Oleg Deripaska Probably Fed Both Parties Dirt in 2016 Election

As I disclosed last month, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

In this post arguing that some if not much of the Steele dossier was disinformation planted by the Russians, I noted that Chuck Grassley seemed to believe Oleg Deripaska leaked the dossier to Buzzfeed.

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, whomhe 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.

It would make sense that someone working on behalf of Deripaska would leak the dossier and the Paul Manafort, working on Deripaska’s instructions, orchestrated the strategy we’ve seen since, attempting to discredit the entire Russian investigation by discrediting the dossier.

I spent much of that post suggesting other ways that Russians may have learned of the Steele dossier project so as to be able to insert disinformation in it, including via Fusion GPS’ clients Natalia Veselnitskaya or Rinat Akhmetshin. I’ve since suggested Democrats may have been discussing hiring Steele while GRU’s hackers were still in the Democrat’s email server.

But the right wing propagandists’ latest obsession offers a far more alarming suggestion: that it was Deripaska from the start who learned of the dossier and arranged to have it filled with disinformation.

Of the several stories on former DOJ organized crime head Bruce Ohr’s call logs, is this one from Byron York. It describes Christopher Steele’s discussions with Ohr in early 2016, including efforts to pitch Deripaska as a useful source on organized crime who therefore should be permitted a visa to the US.

The emails, given to Congress by the Justice Department, began on Jan. 12, 2016, when Steele sent Ohr a New Year’s greeting. Steele brought up the case of Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska (referred to in various emails as both OD and OVD), who was at the time seeking a visa to attend an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in the United States. Years earlier, the U.S. revoked Deripaska’s visa, reportedly on the basis of suspected involvement with Russian organized crime. Deripaska was close to Paul Manafort, the short-term Trump campaign chairman now on trial for financial crimes, and this year was sanctioned in the wake of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

“I heard from Adam WALDMAN [a Deripaska lawyer/lobbyist] yesterday that OD is applying for another official US visa ice [sic] APEC business at the end of February,” Steele wrote in the Jan. 12 email. Steele said Deripaska was being “encouraged by the Agency guys who told Adam that the USG [United States Government] stance on [Deripaska] is softening.” Steele concluded: “A positive development it seems.”

And in February, Steele was very excited that Deripaska might be rehabilitated by the US government.

Steele said he was “circulating some recent sensitive Orbis reporting” on Deripaska that suggested Deripaska was not a “tool” of the Kremlin. Steele said he would send the reporting to a name that is redacted in the email, “as he has asked, for legal reasons I understand, for all such reporting be filtered through him (to you at DoJ and others).”

Byron goes to great lengths to assume all further conversations are about Trump and not Deripaska. He describes many of these conversations as taking place on Skype, which was not yet encrypted, confirming my belief (based in part on personal experience) that DOJ and FBI have truly shoddy operational security.

But he’s right about one thing: Steele relied on Deripaska for intelligence, and even while he was screaming about Trump’s compromise by the Russians, he was under the impression that Deripaska, who virtually owned Donald Trump’s campaign manager during most of the time Steele was digging dirt on Trump, had been purified of his corrupt ways and influence by the Kremlin.

If this is what it appears, it should be an opportunity for both sides to step back and agree, Jeebus christmas did Russia ever pawn our collective asses in 2016!, and move on to cooperating on ways to recover from all that.

That won’t happen, of course, because both sides still believe the parties were in charge of dealing the dirt, and not Russia, dealing it on both sides.

Update: For those asking for the case on disinformation, here’s a very dated post. The dossier was, on the hack-and-leak, way behind contemporary reporting and flat out embarrassingly wrong on a number of points. Per Glenn Simpson, Hillary used the dossier to decide how to respond to the hack, which would have (and may have) led her to be complacent. As for the rest, some might be rumor (such as who Page met in Russia, even though who he actually met was public). But other stuff–notably blaming Gubarev for what Prigozhin was known to be doing–almost certainly also has to be disinformation.

Update: One other point. Almost everyone in this thread appears to be missing the import of the dossier being used to feed disinformation, if that’s the case. In the same way it is important to know how Russia fed disinformation via Internet trolls and the press, it is important to understand how they fed disinformation directly to the people who were responding to the attack. Understanding that will remain critical going forward, in part because without it we won’t understand how Russia succeeded.

138 replies
  1. NJRun says:

    The idea that the dossier was misinformation is too clever by half. If it was disinformation the proportion of false material in it would have been higher or easier to disprove. What exactly in the dossier has proven to be false exactly?

    This sounds too similar to the argument that Russia was trying to cause chaos. They wanted Trump to win. The dossier raised the alarm about his connections to Russia, true or false it wasn’t good for him politically.

    • oldoilfieldhand says:

      Thank you marcy! You are true national treasure! Your commenters are incisive and intelligent, for the most part. Your moderators occasionally remind me of some nuns I inadvertently crossed,,,It’s hard to stay away from this site.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Disinformation is propaganda.  Skillfully played, neither the presence of false information nor its proportion to the whole would be easy to detect.  That seems particularly true in the heat of election battle, when so much information would be flying that fact checkers sometimes would be overwhelmed.

      Russians, like Madison Avenue consultants for tobacco, drugs, and chemical companies, are quite skillful at it.  The CIA and its famous Wurlitzer were once good at it too.

      • Trip says:

        Yep. Disinformation either has some actual truth mixed in it, or some element of ‘truthiness’.

        This is how the “deep state against Trump” mantra works. The CIA or FBI did shitty things in the past, or someone high up lied. Hence, that is the case now. It’s like rounding up the usual suspects. If some guy robbed a bank in the past that is not direct evidence of a recently committed bank robbery, but it has elements of truthiness and it raises suspicions.



      • Peterr says:

        Disinformation is propaganda.

        Yes. Disinformation is a tactic, not an end.

        Assuming the Russians had figured out that Steele was probing the Trump/Russian relationship, the strategy that this tactic would serve is threefold. First, inserting disinformation would be a way to try to throw Steele off the track. “Follow these breadcrumbs, and pay no attention to that neon sign over there . . .” Second, when the dossier got delivered, the disinformation could be exposed as false by the Russians, if that didn’t happen through above-board research by US media/politicians, thereby discrediting the whole. Third, fighting about the disinformation would stir up the kind of political conflicts among various US political parties/groups that the Russians were busy stoking via Facebook, Twitter, and other means.

        Critical to this kind of disinformation play is getting the mix of true and false information right. Presumably Steele was finding true information, so the Russians only needed to figure out what false information to feed him. Too much disinformation would likely have alerted Steele that he was being played. “Why does none of this new stuff line up with what I already know?” It has to be (a) plausible enough that it fits the overall direction of what Steele already knew,  (b) not specific enough that he can categorically rule it out as false, and (c) tantalizing enough that he’d include it in his report, even if it carries disclaimers like “I’ve only gotten this through one source, but it’s intriguing enough to pass along.”

        Feeding too little disinformation runs the opposite problem. Too little, and it won’t throw Steele off the paths he was pursuing. Too little, and it won’t get noticed by US folks looking to poke holes in it. Too little, and when it is revealed as false, it won’t be seen as a big enough problem to discredit the whole dossier. Too little, and it won’t stir up the poo-flinging among US political interests.

        This is not “too clever by half” — this is how the intelligence game has been played for generations. When Eisenhower was planning the DDay invasion, he and his staff knew that the Germans were collecting plenty of true intelligence that an invasion was imminent. By feeding plausible-but-false information about the timing and location (Calais, not Normandy), they accomplished a high degree of surprise.

        The danger of a disinformation campaign like this is that it alerts the opposition to what you are trying to hide/obscure. If your enemies are headed down a blind path, you let them go; you only try to divert them if they are going somewhere you don’t want them to go.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As Smiley observed, “Topicality is always suspect.”

          Information from the other side that fits too neatly what you want to find threatens to be unreliable.  Steele, former Russia desk officer for MI6, would have been familiar with the problem, which suggests that disinformation fed to his sources must have been good.

          Another benefit of this sort of campaign is that it would make all of Steele’s work suspect, a boon to Putin.  Like Trump, he operates best in secrecy.

        • Bob Conyers says:

          I think the comparison to wartime intelligence is right, and it’s also worth taking a step back and think how Steele operated. He wasn’t a Nunes or a Ross. He gathered a ton of material and then evaluated it. He wasn’t just publishing whatever conspiracy theory crossed his desk as soon as it came up.

          They weren’t going to trip him up by feeding him pure garbage, so they needed to work with what they had, and bend and whittle what they knew he was getting.

          I also think that all things considered, they’d prefer that Steele never was hired in the first place. I think he was a catalyst early on for a lot of attention they would have preferred didn’t happen. I suspect they hoped it lingered in the background gumming up the investigation, instead of fanning the public flames for more scrutiny.


    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      “What exactly in the dossier has proven to be false exactly?” is the tell that you need to look at the archives here, or to EW’s conversation with Josh Marshall, to get up to speed on why that’s not the question to ask.

      As we learn more, especially following the GRU indictment, the significance of Steele’s work is in showing what people mistakenly believed was going on when very different things were happening.

      • NJRun says:

        Sorry, it’s not all a big 16-dimensional chess game.

        Big rule of politics, you don’t smear yourself. If this were disinformation, Trump would have been the one to try to get this out. But that’s not what happened.

        The idea that the Russians dreamed up a plot to make Trump look bad so they could deny it and pick apart the details and therefore make the Clintons look bad, c’mon. That passes no smell test, and no political precedent.

        • emptywheel says:

          Oh. Huh.

          I guess you’ve never heard of the Bush ANG documents fed to Dan Rather.

          There was a significant amount of other disinformation that was fed to the press during the election, including stuff magnified in real time by Hillary. Disinformation has been a real part of politics forever, and that Trump has used this to his advantage after having been counseled by Paul Manafort to do is actually the opposite of what you interpret it as. Indeed, as the post notes, it has been the central part of Trump’s effort to discredit the investigation and it has worked, partly bc Dems have been so dumb about responding to that.

