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The Crime of the Dossier « Getting at the truth

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Mary Bancroft – Master Spy

“I can’t understand what the f–k you are saying.” The voice came from an elderly lady in the back row of my computer class. It was from Mary Bancroft, a part owner of The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of Autobiography of a Spy and was the woman behind the plot to kill Hitler, the lover of CIA chief, Allen Dulles, the lady who invited me to dinner to meet Woody Allen and, yes, Mary Bancroft was my computer student.

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Copyright

Copyright © 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 John Harding

The Crime of the Dossier

In 2016, Hillary Clinton, then presidential candidate, hired an ex-intelligence officer and foreign national, British subject Christopher Steele, to use Russian sources to find dirt on her then political opponent Donald Trump.

The public would take years to learn about the funding sources of Steele, because Clinton camouflaged her role through three firewalls: the Democratic National Committee; the Perkins-Coie legal firm; and Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS opposition-research firm.

Steele had collected rumor and gossip from mostly Russian sources in an effort to tar Trump as a Russian colluder and asset. We know now that his sources were either bogus or deliberately warped by Steele himself.

Almost everything in the Dossier was unverified and later was proved fanciful. Yet with the help of high Obama administration and elected officials, the Dossier’s gossip and rumor were leaked throughout the top echelons of Washington politics and the media. Its lies spread because its chief message — Donald J. Trump was a fool, dangerous, should never be elected, and once elected had no business as president — was exactly what the establishment wished to hear and promote to the American public with the help of the press.

The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Justice, Michael Horowitz, after an exhaustive study, found that the Steele Dossier not just unverifiable but unethically and unprofessionally used successfully to delude federal judges to issue warrants to surveil an American citizen.

Horowitz simply confirmed that Steele was both a pathological liar and an inveterate hater of Donald Trump who acted to ensure that Trump would not be president. Although the aging and inept special counsel Robert Mueller, in sworn testimony before Congress, seemed to have amnesia about the Steele Dossier and its chief purveyor Fusion GPS, his own investigation was de facto repudiation of the entire Steele Dossier in its conclusion that Donald Trump did not engage in collusion with the Russians to warp the 2016 election.

As a result, all who trafficked in the Dossier as if it were factual and disinterested have lost their credibility. Many are now seeing their careers demolished and in ruins. Here is a small sampling of reputations that were marred or destroyed.

Rachel Maddow: Many of her 2016–19 evening cable news commentaries focused on the supposed dangers that candidate and then president Trump posed to the republic. She cited the Steele Dossier chapter and verse as factual in making her arguments that Trump was dishonest and amoral and therefore an illegitimate president who should be removed. It will be difficut for any audience to take Maddow’s on-air assertions seriously in the future. She rose to high ratings promoting the Dossier, and she will likely suffer the consequences in reverse.

James Comey and the FBI. It is no exaggeration that James Comey, the former director of the FBI, knew intimately of the Dossier, approved its use to spy on American citizens and to launch an investigation into Donald Trump’s purported Russian connection, and then lied about both the Dossier’s authenticity and his own agency’s use of its author Christopher Steele, who was highly paid informant for the FBI.

More than a dozen top FBI agents, investigators, and lawyers who worked for Comey have now either been fired, disgraced, reassigned, demoted, or have quit or have abruptly retired. The common denominator to all their fates is that in some fashion they either leaked false information to the media (so far unpunishe, knowingly broke the law, lied to federal investigators, altered documents, deluded federal judges, or were afraid that something they had done would surface. Trace the origins of such misbehavior, and at its font will be the sensational Steele Dossier and the nearly religious belief that it either was true or should be true or somehow could be made to be true.

John McCain: The late Senator John McCain. McCain was tipped off about the Dossier by a British intelligence official and Steele’s confidant. McCain, who had engaged in a well-publicized feud with Trump, almost immediately met with federal officials and sent his former associate David Kramer to the UK to talk with Steele. McCain himself then gave the Dossier to FBI Director Comey. In McCain’s final memoir, he and his coauthor were defiant about the senator’s role in spreading the unsubstantiated gossip around Washington: “I would do it again. Anyone who doesn’t like it can go to hell.” It was a misleading and unfortunate comment by McCain.

