With the Justice Department’s release of the “summary” of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, some Americans are spiking the football. There was no coordination or collusion of any kind between Russia and President Donald Trump—or any American, says Mueller. There will be no arrests or indictments for any such alleged crime.
Others remain unconvinced. They are certain that Mueller’s full report, if revealed, will somehow tell an entirely different story. They want the investigations of Trump and his associates to continue. Indeed, some Democrats in Congress promise to soldier on.
But it seems there are a few major questions that all sides might wish to ask.
If, in the end, Mueller found no convincing evidence that Americans colluded with Russia, how did top current and former U.S. intel officials supposedly become so convinced otherwise?
In fact, one might ask, were they really convinced, or were they promulgating a narrative they knew was at best unproven and quite possibly false?
And if so, why?
Answering those questions requires digging into some details that investigators and reporters haven’t seemed terribly curious about. Here are just a few of them.
How and why did ex-MI6 spy Christopher Steele come to meet with certain Russian sources close to President Vladimir Putin in 2016, as they supposedly passed on the wildest sort of rumors about Trump, which Steele then wrote up in his “dossier” for Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS?
Did these Russian sources, Steele, and Simpson conspire to influence the 2016 campaign?
How did the former UK ambassador to Russia, Sir Andrew Wood, learn about the “dossier,” and how was it that he then told Sen. John McCain and McCain’s onetime adviser David Kramer about it as they attended a security conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in November 2016?
Did this contact qualify as an additional foreign attempt to influence our election?
Who at the FBI and Justice Department believed that the dossier, funded by Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign, passed the credibility test without even minimal verification?
Who further determined that the dossier merited inclusion as evidence in an application to wiretap Trump campaign adviser Carter Page?
Who thought it was a valid idea to continue to wiretap Page, time after time after time, as if he were a Russian agent, while they apparently turned up no evidence that he was?
Did any Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges question the FBI’s relentless pursuit of Carter Page and the dragnet the wiretaps allowed them to secretly cast for those around him, including, quite possibly, Trump?
Who was behind the campaign of anti-Trump leaks—frequently including false information—that became ubiquitous in the news media?
Who worked to make the entire false conspiracy theory about Russia colluding with Trump or the Trump campaign dominate our news and political landscape day in and day out?
What does it say about the judgment of some of our one-time top intel officials if they really believed Trump colluded with Russia? This includes former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former national security adviser Susan Rice, and former ambassador Samantha Power.
What other mistakes did they make, and what actions did they take based on any such mistakes?
Were any of the “unmaskings” of American citizens by these intel officials in 2016 politically motivated?
Power reportedly told Congress that many of the hundreds of “unmasking” requests made in her name in 2016 were not made by her. It should be simple to track where those requests originated and who signed her name to them. Has anybody attempted to learn who committed this alleged national security crime?
What did the Justice Department ever do about the criminal referral Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made against Steele in January 2018?
What happened to the criminal referral made by the Justice Department inspector general almost a year ago against former FBI official Andrew McCabe over his alleged lying to investigators about his media contacts?
Has anyone been held accountable for the FBI’s supposedly lost or accidentally erased text messages and emails relevant to the investigation?
Were some of those involved in furthering the false Trump–Russia collusion narrative trying to deflect from real crimes or other wrongdoing? If so, what?
Did Mueller’s investigation touch upon or attempt to answer any of these questions as his work led him to conclude that Trump–Russia collusion never happened?
Sharyl Attkisson is the New York Times bestselling author of “Stonewalled,” a five-time Emmy Award winner, and the host of Sinclair’s national investigative television program “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” She is a recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting and has reported nationally for CBS News, PBS, and CNN.