The Dossier as Disinformation: Why It Would Matter

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. 

When I wrote this post suggesting that Oleg Deripaska may have been in a position to make sure Christopher Steele’s Trump oppo research was filled with disinformation, a lot of people not only doubted that the dossier includes disinformation, but scoffed that even if it did it would matter. (See this post for more expert people talking about the possibility the dossier was seeded with disinformation.)

In his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Fusion GPS’ founder Glenn Simpson said that the Democrats used the Steele dossier in an effort, “to help [] manage a, you know, exceptional situation and understand what the heck was going on.” The same, we know from an endless series of Devin Nunes-led stunts to conflate the dossier with the FBI investigation, was true of the FBI.

The Democrats and the FBI used the dossier to figure out what was going on.

So to the extent information in the dossier was deliberately inaccurate — particularly in cases where it conflicted with publicly known or (given geographic location and known Steele network) knowable, more accurate information — it would lead the Democrats and the FBI to make incorrect decisions about how to prepare against or investigate the Russian attack.

And while I can’t tell whether the following examples arose from disinformation or some lack of due diligence or plain old hazards of human intelligence, all are examples where using the dossier to make decisions would have led the Democrats or the FBI to waste resources or act with less urgency than they should have.

How accomplished were the Russians at hacking

Steele claim, July 26, 2016:

In terms of the success of Russian offensive cyber operations to date, a senior government figure reported that there had been only limited success in penetrating the “first tier” foreign targets. The comprised western (especially G7 and NATO) governments, security and intelligence services and central banks, and the IFIs. To compensate for this shortfall, massive effort had been invested, with much greater success, in attacking the “secondary targets”, particularly western private banks and the governments of smaller states allied to the West. S/he mentioned Latvia in this regard.

Kaspersky Labs claim, April 21, 2015 (including links to older reporting attributing the attacks to Russia):

CozyDuke (aka CozyBear, CozyCar or “Office Monkeys”) is a precise attacker. Kaspersky Lab has observed signs of attacks against government organizations and commercial entities in the US, Germany, South Korea and Uzbekistan. In 2014, targets included the White House and the US Department of State, as believed.

The operation presents several interesting aspects

  • extremely sensitive high profile victims and targets
  • evolving crypto and anti-detection capabilities


Recent CozyDuke APT activity attracted significant attention in the news:

Sources: State Dept. hack the ‘worst ever’, CNN News, March 2015
White House computer network ‘hacked’, BBC News, October 2014
Three Months Later, State Department Hasn’t Rooted Out Hackers, Wall Street Journal, February 2015
State Department shuts down its e-mail system amid concerns about hacking, Washington Post, November 2014

Note: FBI probably intended the DNC to consult to this report, describing “7 years of Russian cyberespionage,” when they first warned the DNC they were being hacked in September 2015, which would have also alerted the Democrats to the sophistication of Russian hacking.

Actions Democrats might have taken

The incorrect information, neglecting to mention known attacks on Germany’s parliament and US national security agencies, might have led Democrats to dismiss the persistence of the hackers targeting them.

What were Russians doing with social media and how social media was driving polarization

Steele claim, December 13, 2016:

[redacted] reported that over the period March-September 2016 a company called [Webzilla] and its affiliates had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct “altering operations” against the Democratic Party leadership.

Adrian Chen, The Agency, June 2, 2015,:

It has gone by a few names, but I will refer to it by its best known: the Internet Research Agency. The agency had become known for employing hundreds of Russians to post pro-Kremlin propaganda online under fake identities, including on Twitter, in order to create the illusion of a massive army of supporters; it has often been called a “troll farm.” The more I investigated this group, the more links I discovered between it and the hoaxes. In April, I went to St. Petersburg to learn more about the agency and its brand of information warfare, which it has aggressively deployed against political opponents at home, Russia’s perceived enemies abroad and, more recently, me.

Update: at 35:00 in this December 9, 2015 podcast, Chen describes the Russian trolls “only tweeting about Donald Trump and stuff … maybe it’s some kind of opaque strategy of like electing Donald Trump to undermine the US or something, you know like false flag kind of thing.” (h/t JL)

BuzzFeed, Hyperpartisan Facebook Pages Are Publishing False And Misleading Information At An Alarming Rate, October 20, 2016 (and virtually everything else Craig Silverman wrote in the months leading up to it):

Hyperpartisan political Facebook pages and websites are consistently feeding their millions of followers false or misleading information, according to an analysis by BuzzFeed News. The review of more than 1,000 posts from six large hyperpartisan Facebook pages selected from the right and from the left also found that the least accurate pages generated some of the highest numbers of shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook — far more than the three large mainstream political news pages analyzed for comparison.