James Clapper and John Brennan: James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence under Barack Obama, and John Brennan, the former CIA director, both previously had lied under oath to Congress. Both then apologized, and their illegal behaviors were excused – unfortunately without legal consequences. But both once again have not told the truth about their own knowledge of the Steele Dossier, its unverified and mostly false information, and the role they both played in circulating and promulgating the Dossier to the media and high government officials. That both directors were deeply involved in spreading the Dossier around Washington, leaking its comments, and then denying their roles while they worked as paid television commentators on CNN and MSNBC only ensured the rapid erosion of their beltway careers and reputations. And both still may have a rendezvous with federal prosecutors in regard to the Dossier.

FISA Court: The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. A number of inept FISA court federal judges approved FBI and DOJ requests to surveille Carter Page both before and after the 2016 presidential election, supposedly as a way to learn of Trump-Russia collusion.

None of the judges seriously probed government lawyers about the Dossier before their court. Although they were told in a footnote that it was a product of opposition research, apparently none asked the nature of such sponsorship.

Yet if a judge is apprised that the evidence before him to support a federal surveillance warrant is based on political opposition research, would it not be prudent to ask attorneys to name who had paid the Dossier’s author? Worse still, in winter and late spring 2018, Representative Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) had twice warned the eleven-justice FISA court that the Steele Dossier was unreliable and had not been a sound basis to authorize surveilling an American citizen. Nunes and his House colleagues were essentially ignored and dismissed by the court.

It was only after the issuance of the Horowitz report that the FISA court’s presiding justice, Rosemary Collyer, blasted the FBI for deluding her court. Fairly or not, the impression remains that FISA judges either were incompetent or simply did not wish to learn evidence that might have discredited their decision to allow the FBI to surveille a former Trump official, as part of a larger effort to discredit Donald Trump. And like it or not, the entire reputation of the FISA court is now in shreds, both for being so easily or willingly fooled, and for so opportunistically and belatedly criticizing those who deluded them.

There is a movement to do away with the FISA court as there is no responder in the case, only an accuser. This is called an ex parte court appearance which means a legal proceeding brought by one party in the absence of and without representation of or notification to the other party. Since other Americans were excluded from pleading their side of the story, the FISA court relied only on their accuser, the FBI. This is totally wrong in such cases and there is a movement to abolish the FISA court.

Hillary Clinton: There are strict federal election laws governing the role of foreign nationals and their U.S. handlers interfering in an American election. The public became more aware of such statutes paradoxically because Hillary Clinton, almost immediately after losing the November 2016 election, claimed that she was defeated only because Donald Trump had colluded with Russians. Ironically, the origins of that claim were the Steele Dossier, which Clinton herself had paid for and then hidden her sponsorship. In other words, while the Dossier swept through the media, helped to prime FISA warrants, played a key part in launching FBI investigations, and ultimately kick-started the Robert Mueller special-counsel investigation, Hillary Clinton remained immune from scrutiny. Think of the paradox: While Clinton pounded president Trump for supposedly using Russians to win an election, she herself had used fraudulent Russian sources to obtain political advantage by smearing her opponent, apparently in the expectation that she would win the election and her modus operandi would never be discovered, or, even if Steele’s work were publicized and thus discredited, her own fingerprints would never appear — or no one would dare to question President Clinton.

Adam Schiff: Adam Schiff’s reputation hit rock bottom in recent years. He lied about his relationship to the so-called whistleblower. His minority-report memo was discredited by Inspector General Horowitz. He read a bogus version of the Trump-Ukraine phone call into the congressional record, and when called out, begged off by claiming it was merely “parody.” And he began the impeachment inquiry in a basement without either transparency or bipartisan rules of cross-examination and disclosure. But Schiff’s two-year insistence that Steele’s research was reliable and that it nonetheless did not provide the chief basis for FISA warrants was demonstrably untrue. (How paradoxical that Steele’s promoters both defended the Dossier and yet denied that it was pivotal.) Schiff may remain a hero to the Never Trump fringe for his any-means-necessary efforts to destroy Trump, but even the media now distrust him. His own party will come to see him as a transiently useful dishonest prevaricator whose utility is already waning.

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