At exactly the time Clinton was rolling out the Trump-Russia narrative, based on the DNC email hacking, Alexander Downer — an Australian ambassador who once arranged a $25 million contribution to the Clinton Foundation, and who was closely tied to Steele’s British intelligence colleagues — suddenly remembered a conversation two months earlier with a nondescript Trump campaign adviser. That young fellow, George Papadopoulos, had made a vague remark about hearing that the Russians had some kind of compromising information about Mrs. Clinton. Eureka, Downer exclaimed to himself, Papadopoulos must have meant the DNC emails! Whereupon the diplomat sauntered over to the U.S. embassy to alert officials from the Obama State Department that Secretary Clinton used to run.

Quite the leap of logic. Remember, the DNC emails did not involve Clinton. Plus, even Downer admits that Papadopoulos never mentioned the word emails in their barroom conversation. There is not a scintilla of indication that Papadopoulos knew anything about DNC emails or Russia’s suspected hacking of them. Months earlier, he says he had been told by the mysterious Maltese academic, Josef Mifsud, that the Kremlin might have Mrs. Clinton’s own emails from her non-secure homebrew server — which, if the conversation really happened, would have made Mifsud about the zillionth person to so hypothesize on that subject. (See, e.g., Director Comey’s July 5 remarks: “We assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.”)

No matter. At the same time that Hillary Clinton had her campaign proclaim that the DNC emails had been hacked by Russia as part of a corrupt Trump–Putin conspiracy to swing the election to Trump, and Steele dutifully reported that the DNC emails had been hacked by Russia as part of a corrupt Trump-Putin conspiracy to swing the election to Trump, the FBI opened Crossfire Hurricane on — you’ll never guess! — suspicion that the DNC emails had been hacked by Russia as part of a corrupt Trump–Putin conspiracy to swing the election to Trump.