My cmnt: The use of the completely fabricated, made-up, bought-and-paid-for, lying Steele Dossier as the foundation of the “Trump-Russian collusion” hoax by the Hillary campaign and then the entire democratic-media establishment to spy on, harass, impede, obstruct and finally impeach the duly-elected President of the United States for three long years is the single biggest and most dangerous (to the rule of law) scandal and hoax ever perpetrated upon America.
My cmnt: How was this possible? It was made possible by a totally corrupt and partisan FBI director (James Comey) who also, among his many crimes, exonerated (which is not his job) Hillary after declaring her secret unsecured email server – full of top secret documents – totally illegal, unwise, traitorous, compromised and such – BUT ok because it was a democrat and they never intend upon doing anything but good and good intentions are all that ever matter in the world of democrat political actions.
The web of deceit is a tangled one, but while the indictment details a shocking story of transnational dirty tricks weaponized at the highest level of American politics, the most significant moral failure was on the part of the FBI itself.
Durham, who is investigating the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, indicted Danchenko on five counts of lying to the Bureau’s investigators regarding the compilation of the information in the dossier. The document was a collection of political opposition research posing as intelligence reports, generated at the behest of the Hillary Clinton campaign, which portrayed Donald Trump and his 2016 campaign as clandestine agents of the Kremlin.
It is worth relating the background in detail.
These reports were crafted by a former British spy, Christopher Steele, in partnership with Glenn Simpson, co-founder of the political research firm Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie, the sharp-elbowed Democratic law firm that represented the Clinton campaign, retained Simpson for the project. Simpson, in turn, recruited Steele, who brought in Danchenko, his business associate.
Danchenko’s background, which is worthy of a second-rate spy novel, came to light in late 2020, when a Justice Department inspector-general investigation was unsealed. A Russian citizen transplanted to Washington as a geopolitics scholar, he landed at the Brookings Institution, a prominent Clinton-friendly think-tank. In 2009, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation of Danchenko. He had allegedly suggested to two Brookings staffers, who appeared to be headed for jobs in the Obama administration, that he could make it worth their while if they passed along classified information. The staffers (one of whom believed Danchenko must be a Russian agent – imagine that!) instead passed along word of Danchenko’s entreaty to the FBI. The Bureau learned that Danchenko appeared to be tied to two Russian agents who were also under investigation.
Agents prepared to seek national-security surveillance of Danchenko under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). But, in what would become an alarming theme, the FBI did not follow through and closed the investigation in March 2011, apparently believing that Danchenko had gone back to Russia.
In fact, he had begun working with Steele. Danchenko was introduced to Steele in 2010 by Fiona Hill, another Brookings Russia scholar. Hill, you may recall, was a Trump White House National Security Council member who provided key testimony in the House’s impeachment of then-President Trump in the Ukraine kerfuffle. (Hill appears not to have been knowingly complicit in the unrelated Trump-Russia hype.)
When Steele was recruited for the Clinton campaign’s anti-Trump project in spring 2016, he relied on Danchenko to supply most of the information. Contrary to Steele’s later claims, Danchenko did not have a network of useful contacts. But here again, Hill appears inadvertently to have advanced the plot. In 2016, she introduced Danchenko to Charles Dolan, a Russia-focused businessman and Democratic Party activist.
Dolan is identified in the indictment as “PR Executive-1” because he helped run a public-relations firm. He is a longtime Clinton insider, having worked on Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns, as well as Hillary’s failed 2008 and 2016 bids. In the interim, he was appointed by President Clinton to a State Department advisory committee. From 2006 until 2014, the Kremlin retained Dolan to be its global public-relations agent. For much of that time, conveniently, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the Obama administration point-person on the “Russia Reset,” in which the State Department promoted Russian economic development.
As the indictment details, Dolan hired Danchenko to consult on a conference he planned for October 2016 in Moscow. In the preceding months, Dolan had constant communication with Danchenko and made a preparatory trip to Moscow, meeting with Danchenko. Dolan would pass information to Danchenko, which Danchenko would embellish, sometimes beyond recognition, in passing it on to Steele, who dutifully included it in the dossier without disclosing its origins.
In the most notorious example, Dolan had meetings in a Moscow hotel and was given a tour of the presidential suite, in which he was told Donald Trump had once stayed. Danchenko was not present for these meetings, and the indictment says there was no discussion of any sexual hijinks. Dolan then communicated some of the details to Danchenko who, within days, flew to London to meet with Steele. By the time Steele finished writing up what Danchenko told him, the episode had been spun into the now infamous “pee tape” claim – i.e., that Trump had cavorted with prostitutes in the presidential suite, which they defiled because Trump hated the Obamas (who had supposedly stayed there earlier), and Putin thus had a recording of the whole sordid affair. In reality, Danchenko is Steele’s source, has no first-hand knowledge, and appears to have made the whole thing up.
According to the indictment, Danchenko lied to the FBI about getting information from Dolan. He also lied about having learned directly from a close Trump associate that Trump’s campaign was in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Kremlin. Danchenko claimed that this information came from the president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce — identified in the indictment as “Chamber President-1,” and in public reporting as Sergei Millian.
A minor real-estate developer, Millian did some business with the Trump organization and started this obscure “chamber” in order to raise his profile. In reality, Danchenko never spoke or met with Millian. He continued to cling to his incredible story in several interviews by the FBI throughout 2017. As a result, four of the five false statement counts relate to this alleged fabrication. The other concerns Danchenko’s alleged concealment of Dolan’s role.