        • Trip says:

          It dovetails nicely into the press being “an enemy of the people” (who will report it). Also, of course, “The Deep State” making up stuff to frame Trump.

        • Michael says:

          But with the Bush ANG documents, (a) the allegations about Bush being a draft dodger were already getting a lot of play by the media and (b) there were experts ready to discredit the documents as soon as the show aired. It’s been over a year and a half and no one has discredited the pee pee tape story, for example, as conclusively.

    • melissa says:

      It’s been reported that the buzzfeed/McCain dossier is different than the one received by Corn/FBI (no idea how different), but differences may be quite telling if Deripaska was involved in buzzfeed version

  2. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Marcy! Apologies for lack of capitalization, as I am certain that your name will be featured in all caps in the history of the 21st century! Keep up the fabulous research, critical thinking and patriotic service to Democracy.

  3. HCCarey says:

    I’ll admit I find the insistence that the Steele dossier was disinformation puzzling. Ive read the posts on it here and found them hard to follow. The fault is maybe mine for not being  fully up on the context, but I’ve been assuming, perhaps wrongly, that


    A: steele was not an idiot, but rather an experienced person

    B: the Steele dossier as only part, and a relatively small part, of the impetus behind concerns about Trump and Russia, which date back to CIA/FBI informant Felix Sater and possibly earlier.

    C: Much of the stuff in the Dossier was presented as “Stuff I’m hearting” rather than as fact.

    I’m open to the idea that I’m wrong about some or all of these things. But I have not been able to parse Marcy’s posts abut the Steele dossier as disinformation. It does seem to have been pretty largely borne out?


    Agree that the Russians beat the US like a turkish carpet in 2016 but it seems very clear that they wanted Trump and intervened to help trump much more consistently and vigorously, at least partly because again they had ties to Trump going back a good long ways. I’m not sure what justifies the vehemence about the Steel dossier here.

    • Milo says:

      I feel exactly the same. I mean, clearly Marcy has an encyclopedic knowledge of this shit, and I’m just a Dude With An Internet Connection, but I ‘ve read her explanation for why there’s disinformation in the dossier three times, and still don’t get it. I mean, I understand why there could be. But there could be disinformation in anything. And if Steele presented information not as absolutely proven but ‘word on the street’ does that still count as ‘misinformation?’

      And why would Russia plant these very very clever and subtle breadcrumbs to ensnare an investigation that almost certainly wouldn’t happen? I mean, they didn’t think Trump would win, did they? Certainly, they couldnt’ have had any confidence in his victory. And yet despite that, they planted misinformation?

      I guess maybe the idea is that Russian intelligence is so competent and ubiquitous that they plant misinformation in _everything_? That strikes me mythologizing, but what do I know?

      • Bob Conyers says:

        I don’t think the Russians thought they could completely fool Steele, so they worked to misdirect him where possible and buy time against the day when better evidence was revealed. I suspect they thought that they were muddying a report that would become public during a Clinton presidency, and the level of scrutiny and publicity it got wasn’t what they expected.

        • Milo says:

          But why on earth invest resources and cunning in muddying a report that’d become public during a Clinton presidency? If Trump had lost, he’d have become completely bulletproof. Can you imagine the howls of media outrage if the Clinton DOJ investigated her defeated opponent for _anything_? Hell, Obama ‘look forward not back’ed the crimes of the Bush years! A little failed election interference would’ve been nothing.

          And the ‘misinformation’ in the dossier is orders of magnitude subtler than anything else in this shitshow. I mean, it’s all so painfully blatant except for the cunningly hidden stuff in a dossier that almost certainly wouldn’t have gotten this level of scrutiny? Why?

          And … is there any _evidence_ for this? I’m sorry, I feel like I should know the answers, I’ve honestly read Marcy’s stuff! I’m like a third-grader who wandered into a college course. Small words!

        • Bob Conyers says:

          I think it’s fair to ask these questions, and these are things I’ve struggled with myself.

          I’d be surprised if you ever get definitive proof of disinformation. The best you can do is come up with a theory to come up with known facts and likelihoods.

          There are definitely things that are off about the dossier, and this is a good start:


          The reasonable question is why are those things there, and why does Steele overemphasize things, like Page, he probably shouldn’t.

          I think there isn’t a single reason. Part of it probably is disinformation. The Russians had to have known what Steele was up to, and they probably knew some of his sources. They knew he wasn’t going to fall for outright lies, so they needed to twist what got through to him and hope he didn’t correct for the bias.

          Part of it was probably also mistakes by his sources, or self serving lies independent of government pressure. And some of it may be mistakes by Steele.

          I think it’s fair to say this doesn’t damn everything Steele did. Steele openly said he didn’t have definitive proof, and was doing what he could with what he had. In the end he was hoping to provide enough clues for official investigators to follow. Steele knew how intelligence pros work, and if they got on the case, they were going to tear down his work line by line anyway, that they may have had some of his info already, and they may have more that disproved what he presented.

          And the goal of the Russians was to foul the trail as best they could, pointing as best they could to other conclusions and trying to give false leads to waste time.

          I don’t think the Russians were looking to destroy the narrative that they helped Trump – I doubt they would have expected the facts to stay hidden forever. What they were hoping was to distract the dogs from the scent, and cause what mischief they could along the way.

          Intelligence documents are almost always a mix of facts, unprovables, and falsehoods. What’s worth noting is that the Steele dossier has trasformed into a hybrid between an intelligence document and a political brief. The problem is that as a political brief it’s being asked to do things it shouldn’t.

        • Trip says:

          From 2016:

          ….former Yeltsin adviser (Mikhail Delyagin)and famous Russian economist said on July 12, 2016 that @carterwpage “held secret talks in Moscow”

          Some of the propaganda and disinformation was right out there in the open. It doesn’t take much expense to get people to talk.


          And hacking isn’t a huge investment when a lot of criminals volunteer:
          https://meduza. io /en/feature/2018/08/07/it-s-our-time-to-serve-the-motherland

          [Readers should use extra caution when opening Meduza links. / ~Rayne]

        • Angel Martin says:

          “But why on earth invest resources and cunning in muddying a report that’d become public during a Clinton presidency? If Trump had lost, he’d have become completely bulletproof. Can you imagine the howls of media outrage if the Clinton DOJ investigated her defeated opponent for _anything_? ”


          Maybe that was the goal all along.  If the Russians thought Clinton would win, sucking her campaign and the FBI into an investigation during the campaign of her opponent (based on false info) would dog her entire Presidency with Nixon / CREEP type overtones.

          Remember.  Steele works for Deripaska.  Simpson works for KGB Natalia.

          Putin doesn’t keep hiring people who are his enemies !

    • James says:

      “Ive read the posts on it here and found them hard to follow. ”

      Agree. I would like to understand the basis for the disinformation argument, but I can’t follow it.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        This podcast has her giving a good overview:


        One of her main points is that Steele reports very heavily on Carter Page rather than Don Jr. While Page isn’t innocent, he’s a sideshow to bigger fish, and the implication is that Steele was diverted from more important issues. There are other examples in the podcast and here where Steele appears to have been diverted or had info muddied up in ways which suggest disinformation, which is not the same as pure fairy tales.

        I think it’s a fair question how much of this was clever subterfuge by the Russians and how much was them trying to do their best with what they had. They had no idea if they were able to feed a Steele source with mud if the source would repeat it or if Steele would believe it.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Once more with feeling: here’s what’s missing, even from the early memos before Steele’s sources dried up:

          * Papadopoulos, who is doing most of his stuff in London and Europe.

          * Uday, though the Agalarovs get a mention in relation to the Miss Universe stuff.

          * The nature of the hack-and-leak operation.

          I think the jury’s more out on the US-based emigré sourcing in the early report, but EW’s made a credible argument that at least some of the letter-identified sources like Sergei Millian may have been tipped off about the attempt to gather dirt and acted as conduits for disinfo.

        • cat herder says:

          ‘Raw intel’ is a notorious mixture full of lies, bullshit, disinformation, and grains of truth. Raw intel is a bunch of stuff that needs to be properly investigated, not a final report. The beginning, not the end. Finding bullshit in a pile of raw intel doesn’t taint the whole. Well, it shouldn’t, but apparently now it does.

        • cat herder says:

          “Man, this raw intel never turns out to be more than 50% true, we should stop wasting our time with it,” said no intelligence agent ever.

        • Tracy says:

          I agree – for those w/ questions, Marcy’s podcast (posted by Bob and I posted it yesterday on previous post) really helped me to understand where she was coming from on the disinfo side of the dossier – I did not really get it before that. (Especially b/c it’s been reported that ~9 high ranking Russians died after the election, one thought to be a source for Steele – but I suppose, who knows, they may have been killed over another leak or something…) – but the podcast is great, generally, and is great on the Steele dossier!

    • Charles says:

      I’m not sure what justifies the vehemence about the Steel dossier here.

      Me, neither. We have lots of reliable information via the Mueller investigation, some media work, and the congressional investigations.  Who cares about the Steele dossier, except as meta? Steele was a known British asset who could not operate in Russia and had to rely on intermediaries of questionable value. The information he produced was largely difficult to verify one way or another. The best disinformation is easy to (incorrectly) corroborate with a tainted source.

      What the Steele dossier did accomplish is to ring an alarm bell in the US and get investigators focused on the issue of Russian intervention fairly early on. Although the FBI was aware of Russian hacking of the Democrats, they don’t seem to have realized how it was going to be used… and even with Steele’s prodding,apparently failed to comprehend the scope and scale of Russian intervention.


      The Steele dossier also served to mobilize the Democrats to pressure Burr into doing something resembling a real investigation and to strengthen sanctions against Russia. If it was disinformation, it had some pretty bad consequences for the Russians. True, the Democrats should stop pushing the dossier, but for positive reasons: we now have actual, properly documented evidence as to what happened, and more is slowly emerging.

