Democrats Demand DOJ Release the Information that Has Christopher Steele Hiding for His Life

I have to say, the Democrats are beginning to convince me Russia’s involvement in the DNC hack is just one hoax.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe there is plenty of evidence — in public and stuff I’ve been told by people close to the hack — that the Russians did hack the DNC and John Podesta and share those documents with Wikileaks.

But given the bozo way the Democrats are trying to politicize it, I can only conclude the Democrats think this is less serious than I have believed and than Democrats claim. That’s because they’re now demanding that FBI give them the very same information that — we’ve been told by public reporting — led former MI6 officer Christopher Steele to hide for his life.

This morning, David Corn wrote a piece complaining about “the mysterious disappearance of the biggest scandal in Washington.”

After reviewing some of the facts in this case (and asserting without proof that Putin’s interference in the election “achieved its objectives,” which is only partly backed by declassified intelligence reports on the hack) and giving an incomplete list of the congressional committees that have announced investigations into the hack, Corn gave this inventory of what he claims to be the lack of outcry over the hack.

Yet these behind-closed-doors inquiries have generated minimum media notice, and, overall, there has not been much outcry.

Certainly, every once in a while, a Democratic legislator or one of the few Republican officials who have bothered to express any disgust at the Moscow meddling (namely Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio) will pipe up. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi days ago called on the FBI to investigate Trump’s “financial, personal and political connections to Russia” to determine “the relationship between Putin, whom he admires, and Donald Trump.” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), responding to Trump’s comparison of the United States to Putin’s repressive regime, said on CNN, “What is this strange relationship between Putin and Trump? And is there something that the Russians have on him that is causing him to say these really bizarre things on an almost daily basis?” A few weeks ago, Graham told me he wanted an investigation of how the FBI has handled intelligence it supposedly has gathered on ties between Trump insiders and Russia. And last month, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pushed FBI Director James Comey at a public hearing to release this information. Yet there has been no drumbeat of sound bites, tweets, or headlines. In recent days, the story has gone mostly dark.

The funniest detail in this is how Corn describes Chris Murphy’s response to the exchange that took up the entire weekend of news — Trump’s nonplussed response when Bill O’Reilly called Putin a killer.

O’Reilly: Do you respect Putin?

Trump: I do respect him but —

O’Reilly: Do you? Why?

Trump: Well, I respect a lot of people but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him. He’s a leader of his country. I say it’s better to get along with Russia than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world — that’s a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea.

O’Reilly: But he’s a killer though. Putin’s a killer.

Trump: There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think — our country’s so innocent. You think our country’s so innocent?

O’Reilly: I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers.

Trump: Well — take a look at what we’ve done too. We made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.

O’Reilly: But mistakes are different than —

Trump: A lot of mistakes, but a lot of people were killed. A lot of killers around, believe me.

This was a Super Bowl interview, for fuck’s sake, and both before and after the interview, political pundits on both sides of the aisle were up in arms about Trump’s affinity for Putin’s murderous ways! Google counts more than 70,000 articles on the exchange.

But to Corn, that translated into only one comment from Murphy.

From there, Corn goes onto complain that the White House press briefings — which have been a noted shitshow inhabited by people like Infowars — has only featured direct questions about the investigation twice, and that the questions about Trump’s call to Putin weren’t about the investigation (as opposed to, say, Trump’s ignorant comments about the START treaty, which could get us all killed).

The crazier thing is that, best as I can tell, Mother Jones — the media outlet that David Corn has a bit of influence over — seems to have ignored the indictment of Hal Martin yesterday, the arrest on treason charges of two FSB officers, allegedly for sharing information with the US intelligence community, or even today’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on our relations with Russia. Among other things, today’s hearing discussed the hack, Trump’s comments about Putin the killer, weaponization of information, sanctions, Trump’s lukewarm support for NATO. It also included multiple Democratic calls for a bipartisan investigation and assurances from Chairman Corker and Ranking Member Cardin that that would happen.

