On Disinformation and the Dossier

By all accounts, the House will vote to release the Nunes memo tonight, even while Adam Schiff pushes to release his countering memo at the same time. Perhaps in advance of that, Andrew McCabe either chose to or was told to take leave today until such time as his pension kicks in in mid-March, ending his FBI career.

Since we’re going to be obsessing about the dossier for the next while again, I want to return to a question I’ve repeatedly raised: the possibility that some or even much of the Christopher Steele dossier could be the product of Russian disinformation. Certainly, at least by the time Fusion and Steele were pitching the dossier to the press in September 2016, the Russians might have gotten wind of the project and started to feed Steele’s sources disinformation. But there’s at least some reason to believe it could have happened much sooner.

Former CIA officer Daniel Hoffman argues the near misses are a mark of Russian disinformation

A number of spooks had advanced this idea in brief comments in the past. Today, former CIA officer Daniel Hoffman makes the arguement at more length at WSJ.

There is a third possibility, namely that the dossier was part of a Russian espionage disinformation plot targeting both parties and America’s political process. This is what seems most likely to me, having spent much of my 30-year government career, including with the CIA, observing Soviet and then Russian intelligence operations. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that Vladimir Putin continues in the Soviet tradition of using disinformation and espionage as foreign-policy tools.

Hoffman points to what I consider the dossier’s abundance of near-misses (such as events involving the correct person in the wrong place or time) on correct information to back his case.

The pattern of such Russian operations is to sprinkle false information, designed to degrade the enemy’s social and political infrastructure, among true statements that enhance the veracity of the overall report. In 2009 the FSB wanted to soil the reputation of a U.S. diplomat responsible for reporting on human rights. So it fabricated a video, in part using real surveillance footage of the diplomat, that purported to show him with a prostitute in Moscow.

Similarly, some of the information in the Steele dossier is true. Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser, did travel to Moscow in the summer of 2016. But he insists that the secret meetings the dossier alleges never happened. This is exactly what you’d expect if the Kremlin followed its usual playbook: accurate basic facts provided as bait to convince Americans that the fake info is real.

John Sipher, in our joint interview with Jeremy Scahill admitted such a thing was possible, though that the dossier still tied the hack to “collusion.”

The Russians are the best in the world at this disinformation and deception. I don’t think, based on what we saw in the June, the first of his reports, that the Russians would have controlled all of those sources and controlled that whole narrative. It just doesn’t seem to make sense to me. And if in fact they did control the information that was given to Mr. Steele at that time, you have to wonder what was the point. If they were trying to send a message that they had compromising information on Mr. Trump, that might be that they wanted Mr. Trump to know what they had so he would act accordingly. In terms of using kompromat you don’t have to go to the person and make the quid pro quo, you just have to let them know that you have the information and they’ll do the right thing. So, I do agree, as time went by, and as she mentioned, for example, that what GPS Fusion information had in the connections they had there’s, it’s certainly possible that the Russians could have come across some of these sources and provided disinformation especially as time went by. I don’t think that that’s out of the realm of possibility.

Nevertheless Sipher argued in response to Hoffman that the content of the dossier would rule against it being disinformation.

[Hoffman] did not address the content. If was disinformation, it was designed to hurt Trump.

The content of the dossier would have led Democrats to be complacent about the hacking

But I can think of several ways the information in the dossier, if it was disinformation, would help Trump. I have already noted how, if Democrats had used the intelligence provided by Steele in the very earliest reports in the dossier to gauge the risk posed by the hack, they would have been lulled into complacency, because Steele’s first reports clearly said any kompromat the Russians wanted to dump was old intercepts from Hillary’s trips to Russia, and even Steele’s first report after the WikiLeaks dump would not only not confirm Russia was behind the release, but would also contradict a year of public reporting on APT29 to claim that Russia had not had success breaching targets like the State Department and Hillary.

On June 20, Perkins Coie would have learned from a Steele report that the dirt Russia had on Hillary consisted of “bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls rather than any embarrassing conduct.” It would also have learned that “the dossier however had not yet been made available abroad, including to TRUMP or his campaign team.”

On July 19, Perkins Coie would have learned from a Steele report that at a meeting with a Kremlin official named Diyevkin which Carter Page insists didn’t take place, Diyevkin “rais[ed] a dossier of ‘kompromat’ the Kremlin possessed on TRUMP’s Democratic presidential rival, Hillary CLINTON, and its possible release to the Republican’s campaign team.” At that point in time, the reference to kompromat would still be to intercepted messages, not email.

