The aftermath of the 2016 election has revealed the criminality of the Democrats, the perfidy of the Deep State, the corruption of the press, and the bought and paid for motives of the scribblers in the conservative pundit class.
And Trump won despite all that. In many ways it reminds me of a Soviet operation called The Trust. If you missed Reilly -- Ace of Spies, Edward Jay Epstein describes how the Soviets created a fake anti-Soviet group called The Trust and used it to nab dissidents plotting to overthrow the regime.
Fusion GPS’ dossier was a replay of a classic Soviet disinformation campaign.
"The Trust was not an anti-Soviet organization, it only imitated one." In reality, he continued, the Trust was a creature of the Soviet secret police. Its purpose was not to overthrow Communism, but to manipulate real anti-communist organizations into misleading the West.
In much the same way, I believe, Russian agents working for the Clintons and the DNC through Fusion GPS and its hireling Christopher Steele provided fake information in a dossier which the FBI (headed by James Comey) and the Department of Justice (headed by Loretta Lynch ) used to craft an affidavit to obtain a FISA warrant authorizing electronic surveillance on people connected, however tangentially, to the Trump campaign. This, after previous such warrants had -- and this is unusual -- been turned down by the FISA court. Then-president Obama allowed the surveilled communications to be widely circulated throughout the government, so that the names of the targets caught up in the surveillance and their communications were thus widely available for leaking, and were leaked.
As Byron York noted in a series of tweets, here were some of the dossier’s sources:
The Trust was funded by émigrés who believed it was legit. And the Russian anti-Trump phony dossier was, we now know, funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, which would have us believe that their lawyer Marc Elias, who received over $9 million for unspecified work, did this without their consent or knowledge.
(Fusion GPS was also funded during the nomination period -- and before Fusion GPS and Steele were poking around Russia, by Washington Free Beacon, something that it -- like Elias -- admitted shortly before a likely court ruling that Fusion’s bank account information had to be provided to congressional investigators.) In any event, their work with Fusion GPS ended with the nomination of Trump. They had nothing to do with the hiring of Fusion GPS and the creation and distribution of the dossier.
The Washington Free Beacon is a right-of-center publication, and certainly has done some fine work in the past, but its links to the anti-Trump crowd of the right is unmistakable. The publication is largely funded by hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, who strongly supports gay rights and open borders. Among its original board members were Bill Kristol, and both the present editors, Michael Goldfarb (formerly deputy communications director for John McCain) and Matthew Continetti (Kristol’s son-in-law) both worked for the Weekly Standard while Kristol was its editor. Kristol, as you may recall, worked hard to promote others to run against Trump for the nomination. Singer financially supported Marco Rubio for the nomination. His aide, Dan Senor, was a senior advisor to vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan and reportedly retains strong ties to him.
I seriously doubt that any candidate Paul Singer would prefer could ever have won the general election. Singer strongly opposed both Ted Cruz and Trump.
The dossier was a means for the Russians at no cost the them to provide the Democrats with disinformation to be used against Trump.
Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist does the most thorough job of clearing the air on the dossier.
Space and copyright limitations keep me from quoting more of it, but here are the ten things about the dossier Hemingway thinks you should know:
“1) Russian officials were sources of key claims in dossier”
“2) No, the Russian dossier was not initially funded by Republicans”
“3) The dossier is chock full of discredited information”
“4) The dossier was used as a basis for wiretaps on American citizens”
5) The FBI also paid for the dossier
...When Trump asked about the FBI payment, many political journalists feigned shock and outrage that he would make such a claim.
They should not have. Their outlets had already reported that the FBI had tried to pay for the dossier and had, in fact, reimbursed expenses for the dossier. We do not know if those expenses include the payments to the Russian officials for salacious stories on Republican nominee for president Trump.
6) Dossier publisher Fusion GPS works with shady outfits”
7) Fusion GPS’ ties to media are problematic
The principals at Fusion GPS are well-connected to mainstream media reporters. They are former journalists themselves, and know how to package stories and provide information to push narratives. They are, in fact, close friends with some of the top reporters who have covered the Russia-Trump collusion story.