So effectively, David Corn should be complaining about his own outlet, which isn’t covering the things relating to the hack others of us are covering.

No matter. Corn made his sort of ridiculous call, that call got liked or RTed over 3,000 times, and as if magically in response, Jerry Nadler introduced a resolution of inquiry, calling on the Administration to (in part) release any document that relates or refers to “any criminal or counterintelligence investigation targeting President Donald J. Trump, National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Roger Stone, or any employee of the Executive Office of the President.”

As I’ve already noted, two FSB officers recently got arrested on treason charges, an event many people fear came in response to details revealed about this investigation and if so would badly undermine any investigation. People equally wonder whether the curious death of former FSB General Oleg Erovinkin relates to the leaked Steele dossier that Corn himself played a central role in magnifying, which would represent another lost intelligence source. And, of course, there are the reports that the former MI6 officer that compiled the dossier, Christopher Steele, on which these allegations rest fled from his home out of fear for his life because of the way it got publicized.

Either Putin is a ruthless thug or he’s not. Either Steele had reason to flee because the dossier is true or he didn’t. Either this thuggery is serious or it’s just a political stunt.

I really do believe it is the former (though I have real questions about the provenance of the dossier, questions which Corn could but has not helped to provide clarity on). Which is why I’m absolutely mystified that Democrats are demanding every document pertaining to any counterintelligence investigation into it, the kind of exposure which —  recent history may already show — is totally counterproductive to actually pursuing that investigation.

As I’ll write shortly, I do deeply suspect the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation (especially) is designed to be counterproductive. The Hal Martin indictment yesterday seems to suggest FBI doesn’t have the evidence to figure out who Shadow Brokers is, if even it has ties to the DNC hack (as much evidence suggests it does). But I also think political stunts like this don’t help things.

But maybe that’s not the point?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

24 replies
  1. greengiant says:

    Massive dust and smoke storm.   I have seen no investigative reporting on the ex WSJ reporters/opposition researchers who hired Steele.   Elusive or illusive connections between Kadzic,  Marc Rich,  the oil oligopolists,  and Focus GPS.     I know I am deep into the mire when I link the dailycaller,  perhaps some thing true there that escapes with the rapid response propaganda.

    http://dailycaller.com/2017/01/13/exclusive-oppo-researcher-behind-trump-dossier-is-linked-to-pro-kremlin-lobbying-effort/   The russian “mob” with whom Simpson is alleged to be a helper,  has evidence of having made very high level friends at the FBI and congress,  not to mention Eliot Spitzer and other politicians.

    Does  Schulz have a problem somehow to do with the Awan brothers?   http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/house-staff-criminal-investigation-234714.

    What were Stratfor or other NGOs or governments besides Russia doing in the election and what are their agendas?

  2. bevin says:

    “.. I believe there is plenty of evidence — in public and stuff I’ve been told by people close to the hack — that the Russians did hack the DNC and John Podesta and share those documents with Wikileaks…”
    I don’t believe that “the Russians” did anything of the sort.
    It really isn’t the way that states intervene in elections, had they really been interested in Trump winning they would have done what the Israelis and the British did and directed money to his campaign and used their influence on the media to favour their candidate-there has been no evidence of that. Russia has very little influence on the media, almost none on the big networks and news organisations, they had even less before this matter came up and gave RT and Sputnik the kind of credibility that news organisations normally spend years patiently accumulating.

    But the real nub of the question is that the information made public was very marginal and not very interesting: anyone who didn’t realise that Debbie W Schultz had rigged the primaries wasn’t paying attention. The DNC leak/hack merely confirmed what expert mathematicians knew already: 2+2 = 4. The Podesta emails were similar. There must be plenty of devastating info out there about the Clintons, in office and out, but remarkably little-even by comparison with Trump’s troubles, the rape of the day, Billy Bush’s remorse and so on, which gave my local sheet, in Canada, an anti-Trump headline a day for weeks.

