What was previously widely suspected has now been confirmed. In its latest bombshell report that – for once – doesn’t include some nefarious allegations of wrongdoing or incompetence involving President Donald Trump or members of his administration, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign jointly financed the creation of the infamous “Trump dossier,” which helped inspire the launch of the floundering investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians.
Though neither the DNC nor the Clinton campaign worked directly with former British spy Christopher Steele as he compiled the document, the fact that Democrats funded the dossier – which includes information primarily gleaned from sources in Russia – ironically suggests the Democrats indirectly leveraged Russian sources to try and spread information of dubious veracity about a political opponent to try and sway an election.
Even though the scandalous accusations contained within the dossier weren’t made public until after the vote, presumably waiting to see what foot the shoe would end up on, this would’ve provided serious grist for the collusion narrative, which we imagine would’ve been stretched to include the entire Republican establishment as accomplices.
While it’s impossible to determine exactly how much money was spent on the dossier, the Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie – the law firm of Clinton superattorney Marc Elias – $5.6 million in legal fees from June 2015 to December 2016, according to campaign finance records, and the DNC paid the firm $3.6 million in “legal and compliance consulting’’ since Nov. 2015. Some of that money was presumably used to pay for the dossier.
Fusion GPS’s work researching Trump began during the Republican presidential primaries when an unidentified GOP donor reportedly hired the firm to dig into Trump’s background. The Republicans who were involved in the early stages of Fusion’s efforts have not yet been identified. Fusion GPS did not start off looking at Trump’s Russia ties, but quickly realized that those relationships would be a fruitful place to start, WaPo reported.
Steele previously worked in Russia for British intelligence. The dossier, which was primarily compiled in Moscow, is a compilation of reports Steele prepared for Fusion. Allegations contained in the dossier included claims the Russian government collected compromising information about Trump and the Kremlin was engaged in an active effort to assist his campaign for president.
Fusion turned over Steele’s reports and other research documents to Elias, and it’s unclear how much of it he shared with the campaign.
The revelation about who funded the dossier comes just days after Trump tweeted that the FBI and DOJ should publicly reveal who hired Fusion GPS. And lo and behold, that information has now been made public.
Officials behind the now discredited “Dossier” plead the Fifth. Justice Department and/or FBI should immediately release who paid for it.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 21, 2017
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Dunes has tried to compel Fusion’s founders to disclose who paid for the dossier, but all three of them pled the fifth during public testimony last week. Nunes has also tried subpoenaing the firm’s bank records.
The most salacious accusations contained in the dossier have not been verified, and may never be. Still, after the election, the FBI agreed to pay Steele to continue gathering intelligence about Trump and Russia, but the bureau pulled out of the arrangement after Steele was publicly identified in news reports. Officials also decided to withhold information from the dossier in an intelligence community report published in January alleging that Russian entities had tried to sway the US election on behalf of the Russian government.
Of course, we still don’t know who leaked the dossier to Buzzfeed and CNN back in January. John McCain – one of the primary suspects – has repeatedly denied it, and Fusion GPS has said in court documents that it didn’t share the document with Buzzfeed. However, we do known that in early January, then-FBI Director James B. Comey presented a two-page summary of Steele’s dossier to President Barack Obama and President-elect Trump.
It therefore strongly suggests that it was the FBI that was instrumental in spreading the dossier to the media, most of which was too embarrassed to publish it until Buzzfeed came along and did it… for the clicks.
So to summarize:
- Hillary Clinton and the DNC paid to uncover and package dirt, whether factual or not, on Trump which eventually found its way in the Trump dossier
- In doing so, the Clintons and the DNC were effectively collaborating with “deep” sources, both among the UK spy apparatus and inside Russia
- Once Trump won, the FBI was instrumental in “leaking” the dossier to the mainstream media and select still unknown recipients (the same way Comey “leaked” his personal notebooks just a few months later, following his termination, to launch a probe of Trump).
- The former head of the FBI who was supposed to probe Clinton’s State Department – and the Clinton Foundation – for a bribery and kickback scheme involving Russia’s U.S. nuclear business, is now investigating Trump for Russia collusion instead
But wait, it gets better: as Ken Vogel, formerly the chief investigative reporter at Politico and currently at the NY Times just reported, “When I tried to report this story, Clinton campaign lawyer @marceelias pushed back vigorously, saying “You (or your sources) are wrong.”
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) October 24, 2017
Another NYT reporter, Maggie Haberman, confirmed as much saying “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year“, and by folks she ultimately means Hillary Clinton herself.
Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year https://t.co/vXKRV1wRJc
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 24, 2017
Which in light of the latest news suggests that Clinton was lying, which is not surprising, especially when considering the recent “revelations” that the Clintons may themselves have been involved in collusion with Russia over the infamous uranium deal.