      I only wish the NSA would declassify what it must surely know. If the main events of this investigation get pushed past Election Day, as Nunes said in the leaked tape, the Congress may be able to firewall it… leaving Trump to burn down what remains of our democratic institutions.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        I think you make some valid points. I’d argue that the Russians probably had some success early on. Accounts of the initial US reaction to Steele say that his presentations were confounding and the connections and conclusions he made were hard to follow.

        But as you say, it did ring a loud alarm bell by late 2016, and by getting the attention of people like John McCain after the election, it provided one early starting point for the public and political discussion of a larger set of issues the intelligence community was already investigating.

        There was a small rebound benefit for the Trump-Russia side later. They were able to get some limited traction for pushback due to the prominence of the dossier.

        But as you point out, by that point there was a ton of evidence that had been gathered, as a part of efforts that predated Steele and didn’t depend on his work. Pushing back on Steele failed to discredit the larger case, except among Republicans who will never believe in the case no matter what.

        The Trump-Russia side got a bit of help from the dossier in sidetracking the early investigation, and they got a bit of help in the public fight later. But I have to have to wonder if they would trade all that for keeping all of the uproar of early 2017 under wraps, if they could.

        • Charles says:

          By the way, Bob, thanks for the link to the Marcy interview with Josh Marshall. She makes a good case about information in the dossier being in the public domain.

          Although persuasive, I don’t think that’s definitive since there’s so much information in the public domain, some of it contradictory or incorrect, that it’s not all that easy to construct a disinformation campaign in real time. Also, presumably once Steele got information, he checked it against the public domain. If a source were giving me information that had just gotten printed, I’d be suspicious–at the very least, I’d think he was selling me Google searches.  So the source has to be delivering information before publication for it to be considered really valuable. So, I’m still only half-persuaded that the dossier is packed with disinfo.

          And as for the Dems using the Steele dossier, this is politics.  Lots of movements start up based on misconceptions. The Tea Party is a great example of a movement based on 90% lies. The Dems may have simply decided that Steele was a good spark with which to light a political fire. Or, as Marcy apparently thinks, they may just be dopes.

        • orionATL says:

          charles –

          i don’t disgree with your argument.

          i do want to make a point that bothers me as much as the assertion that “the dossier contains misinformation or planted misinformation” without ever showing substantial numbers of misrepresentations bothers me,

          that is the assertion, always casually generalized and unspecified, that “the democrats used the dossier”. i’d be astonished if dem leaders (like sen. like harry reid) never mentioned it, but they certainly did not seem to have used it in any serious way in the campaign. after it publication in jan 2017, some congressional democrats have used it in the course of the investigations (e. g., adam schiff), but i don’t have a sense this has ever been repeated front page news. so what does this claim about dem use of the dossier amount to? it seems like false equivalence from anti-partisanship, comity-worshipping types.

          whatever use dem leaders have made of the dossier does not amount to a hill of beans compared to the republican drama queens’ screeching use of the dossier to bolster various
          invented defects of the fbi/mueller investigation of the trump-putin courtship of 2016.

          what fires did democrats ever light using the dossier. the osc investigation arouse out of natl security investigations and fbi work, not the dossier. similarly with the congressional investigations.

        • Charles says:

          that is the assertion, always casually generalized and unspecified, that “the democrats used the dossier”

          Obviously the Republican misuse of the Steele memo swamps any Democratic use of it. Andthere’s no question that the DoJ was not driven primarily by the Steele dossier but by other intelligence. And I don’t know what, exactly, Democratic officials did with the Steele memo. Probably that’s what Harry Reid was referring to when he wrote to the FBI in August 2016, but he didn’t mention the dossier, probably because of classification/ongoing investigation. (We know that John McCain used the dossier in Dec. 2016  to try to pressure the FBI to accelerate the investigation, so it’s reasonable to infer that other Senators were disturbed by the dossier).


          But I know what happened in the press. The small portion of the press that is liberal talked incessantly about the Steele dossier. In the first half of 2017, Maddow hit it three times according to my Google search.  MoJo hit it four times in the first half of 2017. And so on.  This had a predictable result. In Democratic circles, such as Daily Kos, it became the Holy Grail.


          So, I can’t prove that there’s a line from Democratic officials through liberal media to citizens who serve as pressure groups. But that’s my impression of what happened, i.e. that Democrats were using the dossier politically. If you want to disagree, well, welcome to it.

        • Trip says:

          Maddow isn’t a politician though, neither is Corn. Although you could argue the Dems filtered it through them for political use, but it isn’t the same thing as a politician specifically using it. Whether or not any of the dossier is true, it still was and is news; As disinformation or any elements of truth. Or are you thinking that Steele made up shit wholesale without actually doing any intelligence work, as a direct line for political purpose?

        • Charles says:

          Trip, I’ve been very clear that I do not know of any public attempts by Democratic officials to use the Steele memo to force action. I do know of a private attempt (which later became public) by a Republican official to force action based on the Steele dossier. I know of a public attempt by a Democratic official to force action which may have ::cough:: almost certainly ::cough:: relied on the Steele dossier. I also know that a number of journalists who regularly talk to Democratic politicians were very fired up about the Steele dossier. I also know that Democratic forums, led by people with direct lines to Democratic politicians, were very fired up about the Steele dossier.


          There are a lot of things in life where we make reasonable inferences based on facts and an understanding of how business is done in a particular sphere. I’ve been clear that I’ve made my inferences and that you are free to disagree.


          I certainly have given you absolutely  no reason to think that “Steele made up shit wholesale”  or that I believe anything life that.


          Why would you suggest that I have?

        • bmaz says:

          I’ll go one step further: I think that if knowledge of the Steele dossier spurred the Dem leadership and FBI to wake up and take some action, that is a very good thing.

        • Trip says:

          I was simply trying to figure out how it was used politically by Democrats, in your opinion. I don’t know anything about sites where the closely connected hang and discuss these things in forums. I don’t read comments on those sites, if I do visit them, so I have no idea. The Republicans use blatant deceit and lies in politicizing documents and info. I didn’t know if you might have included that as a potential avenue by the Democrats. I was not insinuating anything negative about you.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah. Frankly I have always thought the dossier a large red herring from pretty much the start. It was slightly salacious and alarming, which got people wondering and looking. But, in and of itself, it never had much, if any, real evidentiary value, and was not going to be admitted in any trial. Its reference in the Page warrant apps was superfluous, and they stand up quite well without it.

        At this point the dossier is effectively irrelevant. I am amazed at how so many people continue to fixate on it. If you are paying attention to the dossier at this point, you are not paying attention to the critical parts of the investigation that really do count.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          At least now, the critical aspect of the dossier is not does it or doesn’t it? (only her hairdresser knows for sure.)  We are beyond evaluating its accuracy or lack thereof; rather now it is another piece of evidence possibly helpful in unraveling who did what when and for what purpose.  It seems to me that Marcy treats it this way rather than as a binary, it’s good or it’s bad, it proves something or it doesn’t.  Unraveling the provenance of the dossier is part of unraveling the details of Russian interference.

      • orionATL says:

        charles wrote –

        “… What the Steele dossier did accomplish is to ring an alarm bell in the US and get investigators focused on the issue of Russian intervention fairly early on. Although the FBI was aware of Russian hacking of the Democrats, they don’t seem to have realized how it was going to be used… and even with Steele’s prodding,apparently failed to comprehend the scope and scale of Russian intervention…. ”

        to which i can only add “yes” !!

        but only to a relative few open to the even the possibility of russian intervention.

        • Charles says:

          Politics often works this way, Orion. As I commented to Bob Conyers:

          Lots of movements start up based on misconceptions. The Tea Party is a great example of a movement based on 90% lies. The Dems may have simply decided that Steele was a good spark with which to light a political fire. Or, as Marcy apparently thinks, they may just be dopes.

  4. Frank Probst says:

    Is there a good link that lists the major points of the Steele dossier, and then explains if each point has been proven, disproven, or is still an unknown?

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      When reading posts and commentary here, I feel for a moment the merest breathing room, a small space in which we just might get a tentative handle on the forces shaping our world.  From my deepest heart, thank you!

      If this is what it appears, it should be an opportunity for both sides to step back and agree, Jeebus christmas did Russia ever pawn our collective asses in 2016!, and move on to cooperating on ways to recover from all that.

      I have been thinking for a couple of weeks now that the optimal response to our current crisis would be a 3-day offer of amnesty to any US citizen who found himself seduced into compromise, a chance to come in from the cold.  (Of course, I cannot imagine imagine a mechanism for doing this, especially given who is pulling the levers of government.) Too many of my potential allies are focused on Trump-hating, on seeing the familiar foes of democracy–the corporatists, ideologues, dare I say the deep state–as the primary enemy.  Too many take pleasure in bleating about the incompetence of the grifters now manipulating our public institutions for personal enrichment, advancement of anti-democratic ideology, and repaying wealthy donors.  Too many gloat about the obvious incompetence of the Trump-installed gang of thieves.  Right now, today, our most immediate and dangerous threat is from ruthless, highly competent, organized crime figures operating with impunity from a country they control, Russia. Even the likes of Murdoch and the Koch Brothers will come to regret it should these Russians neuter our defenses against them.  We are at a tipping point. Poke the Bear aptly offers a fitting symbol of what should unite us.

      Bob Levinson in Florida, 1999

      “Criminals are coming in who are wealthier and more vicious than any of the criminals that you, or anybody on the continent, have ever seen. As far as I’m concerned, they’re the most dangerous people on earth.”

      Bob Levinson from captivity in Iran:

      <a href=”http://s278.photobucket.com/user/geomoo/media/RTX22SRK-1024x768_zpsruudn31t.jpg.html” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://i278.photobucket.com/albums/kk85/geomoo/RTX22SRK-1024x768_zpsruudn31t.jpg” border=”0″ alt=” photo RTX22SRK-1024x768_zpsruudn31t.jpg”/></a>So much noise, so much confusion, so many exciting stories of the day, so much curdled indignation.  Can we pull ourselves together long enough to think clearly about the nature of the threat we face?