On July 22, Wikileaks released the first trove of DNC emails.

On July 26 — days after Russian-supplied emails were being released to the press — Perkins Coie would receive a Steele report (based on June reporting) that claimed FSB had the lead on hacking in Russia. And the report would claim — counter to a great deal of publicly known evidence — that “there had been only limited success in penetrating the ‘first tier’ foreign targets.” That is, even after the Russian hacked emails got released to the public, Steele would still be providing information to the Democrats suggesting there was no risk of emails getting released because Russians just weren’t that good at hacking.

In fact, in his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, in one of the few instances in either congressional appearance where he admitted that Steele was hired at almost precisely the same moment the Democrats were trying to get the FBI to make a public statement attributing the hack to Russia, Glenn Simpson explained that the Democrats did use Steele’s intelligence to “manage” the aftermath of the hack.

MR. SIMPSON: Well, this was a very unusual situation, because right around the time that the work started, it became public that the FBI suspected the Russians of hacking the DNC. And so there was sort of an extraordinary coincidence. It wasn’t really a coincidence but, you know, our own interest in Russia coincided with a lot of public disclosures that there was something going on with Russia.

And so what was originally envisioned as an original — as just a sort of a survey, a first cut of what might be — whether there might be something interesting about Donald Trump and Russia quickly became more of an effort to help my client manage a, you know, exceptional situation and understand what the heck was going on.

I also think it’s creepy that Guccifer 2.0 promised what he called a dossier on Hillary on the same day Steele delivered his first report, June 20, and delivered documents he claimed to be that dossier the next day.

There are multiple ways the Russians may have learned of the Steele dossier

Hoffman lays out a number of the reasons I believe Steele’s production process might have been uniquely susceptible to discovery.

There are three reasons the Kremlin would have detected Mr. Steele’s information gathering and seen an opportunity to intervene. First, Mr. Steele did not travel to Russia to acquire his information and instead relied on intermediaries. That is a weak link, since Russia’s internal police service, the FSB, devotes significant technical and human resources to blanket surveillance of Western private citizens and government officials, with a particular focus on uncovering their Russian contacts.

Second, Mr. Steele was an especially likely target for such surveillance given that he had retired from MI-6, the British spy agency, after serving in Moscow. Russians are fond of saying that there is no such thing as a “former” intelligence officer. The FSB would have had its eye on him.

Third, the Kremlin successfully hacked into the Democratic National Committee. Emails there could have tipped it off that the Clinton campaign was collecting information on Mr. Trump’s dealings in Russia.

I’d flesh out another, one the Republicans have been dancing close to for the last year. Because Fusion GPS did business with both the Democrats and, via Baker Hostetler, anti-Magnitsky lobbyists Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin at the same time, it created a second source via which the Russians might learn that Hillary had a dossier. In addition to Simpson himself,  Fusion researcher Edward Baumgartner also worked with both Baker Hostetler and the Democrats at the same time. Simpson tried to minimize the overlap and the possibility for revealing the dossier, especially in his Senate testimony.

Q. We had talked about work for multiple clients. What steps were taken, if any, to make sure that the work that Mr. Baumgartner was doing for Prevezon was not shared across to the clients you were working for with regard to the presidential election?

A. He didn’t deal with them. He didn’t deal with the clients.

But the publicly released financial data shows a clear overlap in those projects and Baumgartner’s comments to BI show he worked quite closely with Veselnitskaya.

Baumgartner, a fluent Russian speaker, said he was hired by Fusion to serve as “an interface” with Veselnitskaya, who does not speak much English. They worked “very closely” together in Washington and Moscow, Baumgartner said, reviewing documents and finding witnesses who could bolster Prevezon’s case.

Simpson attended a dinner in DC on June 10, attended by both Veselnitskaya and Akhmetshin, in the aftermath of the Trump Tower meeting at which (per Simpson) “we had drinks before;” Baumgartner’s vague memory suggests he did too. When asked if Baumgartner knew Akhmetshin, which is virtually certain, Simpson said, “I don’t know.” So there were at least opportunities where people working on both campaigns might have disclosed details about the project for the Democrats (though both Simpson and Baumgartner said Baumgartner didn’t know about the Steele part of the project).