    And then there is the fact that all of this information was precisely what the Press ought to have been discovering and putting before the public- it was very useful for those having difficulty understanding what the Party of the Copperheads and the Solid South is all about.
    We learned that CNN had leaked the debate topics to Hillary-isn’t that fair? That cheats are caught cheating? We learned that the slurs against Sanders -the questioning of his exemplary student civil rights record, his ‘atheism’ the sexism (Bernie Bros)- were coordinated and fed to accomplices in the media. Isn’t that fair? Isn’t it better that the voters know how the media and the DNC are playing fast and loose with the facts? Or should we wait for another Tonkin incident and sacrifice a million or so people on the altar of cynical politics and suborned newspapers?
    I don’t think that there is a chance in a million that the charges against the Russian government are true. But, if they prove to be, they deserve the thanks of the American people, who have the right to make up their own minds about which is the lesser evil.

    • desack says:

      There is no way to know whether Russia sent money to the Trump campaign, or even just to his businesses, which his son stated was “disproportionately” in Russia. Trump solicited campaign contributions from foreign leaders. I think it is almost impossible that Russia did not give him money.

       

      “We learned that CNN had leaked the debate topics to Hillary-isn’t that fair? ”

      This hasn’t made any sense to me as something that I would see online 200X a day, every day. So what? Did you look at the questions? They are obvious questions that were going to be asked. I am not saying that it is right, just that it had absolutely no effect, aside from people making a lot out of it. You think she didn’t know a question about Flint was coming up in a debate in Michigan?

      • Desider says:

        Specifically:

        One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash.”
        In the body of the email,Ms. Brazilewrote: “Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the [people] of Flint.
        “Folks, I did a service project today. It’s so tragic. And what’s worse, some homes have not been tested and it’s important to encourage seniors to also get tested

        Too funny. I assume the leaked question #2 is: “what will you do as President of the United States”.

  3. SpacelifeForm says:

    OT: The clustertrump continues.

    So, 9th Circuit upholds.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/federal-appeals-court-maintains-suspension-of-trumps-immigration-order/2017/02/09/e8526e70-ed47-11e6-9662-6eedf1627882_story.html

    A federal appeals court panel has maintained the freeze on President Trump’s controversial immigration order, meaning previously barred refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries can continue entering the United States.

    In a unanimous, 29-page opinion, three judges with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit flatly rejected the government’s argument that the suspension of the order should be lifted immediately for national security reasons and forcefully asserted their ability to serve as a check on the president’s power.

    Here is the clustertrump demonstrating that he is UNFIT FOR OFFICE.

    Trump reacted angrily on Twitter, posting just minutes after the ruling, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

    The Cluster is so messed up.

    Doesn’t his cluster realize that ‘SEE YOU IN COURT’ is shouting at clouds? Can he not see
    that the DOJ *ALREADY* has been in court over this matter? That the reason the 3 judges made this ruling was *because* the DOJ already appealed? Does he not understand the court system? Does he not understand that DOJ is part of the US government?

    He is correct about the security of the us.
    It is just that he does not realize he is the worst of the threat, most of which is internal, not the fake 7.

  4. greengiant says:

    @Bevin The Trump dossier news cycle was ever so short and over long ago. The discussion is not about Trump per se. The discussion is about WTF was the hack and leak and Abedin and the dossier about. They did not do much for the election, the “because Clinton email” responders who voted for Trump were talking about Hillary’s private email server and the Clinton foundation. The DNC hack spasm and the Podesta phish came later.
    @spacelifeform Trump/Bannon will stumble around until he gets it lawful and it will be much more restrictive than the EO. No immigration was how Trump won. A Trump impeachment is the plan of the Neo-Cons.

    • desack says:

      The FBI comments at the end, and constantly citing the emails is how Trump won. The emails gave a sense of impropriety where none really existed. They reinforced the claims about her email server being insecure which to many made her “crooked”. I believe Russia and the Trump administration did actively collude together, there is no other way to know without an investigation, but people here don’t seem to want that for some reason. Stone bragged about being in touch with Wikileaks.