The rapid growth of these pages combines with BuzzFeed News’ findings to suggest a troubling conclusion: The best way to attract and grow an audience for political content on the world’s biggest social network is to eschew factual reporting and instead play to partisan biases using false or misleading information that simply tells people what they want to hear. This approach has precursors in partisan print and television media, but has gained a new scale of distribution on Facebook. And while it isn’t a solely American phenomenon — the British Labour party found powerful support from a similar voice — these pages are central to understanding a profoundly polarized moment in American life.

Actions Democrats might have taken

It’s hard to believe this December report is anything but pure disinformation. And, particularly given that it came just weeks before Manafort counseled Trump to discredit the investigation by discrediting the dossier, it’s easy to imagine that the point of this was to provide easily falsifiable information, seed politically and financially expensive lawfare, and protect Putin crony Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s contribution to the election operation.

In any case, intelligence about the publicly known trolling efforts earlier in campaign season might have led Hillary to pressure her close ally, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, to take the threat more seriously — or at least to pay more attention to Facebook’s optimization program, both in her own and her opponent’s campaign. But a late report blaming a completely different company has only helped to discredit efforts to collect information on Trump’s ties to Russia.

What kompromat did Russia plan to leak on Hillary

Steele claim, June 20, 2016:

Asked about the Kremlin’s reported intelligence feed to TRUMP over recent years and rumours about a Russian dossier of “kompromat” on Hillary CLINTON (being circulated), Source B confirmed the file’s existence. S/he confided in a trusted compatriot that it had been collated by Department K of the FSB for many years, dating back to her husband Bill’s presidency, and compromised mainly eavesdropped conversations of various sorts rather than details/evidence of unorthodox or embarrassing behavior. Some of the conversations were from bugged comments CLINTON had made on her various trips to Russia and focused on things she had said which contradicted her current position on various issues. Others were probably from phone intercepts.

Josef Mifsud to George Papadopoulos, April 26, 2016, over breakfast in a London hotel: the Russians “had emails of Clinton … they have dirt on her … they have thousands of emails.”

Papadopoulos, May 10, 2016, over a drink to Australia’s Ambassador to the UK, in Kensington’s Wine Room, 2.5 miles from Orbis’ office:

During that conversation he (Papadopoulos) mentioned the Russians might use material that they have on Hillary Clinton in the lead-up to the election, which may be damaging.


He didn’t say dirt, he said material that could be damaging to her. No, he said it would be damaging. He didn’t say what it was.

Actions Democrats might have taken

At least some of the very first documents Guccifer 2.0 released starting in June were obtained via the Podesta hack. Had the Democrats been worried about “thousands of emails” as kompromat rather than “bugged comments [and] phone intercepts … collated by Department K of the FSB for many years, dating back to her husband Bill’s presidency,” the Democrats might have prepared for an assault more directly targeting Hillary. At the very least, the Guccifer 2.0 releases would have alerted the Democrats that Crowdstrike’s advice — that usually such emails weren’t publicly released — didn’t apply in this case.

Who managed outreach to Russia

Steele claim, undated (after July 22, 2016):

This was managed on the TRUMP side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul MANAFORT, who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries.

Fusion GPS client Natalia Veselnitskaya, before June 9, 2016 Prevezon hearing attended by Simpson:

Around the end of May 2016, during a conversation with a good acquaintance of mine, being my client, Aras Agalarov on a topic that was not related to the United States, I shared the story faced when defending another client, Denis Katsyv, about how terribly misled the US Congress had been by the tax defrauder William Browder, convicted in Russia, who, through his lobbyists and his close-minded rank-and-file Congress staffers, succeeded in adopting the Act in the name of a person whom Browder practically hardly ever knew. I considered it my duty to inform the Congress people about it and asked Mr. Agalarov if there was any possibility of helping me or my colleagues to do this. I do not remember who of us was struck by the idea that maybe his son could talk about this with Donald Trump, Jr., who, although a businessman, was sure to have some acquaintances among Congress people.