Fusion GPS has placed stories with friendly reporters while fighting congressional investigators’ attempts to find out the group’s sources of funding. Fusion GPS leaders have taken the Fifth and fought subpoenas for information about the group’s involvement with Russia.
8) Jim Comey personally briefed Trump on the dossier, shortly before CNN reported it
What really got the ball rolling on last year’s Russia-Trump conspiracy theory, then, was not the dossier itself but the briefing of it by Obama intelligence chiefs to President-elect Trump in January. Former FBI head Jim Comey admitted under oath that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asked him to personally brief President Trump about this dossier. The fact of that meeting was quickly leaked to CNN.
Given the dossier’s many problems, was the entire purpose of the meeting to produce the leak that the meeting happened?
9) Mueller investigation spurred by dossier and illegal leaks from intelligence operatives about Trump.
We know from previous reporting that the dossier of Russia-supplied information or disinformation was used by the FBI to secure a warrant to spy on an American citizen advising an opposing political party’s presidential campaign. We know that this dossier was funded at least in part by the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and the FBI. The firm that produced the report was itself funded by Russians.
10) The Steele dossier was a Clinton/DNC-funded operation supported by the FBI and influenced heavily by Russian operatives in the Kremlin The Clinton campaign, the DNC, and the FBI all worked wittingly or unwittingly with Russians to affect the results of the 2016 election. Far from just meeting with a Russian and not getting dirt on a political opponent, these groups wittingly or unwittingly paid Russian operatives for disinformation to harm Trump during the 2016 election and beyond.
Worse, these efforts perverted our justice system by forcing the attorney general to recuse himself for the crime of having served as a surrogate on the Trump campaign, spawning a massive, sprawling, limitless probe over Russia.[/quote]
Fusion GPS was also doing work directly for the Russians, which makes its claims doubly suspect:
You see, the Russian lawyer -- often carelessly presented as a “Russian government lawyer” with “close ties to Putin” -- Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump, [sic -- actually it was Donald Trump, Jr.] also worked recently with a Washington, D.C. “commercial research and strategic intelligence firm” that is also believed to have lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. That firm, which also doubles as an opposition research shop, is called Fusion GPS—famous for producing the Russia dossier distributed under the byline of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent for hire.[snip]
Yet at the same time that Fusion GPS was fueling a campaign warning against a vast Russia-Trump conspiracy to destroy the integrity of American elections, the company was also working with Russia to influence American policy -- by removing the same sanctions that Trump was supposedly going to remove as his quid pro quo for Putin’s help in defeating Hillary.Yet it is rare to read stories about comms shops like Fusion GPS because traditional news organizations are reluctant to bite the hands that feed them. But they are the news behind the news—well known to every D.C. beat reporter as the sources who set the table and provide the sources for their big “scoops.” The ongoing transformation of foundering, profitless news organizations into dueling proxies for partisan comms operatives is bad news for American readers, and for our democracy. But it is having a particularly outsized effect on reporting in the area of foreign policy, where expert opinion is prized—and easily bought—and most reporters and readers are only shallowly informed.
The record clearly belies the Clinton-DNC (Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and John Podesta) claim that they didn’t know about the dossier.
In the first place, it is impossible to believe that they handed over $9 million to their lawyer without restriction or oversight. (Yes, I know the Department of State under then-secretary Clinton cannot account for $6 billion dollars, but this was their money, not ours, and I expect they paid more serious attention to it.) Once the bills are turned over to investigators, we’ll see who signed off on them. And we’ll find out soon whether Fusion was listed as a vendor in campaign-finance filings as the law requires.
Interestingly enough, one of Elias’ partners engaged Crowd Strike, ostensibly to review the claim that the DNC server had been hacked by Russia, and Comey’s FBI accepted their review without ever demanding to examine it themselves.
Daniel Greenfield once again does a fine job of analyzing the use made of the dossier and why Fusion GPS was engaged to dish the dirt.
