Back in March 2017 a series of articles appeared in the media which alleged that the ‘frame’ for the Russiagate investigation was provided by the Trump Dossier: the sleazy concoction of smear and gossip compiled by the British ex-spy Christopher Steele.
In an article 31st March 2017 I expressed some skepticism about this. The scenario outlined in the Trump Dossier seemed to me quite simply too absurd and its unverifiable claims altogether too sensational for me to believe the supposedly mighty US intelligence community could take it seriously.
However by June 2017 indirect confirmation was starting to appear in the US media that not only did the US intelligence community take the Trump Dossier seriously but that it was in fact the starting point of the whole Russiagate scandal.
Here is what I said about this in an article I wrote on 24th Jun3 2017
On 11th January 2017, shortly after publication of the now notorious Trump Dossier, I speculated that this obviously fictitious document might have been the cause of the whole Russiagate scandal.
After carefully explaining why the document is certainly a fiction I made the following point
The big question is not whether the facts in this dossier are true or not; it is the extent to which the paranoid claims made in the dossier have shaped and might even have been the origin for the whole Russian hacking scandal.I say this because media reports confirm that the dossier or extracts from it have circulated amongst US politicians (including Hillary Clinton and John McCain), US intelligence agencies, and within the media for weeks if not months.The earliest reports in the dossier are dated to July, which suggests that some of its claims – which include circumstantial details of who supposedly within the Russian government was behind the Clinton leaks – were already circulating early in the summer. That is a very early point in the Russian hacking story, making it at least possible that the dossier at least influenced the thinking of some of the people in the US intelligence community and in the media who have been pushing the Russian hacking scandal most aggressively.
Many have remarked on the absence of evidence in the ONDI report which was published last Friday. Even Masha Gessen – one of President Putin’s most relentless critics – has pointed this out.
Publication of this dossier looks like an attempt to provide “evidence” which the ODNI report failed to do. If so then that at least gives rise to the possibility that the dossier is the “evidence” – or more correctly a part of the evidence – that formed the background to the ONDI report but which the ODNI report omitted.
Whatever the truth of this, the fact that an obviously concocted dossier like this has circulated for weeks if not months with its source apparently still considered “unimpeachable” and “reliable” by the West’s intelligence agencies shows how wildly paranoid and ignorant about Russia the West’s intelligence agencies and its politicians and journalists have become.
Fantasy has replaced truth, and it seems that a clever fabricator out to make money has successfully cashed in on it, quite possibly doing serious harm along the way.
My speculation that the Trump Dossier is the original cause of the whole Russiagate scandal has now received dramatic confirmation from a massive article in the Washington Post about the Russiagate scandal, which though it never specifically refers to the Trump Dossier, makes it quite clear that the Russiagate scandal is based on it.
According to the Washington Post article in August 2016 the CIA received secret but supposedly conclusive intelligence that Russian President Putin was seeking to swing the US Presidential election to Donald Trump. CIA Director Brennan was supposedly so concerned that he immediately sent a secret memorandum advising President Obama of this.
This is how the Washington Post describes it
Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried “eyes only” instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.
But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin’s specific instructions on the operation’s audacious objectives — defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump…..
The CIA breakthrough came at a stage of the presidential campaign when Trump had secured the GOP nomination but was still regarded as a distant long shot. Clinton held comfortable leads in major polls, and Obama expected that he would be transferring power to someone who had served in his Cabinet.
The intelligence on Putin was extraordinary on multiple levels, including as a feat of espionage.
For spy agencies, gaining insights into the intentions of foreign leaders is among the highest priorities. But Putin is a remarkably elusive target. A former KGB officer, he takes extreme precautions to guard against surveillance, rarely communicating by phone or computer, always running sensitive state business from deep within the confines of the Kremlin
(bold italics added)
That this refers to the Trump Dossier is clear from the highlighted words.
The Trump Dossier purports to be a “report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the US Presidential race”, which is exactly what the report mentioned in the article is said to be.
The timing is right, with the early parts of the Trump Dossier dated to June 2016 and Brennan sending out his memorandum to Obama in August 2016.
No other report other than the Trump Dossier fitting the description of the report in the Washington Post article is known to exist, and the Washington Post article says that “Putin is a remarkably elusive target”, which makes it all but certain that no other such report exists.
Moreover the Washington Post article slips out these further very interesting comments about the report mentioned in the article
Despite the intelligence the CIA had produced, other agencies were slower to endorse a conclusion that Putin was personally directing the operation and wanted to help Trump. “It was definitely compelling, but it was not definitive,” said one senior administration official. “We needed more.”
Some of the most critical technical intelligence on Russia came from another country, officials said. Because of the source of the material, the NSA was reluctant to view it with high confidence.