But upon arrival in New York in the evening of June 8, 2016, in my e-mail box I found a letter from a certain Goldstone, who notified me of the time and place of the meeting with Donald Trump, Jr. In this correspondance Aras Agalarov’s colleague, Irakli Kaveladze, who had been living in the United States for a long time and to whom I left my mail for contacts, was mentioned in the copy.

Veselnitskaya to Rob Goldstone, June 9, 9:24AM, requesting the inclusion of another Fusion client:

I am writing to ask you to pass by Mt. Trump my request to include our trusted associate and lobbyist Mr. Rinat Akhmetshin, who is working to advance these issues with several congressmen.

Paul Manafort to deputy of likely Steele contact Oleg Deripaska, Konstantin Kilimnik, July 7, 2016, of Deripaska:

If he needs private briefings we can accommodate.

Actions Democrats might have taken

On this point, the dossier proved absolutely correct. Manafort was managing the conspiracy with the Russians, at least until he was fired and his hand-picked replacement Steve Bannon took over. But the dossier’s focus on Carter Page — who was part of Russia’s outreach but a marginal figure — served to distract from the far more central figures that Fusion and its contractor Steele had no business missing: Fusion’s clients Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin, and through them the President’s son and son-in-law, along with Manafort. And Steele contact Oleg Deripaska’s deputy, Konstantin Kilimnik.

Whether intentionally or not, the Page focus in the dossier distracted from the more central players, the ones who interacted directly with the candidate, the ones being run by Steele contact Deripaska.

Whether both sides were comfortable with ongoing operations

Steele claim, July 30, 2016, based off “late July” reporting:

The émigré said there was a high level of anxiety within the TRUMP team as a result of various accusations levelled agains them and indications from the Kremlin that President PUTIN and others in the leadership thought things had gone too far and risked spiralling out of control.

Continuing on this theme, the émigré associate of TRUMP opined that the Kremlin wanted the situation to calm but for “plausible deniability” to be maintained concerning its (extensive) pro-TRUMP and anti-CLINTON operations. S/he therefore judged that it was unlikely these would be ratcheted up, at least for the time being.

July 27, 2016, Donald Trump:

Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.

July 27, 2016:

For example, on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton Campaign.

[Note: I’ve spoken with someone involved in the effort to repel this attack, and he described it as a new “wave” of attacks launched seemingly in response to Trump’s comments.]

Actions Democrats might have taken

Because the targeting here was Hillary herself and not the feckless DNC, the Democrats weren’t going to be lulled by this claim that Trump and Russia were laying low. But if the report were disinformation, it may have been intended to disavow the seemingly clear tie between Trump’s requests and GRU’s response.

Who covered up Manafort’s scandals/What Cohen really was doing with Russia

Steele claim, October 19, 2016:

According to the Kremlin insider, [Michael] COHEN now was heavily engaged in a cover up and damage limitation operation in the attempt to prevent the full details of TRUMP’s relationship with Russian being exposed. In pursuit of this aim, COHEN had met secretly with several Russian Presidential Administration (PA) Legal Department officials in an EU country in August 2016. The immediate issues had been to contain further scandals involving MANNAFORT’s [sic] commercial and political role in Russia/Ukraine and to limit the damage arising from exposure of former TRUMP foreign policy advisor, Carter PAGE’s secret meetings with Russian leadership figures in Moscow the previous month.

Starting on August 15, Rick Gates helps Paul Manafort hide their Ukranian consulting by lying to the press and DOJ’s FARA Unit; Deripaska deputy Konstantin Kilimnik would remain closely involved through the next year:

For example, on August 15, 2016, a member of the press e-mailed Manafort and copied a spokesperson for the Trump campaign to solicit a comment for a forthcoming story describing his lobbying. Gates corresponded with Manafort about this outreach and explained that he “provided” the journalist “information on background and then agreed that we would provide these answers to his questions on record.” He then proposed a series of answers to the journalist’s questions and asked Manafort to “review the below and let me know if anything else is needed,” to which Manafort replied, in part, “These answers look fine.” Gates sent a materially identical message to one of the principals of Company B approximately an hour later and “per our conversation.” The proposed answers Gates conveyed to Manafort, the press, and Company B are those excerpted in the indictment in paragraph 26.

