This Is Not America
The New York Times reported Thursday night that Attorney General Bill Barr's jaunt around the globe to chase down every weird conspiracy theory about the origins of the Russia investigation that falls out of Donald Trump's ass is now a criminal investigation, which means John Durham, the US attorney ostensibly leading the investigation, now has power to impanel a grand jury, issue subpoenas, and yes, bring criminal charges.
Against people who investigated Russia's attack on the 2016 election that helped install Donald Trump in office.
If this news is what it seems like it is, then America is on thin ice. This is Kremlin shithole banana republic stuff, which shouldn't surprise us, because a Kremlin shithole banana republic guy is president of the United States.
So is Trump just going after his political enemies and using the strong arm of the Justice Department, led by Bill Barr, his low-rent frumpy Roy Cohn stand-in, to do it? Well, it would appear that way, wouldn't it! Think about it. Trump literally thinks the men and women who have conducted these investigations have committed treason.
Ever since the beginning of Trump's presidency, he has done everything he can to turn into Public Enemy No. 1 every single person involved with investigating whether or not he or his campaign conspired with our adversary Russia in its to project to steal an American election. He fired FBI Director James Comey. He's led insane Twitter campaigns against Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two FBI officials who were not only extra-maritally fucking, but who also are known for being experts in going after Russian spies and Russian organized crime, respectively. (Page's team in Budapest helped put together the bribery case against Ukrainian oligarch and alleged frontman for the Russian mob Dmitry Firtash, who is suddenly a star of the Trump-Ukraine scandal, as he seemingly tried to trade fake dirt on Joe Biden for the Justice Department's help with the case the Chicago feds brought against him. Weird, right?)
Another one of Trump's bêtes noires is Bruce Ohr, who, big surprise, is an expert on Russian organized crime and the Russian mob.
And that's just scratching the surface of Americans Donald Trump despises. (We haven't mentioned Andrew McCabe, whom Trump and his Justice Department have been targeting for ages. Mentioning him right now!)
Before last night's news, it had been reported that what began as a simple review has significantly expanded lately, with Durham's team wanting to interview former CIA director John Brennan (one of Trump's perceived biggest threats, with whom he is obsessed to the point he tried to take Brennan's security clearance away) and former director of national intelligence James Clapper (Trump hates him too). NBC News reported Durham's also been wanting to talk to CIA people "involved in the intelligence assessment of Russia's activities," we guess just to find out if they've been framing Russia this whole time like Donald Trump obviously believes.
"All roads lead to Putin," just like Nancy Pelosi said.
So What Supposedly 'Criminal' Acts Might Barr And Durham Be Investigating?
LOL who fuckin' knows. We doubt Bill Barr or John Durham even knows. Quick, guys, make something up! According to the Justice Department manual, for a criminal investigation to be opened, "there must be an objective, factual basis for initiating the investigation; a mere hunch is insufficient." But then again, this is the vile Trump-fellating Bill Barr Justice Department, so who knows if they're even looking at the manual anymore.
Maybe Durham is investigating whether Peter Strzok was BIAAAASSSSSSSSS against Trump, which is obviously illegal under our new American laws, which say that if you hurt Donald Trump's feelings, you are a common no-gooder like Hillary Clinton and LOCK HER UP.
Of course they are obviously investigating whether it is against the law to do FISA surveillance on people the FBI has suspected of being Russian spies for YEARSFUCKINGYEARS, like Trump campaign useful idiot Carter Page.
Here's one for Trump's batshit Bible of conspiracy theories:
Mr. Durham has also asked whether C.I.A. officials might have somehow tricked the F.B.I. into opening the Russia investigation.
Yeah, you bet. Sounds like the CIA to us. "Trick or treat smell my feet, FBI! Hahahaha, you are doing a Russia investigation now, TRICKED YOU!"
As the Times notes, the FBI actually opened the investigation without info from the CIA, but whatever, Barr and Durham, you do your thing.
The Times reports that Barr and Durham haven't actually interviewed any of the key players yet, so they're obviously working really hard. Of course that's probably because they've been super-busy gallivanting around the globe to Italy and the UK to find out if Trump's debunked right-wing conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation have any merit. (SPOILER, they don't.)
Durham has been busy on other fronts. He traveled with Barr to the United Kingdom and Italy in an effort to examine the contributions of foreign countries to the Russia probe. A Justice Department spokeswoman said the list of countries being examined includes Ukraine, but she declined to say whether Durham is investigating "corruption related to the DNC server," as [Mick] Mulvaney put it in his Thursday news conference. [...]
A Western intelligence official familiar with what Durham has been asking of foreign officials says his inquiries track closely with the questions raised about the Russia investigation in right-wing media.
And what is that conspiracy theory? Well ... let's see here goes. They believe that ...
The Deep State and the Italian government did NO COLLUSION and sent a weirdo Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud to TRICK Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos into thinking the Russians had dirty Hillary Clinton emails, thereby forcing Pap to get drunk and barf that intel all over an Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, in London, at which point (AND ACCORDING TO THE PLAN!) Downer told the FBI what was going on, which gave the Deep State the fake reason it needed to do a witch hunt of Donald Trump, who is pure as the driven snow and NO COLLUSION, NO COLLUSION, YOU ARE THE COLLUSION.
Additionally, the Russians did not hack the DNC, the DNC hacked the DNC, something something SETH RICH, and then buried the evidence in the backyard in Ukraine and all of this was done to make it look like Russia was trying to help Trump, and the dastardly plot worked so well that Trump was elected president and Hillary Clinton is eating grapes in Chappaqua right now. (Well, not right now right now, she is at the Baltimore funeral of the deeply beloved Rep. Elijah Cummings.)
