The coronavirus isn’t the only disease that endangers the health of the nation. Though it threatens to sweep everything that came before it into the dustbin of memory, the virus had a precursor that insidiously infected the U.S. justice system. When Americans rise from their sick bed in due course, they should renew their insistence in discovering who is responsible for the Trump-Russia collusion hoax. Unless the sordid details are exposed of how trusted officials trampled on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens in an effort to unseat President Trump, there will be no assurance that it could not happen again.
It was only three months ago when Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz popped the FBI’s puffed-up reputation for dealing in “just the facts, ma’am” by reporting that the agency’s warrant applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court targeting Trump campaign associate Carter Page were replete with 17 errors. Washington might be the nation’s most watched soap opera, but virus fears have diverted Americans’ attention to their own use of soap.
In the meantime, chief FISA Court Judge James Boasberg recently concluded that errors incorporated into the pursuit of Mr. Page were, in fact, intentional: “There is thus little doubt that the government breached its duty of candor to the Court with respect to those applications,” he wrote in an order mandating remedial measures for future FISA applications.
In recent days, independent investigative reporter John Solomon has unearthed evidence that the FBI had obtained evidence debunking the Trump-Russia collusion narrative by the time Mr. Trump took office, but chose to proceed anyway, triggering special counsel Robert Mueller’s futile collusion snipe hunt. As a result, members of the Trump team were needlessly de-cleated in the scramble to take down the president.
Michael Flynn was fired as White House national security adviser for allegedly lying to the FBI about his communications with Russians. It is clear now the charge was bogus and agents who questioned him knew it. In a letter to Mr. Flynn’s defense lawyers obtained by Mr. Solomon, Mueller probe investigators referred to a document summarizing agents’ conclusion that Mr. Flynn had no illegal ties to Russia: “According to an internal DOJ memo dated January 30, 2017, after the Jan. 24 interview, the FBI advised that based on the interview the FBI did not believe Flynn was acting as an agent of Russia.”
If Lady Justice were in charge, Mr. Flynn would have been exonerated. But the Department of Justice nonetheless charged him with lying about extraneous details of the matter. His tribulations continue as he awaits sentencing, more than three years later.
Both the FISA court and the Horowitz report pointed out the FBI also possessed — and hid — exculpatory statements in the cases of Mr. Page and fellow Trump campaign associate George Papadopoulos, which early on undermined the bureau’s basis for investigating them. Like Mr. Flynn, Mr. Papadopoulos was prosecuted for lying to agents who should never have darkened his door. He served two weeks behind bars — stolen time he will never get back.
Government unrestrained by a fundamental sense of fairness is un-American. It falls to Congress to ensure the proper use of the FISA process. If reforms fail to keep U.S. citizens safe from surveillance meant for foreign bad actors, the threats to civil liberties endured by Mr. Trump and his unsuspecting campaign team will persist, endangering others.
As jarring as recent events may seem, life has seldom sailed on placid waters. The ancient Greeks faced their share of quandaries, and playwrights of classic tragedies were fond of unraveling moral questions of justice in the closing act with a clever gimmick — deus ex machina, or god from the machine. An actor portraying an all-knowing divinity would descend by rope into the midst of confusion to issue an unassailable solution that had escaped the ken of mortal men.
Though currently distracted by disease, Americans are still due an answer to whether justice in the Trump-Russia collusion drama has been denied or simply delayed. Justice Department officials have yet to be punished for their deceitful acts, except in the court of public opinion. That could be remedied by U.S. Attorney John Durham, whose investigation into the roots of the judicial mischief proceeds. Durham ex machina would help heal an ailing nation.
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