Which brings us to the questionable role played by the FBI in all of this, and ultimately, the role still being played by Robert Mueller. Here is the WSJ,
Let’s give plausible accounts of the known facts, then explain why demands that Robert Mueller recuse himself from the Russia investigation may not be the fanciful partisan grandstanding you imagine.
Here’s a story consistent with what has been reported in the press—how reliably reported is uncertain. Democratic political opponents of Donald Trump financed a British former spook who spread money among contacts in Russia, who in turn over drinks solicited stories from their supposedly “connected” sources in Moscow. If these people were really connected in any meaningful sense, then they made sure the stories they spun were consistent with the interests of the regime, if not actually scripted by the regime. The resulting Trump dossier then became a factor in Obama administration decisions to launch an FBI counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign, and after the election to trumpet suspicions of Trump collusion with Russia.
We know of a second, possibly even more consequential way the FBI was effectively a vehicle for Russian meddling in U.S. politics. Authoritative news reports say FBI chief James Comey’s intervention in the Hillary Clinton email matter was prompted by a Russian intelligence document that his colleagues suspected was a Russian plant.
OK, Mr. Mueller was a former close colleague and leader but no longer part of the FBI when these events occurred. This may or may not make him a questionable person to lead a Russia-meddling investigation in which the FBI’s own actions are necessarily a concern. But now we come to the Rosatom disclosures last week in The Hill, a newspaper that covers Congress.
Here’s another story as plausible as we can make it based on credible reporting. After the Cold War, in its own interest, the U.S. wanted to build bridges to the Russian nuclear establishment. The Putin government, for national or commercial purposes, agreed and sought to expand its nuclear business in the U.S.
Ah yes, the Clinton’s own Russia collusion narrative which recently emerged to the surface and which as of today is being investigated by the House:
The purchase and consolidation of certain assets were facilitated by Canadian entrepreneurs who gave large sums to the Clinton Foundation, and perhaps arranged a Bill Clinton speech in Moscow for $500,000. A key transaction had to be approved by Hillary Clinton’s State Department.
Now we learn that, before and during these transactions, the FBI had uncovered a bribery and kickback scheme involving Russia’s U.S. nuclear business, and also received reports of Russian officials seeking to curry favor through donations to the Clinton Foundation
This criminal activity was apparently not disclosed to agencies vetting the 2010 transfer of U.S. commercial nuclear assets to Russia. The FBI made no move to break up the scheme until long after the transaction closed. Only five years later, the Justice Department, in 2015, disclosed a plea deal with the Russian perpetrator so quietly that its significance was missed until The Hill reported on the FBI investigation last week.
As the WSJ correctly notes, “for anyone who cares to look, the real problem here is that the FBI itself is so thoroughly implicated in the Russia meddling story.”
Which then shifts the focus to the person who was, and again is, in charge of it all: former FBI director, and current special prosecutor Robert Mueller:
The agency, when Mr. Mueller headed it, soft-pedaled an investigation highly embarrassing to Mrs. Clinton as well as the Obama Russia reset policy. More recently, if just one of two things is true—Russia sponsored the Trump Dossier, or Russian fake intelligence prompted Mr. Comey’s email intervention—then Russian operations, via their impact on the FBI, influenced and continue to influence our politics in a way far more consequential than any Facebook ad, the preoccupation of John McCain, who apparently cannot behold a mountain if there’s a molehill anywhere nearby.
Which means that Mr. Mueller has the means, motive and opportunity to obfuscate and distract from matters embarrassing to the FBI, while pleasing a large part of the political spectrum. He need only confine his focus to the flimsy, disingenuous but popular (with the media) accusation that the shambolic Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin.
Mr. Mueller’s tenure may not have bridged the two investigations, but James Comey’s, Rod Rosenstein’s , Andrew Weissmann’s , and Andrew McCabe’s did. Mr. Rosenstein appointed Mr. Mueller as special counsel. Mr. Weissmann now serves on Mr. Mueller’s team. Mr. McCabe remains deputy FBI director. All were involved in the nuclear racketeering matter and the Russia meddling matter.
The punchline: it’s not the Clintons that should be looked at, at least not at first – their time will come. It’s the FBI:
By any normal evidentiary, probative or journalistic measure, the big story here is the FBI—its politicized handling of Russian matters, and not competently so. To put it bluntly, whatever its hip-pocket rationales along the way, the FBI would not have so much to cover up now if it had not helped give us Mrs. Clinton as Democratic nominee and then, in all likelihood, inadvertently helped Mr. Trump to the presidency.
We eagerly look forward to Trump’s furious tweetstorm once he learns of all of this… and how long before he fires Mueller, in this case with cause.