In an enormous story that the media is doing their slam best to ignore, National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe just dropped a bombshell on the Senate Judiciary Committee: Hillary Clinton approved a plan in 2016 to “stir up a scandal” about Trump and Russia that would distract from the controversy surrounding her private email server. Ratcliffe told the committee that a Russian intelligence analysis in July 2016 confirmed that Clinton signed off on a plan “tying Trump to Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee.”

This is a lot to process, so let’s see what we have here. For one thing, let’s not forget that – if Clinton signed off on this plan in late July of 2016 – we’re looking at a date only weeks after she was exonerated by FBI Director James Comey for her email scandal. While that speech seemed to put the matter of Clinton’s server to bed as far as the law was concerned, it certainly didn’t protect her politically. Comey used the speech to rip into the former Secretary of State’s “gross recklessness” in exposing classified material to an unsecured server, where it could have been tapped into by a foreign government.

At that point, Clinton had to do something to take the focus off the email scandal, which was threatening to capsize her entire campaign.

That’s interesting in and of itself, but what’s more interesting is that the Democratic National Convention didn’t kick off until July 25. And it was only on July 22 that we learned that the DNC had been hacked by…well, who we were told were Russian government spies. But already, the Clinton campaign had hired former British spy Christopher Steele to start dredging up links between Trump and Russia. How coincidental that, just as this scheme was being concocted, that Russians themselves would pop up, hack the DNC, and start publishing emails on WikiLeaks!

At National Review, Andrew McCarthy notes:

Days after the hacked DNC emails began being published, Steele generated a dossier report alleging that Trump was in “a well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with “Russian leadership.” The “evidence of extensive conspiracy between Trump’s campaign team and [the] Kremlin,” Steele claimed, included the hacking and publication of DNC emails: “[T]the Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the [DNC] to the WikiLeaks platform.” This “operation,” Steele maintained, “had the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of his campaign team.” In exchange, Trump had purportedly committed both to downplay Russian intervention in Ukraine and raise American defense commitments to NATO as campaign issues.

We now know, of course, that Steele based his dossier on a combination of publicly-available information, Russian disinformation, speculation, and conversations with a U.S.-based think-tanker named Igor Danchenko. But boy, the narrative certainly served the Clinton machine well as a way of feeding lines to the media – lines whispering that “something” was going on between Trump and Russia. That narrative didn’t fully capture the media’s imagination until after the election, but it was already in the atmosphere in the months leading up to it.

In the meantime (and for two years after), the FBI and the Special Counsel wasted untold millions of taxpayer money chasing down a conspiracy theory that had no more validity than PizzaGate or any other internet-fueled nonsense. All because – apparently – Hillary Rodham Clinton wanted to get the media talking about something other than her emails.