The Steele/Trump dossier gave critical support to claims of Russian collusion with the Trump presidential campaign. It seems to have served as the predicate for the FBI counterintelligence investigation of Trump campaign associates. Then FBI Director James Comey briefed President Trump on the contents of the dossier before his inauguration in January. BuzzFeed posted the dossier online.
When President Trump fired Comey, Comey engineered the appointment of his friend Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to continue the counterintelligence investigation, now including everything Trump. NOTE: Though he capably plays a straight talking G-Man on television, Comey is one sophisticated operator.
Things are not as they seem. The claim of Trump/Putin collusion lies at the heart of the controversy leading to the investigation, yet the only substantial collusion that we know of is the Clinton presidential campaign’s with the friends of Vladimir Putin. Now we know that the dossier was bought and paid for by the Clinton presidential campaign through the campaign’s general counsel at the Perkins Coie law firm, which contracted Fusion GPS, which contracted former British MI-6 officer Christopher Steele at Orbis Business Intelligence, Ltd. Why the cutouts? One might get the impression that the dossier was not to be traced to the Clinton campaign.
The claim of Trump/Putin collusion hasn’t panned out as its advocates hoped. Rowan Scarborough examined it most recently here in the December 25 Washington Times story “Democrats’ case for Trump-Russia grand conspiracy crumbles with lack of evidence.” At the same time, Scarborough reported that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is sticking with the dossier here in his related story “Embattled FBI admits it can’t verify dossier claims of Russia.” Scarborough reported that McCabe conceded the FBI has not verified the dossier but considers it credible.
Victor Davis Hanson conveniently summarized some of these events in his American Greatness column “Back to the future: From Scooter Libby to Donald Trump.” Asking whether there was Trump team collusion with the Russians, Dr. Hanson wrote: “No evidence has yet suggested such.”
In early July 2016 Steele’s initial work on the dossier made its way to the FBI, apparently courtesy of Steele himself. See Byron York’s helpful Washington Examiner article here (Here I am relying on Doug Ross’s timeline.) The counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign followed shortly in due course.
This raises an obvious question that I have rarely seen addressed. Did the FBI know that Steele produced his dossier on behalf of the Clinton campaign? Andrew McCarthy writes in his most recent column on the FBI and dossier: “At some point, though, perhaps early on, the FBI and DOJ learned that the dossier was actually a partisan opposition-research product.” And why did the FBI think that Steele’s sources — the friends of Vladimir Putin — would confide the truth to him?
The claim of collusion with Putin made for a great controversy when it was Trump on the other end. For some reason, the Clinton campaign’s evident collusion through Steele is okay. It lacks carbonation. It is without fizz. It is flat. Is Mueller on the case?
Steele worked to get the contents of his dossier into the media before the election. Byron York reports that Steele personally briefed reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, the New Yorker, and Yahoo, all to little or no effect. Mother Jones’s David Corn gave the received version of Steele’s story on October 31 in “A veteran spy has given the FBI information alleging a Russian operation to cultivate Donald Trump.”
Corn’s account gives us the heroic version of the dossier. Howard Blum followed up in the credulous Vanity Fair article “How ex-spy Christopher Steele compiled his explosive Trump dossier.” Blum’s article is useful in helping us understand the line Steele and his employers were peddling to the FBI and to the media.
Blum’s starstruck article presents Steele and Simpson (but especially Steele) as the heroes of The Dossiad. Read how Christopher Steele and Glenn Simpson threw caution to the winds and selflessly gave their all to save the republic from Donald Trump. This version of the story enacts an update on The Dunciad, or so it seems to me.