An article by this member of the press associating Manafort with undisclosed lobbying on behalf of Ukraine was published shortly after Gates circulated the Manafort-approved false narrative to Company B and the member of the press. Manafort, Gates, and an associate of Manafort’s corresponded about how to respond to this article, including the publication of an article to “punch back” that contended that Manafort had in fact pushed President Yanukovych to join the European Union. Gates responded to the punch-back article that “[w]e need to get this out to as many places as possible. I will see if I can get it to some people,” and Manafort thanked the author by writing “I love you! Thank you.” Manafort resigned his position as chairman of the Trump campaign within days of the press article disclosing his lobbying for Ukraine.

Manafort’s role with the Trump campaign is thus relevant to his motive for undertaking the charged scheme to conceal his lobbying activities on behalf of Ukraine. Here, it would be difficult for the jury to understand why Manafort and Gates began crafting and disseminating a false story regarding their Ukrainian lobbying work nearly two years after that work ceased—but before any inquiry by the FARA Unit—without being made aware of the reason why public scrutiny of Manafort’s work intensified in mid-2016. Nor would Manafort’s motives for continuing to convey that false information to the FARA Unit make sense: having disseminated a false narrative to the press while his position on the Trump campaign was in peril, Manafort either had to admit these falsehoods publicly or continue telling the lie.

Oleg Deripaska deputy Konstantin Kilimnik asks Alex van der Zwaan to call Rick Gates to cover up Yulia Tymoshenko cover-up, September 12, 2016

When confronted with an email dated September 12, 2016, sent by Person A to van der Zwaan, the defendant again lied. The email was sent to the defendant’s email address at his law firm, though the Special Counsel’s Office had obtained the email from another source. The email said, in Russian, that Person A “would like to exchange a few words via WhatsApp or Telegram.” van der Zwaan lied and said he had no idea why that email had not been produced to the government, and further lied when he stated that he had not communicated with Person A in response to the email.


Further, van der Zwaan in fact had a series of calls with Gates and Person A—as well as the lead partner on the matter—in September and October 2016. The conversations concerned potential criminal charges in Ukraine about the Tymoshenko report and how the firm was compensated for its work.

Actions Democrats might have taken

I’m particularly interested in how Deripaska contact Christopher Steele told a story that put Michael Cohen at the center of Russia pushback rather than Manafort himself, Rick Gates, and Deripaska deputy Konstantin Kilimnik, because if this is disinformation, it served multiple purposes (not all of which I include here):

  • Distracted from Gates’ actions (and his ongoing ties with Kilimnik) while he remained a central figure on the Trump campaign and transition (effectively, ensuring that a high ranking campaign official with close ties to Deripaska’s deputy remained in place)
  • Distracted from Manafort’s reported ongoing back channel involvement in the campaign
  • Focused attention on Cohen in August, rather than his actions from January to June 2016 to negotiate a Trump Tower deal, something that probably had a more central role in the quid pro quo behind the election operation
  • Shifted focus on ongoing discussions about a Trump Tower deal between reported Steele source Sergei Millian and Russian go-between George Papadopoulos
  • Focused fall attention on Cohen on a Russian cover-up rather than on the sex worker hush payments he facilitated

Again, I don’t know that this line of Steele’s reporting is disinformation (though no evidence Cohen went to Prague has been substantiated). But if it was, it would have been a masterful distraction from a number of key threads that might have been lethal to Trump in the general election if they had become a focus.

In each of these cases, the disinformation would not so much disavow the existence of the election campaign. Indeed, in key respects — the centrality of Paul Manafort and Russia’s desire to end sanctions (though even there, the Steele dossier focused on the Ukrainian sanctions rather than the Magnitsky ones) — the dossier reported what actually happened, though both items were obvious. Rather, the disinformation would include grains of truth but incorrect details that would distract investigators and misinform Democratic decision-makers.

And all that’s before you get into how perfectly the dossier has served to discredit a very real, well-founded counterintelligence investigation and entangled Democrats and the press in expensive lawfare.

