This document is a series of memos prepared by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent, on the Trump campaign involvement with Russians. The author has described it as “raw intelligence” with all the information from unnamed sources. Christopher Steele disclosed the information to the FBI in October 2016.
The mainstream media including CNN, Washington Post, BBC and the New York Times and many other conservative focused news services, like Fox News and OAN, have demonstrated incredible restraint in their reporting of certain details of the dossier, and have not provided any links to the dossier itself. I believe this restraint is proper as the certain salacious details are baseless. Publication of the document would unjustly defame President Trump and in doing, confirm his long held accusation that the mainstream new media publishes fake news. Buzzfeed uploaded the document to the internet and is being sued as follows:
Aleksej Gubarev, chief of technology company XBT and a figure mentioned in the dossier, sued BuzzFeed for defamation on February 3, 2017. The suit, filed in a Broward County, Florida court, centers on allegations from the dossier that XBT had been “using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership.
So, despite the restraint from the media, bits and pieces of the dossier are coming out. Steele and Orbis Intelligence Service are being sued in British High Court, for publication of these accusations against XBT. Their lawyers have responded in court, that none of Steele’s research was meant for public dissemination. However, it is likely Orbis was responsible for sending the dossier to many organizations, making its eventual disclosure inevitable. It will be an interesting case of who is ultimately responsible for unverified information, the originator or the news service that posts the dossier.
Of course, Donald Trump has made many references to this dossier in this tweets, linking it to a smear campaign by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton. What is being kept out of the public eye, certainly adds to internet searchers’ curiosity. A Google search of “Trump Dossier” came up with 345,000 results. It also has helped Stephen Colbert’s Late Show and Saturday Night Live skits. As a result of the Trump tweets, lot of Americans, including myself, became curious, did a Google search to locate the source document.
Establishing the Linkage:
April/ May 2016 to November 2016: From Clinton campaign’s to Perkin Coie (Marc Elias) to Fusion GPS (Glenn Simpson) to Orbis Intelligence Service (Christopher Steele)
January 2016 to May 2016: From Free Beacon (Paul Singer) to Perkin Coie (Marc Elias) to Fusion GPS (Glenn Simpson) to Orbis Intelligence Service (Christopher Steele)
The DNC and Hillary Clinton campaigns were represented by Marc Elias, of Perkins Coie law firm. Mr. Elias contacted the company Fusion GPS, to conduct “opposition research.” Fusion GPS contracted Orbis Intelligence Service, of whom Christopher Steele is a co-founder. Christopher Steele is reportedly not cooperating with the House Intelligence Committee, and as a British citizen, can not be forced to testify. He did his best to remain anonymous, but his name was revealed in January 2017 as the author of the dossier by CNN. It has been reported John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign manager, testified to the House Committee that he knew nothing about payments to Mr. Steele. Mr. Elias was pretty much operating on his own, without much oversight.
Fusion GPS has stated that Mr. Steele was paid $168,000 for his work. At least, this is what has been reported from leaked news from closed door sessions of House Intelligence Committee. There is an effort underway in court to obtain Fusion GPS bank records. The “wow number” of 9.2 million dollars is the total fees charge to the DNC (3.6 million) and Hillary Clinton’s campaign (5.6 million) to Fusion GPS for all work including legal and compliance services from July 2015 to December 2016. The contract between Fusion GPS and Orbis for the Clinton campaign did not begin until May 2016. Trump’s tweets came up with a 12 million dollar figure for the dossier which I really don’t know where this came from. Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS stated that none of Mr. Steele’s sources were compensated for their information, so the money trail to original sources, at least for now, has gone cold.
It has also been recently revealed that before that before the Republican primary, Fusion GPS “opposition research” was funded by a Republican right wing organization, the Washington Free Beacon, had funded Fusion GPS. The Free Beacon website is funded in large part by New York hedge fund billionaire, Paul Singer. Free Beacon stopped funding research around May 2016 when it was clear that Trump had the nomination secured and this is around the time the Clinton’s started funding. Wow, could Fusion GPS been doing the same intelligence for both Republicans and Democrats for a brief period of time? How much of the $168,000 came from Republicans? After the election, the research continued, but no funds came from Clinton’s campaign. Glenn Simpson has stated he paid from for the rest of the research himself.
Steele’s Sources of Information
The research (if I may call it that) gets really flimsy when there is only mention of Sources A, B, C and D within the dossier. As I stated at the onset, the dossier is simply a collection of memos, without the names of any sources. For those into the fine details of potential dossier sources, I include the “Grosev Hypothesis” and its subsequent rebuttal by Galetti. For more information consult the Wikipedia link as given on the first line of the links.
On December 26, 2016, Oleg Erovinkin, a former KGB/FSB general, was found dead in his car in Moscow. Erovinkin was a key liaison between Igor Sechin, head of state-owned oil company Rosneft, and President Putin. Steele claimed much of the information came from a source close to Sechin. According to Christo Grozev, a journalist at Risk Management Lab, a think-tank based in Bulgaria, the circumstances of Erovinkin’s death were “mysterious”. Grozev suspected Erovinkin helped Steele compile the dossier on Trump and suggests the hypothesis that the death may have been part of a cover-up by the Russian government. Mark Galeotti, senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, who specializes in Russian history and security, rejected Grozev’s hypothesis.
Mueller’s investigation will likely be a good reality check on all of this. I believe Mueller will based his investigation on hard evidence from people within Trump’s campaign rather than the dossier.
Michael Cohen, a former top executive with the Trump Organization, has refuted the allegation that he was a key link in the Trump – Russia collaboration. The dossier claimed he traveled to Prague in August 2016, but he states that this is impossible as his passport would have been stamped. Other experts also expressed skepticism on the dossier, because it came from supposedly unpaid sources.
So what does this have to do with Clinton’s campaign? Nothing. None of the dossier information was public until well after the election. There are excellent sources of information on the internet.
The more salacious accusations in the dossier in my opinion of Trump’s activities in 2013, have been discredited – see last link.
I predict the various committee investigations will become highly partisan attacks on Clinton’s campaign, in attempt to divert attention from the Mueller investigations. I doubt if Mueller uses anything within the Trump dossier as primary support for his criminal investigation.
A very positive side to all of this, as the media showed great restraint. I suspect the lawsuit against Buzzfeed will be dismissed on the grounds of the First Amendment guarantees of free speech.
Finally, the FBI prepared a private briefing for Donald Trump after he won the election, just to make him aware of the dossier, so he wouldn’t be broadsided by a possible leak for information. He did not take the briefing well, as he blasted the FBI, Obama administration, Clinton and the DNC of collaborating against him.
Wikipedia, Donald Trump – Russia Dossier
CNN: Lawyer denies Cohen traveled to Prague
Washington Post, Breaking down the Trump dossier: What you need to know
Washington Post: Clinton lawyer kept Russian dossier project closely held
New York Times: Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Research by Firm That Later Produced Dossier
CNN: Ex-Trump security chief testifies he rejected 2013 Russian offer of women for Trump in Moscow
( Trump has never been accused of being with prostitutes. I always considered this part of the dossier was fabricated. I guess the tidbit of information is that someone offer him women and the rest is nonscense.)