One other detail makes it more likely that Russians succeeded in planting at least some disinformation: both Luke Harding (who worked closely with Steele on his book) and Simpson describe Steele’s sources drying up as the focus on Trump’s ties to Russia grew. Simpson’s statement on this grossly understates (as he often does) how much focus there already publicly was on the Russian hack by the time he hired Steele.

So, you know, when Chris started asking around in Moscow about this the information was sitting there. It wasn’t a giant secret. People were talking about it freely. It was only, you know, later that it became a subject of great controversy and people clammed up, and at that time the whole issue of the hacking was also, you know, not really focused on Russia. So these things eventually converged into, you know, a major issue, but at the time it wasn’t one.

So if Steele’s regular sources were drying up, it makes it far more likely any new ones would be easy to compromised.

Russians seem to have planned to use the dossier to discredit the investigation — just as they are using it

Finally, I want to turn to another reason why I think parts of this may be disinformation. At least two of the reports — the Alfa Bank report (which was pretty clearly a feedback loop on another dodgy story) and the depiction of what should have been the Internet Research Association but was instead targeted at Webzilla, seem custom made to prepare the kind of lawfare that has discredited the dossier. Indeed, Alfa Bank and Webzilla’s owners both sued, suggesting they feel like they can survive discovery.

Look, now, at this detail from the letters Chuck Grassley sent out to the DNC, its top officials, and the Hillary campaign, and its top officials, trying to find out how much they knew about and used the dossier. Grassley also asks for any communications to, from, or relating to the following (I’ve rearranged and classified them).

Fusion and its formal employees: Fusion GPS; Bean LLC; Glenn Simpson; Mary Jacoby; Peter Fritsch; Tom Catan; Jason Felch; Neil King; David Michaels; Taylor Sears; Patrick Corcoran; Laura Sego; Jay Bagwell; Erica Castro; Nellie Ohr;

Fusion researcher who worked on both the Prevezon and Democratic projects: Edward Baumgartner;

Anti-Magnitsky lobbyists: Rinat Akhmetshin; Ed Lieberman;

Christopher Steele’s business and colleagues: Orbis Business Intelligence Limited; Orbis Business International Limited.; Walsingham Training Limited; Walsingham Partners Limited; Christopher Steele; Christopher Burrows; Sir Andrew Wood,

Hillary-related intelligence and policy types: Cody Shearer; Sidney Blumenthal; Jon Winer; Kathleen Kavalec; Victoria Nuland; Daniel Jones;

DOJ and FBI: Bruce Ohr; Peter Strzok; Andrew McCabe; James Baker; Sally Yates; Loretta Lynch;

Grassley, like me, doesn’t believe Brennan was out of the loop either: John Brennan

Oleg Deripaska and his lawyer: Oleg Deripaska; Paul Hauser;

It’s the last reference I’m particularly interested in.

When Simpson talked about how the dossier got leaked to BuzzFeed, he complains that, “I was very upset. I thought it was a very dangerous thing and that someone had violated my confidences, in any event.” The presumed story is that John McCain and his aide David Kramer were briefed by Andrew Wood at an event that Rinat Akhmetshin also attended, later obtained the memo (I’m still not convinced this was the full memo yet), McCain shared it, again, with the FBI, and Kramer leaked it to Buzzfeed.

But Grassley seems to think Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska was in on the loop of this. Deripaska is important to this story not just for because he owns Paul Manafort (he figures heavily in this worthwhile profile of Manafort). But also because he’s got ties, through Rick Davis, to John McCain. This was just rehashed last year by Circa, which has been running interference on this story.

There is a report that Manafort laid out precisely the strategy focusing on the dossier that is still the main focus of GOP pushback on the charges against Trump and his campaign (and Manafort).

It was about a week before Trump’s inauguration, and Manafort wanted to brief Trump’s team on alleged inaccuracies in a recently released dossier of memos written by a former British spy for Trump’s opponents that alleged compromising ties among Russia, Trump and Trump’s associates, including Manafort.

“On the day that the dossier came out in the press, Paul called Reince, as a responsible ally of the president would do, and said this story about me is garbage, and a bunch of the other stuff in there seems implausible,” said a personclose to Manafort.


