere with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation -- meaning Trump would be vulnerable to an obstruction charge.
Renovation Records Undercut Ford's Exit-Door Account, Paul Sperry, Oct. 2
Real estate and other records undercut a key part of Christine Blasey Ford’s account of why she finally came forward with charges of attempted rape against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Her account of a 2012 therapy session eliciting her anxious need for an emergency exit door doesn't square with home renovations years earlier. “The door was not an escape route but an entrance route” for tenants, a source says.
Sparing Rod: Unpacking the Trump-Rosenstein Relationship, Lee Smith, Oct. 1
Although Trump seems to hold all the cards in his fraught relationship with Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, who controls the Russia investigation, knows how to take advantage of the president’s political inexperience. A careful assessment of Rosenstein’s actions — and the paperwork supporting them — shows evidence of shrewd bureaucratic calculation.
Suppressed Blasey Yearbooks: Fast Times at Holton-Arms, Paul Sperry, Sept. 27
Democrats used the high school yearbooks of embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to discredit what they call his “choir boy defense” against sex-assault charges leveled by Christine Blasey Ford. But Ford's own suppressed yearbooks featured a photo of an underage Ford attending at least one party, alongside a caption boasting of girls passing out from binge drinking. They also openly referenced promiscuous behavior by the girls.
How Anti-Trump Leakers Moved From Offense to Defense, Lee Smith, Sept. 12
Anti-Trump leaking from within the intelligence community was initially an offensive operation aimed at disrupting Trump’s agenda, especially through leaks suggesting Russian collusion. But now the leaking has become increasingly defensive in the face of irregularities in the FBI’s investigation of Trump, marked by the willingness of press outlets to run stories backing off earlier reported leaks that proved to be deeply misleading.
FBI Kept From Spy Court Russian View of Carter Page as an 'Idiot', by Paul Sperry, Sept. 6
The FBI omitted from its application to spy on Carter Page the fact that Russian spies had dismissed the former Trump campaign adviser as unreliable – or as one put it, an “idiot” – and therefore unworthy of recruiting, according to congressional sources who have seen the unredacted document.
FBI Never Examined Vast Bulk of Weiner Laptop Emails by Paul Sperry, Aug. 23
When then-FBI Director James Comey announced he was closing the Hillary Clinton email investigation for a second time just days before the 2016 election, he certified to Congress that his agency had “reviewed all of the communications” discovered on a personal laptop used by Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin, and her husband, Anthony Weiner. I fact, only 3,077 of the 694,000 emails were directly reviewed for classified or incriminating information. Three FBI officials completed that work in a single 12-hour spurt the day before Comey again cleared Clinton of criminal charges.
There's Method in Trump's Slackness on Opening Files Lee Smith, Aug. 29
President Trump’s allies in Congress and the media have long wondered why he doesn’t declassify documents withheld by the Department of Justice that could vindicate him in the Russia probe. Current and past senior U.S. officials say he's not the impulsive hothead portrayed by major media, epitomized by his "witch hunt" bluster on Twitter. Rather, he’s characterized by the sources as a deliberative, strategic executive inclined to keep his powder dry now for possible detonation later.
Trump Tower Meeting Looks Increasingly Like a Setup, Lee Smith, Aug. 13
The June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between high-ranking members of the Republican presidential campaign staff and a Russian lawyer with Kremlin ties remains the cornerstone of claims that Donald Trump colluded with Russia to steal the election. A growing body of evidence, however, indicates that the meeting may have been a setup – part of a broad effort to tarnish the Trump campaign involving Hillary Clinton operatives employed by Kremlin-linked figures and Department of Justice officials.
Privately, Intel Officials Back Shutting Out Brennan, Clapper, Lee Smith, Aug. 2
President Trump has been criticized for politicizing the intelligence community by threatening to strip the security clearances of former top officials including John Brennan and James Clapper. But numerous past and present senior intelligence officials say that the Obama administration started the politicization – and that revoking the clearances of those who abuse the privilege for partisan purposes may help right the ship.