The spotlight on Danchenko, and on the seminal role of the Hillary Clinton campaign in creating and disseminating the Trump-Russia “collusion” tale, is understandable. It should not, however, divert attention from the FBI’s stunningly inept performance. On its face, the dossier is a screed full of blatant nonsense. The Danchenko indictment shows that if a modicum of fair-minded investigation had been done, a borderline competent FBI agent would quickly have spotted its glaring weaknesses. Yet, the Bureau took no meaningful action to corroborate the Steele/Danchenko claims before seeking FISA warrants under oath. Agents did not even interview Danchenko, the main source, until four months later.
Too good to check is an impulse that never serves journalists well, and it’s even worse when it is the policy of a law-enforcement agency wielding awesome powers. At best, the FBI allowed itself to get duped into playing along with a political hit against, first, a presidential candidate and, then, the duly elected president of the United States. May John Durham continue to expose the details of this sorry scheme, and hold accountable anyone who broke the law in the course of advancing it.
How I Knew the Steele Dossier Was Bunk from the Start
The New York Times is at it again, taking stock of mainstream coverage and basically apologizing for its failures. Perhaps apologizing for existing in the liberal information bubble it is responsible for creating.
This time, the apology is about the coverage of the Trump-Russia conspiracy from the Steele dossier — the collection of rumors, bullspit, and tosh that was financed by the Hilary Clinton presidential campaign, and ginned up until the FBI was investigating it. The media’s own credulous coverage of the dossier was used by the intelligence agencies to obtain a FISA warrant to surveil the Trump campaign. And in the end, this fake news dominated cable outlets and breathless scoops for two years.
This attempt at forcing a reckoning takes the form of a guest essay by Bill Grueskin about the general failure of the media — particularly Times rivals such as the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
Grueskin explained that the media reversed its own professional standards. In the case of Trump and Russia, it began treating extraordinary claims as true unless entirely disproved. Why? Well, because the world is not perfect. No, really. Grueskin writes:
The situation also became complicated because some reporters simply didn’t like or trust Mr. Trump or didn’t want to appear to be on his side. He had been berating journalists as charlatans while seeking their acclaim; calling on legislators to “open up our libel laws” to make it easier to sue news organizations; and launching personal attacks, especially on female reporters of color. In a perfect world, journalists would treat people they don’t like the same way they treat those they do like, but this is not a perfect world.
My cmnt: Oh please. The national mainstream media gave up all standards of honesty and truthfulness in their entirely biased reporting on Vietnam and then Watergate. They hated Nixon, they hated Reagan and they hated George W. Bush – but their hatred of Donald Trump reached down to the very depths of hell where most of their vile thoughts originate.
My cmnt: This liberal idea that Trump’s most loyal supporters are blindly following a trickster is the same crap they said about those of us who followed and appreciated Rush Limbaugh. They pulled this same shit on the supporters of President Ronald Reagan. They called him the Great Communicator which was their way of saying he duped us all into following his lead. The only blind, lemming, followers I ever see in politics are the entranced democrat voters who vote for anyone with a ‘D’ beside their name.
Now, the Times should not get off so easy here anyway. Some of its own reporting was just as shoddy. And even after the Steele dossier blew up, the Times continued to print non-credible stories originating from intelligence sources when those stories were damaging to Donald Trump. You may recall a thinly sourced story about the Trump administration ignoring Russian bounties awarded to the Taliban for killing U.S. soldiers.
And really, the problem is not confined to journalists and their work product. The corruption is deeper and more widespread. Worthless opinions and assessments from the “intelligence” community were used to justify the suppression of the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden.
Some questions are never broached in these endless “reckonings.” Questions such as: “Who got it right from the beginning?” And: “Why?”
You didn’t need to wait nearly five years, until safely after Trump’s electoral loss, to find out why BuzzFeed printed the dossier, why it caused a feeding frenzy in the media, or why people should understand it was a load of garbage. You could have just read, well . . . me from the beginning. Here’s what I wrote two days after the dossier was published:
The media is sinking to Donald Trump’s level.
Reeling from their inability to stop his election, envious of his power to make people believe his most ridiculous statements, and rinsed by a needy mood for self-soothing, the media and other American institutions are greeting the era of Trump by lowering their ethical and professional standards and indulging in attention-seeking hysteria. However cathartic it may be, the effect is suicidal for the media and dangerous for the nation.
My cmnt: While candidate Donald Trump did make some hyperbolic statements (such as he will build the wall and make Mexico pay for it) and cleverly attacked fellow Republican candidates to gain the nomination – he remains the single most effective president in my lifetime and (in my opinion) second only to President Lincoln in the venial opposition he faced not only from his enemies but quite often from the members of his own party – the weak and insipid Never Trumpers.
How did I know? Well, for one, when Ben Smith published the Steele dossier, he did so with a note explaining, ludicrously, that his team of ferocious reporters “have been investigating various alleged facts in the dossier but have not verified or falsified them.” Being a journalist, I knew that wasn’t journalism. That’s not the standard. Worse was that some of the stories in the dossier had utterly fictitious elements. One story included a non-existent Russian consulate in Miami. That was easy to verify, and simply adding it as context would have given readers some level of reference for judging other claims in it.
Instead, we had the intel community laundering campaign sleaze into the media. And then as the media regurgitated the crap it was fed back, the intel community took those reports to court to get warrants.
Why was I primed to be skeptical? Because for years I’d been interested in news about Russia and Eastern Europe. I had developed a certain level of skepticism about Western reporting on anything happening east of the Elbe. Much reporting about the Maidan revolution had been useless. After 2014, the Left had made Russia into a proxy of its domestic culture-war antagonists. And so, it believed any perfidy about Russia. Stories sourced to intel-community-friendly sources detailing the Russia-Trump conspiracy were already blowing up in the faces of their authors.
We didn’t need a perfect world to avoid this disaster. You just needed the bare minimum of professional standards, and a traditional journalist’s nose for bulls***.