      There is a scene in the movie Grand Canyon in which Danny Glover’s character finds himself beset by an inner city gang in the dead of night.  A tough kid is up in his face talking trash.  Rather than engage futilely with the thug demanding his attention, Glover calmly looks around the group, picks out the leader, and says, “Am I talking to you?”

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        Aargh.  Still learning to comment here.  I posted hoping to edit as needed.  Couldn’t figure out how to post the photo.  Was trying to clean it up when I timed out.  Sorry for the sloppiness.

      • Dwight E says:

        The first priority is removing Russian spies and assets.  But we cannot separate corporatists and ideologues from the Russian attack.  For two reasons: first, American ideologues built a disinformation machine (Fox, Limbaugh) that uses division (to get votes for the wealthy), preparing the ground for Russia to spread similar disinformation.

        And second because the only reason President Russian Asset is still in office is because of those ideologies.  They’re willing to put party before country, and to use the disinformation machine to support the president.  And their judges will put party over country.

        So if we want to fix the country we have to rip out the roots: ideologues, corporatists, and their disinformation machine.

        • orionATL says:

          this pretty well sums up the practical political problem we as a nation face at the moment.

          no point in making fine distinctions at this point; just cut out that poison tissue.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      Sorry Frank, my comment was not meant as a reply to you.  In fact, I did not click reply, I wrote the comment in the form at the bottom of the page.  So far, very frustrating trying to comment here, but the discussion is irresistible. Here’s hoping I get better at it.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Martha Gellhorn was one of the great war reporters of the 20th century.  She said this about journalism in 1941:

    If a writer has any guts he should write all the time, and the lousier the world, the harder a writer should work.  For if he can do nothing positive, to make the world less cruel or stupid, he can at least record truly, and that is something no one else will do, and it is a job that must be done.  It is the only revenge that all the bastardized people will ever get; that someone writes down clearly what happened to them.

    That leads to this comment, more applicable than ever:

    Citizenship is a tough occupation which obliges the citizen to make his own informed opinion and stand by it.

    EW is often compared to Izzy Stone because of her insistence on using and her close reading of original sources, and because of her priorities and writing ability.  There are other good writers she might be compared to.  Thanks, Marce.

    [A good resource is Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and Its Triumphs.  Many of the stories – from the impact of the bomb and the persistence of radiation at Hiroshima, to the thalidomide scandal that governments tried hard to hide – were written out of mainstream journalism.  Today we have other resources.  Let’s keep them in business.]

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      Cornel West when asked what we can do in the face of the disappointing Obama and the general disfranchisement of we the people:

      Bear witness, brother.  Bear witness


        • earlofhuntingon says:

          I think that’s right.  Obama is an inherent conciliator, despite his obvious success in the contact sports of both basketball and politics.  But I think it goes deeper.  He followed existing lines of power and appeased it across his administration.

          Obama didn’t fight the Republicans, he fought his own progressive wing.  He didn’t fight the banksters or the system they developed to break the law and ruin the financial system for personal gain.  He exonerated and rewarded them.  He didn’t rein in the DoD; he doubled down on its wants.  He expanded surveillance and attacked whistleblowers, not the fraud and corruption they attempted to disclose.

          He didn’t fight for the rule of law, or to rebuild the DoJ or the Judiciary, after it was torn apart by Cheney and Addison, by a series of weak Attorneys General, by not fighting harder for his political appointees and judges.  His notion of what was worth spending political capital on or adding to his famous agenda was constipated.  The nominations of Dawn Johnsen Merrick Garland are representative, but not unique.

          Most dangerously, he normalized Bush/Cheney excesses and gave them institutional footing, making them harder to dislodge.  And he claimed we were a post-racial society.  Even as an expression of optimism, it is irresponsibly passive, while sidestepping the need to address its continuing harm and, now, its dramatic resurgence.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          Yeah, it’s probably not worth getting into it and I wasn’t.  But equally remarkable as the apparent non-existence of candidate Trump’s long and well-established ties to organized crime was the complete absence of interest in Obama’s year with a known CIA front.  John Pilger:

          In his book, Dreams from My Father, Obama refers to the job he took after he graduated from Columbia in 1983. He describes his employer as, and I quote, “a consulting house to multinational corporations.” For some reason, he doesn’t say who his employer was or what he did there. The employer was Business International Corporation, which has a long history of providing cover for the CIA with covert action, and infiltrating unions on the Left. I know this because it was especially active in my own country, Australia. Obama doesn’t say what he did at Business International and there may be absolutely nothing sinister, but it seems worthy of inquiry, and debate, as a clue to, perhaps, who the man is.

          Image aside, nothing Obama did as president undermined this suspicion.

        • Valley girl says:

          Thanks for the link, which I just read.  I read a lot about Obama’s mysterious employment at that time, but it had slipped my memory.

        • orionATL says:

          i think this is a fair assessment. i would add for myself deep dissappointment about doj abuses of whistleblowers and amerrican muslims, about obama’s failure to support the complete exposure of cia torture, and about the assassination of anwar al-awlacki, and in general his willigness to expand presidential power unchecked.

          obama was profoundly inexperienced for an american president; now we see that may have become the norm with the election of the profoundly inexperienced d. trump – the-grass-is-always-greener voter wins; the nation loses. 12 to 16 years of poor leadership is a great way to start an irreversible slide in both world relevance and domestic social and economic growth. obama was by nature and upbringing a rule-abiding moderate republican of the ’70’s and’ 80’s. progressives showed their very poor political judgement in supporting him, including their apparent ignorance of his ties to the much-maligned democratic leadership council.

        • DMM says:

          It wasn’t that he didn’t know, it was that he was a neoliberal through and through. At one point he even admits — which you can easily find on youtube — that his economic plan would have been considered a Republican plan in the 80s/90s.

  6. Calvin Silver says:

    Marcy, if this theory is true, how do the suspected killing of Oleg Erovinkin factor in?

    Purges are nothing new, but if Erovinkin was (at an earlier date) suggested as a source for Steele’s info and was potentially killed for it, is it possible the dossier was compiled without interference, but was then outed by Deripaska in an attempt to prevent it from being used against just-election Trump? By making it public the info can be attacked. If it’s kept secret it just fuels investigations.

    On a side note, if my timeline is correct, the Steele Dossier is published by BuzzFeed just days after 1) Flynn briefs Trump that he’s under investigation and 2) Comey confronts Trump about it for the first time. There was pressure building and reason to get ahead of it. That doesn’t mean the dossier wasn’t fed by Deripaska, it just provides some motive.





    • Charlie says:

      As a follow on fromCalvin Silver’s comment:
      Around the same time that Erovinkin died, Russian authorities charged a cybersecurity expert and two F.S.B. officers with treason.
      Also, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin died suddenly of heart failure a month after orange mop’s inauguration on 20 February 2017. The next day, the N Y C Medical Examiner’s Office released the preliminary results of an autopsy which states that the cause of death needed further study. This often indicates the need for toxicology tests. A gag order at the request of the US State Department and the US Mission to the UN suppressed public disclosure of the cause and manner of death, citing Churkin’s posthumous diplomatic immunity. Russia maintained that the information was private and that disclosing details of the autopsy results could hurt his reputation.
      Vitaly Churkin was the 5th Russian diplomat posted abroad to die unexpectedly, in a remarkably similar fashion, since November 2016.

  7. Strawberry Fields says:

    May be disinformation for two reasons, 1. People just lie. 2. You can find out which of your spies talked to Steele by giving them false info.

  8. Tracy says:

    Marcy – thx for your reporting. Do you know which “online article” is referred to in the recently-released 71-page FBI correspondence b/t the FBI and Steele – Isikoff, Corn – or Buzzfeed?

    I recall David Corn on MSNBC discussing this report, indicating that the FBI cut their funding and ties to Steele b/c “the FBI determined Steele had been a source for an online article:”


    (excerpted from NBC Aug 4th article:)
    The FBI has released 71 pages of what it describes as correspondence between the bureau and Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored a dossier alleging collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.
    “The heavily redacted records show FBI payments to Steele as a Confidential Human Source (CHS) over an unknown period. They also show that Steele told the FBI he had informed a third party he was acting as a CHS for the bureau, and that the FBI determined Steele had been a source for an online article.

    “On Nov. 1, 2016, according to the documents, the FBI told Steele it was unlikely to continue working with him, and he should not ‘obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI.’
    “The records also indicate that in February 2016 the FBI ‘admonished’ Steele.” etc…
    In my quick search for the timing for the articles, I see that:

    “Isikoff was the first reporter to reveal that there was a U.S. intelligence investigation into Russian ties to a figure in the Trump campaign — Carter Page. Corn was the first to reveal the existence of the infamous Russia dossier, the unverified collection of reports alleging connections between the Trump campaign and Russia compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.”


    My search shows:

    Isikioff “U.S. Intel Officials Probe Ties Between Trump Advisor and Kremlin,” Sept 24, 2016

    Corn, “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump,” Oct 31, 2016

    Buzzfeed publishing of dossier: Jan (9?), 2017

    From my memory, Corn said on MSNBC something like: “Steele really didn’t want to be talking to me, he was very scared about what he’d found,” but that Steele felt strongly enough that the American public needed to know what was going on before the 2016 election that he went to the press, even knowing that it would jeopardize his work for the FBI.

    Is it your view that Steele went to Isikoff, and/ or Corn, causing the FBI to drop Steele? (From my memory: Corn indicates on MSNBC that Steele talked directly to him; GOP House members suggested that James Baker was Corn’s source, which Corn unequivocally denied: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/22/trump-dossier-fbi-james-baker-david-corn-mother-jones-316157 ). Meanwhile, do you have a view whether the Isikoff/ Corn articles from Sept/ Oct 2016, and the allegedly widely circulating dossier at the time – you mention here John McCain and connections – may have caused Deripaska or others linked to him to leak it to press? (Only Buzzfeed took the decision to publish, I believe.)