According to a GOP operative familiar with Manafort’s conversation with Priebus, Manafort suggested the errors in the dossier discredited it, as well as the FBI investigation, since the bureau had reached a tentative (but later aborted) agreement to pay the former British spy to continue his research and had briefed both Trump and then-President Barack Obama on the dossier.

Manafort told Priebus that the dossier was tainted by inaccuracies and by the motivations of the people who initiated it, whom he alleged were Democratic activists and donors working in cahoots with Ukrainian government officials, according to the operative.

If Deripaska learned of the dossier — and obtained a copy from McCain or someone close to him — it would make it very easy to lay out the strategy we’re currently seeing.

Update: Welp, here’s why Grassley wants to know who among the Democrats spoke with Cody Shearer.

The FBI inquiry into alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 US presidential election has been given a second memo that independently set out many of the same allegations made in a dossier by Christopher Steele, the British former spy.

The second memo was written by Cody Shearer, a controversial political activist and former journalist who was close to the Clinton White House in the 1990s.


The Shearer memo was provided to the FBI in October 2016.

It was handed to them by Steele – who had been given it by an American contact – after the FBI requested the former MI6 agent provide any documents or evidence that could be useful in its investigation, according to multiple sources.

The Guardian was told Steele warned the FBI he could not vouch for the veracity of the Shearer memo, but that he was providing a copy because it corresponded with what he had separately heard from his own independent sources.

Among other things, both documents allege Donald Trump was compromised during a 2013 trip to Moscow that involved lewd acts in a five-star hotel.

58 replies
  1. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Ben Macintyre was thinking along those lines in August last year.

    Simpson testified to HPSCI that one of the few specific requests he made of Steele was regarding Michael Cohen, based upon what had emerged from Baumgartner’s open-source work. That was clearly what produced the “Prague meeting” strand, and the process there was clearly tainted towards disinfo.

    That makes me want to re-focus on the early stuff sourced from “ethnic Russian associate[s]” in the campaign’s orbit (as opposed to “Kremlin insiders”) which in theory would be more susceptible to disinfo if supplied with the plan to expose and embarrass Democrats’ oppo-gathering methods, but seems to have received much less attention than either the Page/Cohen stuff or bed micturition.

  2. Willis Warren says:

    I’d bet money Glenn Simpson  is the source of the leak.  He seems a little bit of an idiot to me, and the Veselnitskaya connection is ridiculous.  I wonder if he shit his pants when she made the news at the Trump Tower.  The McCain stuff is interesting, but it doesn’t really fit the timeline.

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    It makes me think about how Deripaska got free legal help from Mueller for his civil suit against Manafort and Davis.

    The top tier of the global elite (which doesn’t include the Orange Idiot) are in a position to hop jurisdictions and seek out influence with as little friction as their money encounters as it glides from place to place. Rule of law becomes like a buffet table where you can pick out all the good stuff and leave the rest.

  4. Rugger9 says:

    Yet another reason for the flapfest on the dossier and Nunes’ memo: it seems our Kaiser has decided to blow off the law he signed last August to impose the next round of Russian sanctions.

    He’s daring Congress to do something about it, but the GOP leadership will not until he’s done signing their agenda into law and takes the heat for it.  Then the Kaiser can be removed and Pence put in.


  5. greengiant says:

    I suspect the misinformation in the dossier was the usual provocation, at a minimum sow agitation, and at maximum seduce the democratic campaign into using it and then be totally discredited.  Somehow Clinton and the media managed to avoid the worst case before the election. Similarly the overt approaches to the Trump campaign would have multiple purposes. The Russian TLAs and the various oligarchs are not necessarily coordinated.  All good in the end for Putin and the GOP for there is almost no talk about vote count hacking or election disenfranchisement or crosscheck or poll watchers flagging votes or impossibility of recounts or voting machine accuracy or GOP oligarch connections or oligarch help with l’affaire Weiner etc.  And as with any corruption the US TLAs are just along for the ride.

  6. Trip says:

    I’m not on twitter, so….

    emptywheel‏ @emptywheel

    Wray was far better than most (not all) of Trump’s FBI candidates. But I suspect we didn’t get a guy who had a good idea of how to turn the tables on a bully.

    @Marcy, Wray was NJ Gov Chris Christie’s lawyer on the “Bridgegate case”.  So Wray had plenty of up close and personal experience with a bully. Turning tables, that, I don’t know. Christie was likely an unindicted co-conspirator, if not the mastermind of the lane closures, but only the small fish got fried.