The DNC, Hillary campaign and Obama Administration used former British intelligence agent Fusion GPS’ Christopher Steele as an interface to create deniability, allowing them, in effect, to launder the dossier and create a pretext for snooping on Trump and publicizing whatever dirt they might dig up on his campaign no matter how incredible the sources and product.
Hiring Fusion GPS and then Steele created two degrees of separation between the dossier and Hillary. A London ex-intel man is a strange choice for opposition research in an American election, but a great choice to create a plausible ‘source’ that appears completely disconnected from American politics. [snip]
The official story is that Steele was a dedicated whistleblower who decided to message an FBI pal for reasons “above party politics” while the Fusion GPS boss was so dedicated that he spent his own money on it after the election. Some figures in the FBI decided to take Steele’s material, offering to pay him for his work and reimbursing some of his expenses. Portions of the dossier were used to justify the FISA eavesdropping on Trump officials and were then rolled into the Mueller investigation. [snip]
But there isn’t supposed to be a link between the Democrats and the eavesdropping.
That’s why Marc Elias, the Clinton campaign and DNC lawyer who hired Fusion GPS, had denied it in the past. It’s why Fusion GPS fought the investigation so desperately. Opposition research isn’t a crime. A conspiracy to eavesdrop on your political opponents however is very much a criminal matter.
A forensic examination of the dirty dossier’s journey shows us that this modern Watergate was a collaborative effort between an outgoing Democrat administration and its expected Dem successor.
Greenfield details how the dossier was used to astroturf and create a demand for an investigation, which ultimately resulted in Sessions’ recusal and the appointment of a special counsel. He reminds us that the Obama administration had done such stuff before, spying on congressional opponents on the Iran Deal. (Recall how that spying was used to tar Congresswoman Jane Harmon); giving money to non-profit organizations to spur the media coverage, whispering tidbits to complaisant media shills, and smuggling billions to Iran. And, as he notes, there was the IRS shutdown of conservative groups (for which they finally apologized this week) and the lies about Libya.
Notably, when they thought the Russia “collusion” fairytale was not gathering enough steam, Steele personally briefed David Corn, the same propagandist who confected the story that Valerie Plame was a covert agent deliberately targeted by the Bush Administration as payback against her husband Joe Wilson.
But even more damning is the fact that Hillary herself started tweeting about the dossier shortly after GPS was hired -- even though she claims she knew nothing about it.
The first FISA request was made in June and was turned down. In July Fusion GPS was hired. According to James Comey, the FBI began investigating “collusion” reports in July of 2016, Beginning on August 15, Hillary started tweeting about Trump and Russia. She tweeted again on September 7, September 26, October 7, October 25, October 31. The second request was made in October. It was on October 31 when Corn, now at Mother Jones “broke the story of a ‘veteran spy’ who gave the FBI information on Trump’s alleged connections to Russia.” It wasn’t until Buzz Feed published the dossier that we could see how preposterous the story was. Mother Jones was just a small part of the media collaboration in spreading the manure -- Slate worked it also, and larger outlets got involved.
Former CIA case officer Lee Smith reveals how shoddy was the dossier:
The dossier was designed to dig up “dirt” on Trump and his associates, but, more to the point, it was clearly intended from the start to do so by manufacturing and nurturing a Russian angle. It sought to discredit Donald Trump and to deceive the public, which suggests that Trump has been right all along regarding something like a conspiracy against him which included the active participation of the FBI and possibly other national security agencies.
The president also comes across as credible vis-à-vis his critics because of what has become evident since the dossier was surfaced. The clearly politically motivated multiple investigations carried out so far in which no rock has been unturned have come up with absolutely nothing, either in the form of criminal charges or in terms of actual collusion with a foreign government. And, one might add, there has been little in the way of evidence to sustain the charge that Russia sought to influence the election and might even have succeeded in doing so. But there is one thing new that we do know now: Russiagate began within the Clinton Campaign headquarters.
Trey Gowdy tweeted: “Did FBI rely on a document that looks like the National Enquirer prepared it?” Looks that way. Andrew McCarthy at National Review tweets “Trump DOJ should declassify & disclose FISA app to show what representations were made to court about source of dossier claims.”
That seems uncontestable.