(bold italics added)
The Trump Dossier is not a US confection but was compiled by Christopher Steele, who is British, and who is a former agent of the British intelligence agency MI6. The fact that the Washington Post story says that “the most critical technical intelligence on Russia came from another country” therefore again clearly points to the Trump Dossier, which originated not in the US but in Britain.
In light of these comments I do not think there is any doubt that it is the early sections of the Trump Dossier that are being referred to, and which were what caused Brennan to send his memorandum to the White House in August.
Final and conclusive confirmation that the Trump Dossier is indeed the key document behind the whole Russiagate investigation has now been provided by Carter Page, the Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who is repeatedly named in the Trump Dossier and who is at the centre of the Russiagate investigation.
Here is what Carter Page had to say about this in Congressional testimony as reported by the Washington Times
Mr. Page testified Nov. 2 before the House intelligence committee, which released a transcript Monday evening.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Republican, was particularly interested in how the FBI is conducting its probe of supposed Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.“So what were the questions the FBI had for you?” Mr. Gowdy said.
“It was an extensive series of many meetings, but they, you know, the core foundation, I would say, in terms of the overall structure in March 2017, was related to those false allegations from the ‘dodgy’ dossier,” Mr. Page said, using his moniker for the anti-Trump document……
Asked at the Nov. 2 hearing how many times he sat down with the FBI, Mr. Page said, “Approximately four. They came up — you know, typically when the FBI has reached out to me previously, they give me a call. This time, in early March 2017, they just showed up. I was in the lobby near Lincoln Center in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and they just walked up to me.”
When Mr. Gowdy asked if all the FBI questions pertained to the dossier, Mr. Page said, “Not all of [them], but I would say that that was a central foundation, and again, it would sort of branch out from there.”
The Washington Times also reports Carter Page strongly denied in his testimony the allegations about him which appear in the Trump Dossier
Mr. Steele accuses him (Carter Page – AM) of several felonies, such as meeting with sanctioned Kremlin figures while in Moscow in July 2016 to address the New Economic School. Mr. Steele said Mr. Carter promised to work to end U.S. sanctions against Russia in exchange for a brokerage commission. The dossier also said he and former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort orchestrated the Russian interference to include hacking Democratic Party computers.
Mr. Page, a Trump campaign volunteer on national security, says that all of those charges are fiction. He never met the two Kremlin operatives and has never met Mr. Manafort……
“They are all untrue,” Mr. Page said. “Every word in that about me is completely false. The core allegations of that document were certainly all false.”….
Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, the House intelligence committee’s top Democrat, has shown no qualms about citing opposition research from Kremlin sources. He has expressed admiration for Mr. Steele, and has quoted at length from the dossier, including the unproven charges against Mr. Page.
Mr. Schiff used the hearing to ask Mr. Page about every Russian he met during his July trip to Moscow. He also tried to link him to George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign volunteer who lived in London at the time.
Mr. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to an FBI agent about when he actually started working for the campaign as he reached out to Russia-connected people.
“Just to be very clear, every meeting I ever had in Russia was completely benign,” Mr. Page said. “It was nothing, you know, nothing I would be ashamed of having broadcast on national television because, again, I’ve never done anything wrong, not only in those two years but throughout my life.”
Mr. Schiff referred repeatedly to the dossier, especially the part that said Mr. Page met with Igor Sechin, the CEO of giant oil firm Rosneft. Mr. Steele said the two met to discuss removing U.S. sanctions.
Mr. Page said he has never met Mr. Sechin.
In a separate article the Washington Times – one of the very few newspapers in the US to express skepticism about the Russiagate allegations – has provided an interesting account of the notorious 6th January 2017 meeting between the then President elect Donald Trump and President Obama’s intelligence chiefs including James Clapper, CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey.
The article all but confirms my theory that Trump was shown the not yet publicly released Trump Dossier during this meeting in an attempt by the intelligence chiefs to blackmail him into accepting their otherwise unsubstantiated claims that it was the Russians who hacked the DNC’s and John Podesta’s computers and who provided the emails stolen from those computers to Wikileaks.
The Washington Times article speaks of the bafflement and anger of the intelligence chiefs as Trump rejected their findings
The atmosphere was not amicable. Simply put, the president-elect and President Obama’s intelligence chiefs “hated each other,” said a former official who worked with both camps…..
To the Obama-era intelligence chiefs, figures at the top of the Washington establishment who, despite being political appointees considered themselves above partisanship, Mr. Trump’s questioning of their conclusions and his overall hatred of Washington were unfathomable.
In interviews, current and former intelligence officials who have worked for both Republican and Democratic administrations said they were astounded that America had elected for the first time in its 240-year history a president with no government or military experience.