    Trump picks Christopher Wray, Christie’s Bridgegate lawyer, to run FBI

    Wray was one of several lawyers to personally represent the governor in the aftermath of the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal. Christie has repeatedly said he did not know about the lane closures beforehand. He was never charged with any wrongdoing.


  7. orionATL says:

    now that ew reveals a single fusion-glenn simpson employee worked with and on both the dem party and the anti-magnitsky effort, fusion-glenn simpson’s evident conflict of interest from the beginning seems like a good source of any leak to the russian gov about the steele effort to collect info on trump.

    what all this lacks at the moment is:

    1) evidence that at least each of a good number of the numbered sections/entries in the steele dossier are actually wrong in a serious way

    2) some very specific explanation for the means by which the russian government both identified steele’s contacts in advance of a conversation and provided each contact with a script (or maybe insisted/persuaded each in advance to just MSU).

    3) any evidence that the steele dossier is actually materially important to any of mueller’s efforts or to the overall arc of the story of the russian gov’s interference in the 2016 american national election. it’s importance now is as it has been for the last yesr, as one of several defensive weapons used by the republican party to protect a president many americans are convinced actually did collude with the russians (this re a wapo report on its latest poll that i read this am but can’t put my finger on right now.).

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      In truth, I don’t think the burden of proof works that way, which is a good thing because of your point 3) — if Steele was deliberately being fed disinfo because the people his source network relied upon were tipped off, that absolutely doesn’t undermine what we know from the OSC investigation. It’s more like a silhouette.

      (And think of the stuff that was spiked or underplayed on mob ties and money laundering, perhaps because too many people were looking for a pee tape.)

      • orionATL says:

        thanks. i’m having a little trouble understanding your burden of proof comment. could you elaborate.

        i absolutely agree that whatever games the russians may have played with steele does not undermine any of mueller’s work. my view is that the dossier is and has been trivial in every way except as political fodder.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          I mean that Steele’s work doesn’t occupy a place where it’s deemed correct until proved wrong, or where we need to ascertain when and how the sourcing was tainted. Those inquiries would be illuminating in certain ways, but it’s second- and third-order work.

          • bmaz says:

            PINC – While that is certainly true as to “the dossier” in general, that statement is flat wrong as to any reference contained within the four corners of the warrant application once lawfully reviewed and accepted by the court. That material does have the presumption and maintains it unless and until successfully challenged such as via a Franks v. Delaware hearing. That is one of the things so wrong with what the HPSCI Republicans are doing, they are making presumptions about a lawful warrant that are not supported by law.

            • pseudonymous in nc says:

              Absolutely, and that’s why we should distinguish between material that carries that presumption — another example would be the statements of facts associated with Mueller’s plea deals — and material that does not.

            • orionATL says:

              bmaz –

              what (or whose) is the “warrant” you refer to in “within the four corners of the warrant application”? the senate committee? the special counsel?


              • bmaz says:

                The Carter Page warrant at issue as to the Nunes memo. Senate committees and SC do not issue warrants. As a DOJ arm, SC could seek a warrant, but they are only issued by courts. The Senate and House are completely inapplicable. In the case of Page, it was the FISA Court.

              • bmaz says:

                I have won several over the years. That aside, the rule holds as to presumption of regularity and competence of the underlying affidavit.

        • emptywheel says:

          Burden of proof operates in the reverse of the way you want it to. We don’t assume stuff to be true, especially not raw intelligence, until it can be corroborated. Simpson is quite clear in both his testimonies he didn’t verify any of this. He even said the British operate differently than the Americans in that they write down precisely what their sources say, w/o testing it (though elsewhere he claims Steele did do some weeding).

          So the default should be we corroborate first.


          • orionATL says:

            thanks. i understand now; otherwise any made-up info, or hearsay (gossip, which is what i take the dossier entries to be) would be accepted in legal proceedings as true until proven otherwise, not an acceptable situation.

            still, that does leave the situation unaccounted for where a statement or fact is true but unsupported by available evidence – for example plate tectonics until the ’60’s and’ 70’s. in that circumstance in science, you can speculate all you want (from the 1860’s on) but you can’t publish without supporting evidence.

            very interesting. corroborating first would have saved some grief.

