Rarely do I devote an entire column to reviewing a single article. Today is the second time I do so to an article penned by The New Yorker writer Jane Mayer. (Additionally, and very deservedly, Mayer’s book Dark Money is on my recommended reading list.) Last week Mayer posted Christopher Steele, The Man Behind The Trump Dossier to her magazine’s website. It will appear in their March 12th edition under the slightly different title, The Man Behind the Dossier. Typical of a New Yorker article it is long and I cannot do justice to it in a few paragraphs; but if you want to save the better part of 2 hours reading time I invite you to explore.
Mayer is a veteran journalist whose works have stood the test of time and the “arrows” of many haters. Her work is credible. Therefore a prudent person will consider it substantially if not completely true.
To date, other than one location detail, nothing in The Dossier has been proven untrue and many details have been corroborated. A major portion of the article deals with revelations around The Dossier which the Trump enabling Republicans and right wing mythologists have been trying to discredit and incorrectly contend was the genesis of Russiagate. I want to review a few revelations in the article related to that aspect of the scandal followed by some new information.
In April of 2016, long before Steele worked on The Dossier, he completed an investigation dubbed Project Charlemagne in which he discovered that Russia had meddled in elections in France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany and Turkey.
If you are a believer in the “birds of a feather theory” it may be interesting that a Russian gambling and international money laundering ring, Chuck Blazer of FIFA infamy, and Paul Manafort all operated out of Trump Tower. Blazer’s monthly rent was $18,000. This particular collection of facts, while not conclusive, is probably more than just coincidental.
It appears that Steele never knew that Hillary Clinton and the DNC were funding his project after GOP donor and Marco Rubio backer Paul Singer dropped out. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that a senior Clinton campaign official claims ignorance and said they would have been shouting about it if they knew. I leave you to judge the credibility of that statement, but the logic is undeniable.
Going back to the FBI’s motivation in the initial investigation in addition to the alcohol lubricated loose lips of George Papadopoulos; it is revealed that Dutch intelligence tipped American intelligence of Russian election interference activities in 2014.
Much is made (in both Democratic and Republican circles) of the limited action the Obama administration took in this matter. Here are some facts the article wants you to consider beyond the general assumption that Hillary was going to win anyway. In September of 2016 Obama convened a meeting of the Gang of Eight (Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Richard Burr, Mark Warner, Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff) at which he proposed they join the White House in issuing a joint statement informing the American people of the Russian interference in the election. Mitch McConnell refused to sign the statement. If you are going to blame an individual it is Mitch McConnell who put Party and an outside chance of victory at the polls before country.
Circumstances also conspired against the administration’s efforts to warn the American public. On October 7, 2016 the Obama administration had the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper make a joint statement with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson outlining what was known of the Russian interference at that point. 30 minutes later the Access Hollywood story broke sucking up all the “oxygen in the media room”. Furthermore in a few hours Wikileaks released its first batch of purloined emails from Clinton campaign head, John Podesta. Was that final act coincidence or coordinated reinforcements? We’ll leave that to Robert Mueller’s team to prove.
The most disturbing allegation contained in the article is that Russian President Vladimir Putin exercised veto power over Trump’s selection of Secretary of State. Remember Mitt Romney lost out to the then unknown Rex Tillerson. How valid that claim is hopefully something time will tell. This much is clear; Romney viewed Russia as a threat while Tillerson had negotiated the largest fossil fuel deal in history with Russia in his previous job as CEO of ExxonMobil for which Putin personally awarded him the highest medal Russia confers on foreigners.
Over the decades Mayer has proven to be credible; the allegations and Trump’s performance are incredible.
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