    • Avattoir says:

      Initially I thought about just being dismissive, something like a comment on your timeline that it ‘Needs More Work’.

      That’s true anyway, but it’s not helpful, and part of the traditional strength of emptywheel derives from reader support, including on timelines. So …

      IMO you need to start by actually reorganizing your timeline. Among the things this should accomplish is to cut out of a lot of the non-sequiturs – the stuff you appear to think ‘follows on’ which actually doesn’t. That, in turn, should lead to you dump things that don’t lead to your concluding question.

      Timelines play a significant role in Marcy’s work. A number of her readers here are generous enough, and believe in her work sufficiently, to contribute their own (which Marcy routinely acknowledges – or corrects when wrong).

      When information is organized outside of, without reference to, the arc of the arrow of time, or not at all, wrong inferences can arise. IMO that appears to have happened to you here.

      I’m a strong believer in rigorous timelines – trial attorneys have to be, or they never get anywhere. But I don’t hold myself out as some great teacher on this important art; apart from Marcy, others here are better at than I.

      But – one thing I HAVE learned about them, in working off and with them for over 4 decades now, is that you have to – YOU MUST – always keep working working working to update and correct and adjust them as information comes in, AND EVEN WHEN MORE DOESN’T simply in order to expose to your critical (and ultimately – hopefully – analytical) consciousness, things that may well have been sitting there in plain view that you have, for whatever reason, failed to appreciate before.

      And, at least as importantly, returning to re-work your timeline, again and again, should also help you DISMISS developments, events, things that actually are red herrings – red herrings being a, if not the chief, cause of Classic Conspiracy Theory thinking.


      More prosaicly, you should know, tho apparently don’t (or at least your thinking doesn’t reflect it) that Corn & Isikoff are long-time reporter/writing collaborators – to the point where, in most cases, it’s prolly safe to assume when X speaks or leaks to one, X is also speaking or leaking to the other.

      • Tracy says:

        Avattoir, thank you for replying! I’m no lawyer nor reporter. I am an American citizen who was very disturbed by witnessing the Helsinki summit. I heard Marcy on a podcast that week, it resonated, and I’ve been following her since.

        I’ve tried to catch myself up on her theories, reading her 6-part series about TT and following all the links. I am integrating her work with the mainstream media info I’ve been consuming for a year and a half on this. I’m grateful for what seems like a community of intelligent, concerned, interested people.

        I recognize Marcy as an incredible reporter and true patriot, and would not assume to know more than such an specialist expert, I just have questions.

        Having now clicked the link to her Jan 29 dossier post, I see that: “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.” This post led me to one from Sept 6, 2017, in which Marcy writes: “First, as Steele has admitted, he started briefing reporters on the existence and contents of the dossier by late September, and briefed reporters (including Michael Isikoff, whom Sipher cites repeatedly in his post without noting he got briefed on the Steele dossier in real time) in person in mid-October.” Since I was not following Marcy at the time, this helps me to put together pieces I had heard and read.

        I appreciate your comments getting me to examine all of this deeper!

        • Avattoir says:

          I don’t think my take on Steele is precisely that of Marcy.

          A number of months back, I conceded to her, on this site, that she’d convinced me there were things about the so-called dossier and Steele’s process that render it dubious. IAE, having myself been involved a lot with preparing search warrant application packages, I was reasonably sure the Steele Dossier had very little part, and none of it critical, in granting of the FISC orders (This would have been months before Trump gave into the Axis of Stupid – Nunes, Meadows & Jordan – in directing release of the various packages that bore on Page.)

          But my perspective on what Steele did has to do with a little bit of professional involvement with his world, plus some personal involvement by proxy thru some family members in, or on the periphery, of that same racket.

          One thing I’ve heard more than once is that the longer someone in that racket is out of the game, the less relevant is that person’s ‘expertise’. And not just because all their sources will have died off or retired; I’m searching for an analogy here, so forgive this one to baseball: the game I grew up playing and watching in the 1950s to mid-1960s wasn’t the game that was played from then on, and since then it’s changed dramatically at least 4 times. Steele being out of the active spy racket for some time would not just affect the currency of his sources, but also the currency of his overall understanding of the context.

          So in that regard, by way of example, he’d be open to possibly misinterpreting the significance of the gregarious and charismatic Deripaska having sued Manafort in a U.S. court, as fairly representing the nature of any animus and goings-on that was relevant to the two of them at the point Steele would have dealt with Deripaska.

          Also, one major difference between Steele and my various relatives involved at one time or another in the same racket, is the latter all moved on away from that world (well, mostly; it’s never entirely gone) into other settings: business, tech, university. Steele, however, did not: he’s tried to stay within reach of the racket. And as such, he’d be far more inviting AND vulnerable to being manipulated than my relations have been.

          Where I THINK I still diverge from Marcy is that I don’t accept that the Steele dossier represents confirmed facts; that is, the way that racket works, information gets hoovered up, and thereafter confirmation is an ongoing process. I DO allow for the possibility – I see it more as a high probability – that Steele saw enough to convince HIM that the U.S. intel community wasn’t taking the Rus efforts to subvert the 2016 presidential election seriously enough. But I think it most likely that such was an OVERALL assessment by Steele, and not a reflection of his being equally confident about the veracity of every piece of info that had come to his attention.


          A very short story: one my relations told about a, uh, ‘de-briefing’ of a captive soldier. My relative was present because he spoke the prisoner’s language. At some point a marginally senior official, someone I think most of us would accept as a political appointee at best, with NO facility in the language and no depth of understanding about the region, showed up, listened briefly, then requested a particular question be asked of the prisoner about where he was from. My relative already KNEW where the prisoner was ‘from’, just from the prisoner’s regional dialect; but he humored his ‘senior’, and received the expected answer.

          At that point the ‘senior’ (still in his 2os FCOL) got up and announced he’d have to leave “right away” to tell the c/o this “vital intelligence”, and what “it all means”, which he summarised as “an impending attack” by the enemy.

          Which was a totally unjustified stretch from a piece of entirely unsurprising info. Except – it turned out pretty darned well for my relative’s senior, because the very next night there was just such an attack.

          And that ‘senior’ ended up his career in a top command post.

          There’s a lot of b.s. and guesswork in that racket. Sometimes it turns out correct, against all odds and rationality. And sometimes it’s just b.s.

        • Tracy says:

          Wow, thanks for sharing your stories! Your own experience and that of your relatives are interesting an relevant! I appreciate the nuances of your perspective and how that’s evolved some over time. It sounds like you have been following this, and Marcy’s work, for a while, anyway, I applaud you!

          I appreciate your perspective and I hope that more people read your post here b/c I think it sheds light for us being introduced to what amounts to a new world!… I think I read in another post that others on here think you ought to write a book? I second that – very easy reading, narrative and explicable!

        • Trip says:

          Hahaha. We used to call that ‘falling into shit’.

          I imagine some of that narrative applies to Flynn in his previous rock star intelligence status.

          Let me know when your book is published.

  9. pseudonymous in nc says:

    I was struck from the outset by Deripaska citing Mueller’s work in his NY state lawsuit against Manafort and Gates — in essence, thanking the American taxpayer for doing extensive pro bono legal work to identify who was in charge of various companies — as a little too smug for its own good. It’s very oligarch, the idea that foreign political systems are toys for your personal pleasure.

    • Doctor My Eyes says:

      In general, the smugness and pokes in the eye are disconcerting, pointing to a level of confidence in their control of the situation.  (I have wondered if our congressmen knew they were going to Moscow before they heard it on the news.)  My hope is that this confidence springs less from reality than from the tactical desire of blackmailers, extortionists, et al to give the impression that they know more than they actually do, to make targets feel they face an all-powerful adversary. Let’s hope it’s 80% bluster in an effort to demoralize. I’m not so sure. Whatever it means, it definitely feels like gangsterspeak.

  10. Willis Warren says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been arguing with Chuck Ross for the last three months.  Deripaska was obviously Steele’s source.  I just think it’s obvious that he was pumping Steele with bs.  I don’t think the dossier crowd gets how insignificant it really is.

    Well done, MTWheeler

    • orionATL says:

      if the dossier is insignificant, then whatever deripaksa, steele, et al did is insignificant, right?

      insignificant impact on election:
      while allegedly widely circulated and discussed in political power circles during the 2016 elections, it was not actually published for your normal slobs of democracy like us to read until buzzfeed dared to do so in jan 2017, after trump had been elected. none of our power media or power journalists, save a few mother jones types, would let out a peep about it to inform us voting citizens ahead of the election.

      further, clinton campaign officials like podesta and mook maintain they did not know about or use steele’s work during the campaign and did not use it.

      so why is this insignificant document still being talked about?

      exploitation for non-election agendas:
      it has been given another life as an object of propaganda and principal weapon employed by party-protecting republicans to discredit the mueller investigation.

      it has also had another use as a weapon deployed by anti-clinton democrats against the clinton campaign and the democratic party to repeatedly mock then as simple fools, recently morphing from there to an old-age stage of being used to educate hyper-partisan fools forvthe benefit of us all.

      seeing how the cognoscenti have mauled this document, it seems sad we citizens and voters could not have read and discussed it beginning in say june, 2016.

  11. Bay State Librul says:

    Chapter 7 – The Dossier on Trial….
    My two cents, I like Christopher Steele.
    Tune in three years from now and we have a better perspective on the Dossier, and the role it played…………….

  12. orionATL says:

    jesus christ, christopher steele, former head of british intelligence’s  russian desk, got suckered by oleg deripaksa, a russian known as “putin’s favorite oligarch”?

    well, either

    1) somebody better go back thru russian desk findings before steele retired and find out how much more info this dope reported and analyzed is soft or just bad. 


