One of the major mysteries of the Russiagate scandal looks to have been finally solved with an apparently well-sourced article in the Washington Post confirming what many had long suspected: that it was the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign who funded the “research” which resulted in the Trump Dossier, and who were therefore the ultimate clients of Christopher Steele, the British ex-spy who compiled it.
It seems that the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign took over in April 2016 from a previous unnamed Republican the funding of the ‘research’ which resulted in the Trump Dossier (the Washington rumour mill says this Republican was Senator McCain).
Here is how the Washington Post reports the story
The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.
Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.
After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the firm in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by a still unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.
The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.
Fusion GPS gave Steele’s reports and other research documents to Elias, the people familiar with the matter said. It is unclear how or how much of that information was shared with the campaign and DNC, and who in those organizations was aware of the roles of Fusion GPS and Steele. One person close to the matter said the campaign and the DNC were not informed of Fusion GPS’s role by the law firm.
I have already made known my view that it was the Trump Dossier which was the original source for the whole Russiagate scandal. As to my views of its utter falsity and indeed absurdity, see here and here. See also this comprehensive fact-check – and utter refutation – of the Trump Dossier by The Russian Explainer here.
It seems that the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign circulated the Trump Dossier to their friends in the media and in the US intelligence community, triggering the start of the FBI investigation in July 2016 and the decision in August 2016 by the CIA to report its contents to President Obama. It was those two actions taken together which were the starting point of the Russiagate scandal.
To those who doubt this, I would point out that we know that the Trump Dossier eventually ended up in the hands of the US intelligence community and was given credence by them because they included it in an appendix to the classified version of the now infamous intelligence report which they gave to President Obama and President elect Trump in January.
The most interesting question about this new information is not its content. After all many people have long suspected that the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign had some role in the Trump Dossier.
Rather it is why has this information been leaked now?
I am going to make a guess, which is that it is being leaked now because Mueller’s investigation is finally asking the hard questions about the Trump Dossier which ought to have been asked a year ago. There were for example reports that his team interviewed Christopher Steele – the Trump Dossier’s compiler – earlier this month.
There are also signs that Mueller is starting to home in on the Democrats who have been driving the Russiagate scandal, with reports that John and Tony Podesta have been questioned by his team. I will here express my view that it was the Trump Dossier rather than the Podesta brothers’ lobbying for Sberbank which was the main subject of this questioning.
News of the questioning of John and Tony Podesta comes following the refusal of Peter Fritsch and Thomas Catan, the two co-founders of Fusion GPS – the intermediary between the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign and Christopher Steele – to answer questions to the House Intelligence Committee, pleading their Fifth Amendment rights.
I will here express my further view that it was unethical – to put it mildly – for the Democrats to give public credence to the Trump Dossier for so long without disclosing that they had paid for it.
That some of the individuals involved are now invoking their Fifth Amendment rights – the first witnesses to have done so to my knowledge during the whole course of the Russiagate scandal – may suggest that more of a much more serious nature is coming.