      • emptywheel says:

        I hope you’re not including me in that? My point is that the Democrats are undermining the effectiveness of any investigation.

      • greengiant says:

        Anything that grows exponentially reaches a limit.   This is behind some of the long life cycle theories in vogue, whether the growth is technology,  resource,  education,  what have you.    Corruption in the US has grown to the point where enough voters turned to a corrupt populist in a blind attempt to escape it.   I am thinking Bannon is onto something.  So thanks for trolling from where ever you are.

  5. scribe says:

    EW: the long and the short of it is that the Dems (and, for that matter Establishment Republicans) really don’t want to have a full-up investigation of the DNC hack, because it will show that (A) the emails were real (and this is how sausage gets made), (B) the Dems were idiots when it came to cybersecurity, and (C) when all is said and done there will never be any definitive way to determine whether the DNC hack, the emails and/or the Trump dossier was the last weight that caused the Jenga tower of HRC’s campaign to collapse and allow Trump to win. The Dems would much rather have the horse of “being thwarted in finding out the ‘truth'” by the FBI, CIA, DMV, White House or outhouse to beat on as an instrument for whipping up their base and fundraisers. And if a CI source (like the MI6 guy) gets burnt and maybe even offed, so much the better. They’ll try to blame it on Trump “covering his tracks” or even Putin helping Trump cover their alliance. Or something.
    .
    But, even there, they’re still campaigning the way HRC did against Trump. He has moved on through 4 or 5 other outrages and they’re still stuck on one most people never understood, even in the grossest sense, and don’t care about any more. For most people, it would seem that the minute the Electoral votes were counted, it was over.

  6. Don Bacon says:

    The unqualified warmonger Hillary lost. Get over it. Her supporters including CNN, WaPo and NYTimes fell with her. That’s good. We all know that they axed Bernie to promote the unqualified warmonger Hillary, we didn’t really need wikileaks and the dastardly Roosians to tell us. And I doubt that it really mattered, with a lousy economy and perpetual war under Obama-Clinton.

    • Desider says:

      Clinton left office Jan 2013. She was SoS during Arab Spring – any suggestions what you would have done aside from sit on your ass and complain about anything and everything? She didn’t get us in a war over Egypt. The action in Libya was in response to a tense situation over civilians in Benghazi, and the response was a joint effort with 4 major EU countries & Canada that didn’t put boots on the ground. Syria’s a tougher question, but again, what were the options – just let protesters get snuffed & ignore it? Even a no-fly zone to her critics is akin to WWIII (& besides, at the end of the day, Obama’s who made any and all decisions).

      And why all the jokiness about Russia? No memory of Chechnya I & II or throwing Khodorovsky into jail to steal Yukos, or the $30+ billion spent to turn Sochi into a corrupt memorial for himself & enricher of cronies, or the number of dissidents including journalists killed with poison or bullets at home & abroad? (Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yuschenko escaped with just a pocked face prior to the Orange Revolution). Poor Putin, misunderstood nice guy.

  7. Anon says:

    EW, I don’t believe the abstract validity of the claims are even a concern at this point. Many professional Dems (Corn being a great example) still cannot, or will not, engage with the fact that they lost and that voters actively turned away from them. I suspect that some of them (e.g. Obama or Perez) are letting this line go because they don’t want to acknowledge the truth. Others (e.g. Nancy Pelosi) seem chronically unable to grasp it and so I suspect that they follow this line of reasoning because once you rule out the obvious whatever remains, however bonkers, must be the truth.

    In either case I think that serious considerations of security, policy, or logic are not the driving factor in this.

  8. lefty665 says:

    With the makeup of the Senate intelligence committee anything it does is likely to be counterproductive.  Mark Warner as the vice chair is a guarantee that nothing substantive will come from the Dems unless Wyden is uncontrollable. There is as much likelihood that Rubio on the other side will grind his anti Trump axe. Guess there’s a chance that between him and Wyden we’ll get some fireworks, but because of classification not much substance.