            • pseudonymous in nc says:

              corroborating first would have saved some grief.

              The assumption was that Clinton would win, the CI investigation would happen, Steele would be at best a footnote, and that the Idiot would probably dodge any direct consequences because it would look too much like political retribution.

              Didn’t work out that way.

    • orionATL says:

      speaking of corroboration –

      this brings to mind a matter i’ve wondered about – why aren’t the suits by alfa bank and the cypriot businessman being defended in the u. s. by reference to first amendment speech protection for political speech? it’s hard to see why politicians can make just about any wild claim they chose, but material like the steele dossier that was created or acquired for explicitly political purposes by an american political party is succeptible to libel law? where are the limits drawn about who can say what in political speech? it would be hard to argue that a political speaker deliberately intended to libel alfa bank or that businessman. any libel would be incidental to criticizing a political opponent (collateral damage as the saying goes :).

      • emptywheel says:

        They are. And BuzzFeed is also talking about its First Amendment protections. The trick is, especially wrt the Alfa report, BuzzFeed admitted when releasing the dossier that misspellings in the dossier suggested error in the Alfa claims.

  8. bell says:

    daneil hoffman quote “There is a third possibility, namely that the dossier was part of a Russian espionage disinformation plot targeting both parties and America’s political process. This is what seems most likely to me.”

    ditto… and it’s the same thing the usa has been doing for how many zillion years? this is cause for a special investigation?

    simpson quote “an extraordinary coincidence”… this guy is just brilliant.. i would believe every word he says, lol…

  9. CTuttle says:

    From Bloomberg: Fusion GPS says Grassley put it’s workers in danger…

    In a letter Monday, lawyers for the Washington-based Fusion GPS lashed out at Grassley, an Iowa Republican, for ignoring “well founded concerns” they said they had previously raised regarding the safety of those employees, should their names, and others, become public.

    Yet, they say, those names were included in six letters posted on the committee’s website last week.

    “We have explained to your staff on multiple occasions that Fusion GPS has received threats to its company, its property and its employees, and that counsel has reported these matters twice to the police,” wrote three lawyers representing Fusion.
    “Ignoring our requests, your office knowingly put these people in danger, by releasing their names to the public in your January 26 letters,” the lawyers wrote. “These leaks are unauthorized and unethical.”

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Why does Chris Cuomo keep inviting to his show the ever transparent, honest spokesperson of good faith, Kellyanne Conway?  She detracts from the debate, she never adds to it, much like her boss.

  11. Trip says:

    Just putting this out here since this will be the gushing MSM opinionators’ response to the Trump state of the union address.

    Megan Amram‏ @meganamram

    “Today was the day Donald trump finally became president”

    Ms Amram, however, has been posting this comment daily. Which is both hilarious and deeply depressing in its truth.

    • orionATL says:

      do not despair.

      the measure of the trump presidency is what millions of american voters have come to think of the man personally. maybe gushing mainstream media commentators can change that increasingly jaundiced view many of us have of our prez but i doubt it.

      the measure of the man, except for those bought of easily by a grab bag tax bill he had nothing to do with past signing it, is his behavior. my sense is that that makes a lot of not-very-partisan americans nervous and distrusting.

      • orionATL says:

        here is (i think) a report on the same wapo-abc poll i referred to above. it was taken in mid-january:


        it is up to democratic spokesmen/politicians to educate americans about the very, very serious problems the anti-regulation koch-sucking congressional/whitehouse adviser republicans are causing for the future general welfare, health, environment, education, and science of this country. the voters can sort out the realities of the trump persona for themselves, but they need help seeing the future consequences of trump admin-kochsucker policy actions. what the hell, I need help :)

        • Trip says:

          “Democrats, who see an opportunity to take back control of the House and have a possible although uphill path to control of the Senate, will seek to make the November elections about Trump.”

          It’s not about Trump, alone. This seems to be a doubling down on the same plan. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of arguments to be made that Trump is terrible and that they (Dems) are the lesser evil. But here we go again.

          • Watson says:

            Dem 2016 platform: ‘Trump is horrible.’
            Dem new and improved platform for 2018: ‘Trump and Putin are horrible.’