Mueller All But Ignores the Other Russian Hack Target: the GOP, Paul Sperry, July 17
Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election wasn’t as one-sided as Special Counsel Robert Mueller charges in his latest indictment. The Russian military spy agency that Mueller says hacked the Democratic National Committee also penetrated the computer systems of the Republican National Committee using fake emails in a phishing scheme, U.S. officials say. This evidence challenges the narrative, now reinforced by Mueller’s indictments, that Russia’s scheme was solely aimed at damaging Hillary Clinton.
7 Mysterious Preludes to the Trump-Russia Probe, Lee Smith, June 27
Before the FBI began investigating the Trump campaign in an operation code-named “Crossfire Hurricane,” there were at least seven different instances when campaign advisers were approached with Russia-related offers. Most of those contacts — including Donald Trump Jr.’s much-publicized meeting with a Russian lawyer and others in June 2016 — offered the prospect of information damaging to Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Almost all of these approaches were made by people connected to the FBI, Western intelligence services or the Clintons.
One Unverified File the Feds Won't Leak: About Loretta Lynch, Paul Sperry, June 26
The FBI is refusing to allow even members of Congress with top security clearance to see intercepted material that implicates former Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a secret deal to fix the Clinton email investigation. Lynch and others say the material was part of a Russian disinformation campaign. True or false, the material is consequential because it appears to have influenced former FBI Director James B. Comey’s decision to break with bureau protocols because he didn’t trust Lynch. In his recent book, Comey said he took the reins in the Clinton email probe, announcing Clinton should not be indicted, because of a “development still unknown to the American public” that “cast serious doubt” on Lynch’s credibility – clearly the intercepted material.
The Real Carter Page vs. the One People Suspect, Paul Sperry, June 7
The FBI’s interview with Carter Page in March 2016 is one of the seminal events of the Trump-Russia probe. Democrats have long pointed to it as evidence of the bureau’s longstanding fears that Page might be a Russian spy and to downplay the role of the Clinton-financed dossier compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele in securing a FISA surveillance warrant against Page. But new information challenges that account, indicating that the FBI, in fact, considered Page as a cooperating witness – as an asset – until he signed on with the Trump campaign.
The Maltese Phantom of Russiagate, Lee Smith, May 29
In the shifting narratives of the Trump-Russia probe, a Maltese academic named Joseph Mifsud has remained a linchpin regarding claims of collusion. He is the professor who allegedly told Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that the Russians had emails related to the Clinton campaign. The FBI says it opened its investigation in late July 2016 after Papadopoulos relayed that information to Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, and the Australians tipped off U.S. authorities. But there is one major problem with this story: No evidence has been presented to support the claim.
Colleagues Contradict Brennan's Denial of Reliance on Dossier, Paul Sperry, May 15
Former CIA Director John Brennan’s insistence that the salacious and unverified Steele dossier was not part of the official Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 election is being contradicted by two top former officials.
Unpacking the Other Clinton-Linked Russia Dossier, Lee Smith, April 26
A copy of the little-publicized second dossier in the Trump-Russia affair, acquired by RealClearInvestigations, raises new questions about the origins of the Trump investigation, particularly about the role of Clinton partisans and the extent to which the two dossiers may have been coordinated or complementary operations.
U.S. Media Long Carried Putin's Water, by Lee Smith, March 9, 2018
With special counsel Robert Mueller’s latest indictments of alleged Russian trolls, Facebook is facing heavy fire from prominent critics at the New York Times, Washington Post, and other legacy media for uncritically spreading Russian misinformation. Those same news outlets, however, have a history of a history of taking money to distribute Russian propaganda to its influential readers.
Mueller Still Relying on Discredited Steele Dossier, Paul Sperry Feb. 22
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is continuing to use a controversial 35-page dossier financed by the Democratic National Committee and the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign as a "road map” for investigative leads, sources familiar with his investigation say.
CIA Ex-Director Brennan's Perjury Peril, Paul Sperry, Feb. 11
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes plans to investigate the role former CIA Director John Brennan and other Obama intelligence officials played in promoting the salacious and unverified Steele dossier on Donald Trump – including whether Brennan perjured himself when he emphatically denied the dossier factored into the intelligence community’s publicly released conclusion last year that Russia meddled in the 2016 election "to help Trump’s chances of victory.”