    2) christopher steele was a con guy himself selling bogus “inside russia” info to businesses.

    but then again, something here just does not make sense; there is some piece missing from this puzzle.




    • viget says:

      My thoughts exactly Orion.  How could Steele have been so clueless?  And why is he so happy about it (OD’s “rehabilitation”) in his correspondence with Ohr?

      Did he not know Deripaska was in cahoots with Manafort?  I am sure DOJ had a file a mile high on Manafort.

      Marcy, does the evidence wrt why OD could be trusted exist out there somewhere?

      • bmaz says:

        I am not sure that I would call an extremely well respected 20 plus year MI6 specialist “clueless”.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Steele is a Cambridge graduate and a former president of the Union, not accomplishments for the naive or the feint of heart.  He was originally a field agent, not an analyst.   He was outed, but not owing to his own conduct, which is one reason he moved back to the head office.  He has both analytical and tradecraft skills, including counter-intel skills.

        He was chief MI6 officer on Russia matters (the Russia desk), a difficult post to get and to do well in, and a significant accomplishment.  Of the adjectives that might apply to him, clueless is not one of them. Not saying he wasn’t had, but it wasn’t by an amateur.

        • viget says:

          Ok, my apologies.  First of all, I want to say to both you bmaz, and EOH that I respect both of your insights and the work that you all do here very much. I have been following Marcy since the L’Affaire Plame and Scooter Libby days back on DailyKos and then FDL, and nexthurrah, and now here, so I’ve been lurking for quite some time.  Was more active with comments back then, and I have been regularly following here since 2016.

          That being said, I wasn’t trying to insinuate that Steele is some second-rate agent or didn’t know what he was doing, I just am wondering how he could have been so duped by Deripaska, as we are discussing.  I guess it’s because OD was giving him some good info and then started with the misleading stuff and burned him there.  Look, what do I know, I have no intelligence connections, but I do analyze data for a living, so I understand what critical thinking is and how one evaluates evidence properly.

          Even if the above is true (that he was burned by a highly skilled operator), what still strikes me as odd is how enthusiastic he is about getting Deripaska a visa to come to the US and rehabilitate his image.  As someone who has spent a lifetime running agents against the Soviets and Russians, I would imagine that he had to be suspicious of OD, rehabilitated or not.  Wouldn’t Ohr also have warned him about Manafort connections?

          Something does not add up quite right here.  I can make a few guesses, but that would all it would be.

      • Erin McJ says:

        Came here to ask the same thing re: whether we should expect Steele to have known about Deripaska and Manafort. Naively I would expect yes and that makes something about this line of reasoning seem super off.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          I’m not in intel, but love stories.

          I’m a bit baffled as to why numerous commenters seem to take Steele’s words at face value.  He may have been floating something with a poker face.

          I have no clue whether this was the case, but it seems relevant to read with a wry sensibility, no matter what he wrote or said.

    • orionATL says:

      for me

      the key

      “there is some piece missing from this puzzle”

      you can never complete a puzzle when the dog ate a couple of pieces.

  13. orionATL says:

    what in the world is all this hysterical noise about?

    keep your eyes on the central fact – trump’s complete compromise by the russian gov’t. proof of that fact is not dependent in anyway on the steele dossier, not a single fact in it, not one.

    the dossier did not play any significant part whatsoever in the trump/clinton contest. if it influenced 10,000 votes out of 62 million i would be surprised.

    whatever doubts the dossier might have created when it counted were entirely cancelled out by the chary way news media handled its main story – that trump was being favored by the russian’s. that story happened to be truer than anyone could have guessed in 2016. the nytimes, of course, missed that story entirely in its october headlined article.

    that “main story” – true as it was – was countered by sen. mcconnell’s refusal to join in a bipartisan warning, by the fbi’s footdragging in investigating, by comey’s statements about clinton, by the russian social media onslaught, and by trump’s novelty completely dominating media coverage

    whether the steele dossier contained spurrious info or not is irrelevant to any evidence that mueller may have gathered about trump’s compromise by the russians.

    if this nation, its citizens, and its political/legal structure and its politicians cannot handle the trump compromise by russia due to a trivial and possibly (but by no means assuredly) misleading dossier then the nation deserves what it will get – and has been getting since fall 2016 deals trump cut with russia, beginning with gucifer2. 0 and dc leaks, extending to wikileaks, the ukraine platform of the republican party, the manipulation of state elections, the russian and trump robot vilification campaign just prior to election day, by the likely manipulation of vote totals, and by foreign policy deals that are likely disasters for the u. s. in the future including the disruption of american-european trade and milittary alliances.y

  14. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The MSM continues to give Donald Trump human feelings and to normalize his conduct.  He’s worried about his son, for example.  His enthusiasm to help dad get elected might have gotten him into trouble.  Please.  When in his forty years as a father as the Don ever behaved that way?

    Donald Trump is not a normal dad.  He’s a malignant narcissist who’s happy to punch out a college-age son because he didn’t like the way he was dressed when they were to go out together.  He wishes Ivanka wasn’t his daughter, because he wants to, um, date her.  He doesn’t talk to one daughter.  He seems to ignore his youngest child completely, which is probably better for him.  His serial abuse of his wifes is legendary.

    If Donald Trump is worried about Don Jr, it’s because he does not want Jr’s trouble to become daddy’s trouble.

    • Trip says:

      Yep. Don’t anthropomorphize Trump, lol. He is a cold and hollow shell, not a normal human being . I think he’s a sociopath, (or clinically closer to ASPD, with co-morbidity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder), not just a malignant narcissist. But I’m not a doctor.

      And agreed: Trump doesn’t want to get caught. Jr is the person who most closely links HIM to the crime, at this point.

      If they are going to report the cover story out of Trump’s WH, whether it be aides, Giuliani or anyone else, they should report that the SOURCE SAID, “blah blah blah. Not report directly what Trump feels or believes.

      • Doctor My Eyes says:

        At least there’s the Onion, in which Melania defends Donald from allegations of sexual assault.

        The Donald Trump in These Allegations is Not the Complete Monster I Married

        . . . All I can say is that when I see him in the morning before he goes to work and at night when he returns home, Donald is simply a human horror show who has never once given a moment of thought to the hopes, dreams, struggles, or circumstances of anyone else in existence. That’s my Donald.

        So before you rush to judgment, please, forget what the media is telling you for a moment, and try to see my husband the way I do: as a repugnant, repulsive cancer of a person who makes our world a crueler, more hateful place by his very existence.

        That’s the real Donald Trump.

        • Trip says:

          The Onion isn’t even satirical anymore, lol. That’s where we’re at.

          As an aside, people give Melania way too much benefit of the doubt. Is she a victim? Likely on some level. But she is also a “birther”, so racist in her own right. She stays quiet while others are victimized. Her parents just got US citizenship yesterday, through a program Trump rails against. Everyone says that they did it ‘legally’;  Which translated means applying while white, and also via a Faustian bargain that Melania was happy to make with the sociopath.

        • Doctor My Eyes says:

          I was thinking the same thing about The Onion being the accurate one.  Sadly, we’re not just being drily humorous when we say that.  I considered linking their “America Elects First Black-Hearted President”.

          I could hardly be less interested in Melania, but I assume she pretty much shares her husband’s values.  On the face of it, wearing here “I don’t care” tee to a child detention center is horrendous conduct, but there’s a reasonable chance it was even darker than mere callousness.

          Fascism lay its roots in the campaign for Italy’s late entry in the First World War, of which Mussolini was one of the leaders. It was at this time that the phrase ‘me ne frego’ – which at the time was still considered quite vulgar, along the lines of the English ‘I don’t give a fuck’ – was sung by members of the special force known asarditi (literally: ‘the daring ones’) who volunteered for the front, to signify that they didn’t care if they should lose their lives.


          Four years ago, speaking at a First World War commemoration in the small town of Redipuglia, Pope Francis linked ‘me ne frego’ not only with the carnage of that conflict, but also with the horrors of Fascism, recognising its ideological and propaganda value for Mussolini’s project. This is the form in which the slogan has survived until the present day, as a linguistic signifier not of generic indifference, but of ideological nostalgia. And because the attempts in Italy and beyond to stem the spread of such signifiers have been comprehensively abandoned, we readily find those words appearing not just on seemingly ubiquitous Fascist-era memorabilia but also on posters,

          The humanizing of Melania is of a piece with the anthromorphizing of Donald Trump, as you so humorously put it.

        • Trip says:

          @Doctor My Eyes

          No small coincidence, the brand of the jacket, Zara, has been putting racist/Nazi symbols on clothing for years, and then they always follows up with an “Oops!”

          Bullshit. And bullshit that a clotheshorse like Melania wouldn’t know the connections.

          Concentration camp stars:

          White is the new black:


      • Tracy says:

        Quite right, “source says” rather than assuming inner state of mind. Yes, he fits a sociopath or psychopath .

  15. orionATL says:

    at this point it is not clear who did what to who.

    did deripaksa himself provide info to steele? did he merely provide leads for info to steele? was steele’s info from inside russia or outside. did contributors to steele’s work die or not at the hands of russian gov’t. 

    did deripaksa take instructions from campaign manager manafort about influencing  steele. if so for what purpose – in hopes the clinton campaign would use that inaccurate info and get caught and publicly embarrassed? in other words, was the steele dossier typical republican ratfuckery?

    actually, all of this should make the trump campaign look even worse. since manafort owed deripaksa $19 million (either borrowed or had engaged in a business deal with deripaksa), the fact that trump’s campaign employee and manager from march thru august, 2016 was associated even peripherally with the steele dossier would  deepen the involvement of the russian gov’t and trump campaign employees in an effort to  mislead the american press and voters during the presidential campaign.

    steele would do a lot for his cause by speaking out now. otherwise, his business is done for.

    • Trip says:

      He spent 2 days with Mueller’s investigators. It’s probably best he doesn’t say anything publicly.

