As you know, Buzzfeed published a dossier laying out Donald Trump’s ties to Russia last night. The dossier is described as oppo research done by a former MI6 agent first for a GOP rival (which doesn’t make a ton of sense as the dossier starts in June 2016) and then picked up by Hillary. There are competing reports on whether this dossier was included in the briefing on the Russian hack intelligence provided to Trump the other day (and I and others falsely claimed that this dossier is what some Senate Dems have pointed to as evidence they’ve been briefed about Trump’s ties to Russia).
I wanted to make a few points about the dossier.
First, note that this is not the complete dossier. There are references to reports that are not included with this dump. That means, even assuming the provenance on all else is solid, this is a cherry picked version of what the former MI6 consultant reported to Hillary.
Second, ask yourself why Hillary didn’t leak this dossier during the election (besides sharing the contents of it with David Corn). I don’t know the answer to that, but I’d sure like to know it (and I’ve got some theories that don’t raise my confidence about the dossier generally).
Third, as a number of people have noted, there are errors in this report, down to the spelling of Alfa Bank. That’s not itself discrediting, but it should caution people not to take this as finished intelligence.
For what it’s worth, I find some of it very credible. Some of it accords with stuff I know. Others of it conflicts in material ways with well-sourced information I know. I find other claims transparently silly (such as the report that anyone believed Trump didn’t have serious business ties to Russia). That may simply speak to the credibility of the individual underlying sources, or it may speak to the dossier generally. I don’t yet have an opinion on that.
Which brings me to the sources. Trump’s team has claimed that these reports come from Russian intelligence, which ought to raise the very good question of why we’d take as Gospel something Russian intelligence said now when we’re supposed to disdain known accurate information (Hillary emails) leaked on behalf of Russian intelligence. Trump’s claim is — as regards the most sensational of the claims in the report, that Trump had prostitutes urinate on a bed that Barack and Michelle Obama had used while in Moscow, as well as a few more of the claims — true. It is not true for others of the claims.
Which is to say, I’m not entirely sure what to make of this dossier yet. It is more interesting to me as an artifact — as something that Hillary had but chose not to leak but that got leaked yesterday of all days — than as a source of information, but I do think some of the information in the dossier might, with far more vetting, turn out to be somewhat accurate. There are reports FBI is investigating this document that I’m not 100% sure I believe.
I’ll come back to this analysis when I can print out the document, but here’s a list of all of the sources used in the report. Remember, before you get to these embedded sources (most are described as a “compatriot” of the actual source), you’ve got to remember the former MI6 agent paid to do opposition research (and perhaps directing his agents to look for opposition research). So everything here is Hillary’s surrogates to former MI6 agent to (usually) a “compatriot” to the underlying source. Also, some of these sources are obviously repetitive (such as the source close to Ivanov), so the entire dossier likely relies on closer to 10 underlying sources than the 31 listed here.
- Source A: Senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure with knowledge of intelligence the Kremlin was feeding Trump [via trusted compatriot]
- Source B: Former top level Russian intelligence officer still active insider the Kremlin, who says the Russians have enough material to blackmail Trump [via trusted compatriot]
- Source C: Senior Russian financial official
- Source D: A close associate of Trump who knows that the Ritz Carlton is under control by FSB
- Source E: redacted, possibly a staffer at the Ritz Carlton, which is reportedly controlled by FSB
- Source F: A female staffer at the Ritz, which is reportedly controlled by FSB
- Source G: A senior Kremlin official
- Unlabeled senior government official claiming the Russians had had only limited success penetrating foreign governments we know they’ve penetrated (like the US) but explaining RU had had increasing problems with its own hackers
- A Russian IT specialist with direct knowledge of FSB’s coercion and blackmail used to recruit hackers
- An IT operator inside a leading Russian State Owned Entity familiar with FSB penetration of a foreign director
- An FSB cyber operative
- Source E2: An ethnic Russian close associate of Trump who claims Trump has a minimal investment profile in Russia
- A Russian source close to Rosneft President Igor Sechin
- A compatriot of an official close to Presidential Admin Head Sergei Ivanov
- A trusted associate of a Russian émigré figure
- A Kremlin source close to Sergei Ivanov
- A Kremlin source close to Dmitri Medvedev
- A close colleague of Sergei Ivanov
- A Kremlin official involved in US relations
- An ethnic Russian associate of Trump, who had spoken to Carter Page
- A compatriot of a Kremlin insider discussing Duma Head of Foreign Relations Committee Konstantin Kosachev
- A well-placed Russian figure
- An American political figure associated with Trump
- A trusted compatriot of a senior member of Presidential Administration and of a senior Minister of Foreign Affairs official
- A former top level Russian intelligence officer
- A trusted compatriot of a top level Russian government official
- A trusted compatriot of a St. Petersburg member of the political/business elite and another involved in the services/tourist industry
- A trusted compatriot of a senior Russian leadership figure and a foreign ministry official
- A trusted compatriot of a close associate of Rosneft President Igor Sechin, a senior member of Sechin’s staff, and a Kremlin insider with direct access to the leadership
- A longstanding compatriot friend of a Kremlin insider