by J. Peder Zane
What did Barack Obama and Joe Biden know about the Russiagate collusion hoax their fellow Democrats ginned up to kneecap Donald Trump – and when did they know it? How much did their chicanery contribute to Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade the Ukraine?
Those questions are coming into sharp relief following a definitive report by my RealClearInvestigations colleague Paul Sperry last week that places the worst political scandal in our nation’s history and Putin’s brutal war directly inside the White House.
Drawing on a wide range of documents, many never previously reported, Sperry details how the Obama administration worked closely with the Clinton campaign and a foreign government – Ukraine – in a “sweeping and systematic effort” to interfere in the 2016 election. It turns out Democrats were guilty of every false charge they lodged against Trump.
Their maneuverings began in 2014 when Obama officials supported the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych because he was too close to Putin. Biden, then the vice president, was the Obama administration’s point man on Ukraine. Sperry reports that leaked transcripts of conversations between two high-level officials in both the Obama and Biden administrations – Victoria Nuland and Jake Sullivan – reveal that Biden gave his blessing to the formation of a new coalition government. Sperry writes that Nuland even “traveled to Kiev and helped organize street demonstrations against Yanukovych, even handing out sandwiches to protesters.”
A few months after the anti-Putin government took power next door to Russia, Putin marched into Crimea. Eight years later, he invaded Ukraine.
Top Obama administration officials continued to influence Ukraine’s internal affairs. Biden, for example, would later boast of threatening to withhold aid until the government fired its chief anti-corruption prosecutor – who, among other matters, was investigating the gas company Burisma that was paying his son, Hunter Biden, $83,333 a month for a largely ceremonial position for which he had no qualifications other than his family name. (In 2019, House Democrats would impeach Trump for temporarily withholding aid to Ukraine to pressure it to investigate the Biden family’s dealings there.)
During its final two years, the Obama administration’s dealing with Ukraine became increasingly focused on the 2016 election. Sperry reports that Nuland received some 120 reports on Ukraine from an outside contractor – Christopher Steele. A former British intelligence officer, Steele would soon start working for the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which was paid by the Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on Trump. Fusion’s crown jewel was the so-called Steele dossier, a series of salacious and false memos allegedly cobbled together by Steele that formed the basis of the Trump/Russia collusion theory.
Steele and his Fusion colleagues weren’t the only political operatives working behind the scenes with the Obama administration. In April 2015, the Democratic National Committee hired a Ukrainian-American activist named Alexandra Chalupa as a $5,000-a-month consultant. Chalupa was convinced that Trump’s Achilles heel was Paul Manafort, a lobbyist who had done work for the party led by Viktor Yanukovych. Her effort to attack Trump by exposing Manafort’s alleged Russian ties was the seed of the collusion hoax. Sperry reports that the DNC operative visited the White House at least 27 times during 2015 and 2016. Among the government officials she worked closely with was Eric Ciaramella, the CIA detailee to the White House who would later be the “whistleblower” regarding Trump’s 2019 call with the Ukrainian president that led to his first impeachment.
At the same time, the Obama administration was politicizing its foreign policy for domestic goals. In one of the more damning passages in his article, Sperry reports:
The Obama administration’s enforcement agencies leaned on their Ukrainian counterparts to investigate Manafort, shifting resources from an investigation of a corrupt Ukrainian energy oligarch who paid Biden’s son hundreds of thousands of dollars through his gas company, Burisma.
“Obama’s NSC hosted Ukrainian officials and told them to stop investigating Hunter Biden and start investigating Paul Manafort,” said a former senior NSC official who has seen notes and emails generated from the meetings and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
As it became increasingly clear that Trump would be the GOP’s 2016 nominee, Chalupa and the administration ratcheted up the pressure on Ukrainian officials to denounce Clinton’s rival in order to sanitize their dirty tricks. (Fusion GPS did the same with Steele, having him present himself as an independent former British intelligence agent – while hiding his ties to Clinton – so that his smears would seem apolitical.)
Democrats collaborated with several Ukrainian lawmakers who supported them. This is not surprising because, Sperry reports, while Ukraine might have been a relatively small and poor nation, one of its oligarchs contributed more money to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was secretary of state than any other group of foreign nationals, including the Saudis.
On March 30, 2016 Chalupa wrote to her contact at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington requesting that they express their grave concerns about Trump and Manafort. “Within minutes of sending the email,” Sperry reports, “Chalupa wrote the DNC’s communications director Luis Miranda, ‘The ambassador has the messaging.’ Then she reached out to a friend in Congress, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, about holding hearings to paint Manafort as a pro-Kremlin villain.”
Sperry reports that these efforts paid dividends in August 2016, when Manafort was forced to resign as Trump’s campaign manager because of his previous work in the Ukraine. (Manafort would later be sent to prison on various tax and other charges, none of which involved him doing Russia’s bidding.)
After Trump’s election that November, a Ukrainian lawmaker who had worked with Fusion GPS in the effort to damage the Republican told the Financial Times that his nation believed “a Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy.” He said that most of Ukraine’s politicians were “on Hillary Clinton’s side.”
That, of course, was not the end of the story. Democrats, their allies in the FBI, CIA, and other branches of the government, as well as Never-Trump Republicans – all with the active collaboration of the media – would continue to peddle the Russiagate hoax to damage the commander in chief. On Jan. 5, 2017, just days before they left office, President Obama, Vice President Biden, and others met with then-FBI Director James Comey in the Oval Office. The next day, Comey briefed President-elect Trump about the bogus Steele dossier. CNN then used that meeting as a pretext for trumpeting the false claims of collusion, sparking a media feeding frenzy that led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate the charges bought and paid for by the Clinton campaign.
Sperry’s reporting strongly suggests that Obama and Biden were involved in this scandal well before then. The hydra-headed smear campaign against Trump deployed the powers of the executive branch to take down a political rival.
It is long past time for the media to begin the process of restoring its integrity. It could start by correcting the record – and then pressing Barack Obama and Joe Biden to explain why they accused Donald Trump of doing precisely what they did so effectively, which was involve a foreign nation in a U.S. presidential election.
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J. Peder Zane is an editor for RealClearInvestigations and a columnist for RealClearPolitics.