That is what Bill Barr and John Durham have been in Italy and the UK asking people about with straight faces. It's a wonder none of our allies have gently suggested maybe they should go to the brain hospital to find out if there is something wrong with their brains. For the record, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte reaffirmed this very week that
Bill Barr is huffing paint the Italian government had neither shit nor shinola to do with the origins of the Russia investigation, therefore Barr and Durham's dumbass LOL Carmen Sandiego on Bath Salts adventure around the globe remains as batshit as it ever was.
Barr has also said one thing Durham is trying to figure out is whether Trump is right when he asserts that the Obama Deep State put secret ghosts in his underpants to spy on his campaign, which is a definite possibility if you are a fucking crazy person. OK, Barr didn't say it that way, but we all remember when he sat before Congress and literally said with his mouth, "I think spying did occur, yes. I think spying did occur."
Like we said, banana republic Russian shit.
Funny How We're Learning Of This Right Now!
Regardless of what the Justice Department is actually doing as it reportedly investigates itself for supposed crimes against Donald Trump and his Russian handlers (allegedly), it's notable that we're learning about it right after after Trump desperately extorted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to make an announcement on CNN that he's investigating Joe Biden and the real (not real) story of the 2016 election. After that didn't work, because Trump got caught and is now being impeached, we learned this very week that Rudy Giuliani's Chucklefucks, right before they were arrested at Dulles, were on their way to Vienna to try to set up a Sean Hannity interview with corrupt former Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, so that he could say some lies to Hannity about Joe Biden and the real (not real) story of the 2016 election, because that is a thing Shokin has some thoughts about.
Well hell, if Trump can't get it from Zelenskiy, and he can't get it from Shokin, then BY GOLLY GOD, he's going to get it from his banana republic Justice Department! And they're gonna ANNOUNCE IT in the NEW YORK MOTHERFUCKIN' TIMES! So now, regardless of what's really happening behind the scenes, Trump will scream from the mountaintops, or at least from the top of his golden toilet as he tweets and shits, that the Justice Department is finally going after the REAL criminals, i.e. the folks in the FBI and CIA who thought it was bad that Trump's best friend Putin was attacking American democracy to install his dumbass shitmouthed puppet Trump in the presidency.
Exactly what he's been wanting the news to talk about all along!
What we're saying is that we are pretty sure that this story was leaked by Trump people who wanted to change the subject from impeachment. Well SURPRISE FUCKERS, but as soon as we're done writing this gargantuan post about Bill Barr investigating Donald Trump's conspiracy-addled anal leakage, we're going right back to impeachment! (Here are a couple of threads you should read about why this is probably a very strategic leak from Trump's Justice Department.)
Again, every one of these idiots' batshit conspiracy theories -- Ukraine is the real collusion, the DNC buried its server in the backyard in Ukraine, George Papadopoulos was FRAAAAAMED, all of it -- has been thoroughly and entirely debunked, and people who believe in them will probably get their own section in the DSM-V before too long. Hell, Trump's own first Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert affirmed recently that all this shit has been debunked, and that he's tired of it festering in Trump's brain.
Also to be clear, the fact that Russia attacked the 2016 election to help Donald Trump is not in question! It has been established as fact, by the US intelligence community, by the Mueller Report, and by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, which has stated loudly and clearly that Russia did it, and they did it for Trump.
So How Bad Is This Really?
It's bad. But there are a lot of open questions. For instance, what the fuck are Barr and Durham are really fuckin' doing here?
Former DOJ official and MSNBC analyst Chuck Rosenberg appeared on Maddow last night and said this story strikes a lot of "discordant" notes for him, because he (and many others you'll see on Twitter) has worked with Durham, respects Durham, and likes Durham, who has led investigations like this before. If Barr wanted this clownshow to have the thinnest patina of legitimacy, he got it by appointing Durham for the task. (Of course, one thing Durham has a reputation for is being slooooooooow, so this may be going on a very long time, which redounds to Trump's benefit in the 2020 election, because Trump can keep it as a live issue.)
So on one hand, if Durham were taking his job seriously and for real investigating Donald Trump's fever dreams (if only to eliminate them as suspects), then one way for him to definitively conclude there is no "there" there (because there's not) would be for him to impanel a grand jury and interview every witness and cross every T and dot every I, then finally say "ALL FINISHED!" and close his criminal investigation without producing any criminals. (He's done it before!)
That's the best-case scenario. All the other scenarios are very bad, because all the "on the other hands" we can think of involve Bill Barr turning the Justice Department into an AR-15 and committing a mass shooting attack against the United States Constitution.
So ... who knows!
Of course, we're not actually worried they're going to find something legitimate to discredit the Russia investigation. They would literally have to make something up, and everybody in America with two brain cells to rub together knows this is some banana republic bullshit and doesn't trust a goddamned word Bill Barr has to say about anything.
So as Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said last night on Maddow, "BRIIIIIING IT." He did not add FUUUUUUUUUUCK THESE CLOWNS, but we are pretty sure he was thinking it.
We're not scared of the truth. They are.
Never forget that.
Follow Evan Hurst on Twitter RIGHT HERE, DO IT RIGHT HERE!
Wonkette is fully funded by readers like YOU. If you love Wonkette, SUPPORT WONKETTE FINANCIALLY.