    Seems that Scribe is pretty much right on target above. I’d add that a lot of what we’re getting from the Dems is a mixture of hysteria and tantrums.  From what I’ve read of their retreat in Baltimore this week they still have not accepted that they have lost the country or have any clue why. It is so much easier to try to change the subject by screaming the RUSSIANS did it, TRUMP, RUSSIANS. It worked for Joe McCarthy, for awhile.  Eventually Dems will have to deal with their 25 year descent into DLC, neolib elite corruption, warmongering and failure.

  9. Charles says:

    I don’t think there’s any question Putin is a murderous thug. The Beslan School hostage “rescue” pretty much answered that question.

    I am not convinced the Democrats are politicizing it. They are certainly playing politics, but with the goal of forcing the Republicans to have a serious investigation, something that seems increasingly unlikely. Certainly Trump’s connections to Russia are fair game. The Tillerson nomination alone–where the quid and the quo are sitting next to one another holding hands– should be enough for that. But the only mechanism to accomplish that is, in their view, to suggest that Trump had the Russians hack the Democrats. While that could be true, I’ve always speculated that Trump hired Russian criminal organizations do the hack. He was, after all, the beneficiary, and he certainly has lots of criminal associates.

    I think in this case, we have to factor in how politics is played in assessing the actions of the Democrats. Also, we have to factor in the fact that the Democrats are really bad at politics, which is how they have managed to lose most of the state legislatures, governorships, the Congress, and the presidency. But I do think they have the interests of the country at heart.

     

    Just my two cents.

  10. lefty665 says:

    Expect this is the kind of stuff Nadler is after. Doesn’t seem likely that Flynn was the only one talking, or that the Russians were the only ones they were talking to. Curious, Flynn knows the kind of surveillance foreign diplomats are under. He must not have cared that everything he said or wrote to them would be recorded.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/national-security-adviser-flynn-discussed-sanctions-with-russian-ambassador-despite-denials-officials-say/2017/02/09/f85b29d6-ee11-11e6-b4ff-ac2cf509efe5_story.html?hpid=hp_rhp-top-table-main_usrussia-%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.c6d88720e2ae

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As Bevin points out, this “really isn’t the way that states intervene in elections.” Not if they want to affect the outcome, as opposed to merely muddying the water or playing to a contender’s ego without influencing who actually wins. (The FBI’s anti-Hillary campaigns were probably more effective.) The CIA has unrivaled experience of this, having spent decades doing it to Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the UK, Italy, France, all of Latin America, etc. We’ll never get it, but it would be lovely to see what CIA analysts have on this.

  12. b says:

    So Steele “fears for his life”? How would you know? From an anonymous British intel source, with interest to hype Steele, telling such to the BBC?
    The guy had been peddling the junk in person to DC journos for over a year. How is that consistent with someone who feared that it, and his role in it, would come out?
    Bullshit.

    Th guy will be back in a month or two and do his job just like he has done before. Who would punish him for spreading idiotic misinformation that every journo who saw it though was too unreliable to publish?

    Get back to the ground Marcy. “Putin did it” is just a very stupid excuse for the Dems to allow Obama to trash the original party values and for pushing an incompetent, lazy candidate that had the highest negative numbers in the electorate one could think of.

    The Dems did not lose power on local, state and federal levels because Putin did something. The lost it because the left their voters in the trash bin.

  13. maybe ryan says:

    I’m pretty much with scribe on whether an investigation will go anywhere.  I felt that from the moment Obama announced his deep concern after the election.  There was a way for him to frame it that was less threatening to Republicans and might have allowed a significant group to rally around no foreign interference.  Instead, he chose to frame it as casting doubt on Trump’s illegitimacy, which is dubious to me for the reasons scribe mentions.

    At any rate, my question is why hasn’t Grozev followed up on his Tower of Cards Part I?  That was really interesting, seemingly his own independent insights,. and calling it Part I suggested he already had more insights into what had happened, and was putting them into form.  Three weeks later, nothing.  I’m tired to going back to the site.  Sigh.

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