  12. orionATL says:

    about the democratic response to trumps state of the union message –

    i said to myself “bring in the reverand william barber and representative joe kennedy”.

    i went looking for a reference to barber to post here:


    and then one for joe kennedy. and guess what i found:


    this guy can light your fire. i remember reading a comment he made in a news article about his grandfather’s speeches, something along the lines of “god, how passionate they were”. if this guy is reading old speeches, he’s my kind of spokesman. we’ll see.

    here is kennedy’s famous rebuttal to speaker paul ryan’s cruelly callous humor about mercy and the affordable care act:


  13. Trip says:

    emptywheel‏ @emptywheel
    In response to those questioning why Dems don’t release their memo as soon as GOP releases theirs–Schiff will be accused of an ethics violation and moved off HPSCI. Some retiring member SHOULD, however, read it into congressional record.
    Why isn’t that a worthy sacrifice? Is Schiff on HPSCI more important than the truth, if the Dem memo is truth? And if the memo really does illustrate contortionist cherry-picked propaganda laid out by Nunes, do the Republicans really want to argue about ethics (in re to Schiff), once that plot is revealed? I’m not opposed to anyone else reading it, if it brings us closer to the truth, but I don’t understand how one person maintaining power in a committee is more important than revealing a purported conspiracy of GOP efforts to deflect from and destroy an investigation. Maybe I am naive.

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In his SOTU speech, Donald Trump intends to promise us new bridges and gleaming roads, along with peace and unity in our time, plus 40 acres, a mule and a pony each.  All will be available for purchase at market price.  (Unicorns available at a 50% premium.) CBRE, as usual, will be able to buy them for less than assessed value and resell them privately at above market price.  What’s good for the US Postal Service should be good enough for all Americans.

  15. lefty665 says:

    The Dodgy Dossier as a disinformation campaign seems ever more likely. If so, the Russians must have been ROTFL. The Brits and Americans are paying us to make this stuff up. You couldn’t make that up, no one would believe we are that dumb, well almost no one at least among Americans and Brits. Then to have that shit worm its way into the FBI with the FBI agreeing to pay for more and IC as part of its ‘estimate’, and perhaps the FISA process and for sure the MSM and Dem useful idiots… “More vodka all around comrades, the Americans are so stupid they will believe anything, pay for the privledge, and then use it to start an investigation that will impeach their own government. Bin Laden was right, Americans so over react they will destroy themselves. Cancel tank production and divert it to cars and refrigerators”. 

    Still puzzling about Guccifer 2.0. If he’s part of the Russian disinformation campaign, why after the hack/download were the phony “Russian” attributes added to the files?  Surely the Russians would not want to implicate themselves. If they thought the manipulations were so crude we would immediately discount them and Russia as the source, boy did they overestimate our intelligence. Smells more like a Cloudstrike campaign to blame the Russians.

    Interesting that Grassley included Victoria Nuland, wife of neocon Robert Kagan, and as Asst Sec State the architect of the US fomented coup by Nazis who overthrew the elected Ukranian government, among “Hillary-related intelligence and policy types”  Under the heading of things could be worse, as bad as Trump is we can be thankful Nuland has not been running US foreign policy for the last year.


    • bell says:

      it could have been the “We Came, we Saw, he Died.” lady instead… her foreign policy agenda wouldn’t have been any better… when folks get to choose from the very bottom of the barrel, it must be pretty depressing…

        • bell says:

          the usa political process demonstrates it fully! i don’t even need to fall back on the lowly troll stereotype that has been shadowing me lately, lol…

      • lefty665 says:

        “when folks get to choose from the very bottom of the barrel” Pretty much describes election ’16, and yes it was very depressing.

        The Russians didn’t need to intervene, we did it to ourselves, Repub and Dem alike. How’s the old saying go, “Never interrupt your adversary when he’s in the process of making a mistake”.  All the Russians had to do was to stand back and toast with vodka bought with Hillary’s and DNC’s payments routed through Steele. Every now and then when they needed more drinking money they’d toss another piece of chum in the water.

        Nuland would have been working for Hillary as Sec State, Natl Sec Advisor, DNI or some such. We’d have had them both.

  16. Pangur says:

    Lots of Kubler-Ross style grieving among the libs here (mostly at the denial phase), is anyone on the left currently sober enough to accurately assess the beating you’ve received over the last two years, and what that portends for the coming years? Any thoughts on the Obama admin’s weaponization of federal agencies against U.S. citizens? What’s that, crickets you say?



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