The Transom, Ben Domenech, October 26, 2017
There are a number of reasons the Fusion GPS story related to the Russia dossier is a big deal. First, it is as many fair observers conceded yesterday an enormous victory for Donald Trump, who had previously claimed that this was a Hillary Clinton/DNC backed dirty trick used as the basis to launch both political attacks and an investigation against him – he is, in this instance, thoroughly vindicated. But second and more importantly, it opens up a host of questions about the FBI, questions that are uncomfortable and go to the heart of the politicization of intelligence and security entities under the Obama administration.
It’s not really a question why a place like Fusion would hire a guy like Christopher Steele – they do opposition research and funnel it to willing journalists, and the threshold for accuracy there is not very high, just credible enough to invite the credulous to repeat such claims. But the threshold for accuracy at the FBI should be much, much higher, right? Especially when we’re potentially talking about using partisan opposition research as the basis for a FISA warrant? Especially when we’re talking about using partisan opposition research regarding the president-elect of the United States?
Apparently, and disturbingly, this does not seem to be the case. Here are the 10 most important reported claims about the Steele dossier on Russia. http://vlt.tc/324j “Journalists who are friendly with Fusion GPS and opponents of the Trump administration claim, without any evidence of any kind beyond anonymous sources’ vague say-so, that the dossier has parts that were “verified.” That could mean something as simple as the parts about Russia trying to find information about Trump, or about Trump affiliates having friendly business relations with Russians. We have no evidence to suggest that anything significant from the dossier has been verified. And we don’t know how much, if any, was actually deliberate disinformation from the Russian government sources.
“We have reports that the freelance spy who put together some of the information in the dossier was paying Russians for their information and used intermediaries. Former acting CIA director and Hillary Clinton campaign surrogate Michael Morrell said this was discrediting:
“‘Then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris. And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former [Russian Federal Security Service] officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, ‘Hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,’ because they want to get paid some more,’ Morrell said.
“Far from being “verified,” the dossier is better described as demonstrably false. That includes getting basic facts about Russia wrong, making claims — such as the claim that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen met with Federation Council foreign affairs head Konstantin Kosachev in Prague — that are verifiably wrong, making cartoonishly outlandish claims about finances, and various other problems.
“In March, Washington Post used anonymous sources to report the FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to spy on U.S. citizen Carter Page, an unpaid and informal adviser to the Donald Trump campaign, as part of an investigation into links between Russia and the Trump campaign. CNN used anonymous sources to report that the infamous “golden showers” dossier was used as part of the justification to win approval to monitor the Trump associate.
“A Clinton campaign opposition research operation using information or disinformation from top Russian intelligence officials was used by the FBI, these sources say, to enable spying on an opposing political party’s campaign.”
RELATED: Speaker Paul Ryan backs House subpoena on Trump dossier, slams FBI ‘stonewalling.’ http://vlt.tc/3240 FEC complaint: Hillary for America & DNC failure to disclose payments for opposition research. http://vlt.tc/3249 Watchdog Files FEC Complaint Against Hillary, DNC Over Steele Dossier. http://vlt.tc/324u Jake Tapper’s dodgy reporting on the dossier. http://vlt.tc/3251