Few points here:
But there is nothing innately illegal about meeting with "a" Russian, etc. There is plenty illegal about meeting with a Kremlin-backed Russian and planning to disseminate stolen information, etc.
Using an incredibly broad definition of "Kremlin-backed" though. She worked as an attorney for a private sector client who had connections to one guy who was in the government. If you try hard enough, you can probably connect anyone to the government for the country they work in. There's also the issue of even if we accept that she was receiving her marching orders directly from Putin himself, that you'd have to show that the Trump team was aware of this ahead of the meeting.
Secondly, what "stolen information"? She said she had dirt on Clinton. There's nothing wrong with meeting with *anyone* who claims to have something negative about your opponent in an election. The only issues arise when you find out what it is, where it came from, and then make a decision about what to do with it. In this case though, it was a bait and switch. She said she had info about Clinton, but when the met her, she wanted them to take a position on Russian adoption. She was clearly working for some group who cared about this. It could even have been the Kremlin. It doesn't matter though, because nothing at all
came of the meeting. There was certainly nothing illegal nor unethical about taking the meeting, nothing discussed in the meeting was illegal nor unethical, and as it turned out, no decisions or actions were taken by the campaign as a result of the meeting. They all basically went "that was a waste of our time", and moved on. Which is almost certainly why, when asked about meetings with Russians, they didn't even remember it happening. It was a nothing event that they bailed on after 15 minutes.
Which is why the Trump Tower meeting is being investigated and the lies Trump has been telling about it (Trump never knew, it was actually about adoption law, the lawyer was just some lobbyist, etc) are being dismantled.
What lies? Who cares? It's being investigated because it was a "meeting with a Russian", and that's enough. Doesn't matter whether any rules were broken, it fits a political narrative, not a legal one. This was all about supporting the claim that the Trump campaign was collaborating with the Russians to rig the election somehow, and the only thing they could find was this one meeting, this one time, with someone loosely connected to the Russian government, so they could go "See! They did meet with a Russian, so they were lying, so they must be hiding something! Omg! It's a freaking conspiracy!!!"
That's not to say that there's a smoking gun there but there's a solid reason to investigate and look for one.
How much investigation does this require though? At what point do you decide that nothing was done that was illegal or improper. The problem I have with this investigation is that it doesn't seem to have an "off" switch. There does not seem to be a bar that has to be reached, within a certain time, before deciding you've done "enough" to determine whether wrongdoing occurred. And in this case, even if every single thing being claimed about this meeting were true, there's still nothing illegal. No one can even say what *might* have happened at that meeting that violated any law.
It's all about influencing public opinion, not about actually pursuing a legal case. And that's a problem.
Not really, no. There was/is a whole sphere of weird and suspicious stuff around Trump and Russia (the Trump Tower meeting, Sessions "forgetting" about meeting Russians, Manafort's ties to Russia via Ukraine, etc)...
Only suspicious if you present it as so. The Trump Tower meeting isn't suspicious. They met with someone claiming to have information about Clinton, she didn't, and they ended the meeting. What's suspicious about that? I'm sure meetings like that happen all the time during campaigns. Sessions didn't "forget" anything. He assumed (correctly in context) that he was being asked about meetings with Russians as part of his work with the campaign, and not during his normal work as a Senator. If you read the freaking question he was asked, it was absolutely clear that the question was about inappropriate communications between the Trump campaign
and Russians. He answered the question he was asked. He didn't forget anything. His answer was taken out of context and repeated in the media in that out of context manner. Manafort's ties to Russia (via Ukraine of course, because nothing seems to be direct here), were nearly a decade old, were well know, had already been investigated and determined not to be illegal or unethical, and (again) has absolutely no impact or effect on his work during the campaign. He was literally promoted to campaign manager for one month, not because of his contacts with folks in foreign countries, but because of his experience with contested conventions. Once the convention was over, he was let go.
There's nothing suspicious about any of this. This is basically silly conspiracy theory stuff, that would normally be ignored, but because there's political advantage to be had, it's being promoted and repeated in otherwise respectable mainstream media. It's laughable.
... whereas the GPS Fusion document is "But see, he's from another country so it's totally like the same thing!"
No. The GPS Fusion document is evidence of an effort to fabricate false information about a political opponent by a campaign, using a front organization with significant ties to members of the campaign, and laundering it through multiple foreign parties, followed by an effort to launder the document itself through secondary media channels in order to make it look like it had supporting evidence, followed further by the possibility of members of the FBI in positions to make decisions about it, being pre disposed to accept anything, no matter how questionable, which could be used to hurt Trump.
Seriously. The absolute worse case with the whole "Russian collusion" thing is that the Trump campaign somehow laundered political messaging through the... Russians? Um... Why? You don't need Russians to create bogus online accounts and bots to spam folks with negative messaging about a political opponent. There's usually plenty of domestic folks willing and able to do that all on their own right here in the USA. We're talking about messaging which *might* influence people's votes. Maybe.
The suspicions in terms of what happened with Fusion GPS run into issues of potential abuse of power within our own government. That's massively more problematic. Elections already run on advertising and messaging to influence votes. A tiny bit more, which may be funded by a foreign party (which, btw, is not illegal either), is more or less lost in the wash of messaging going on during an election. Members of the FBI abusing their power to affect investigations? That's a much bigger thing. Possibility of collusion between the Clinton campaign, the Obama DoJ, and potentially even some in the intelligence agencies, designed to help her win an election, and to hurt Trump when he won? That's a huge conspiracy. So huge, that we should not hesitate to investigate. The damage that can cause is far worse than the worst case scenario with "Russian meddling".
If Clinton's campaign had a bunch of links to the British government and the US intelligence service said that the UK was trying to hack into our systems and there were numerous other examples of Britain trying to sway the election, then maybe "See, he was a British spy once!" would be "true on the flip side". As is, it's just weak "whataboutism". Which is why Nunes & Co made a bunch of noise about the GPS Fusion report and the sham hearings that all resulted in a bunch of nothing. But it was great for tricking people into thinking there was some sort of equivalence.
It is so entirely not about the nationality of Steele. Wow are you off the mark there.