A day before heading to Trump Tower in early January, Mr. Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee that policymakers, and especially “Policymaker No. 1,” should have healthy skepticism toward the intelligence community……
That their findings were however unsubstantiated the Washington Times reports that even US intelligence veterans have confirmed
In interviews The Washington Times conducted with more than a dozen U.S. intelligence and national security sources at the highest levels as well as foreign diplomats, the overlooked and disturbing question about the lack of evidence has emerged repeatedly.
“I actually called them both the day after it came out and asked, ‘Why was it so thin?’” said the source close to Mr. Clapper and Mr. Brennan. “The answer I got was simple: There was a serious counterintelligence operation going on.”
In the absence of any evidence to back their claims the US intelligence chiefs were forced to resort to blackmail to try to get Trump to accept their conclusions
One of the intelligence community’s specialties is the use of psychological tactics to negotiate and interrogate in classic “good cop/bad cop” fashion. But Mr. Trump’s reaction to the news they brought him on Jan. 6 astonished them…..
A source who knows Mr. Comey, Mr. Clapper and Mr. Brennan told The Times that all three were perplexed during the aftermath of the meeting at Trump Tower, where Mr. Trump had dismissed their premise outright and declared to them, “We don’t have a Russia problem; we have a cyber problem.”
It’s still unclear whether the intelligence chiefs were using the briefing to examine, as they saw it, what the president-elect may have known of Russia’s meddling on his behalf.
After the initial meeting with Mr. Trump broke up, Mr. Comey remained behind to brief the president-elect further.
The FBI director, who at 6 feet 8 inches tall towered over Mr. Trump by 6 inches, has since revealed how he stayed for a private discussion with the president-elect to review some “personally sensitive” information that the intelligence chiefs hadn’t included in the public version of the Russian meddling assessment.
Mr. Comey told lawmakers in June that the “sensitive” material in question consisted of portions of what would later become known as the Trump-Russia dossier, financed in part by the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party and compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.
Full of unverified claims, the dossier, among other things, maintained that Russian intelligence had schemed to get Mr. Trump elected and that Kremlin spies had compiled sexual blackmail material on him during a 2013 trip he made to Moscow for the Miss Universe beauty pageant.
In his June testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Mr. Comey maintained that Mr. Clapper had asked him to be alone with Mr. Trump to “personally do this portion of the briefing” for two reasons.
The first was that among those in the Obama-era intelligence inner circle who were present at Trump Tower that day, Mr. Comey was the one who would be staying on at his position and would have dealings with the new president, given the nominal 10-year term FBI directors are given.
The second, according to Mr. Comey’s testimony, was because “the material implicated the FBI’s counterintelligence responsibilities.”
“It is important to understand that FBI counterintelligence investigations are different than the more commonly known criminal investigative work,” said the former FBI director, implying that the entire meeting at Trump Tower that day was actually part of a high-stakes espionage operation.
Mr. Comey’s comments — vague as they may have sounded in Senate testimony — turned heads in the back hallways of America’s spy agencies.
What exactly was he getting at? Was he publicly revealing that there were serious concerns at the highest levels of U.S. intelligence that the president-elect may truly have been compromised by the Russians and could be vulnerable to Kremlin blackmail?
Note the careful use of the word “blackmail” in the very last paragraph of the above extract from an article put together – as the Washington Times claims – from discussions with “a dozen US intelligence and national security sources” one of whom the Washington Times was apparently sufficiently close to Clapper and Brannon to question them about the lack of the evidence in the January ODNI report the day after it was published.
In the event – as I discussed at the time – the blackmail attempt failed.
Since then – having launched the Russiagate investigate and carried out surveillance of members of the Trump campaign on the strength of the Trump Dossier, and having tried and failed to blackmail Trump by showing it to him – the US intelligence community – first and foremost the FBI – have been working overtime to try to prove it true. Needless to say ten months later its efforts have proved fruitless for the simple reason that what this “Democrat funded document” says is not true.
In the meantime innocent people like Carter Page are being put through the grinder.
By his own account Carter Page has been interrogated by the FBI four times and has had his documents seized in illegal searches. He has been forced to give evidence to the House Intelligence Committee, his business has collapsed, and by his own account he is receiving death threats.
Carter Page inflated his own importance in the Trump campaign in order to wangle invitations from the Russians and to secure himself an invitation to Moscow’s New Economic School where he gave a speech.
He is not however the first person to do this and there is no evidence he either intended or did any harm.
As in the very similar case of George Papadopoulos – charged and bullied into into a guilty plea because he downplayed the extent of his perfectly innocent meetings with the staff members of a Moscow-based NGO, and because he mixed up the dates of his first meeting with a ‘London based professor’ – the treatment of Carter Page is grossly disproportionately and frankly cruel.
It is disturbing that no-one in authority in the US seems to care about that.