    • orionATL says:

      it has annoyed me for all the months the steele dossier has been publicly available and publicly criticized that no one i am aware of has taken that document and critiqued it like a history prof would – item by item, line by line, critical fact by critical fact (“g” berg speech not given after antietem, pls chk facts and rewrite by – – – “).

      suppose a chapter of the 16 has 4 salient facts, three of which can be guessed as correct and one incorrect. or vice versa. how do you evaluate/rate that?

      i know about page meeting with an official of rosneft but not the head, and about cohen not going to prague (maybe), but these are oft quoted. others?

      anyhoo, here is one attempt at a crude evaluation. this isn’t the gold standard for sure. anybody know an evaluation that nails in detail any of the serious deficiencies implied by a host of critics:


      • bmaz says:

        Why?? It is absolutely irrelevant at this point. Would be a complete waste of time, and nobody outside of the government has the resources to do so accurately. People’s obsession with this idiotic “dossier” is just nuts. One of the dumbest and most worthless diversions in history.

        • orionATL says:

          i very much agree, bmaz.

          at this point the dossier is propaganda like the fisa warrantts, but it annoys the hell out of me for people to assume error without having demonstrated significant error, so this was my annoyed “put up or shut up” challenge. this is the in your face challenge i would make repeatedly to snake grassley and his ilk.

  16. x174 says:


    thanks for your persistence on the steele dossier was full of disinformation. i think when working with this type of hall of mirrors type of situation it helps to take a big step back. the first question that needs to be asked is how many levels are there to this game of disinformation? i’m still trying to figure out how to integrate comey’s having swung the election to trump into possible narratives. what i have been hovering around is the possibility that the fbi had been working to expose the putin regime since at least 2001. but that’s just me. once the levels are increased, new considerations need to be made. see, for instance, John Schindler’s piece in today’s observer: Donald Trump’s nightmare isn’t Robert Mueller, https://observer.com/2018/08/vladimir-putin-can-do-much-worse-than-impeach-donald-trump/

    • orionATL says:

      i’ve given comey a lot of leeway for his comments in summer and fall of 2016 seriously damaging to clinton. my defense of comey has been that he was trying to placate the house republican whom he thought most dangerous to his organizattion and himself as leader.

      recently it occurred to me that i was missing the obvious – comey did not want clinton to be president and acted accordingly when he got the chance in july, 2016 and again in late october, 2016.

      that decision simplified matters greatly. we’ll see as more documents become available over time if there is any merit in this notion.

      • Trip says:

        We still don’t know what leaks happened and by whom, back when Giuliani was spouting off (getting info from the “FBI”on Clinton). Supposedly this was something being investigated, but all we got was Strzork and Page nonsense.

  17. Avattoir says:

    There’s been misinformation on the so-called “Steele Deposition”.

    First, it’s not called a “deposition”, at least not in the U.K. Over there it’s a “judicially-supervised commission”, producing “commission [or sometimes ‘commissioned’] testimony.

    Second, the way it comes about is instructive: the attorneys acting for at least one of the parties in the Florida lawsuit – importantly, a PRIVATE lawsuit – make a motion to the supervising judge in Florida to the effect that some evidence that might prove critical to an issue in dispute in the Florida legal action can’t be secured any other way except thru the authority of a foreign legal system.

    The country that has that legal system must be a signatory to a treaty that allows for the use and obtaining of that “commission evidence”. Not surprisingly, the single most common use of such commissions is between the U.S. and Canada; but I also understand that in both those countries, there’s a relatively large amount of resort to the procedures developed out of the foundational treaty (well, large to attorneys, anyway).
    I mean, there’s been enough activity in this regard that I myself have had resort to it in over a half dozen cases over the decades (tho mostly in private or “civil” legal actions).

    The significance of the PRIVATE action part of this is that the governments under whose treaty this sort of evidence comes about are not involved, EXCEPT thru their court systems. Thus, in this case, a “superior court” judge in Florida granted the motion for commission evidence; and that order in turn allowed the Florida parties to retain legal counsel in the U.K. to deal with the application THERE for supervised process.

    I’m not actually sure whether the word “deposition” is even something the English courts recognize, at least in this context. Certainly Canadian courts don’t recognize it (as I learned from a slap on the wrist.). Those foreign courts will sometimes refer to the someone who swears to a “statutory declaration” as the “declarant” or “deponent”, but that sort of use arises from the person actually having done something pro-active before examination by attorneys – like swearing out a deposition to qualify for something, or an “affidavit” sworn out in the context of an ongoing legal action (or very rarely, a “statutory declaration”, if that’s been brought into the legal action).

    In contrast, what I understand went on in the U.K. with Steele is that quite a famous judge over there, Justice Robert Jay (famous for his sitting as commission on the Leveson inquiry into what passes for “ethics” in the Brit press, and as well for a friendship with former schoolmate now actor Hugh Grant) heard and granted the application.

    Having been thru some of these myself, there’s actually no necessity for any underlying deposition, affidavit, declaration or roughly equivalent initial sworn document. The supervising judge lays out general areas for questioning, and puts the attorneys, lawyers – solicitors or barristers over there – and their clients under court order to honor a ‘seal’ that any of the “proceeds” of the examination will be filed with the court in what’s called “a Return” (Oh those English and their witty ways).

    IOW, the examination may be quite long, go on for some hours (The one of Steele is imprecisely reported as having gone on about 7 hours.), but none of that comes out in public. All of it – video recording, copies, transcripts – back to the custodial clerk of Justice Jay’s court (the “High Court of England and Wales”, wigs and all), under seal, awaiting the next round of argument.

    That NEXT round involves local legal beagles engaged by the attorneys for the parties in the Florida case arguing before Justice Jay over what – if any – PARTS of the sealed video’d examination of Steele will then be permitted to be “reported back” to the Florida Court. This is not some feeble exercise! I myself was involved in one foreign examination under judicial commission which lasted over most of 3 days – out of which the foreign supervising judge only allowed about two hours worth (And back home we all agreed to further carve THAT back to under an hour.).

    One clue, to this being very likely one of ‘those cases’ where little of the 7 or so hours of recorded testimony ‘returns’ home, is in the identity of the foreign supervising judge: Robert Jay.
    As it happens, I know Jay. He’s a prig: a high class snob, with, among other characteristics, an elevated sense of his own importance to the U.K. and the U.K.’s place in the world. This, to the surprise of no one here I’m sure, makes him an attractive choice of judge for those UK ministries with security departments to resort to as their guardian. Which they have, and do, routinely.

    IOW, the Steele examination is being / been supervised by the best friend MI5 and MI6 have in the entire English judiciary.

    My (to enlist the approved emptywheel standard) wild-arsed guess is that very little of the recorded Q & A of Steele has been ‘reported back’ to the Florida judge. Moreover, whatever of that there is, is the property of the parties to that legal action, subject to the rules that govern private legal actions in that state.

    IOW Chuck might as well pound corn cobs if he thinks he can succeed in securing that recorded examination by the act of swinging his great clanging balls as Chairman of the SJC around Fox News or the SJC hearing room.

    [FN: FWIW, I don’t actually know Jay thru any court system; I have SEEN him in court: “imperious” springs to mind. I know him mostly thru a shared interest in a pastime for which there are several very good venues along west coast, in Chicago, and in Santa Fe.]

    • orionATL says:

      as always these detailed accounts are very interesting and informative in and of themselves.


    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, bet you are right that not that much makes it back to this side of the pond, and what does is held under a protective order from the FL court. Great description/explanation of a convoluted process.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      I’m not actually sure whether the word “deposition” is even something the English courts recognize, at least in this context.

      It isn’t. And English judges are typically reluctant to respond to orders from to tort claims in foreign jurisdictions, especially Judge Rando Randomson in Florida.

    • getouttahere says:

      “a shared interest in a pastime for which there are several very good venues along west coast, in Chicago, and in Santa Fe.”

      So during this break in the action, what’s the pastime?

  18. orionATL says:

    the most amusing possibility about the russian involvement in the 2016 elections and the steele dossier could be that the russians both were involved in targeting the election and trying to control its outcome

    and, at the same time, by controlling parts of the content of the steele dossier,

    telling the world what they had intended to do, including compromising trump.

    events since the election have shown that indeed they both influenced the election and compromised trump.

  19. Maybe ryan says:

    Anyone remember the moment in the Education of Henry Adams when 20 years on, he realizes he had pegged the positions of various British ministers on slavery and the Civil War precisely wrong?  He was a keen observer, and present for many of the conversations as assistant to the ambassador, his father.

    Might much of the dossier have been disinformation? Perhaps.  But much of this will turn out to have been inscrutable when we learn the truth.  I respect Marcy’s hunches and think she should pursue them, but anyone who feels certain about any of this is suffering from hubris.  Keen observers are wrestling shadows.

  20. Erica says:

    Does anybody consider that Oleg gave Steel the information because he thought Hillary would win? Like Oleg was trying to compromise both campaigns and they could control either winner? Now I also recall reading some document that suggested their were 2 different versions? If that is the case, may Oleg got the first version, added false information and released that copy to the public? I just want to know what information is fake and how was it proven fake?

  21. x174 says:

    In re: orionATL @ August 9, 2018 at 6:56 pm
    i was thinking that another “amusing” possibility is that perhaps steele et al knew that the kompromat on trump was bogus but went along with disseminating it anyway. in that case, the target of the disinformation had been trump from the beginning (and not steele or mueller) and steele kindly just acted as a conduit. if that possibility holds then there would have been two potential sources of disinformation (steele and putin) with one likely target, the con artist-in-chief. in this scenario, trump dances to putin’s tune b/c he thinks his “amigo manque” (hat tip Schindler) has him over a barrel and mueller (courtesy of steele) gets to watch trump “dance like he’s never danced before” (FZ).

    but, of course, this narrative is based on the premise that the Kremlin did not actually have kompromat on trump which is absurd in whatever dimension one chooses to live.

    an “amusing” but highly improbable possibility nonetheless!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      About as amusing and improbable as Trump being re-elected with a bigger GOP majority in Congress.

