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“I don’t have any clue who George Nader is,” admits Representative Mike Conaway. The House of Representatives has 435 members, many of them quite ill-informed, so it comes as no shock that a member would admit a total lack of familiarity with a man featured in two A1 stories in the New York Times.
George Nader is a Lebanese-American businessman who attended a suspicious 2016 meeting in the Seychelles with representatives of the Trump team, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates, and is currently cooperating with Robert Mueller. The meeting seemed likely to have been arranged in order to broker some arrangement where Russian sanctions would be lifted and Trump and/or members of his family would get some personal financial benefit. Possibly it had some innocent purpose. It’s the kind of thing a person trying to get to the bottom of the Russia story would definitely want to look into.
What makes Conaway’s lack of familiarity with the name “George Nader” especially troublesome is that Conaway is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and putatively running the lower chamber’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
If you’re getting the idea that maybe Conaway and his party aren’t utterly determined to uncover foul play between Moscow and Trump Tower, your suspicions are warranted. Conaway recently declared the investigation to be nearing its completion. “All investigations have a natural conclusion,” he explained. “As soon as we have everybody interviewed, we’ll start working on the report, we’ll get the report finalized, and we’ll move forward. Every investigation ought to have a conclusion, including this one. So we’re coming towards the end of it.”
Investigations, you see, have a “natural” conclusion. It is out of his hands. And so while Conaway’s committee has not forced the witnesses to answer questions Democrats believe they should answer, or even learned the names of major figures in the underlying investigation, there’s no arguing with nature. Anyway, it’s not like they’re investigating something like Benghazi, which took place in 2012 and was still being investigated four years later in a fruitless attempt to establish that the Obama administration deliberately lied.
But while the investigation into Russian election interference is coming to an end, the investigation into the people who are still investigating it is just getting started. Devin Nunes, who recused himself from overseeing the Russia investigation after being caught sneaking to the White House to coordinate with the administration, has been running a counter-investigation trying to discredit the Department of Justice and the FBI. Nunes and his staff have leaked a continuous stream of pseudo scandals to right-wing news outlets, all of which have claimed to expose nefarious conduct by the Deep State against Trump, and then disintegrated upon inspection. Nunes is now touting a new “explosive” revelation:
The story, reported by right-wing message receptacle John Solomon, reveals that the Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer, who was told by Trump staffer George Papadopoulos that the Trump campaign had illicit dirt Hillary Clinton, once facilitated a donation to fight AIDS through the Clinton Foundation. Downer is a member of Australia’s conservative party, and exactly what his involvement in a charitable donation has to do with any of this is hard to say. Republicans are dutifully expressing suspicions that it means something. “The Clintons’ tentacles go everywhere,” states Representative Mark Meadows, in lieu of any coherent theory.
Meanwhile, Republican members Bob Goodlatte and Trey Gowdy are calling for the appointment of a special counsel to pursue various debunked Republican theories that the FBI has done something wrong in its investigation of Trump. “We think this is a very serious matter regarding conduct by the FBI and by some in the Department of Justice that calls for the appointment of a special counsel who will have subpoena and prosecutorial powers,” exclaims Goodlatte. The House Republicans are winding down their pretend efforts to find out what Russia did in 2016 and who helped them, and ramping up their efforts to smear law enforcement.