Reacting to conservative commentators and opinion hosts pushing for an investigation of the investigators following the completion of the Mueller report, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace burst Fox viewers’ bubble Friday, informing them that the Russia investigation did not begin with the infamous Steele dossier.
Following the release of Attorney General William Barr’s four-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report that said the Trump campaign did not conspire with Russia in its 2016 election interference, Republicans and right-wing media personalities have declared the need to open an investigation into how the Russia probe started, claiming it was part of a Deep State coup to stop Donald Trump. This culminated in conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh ranting to Fox News Thursday about the need for “accountability.”
“They began an investigation based on a phony dossier created and written by associates of Hillary Clinton. It was opposition research,” Limbaugh told Fox News anchor Bret Baier. “This is outrageous what has happened here. There needs to be an investigation into this. There needs to be accountability for everybody who participated in this.”
During Friday morning’s broadcast of America’s Newsroom, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer highlighted Limbaugh’s remarks while noting that the Department of Justice inspector general is looking into how the FISA warrants were handled by the FBI. Wallace, meanwhile, said there was “one other point” he’d like to make.
“This will drive some of our viewers nuts,” the Fox News Sunday host noted. “The Trump investigation did not start with the FISA warrant and Carter Page and the dossier.”
The dossier in question was compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele during the 2016 presidential election for research firm Fusion GPS, alleging there was a conspiracy between Donald Trump and the Russian government. The document began circulating in the media in the fall of 2016 and was eventually published in January 2017 by BuzzFeed after then-FBI Director James Comey briefed President-elect Trump on it.
Wallace continued: “It started in June and July of 2016 when George Papadopoulos had spoken to a Russian agent and spoke to an Australian diplomat and said he had heard they had information on—dirt on Hillary Clinton.”
As Hemmer attempted to interject, Wallace demanded Hemmer let him finish his thought, adding that while potential FISA abuses are a “legitimate basis of inquiry” it is “not where the investigation started.”
Hemmer, meanwhile, said he thought they needed to “add we think in quotes” because “the story is not entirely yet revealed,” prompting Wallace to push back.
“I don’t think there is any doubt they started investigating—I mean, everybody agrees they started investigating in the summer of 2016,” Wallace declared. “Look, I’m not saying what they did was right or any of that but we know that’s when the investigation started. There has been documentation of that.”