  22. Trip says:

    One more OT:
    Kudos to Chris Hayes for bringing up Yemen, (albeit in a two second segment), and putting the blame squarely on the US, where it belongs.
    Will he have the cojones to talk about Apartheid Israel and the deaths of innocent Palestinian children there? If anyone in MSM would, he’d be the one. We in the US all need to know (and see) what horrors we are bankrolling there.

      • Trip says:

        Right now, he is about the best on cable news. He was the first person to REALLY report (indepth) on the cruelty of immigration policies. He may not be perfect all of the time, but I think his heart is sincerely in the right place. I hope I’m not proven wrong.

    • Trip says:

      Trump’s Sanctions Will Hurt the Wrong People in Iran

      Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign has been marked by all-out economic warfare, including a stated aim of forcing Iran out of the oil market. Trump and his hawkish officials National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have also actively tried to sow the flames of unrest in Iran. At a time when economic hardship and political grievances have brought thousands of Iranians to the streets, Pompeo and Bolton have flattered fringe and extremist Iranian opposition groups. According to U.S. officials speaking with Reuters, the Trump administration has “launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran.” The administration has also reportedly teamed up with Israel to form a “joint working group” focused on “internal efforts to encourage protests within Iran.”…The reality is that Trump’s pressure campaign weakens those within Iran who seek more conciliatory foreign relations and a more open political and social domestic landscape. It also empowers Tehran’s most reactionary forces.

      • Tracy says:

        Trip, thank you for providing these links – for myself, it will take some time to get my head around all the Middle East dynamics, but I’ve become more interested in this in part from Marcy’s reporting, in part b/c of obvious big changes going on there under Trump. Kushner’s role there is inexplicable!

        Re: Chris Hayes, I also appreciate that he tries to make a more concerted effort to call out racial inequality and injustice than do others – his A Colony In a Nation is on my list! I agree: he was/ is relentless on child separation before others even cared; he does seem to care about humanitarian issues.

  23. Trip says:

    For bmaz:

    Kathleen Manafort takes front-row seat in husband’s fraud trial
    She appears unfazed as she sits daily in the courtroom. When Paul Manafort enters, he often blows her a kiss.

    Kathleen Manafort’s name also came up Wednesday, when Internal Revenue Service agent Michael Welch testified that he saw evidence of payments directly made to her from offshore accounts in Cyprus. Welch said it was unclear whether those payments were used for business or personal expenses….Gene Rossi, a former prosecutor in Virginia who is now at Carlton Fields, said prosecutors also likely wanted to focus on Paul Manafort and Gates, his former business partner and now the federal government’s star witness. Rossi, who has also been watching the trial in person, described a case against Kathleen Manafort as “an incredibly tough sell” to a grand jury.

    • bmaz says:

      Agree they wanted to focus on Paul and Gates, but it is ludicrous for this Rossi guy to say Kathleen would be a tough sell to a GJ. Just amazing. She is on the joint tax returns and was in receipt of the fruits of the conspiracy. Rossi is out of his mind.

      Now you may not want to indict her for tactical reasons, but the thought you couldn’t get a GJ to hand one up against her is absurd.

      • Trip says:

        Sorry, I knew you were interested in the subject, but also that it would piss you off. I figured you might want to read it, in spite of that. She does seem more implicated in the scam than I had previously been aware of. I suppose he could have used the money himself, not sharing in the goods even though her name was on it. On the other hand, it could be another Jeanine Pirro situation, where she (Manafort’s wife) directly enjoyed the fruits of criminality.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Thank you.  Amazing what makes its way into the MSM without being vetted. Pass the ham sandwiches.

  24. Trip says:

    And now for something completely different…

    Julia Davis‏ @JuliaDavisNews

    #Russia’s state TV: Vitaly Tretyakov, dean of Moscow State University’s School of Television, argues that Russia should act decisively in response to the new sanctions. “Let’s turn this into a headache for Trump. If you want us to support you in the elections, do what we say.”


    Trump is being extorted/blackmailed, or Putin wants you to believe he is being extorted. Nothing to see here, move along.

    Oh, I know! Vitaly Tretyakov is just part of the US deep state against Trump. Must be good friends with Mueller, that’s it!

  25. Don says:

    Thank you for this site and for your tireless research and analysis.


    That, said, trashing Steele for being “behind reporting at the time” is kind of a cheap shot when you were yourself also far behind reporting at the time. In fact you were far behind Steele, ridiculing the “Russia conspiracists” right up through the fall of 2016. Anyone who wants to go through the archives here can see for themselves. It’s ok, though. A lot of us were. Let it go, and try to forgive others for making the same blunder you made. I love reading your analyses and you now have a mastery of detail in this matter that is nearly unparalleled, but the way you trash other people in your profession and in the media as “stupid”, “shitty” and “fucking stupid” is really off-putting, unnecessary and counterproductive. One can pursue the truth and do it with decorum and respect for one’s professional colleagues.

    • Thomas says:

      I was also a skeptic about the Russian Conspiracy.

      I really thought that the Russian assets used in the attacks were assets already compromised by the NSA. Because of the “bad russian accents” associated with Shadow Brokers and because of the easily uncovered metadata associated with several hacks, I thought that the whole attack on the election was orchestrated by NSA contractors and Republican Party operatives who would have had the skills, authority and resources to pull it off and cover their tracks and create a fall guy by impersonating other actors.

      I began to doubt that scenario when Mueller made the first indictment of the Russian actors, and with everything since then, I have changed my mind.

      I still believe that the collusion includes not just Trump and members of his campaign, but also Republican Party operatives. Members of Congress, RNC officials, and even possibly donors like the Mercers. Let’s not totally discount that some help may have come from highly skilled NSA contractors?

      I am no longer trying to connect any dots. Given how wrong I was from the beginning, I am just trying to keep up with the experts.

      I’ve also lately begun to think that perhaps some Republican Party operatives were only opportunistic colluders. They saw these stories raging like wildfire all over the net, so they picked them up and ran with them. They didn’t ask whether anything they used was true, or credible or where it came from. They just ran with it. And since their followers reasoned that party operatives or candidates wouldn’t repeat these stories unless they were true…they must be true!

      And since the “liberal media” were debunking the stories, they must be in the tank for Hillary! And jumping in front of this circus of lies was Donald Trump. “He tells it like it is,” and “The media are dishonest” and “Crooked Hillary committed crimes! Lock her up!”

      These stories are STILL being believed. Seth Rich. The Uranium Deal. Classified emails.


      I would even believe that Trump himself was in this category, but…all of the evidence of a quid pro quo about sanctions and other Putin foreign policy wish list stuff….keeps popping up. And the blanket denials, lies and cover-ups and obstruction over the Russian payoffs.

      And when the law doesn’t allow Trump to avoid imposing sanctions or taking other actions, he waters it down or delays it as much as possible, and he then tries to pretend that those actions are proof that he can’t be a Russian stooge. While he acts like a Russian stooge!

      Mueller probably has a difficult job trying to sort out who was unwitting and who was witting. Especially since all of these people are crackpots, whether they are criminal crackpots or crackpot rubes.


      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Keep trying to connect dots.

        Keep looking from various angles.

        Keep NRA in mind.

        Yes, Mueller has a lot of ‘stuff’ to connect.

  26. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “By all means, Basil, do be civil.  The neighbours might hear.”

    One could argue that feigned civility is one of the great faults of the mainstream press.  It allows them to avoid reporting on all manner of uncivil behaviour.

  27. Njrun says:

    Marcy, can’t respond to your response to me above, but a couple of points.

    One, as Michael noted, the Bush tapes involved information that was already public, it didn’t introduce new potentially devastating information about its own candidate. The fact that there is exactly one example in history of the thing you are pointing to shows how rare and dangerous it is,

    Second, as a strategy it made no sense. Trump had no reason to think that the information about him being a tool of the Russians would not harm his campaign a lot more than the supposed concern that the information was not solidly reported, which is more detail than most people pay attention to.

    Campaigns dish dirt on opponents, not themselves. Again, this is not chess. Trump was not happy about the dossier coming out.

  28. FB1848 says:

    I’m a relatively new visitor to this site so I first want to thank Marcie Wheeler and her collaborators and commentators for providing a thought provoking and civilized forum for discussing the most significant political scandal in our country’s history.

    I have two comments about the Steele dossier. First, I’m surprised that so many discussants treat Christopher Steele as some kind of gullible naif ready to accept all of the disinformation fed to him. It seems to me, based on his background and experience, that he would have been highly circumspect about the possibility of disinformation from the start and would have taken reasonable steps to screen for it. He reportedly believes that his memos were 70% to 90% accurate (according to Luke Harding). From the discussion here and elsewhere I don’t get the sense that his judgement on that is clearly off.

    Secondly, whatever details he got wrong his work still represented a breakthough moment in our understanding of the country’s present crisis. Until the dossier was published, informed people like myself were aware of reports that the Russians tried to sabotage our election, but had no idea of the magnitude of the conspiracy that may have taken place. The dossier provided an entirely new framework for thinking about the Russian “meddling” that more and more appears to have been the correct framework. Until then, the FBI may have been on to the conspiracy but we the public were not, and it has been the public’s attention to it that has prevented Trump and his cohorts from shutting down the investigation of it.

  29. Jose says:

    Hey just wanted to point out that Steele relying on OVD or trying to get Deripaska’s collaboration wouldn’t have been unusual and he wouldn’t have been the first to be burned by it, since nearly a decade earlier Bob Levinson’s handlers at CIA reached out to Deripaska in what turned out to be the trap that got him taken hostage by the Iranians. So it’s possible OVD did feed them genuine stuff a lot of the time in an effort to get in their good graces.

    There are parts and claims of the Steele dossier which are extremely interesting and I think we’ve seen no further reporting on, like the claims about Alfa group’s involvement or funding of Stein’s visits to Moscow.

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