120 replies
  1. Geoff says:

    I gotta say, the Russians must be pretty good at this game. Steele, the leading MI6 Russia guy gets totally pwned. You’d think he’d know these tactics, and page 1 of the dossier should be an enormous caveat that all of this could be a bit iffy, given the sources, but somehow it’s not (or is it?) How much of an effort did Steele make to point out what parts he felt more comfortable with, and what parts were questionable. Did he rank his estimate of the credibility of his various sources, and his relationship with them over time?  I still dont get how some of the comments he made about Deripaska could be what they are, without making him seem utterly naive.

    • Radbroman says:

      Glenn Simpson, in his House testimony, said that Steele would filter out information he thought was unreliable.  Pg. 72 here:

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is about the entire Western “community” that monitors Russian intelligence ops, not just one retired MI6 guy who wrote one report based on his unique network of sources.

    If Steele was pawned, it was not by amateurs. If he was pawned, he was in good company, because lots of people fell down the same rabbit hole with him, and not solely because of his work, which would have been collateral to the official intel community’s work.

    That suggests a high-quality campaign that had official support from the very top in Russia. And that should light a lot of hair on fire. It’s unlikely to be directed at interfering in a single round of elections.

    • Geoff says:

      My hair is definitely on fire, and I concur with your assessment. I don’t mean to imply that it is only about one MI6 guy, but he IS getting a lot of attention, and regardless of how many others, you’d think he would want to do some CYA in the reporting. I know in my work, it’s best to put some probabilities on how you feel about certain assumptions.

      To a certain extent, I feel like the whole dossier is just this one thing that the co-conspirators (read Republicans) have latched on to as a convenient way to use a publicly identifiable document that can be waived around to pass judgment on the whole investigation.

      It’s really a side show in the end, but it bothers me that it obscures what is going on otherwise in unearthing the criminality surrounding the whole enterprise linking the Trump campaign with the removal of sanctions, etc, as payback for dirty tricks to sway an election, the IRagency, the witless moneysuckers at Facebook and Twitter belated realizing that there are other things more important than the ad $,  (no, not “meddling”), the criminals at Cambridge Analytica, the RNC and traitors of the Republican party and their moneylaundering friends at the NRA, the Ratfucker, the moronic dupes (Page, Popodopolous). It’s QUITE a cast.

      And all this springs from the wellspring of criminality that has been Trump’s MO since his multiple bankruptcies left him at the mercy of Russian money lender/launderers. Why does this happen? Well it gets back to what I biatched about the other day – there is no real law enforcement of the massive corruption going on at the top of the US income distribution pyramid (or globally for that matter.) This does not end well. And the end is nigh.

    • Erin McJ says:

      Is there an epistemology problem here? I.e. does the culture of humint place too much emphasis on covert sources and not enough on reading what’s in the public record? Does the intelligence community need a Marcy?

      I love this post, and I also feel embarrassed on Steele’s behalf, reading it.

      • emptywheel says:

        Fusion had a Marcy. They did a ton of work on Trump’s ties to organized crime based off public sources. That stuff unfortunately got far less emphasis.

        • Tracy says:


          I hope that the mafia-connections info will be re-presented one way or another! And does anyone have a good article on that? (I know I’ve seen one or two attempt that.)

          Geoff – the immunity of the privileged to proper justice has become more clear to me since the Manafort trial put all of it front and center. Also, I would say: I’ve seen others, who know more about this world than I, previously comment that a former MI6 would not have been taken for a total ride, but that one has to consider that he was out of the “racket” for some time, which pertains to his sources. BTW, I saw on MSNBC Michael Isikoff claim that Steele thought the pee-pee part was only 50% accurate, at best, and David Corn stated that Steele stood by the “big picture” items of the dossier (like “collusion”).

  3. pseudonymous in nc says:

    “it served multiple purposes (not all of which I include here)”

    One of the not-included being what Cohen may or may not have been doing in London in October, right around the time Steele was working his source on a supposed August meeting. But for that, we don’t even know what kind of “there” might be there.

    But it’s good to have all of this pulled into one post for reference purposes. And as I mentioned in an earlier thread, this isn’t simply about actions Dems might have taken, but how certain members of the press who learned of Steele’s work — e.g. Julia Ioffe, Isikoff and Corn — probably narrowed their investigative scope as a result.

  4. Jon b says:

    Putin had a perfect plan. Sowing doubt in the results no matter who won! A “rigged” election if HRC won or having compromising evidence of a conspiracy when trump won! How is/ was putin so sure that fellow Republicans would come to his assistance?

  5. John Casper says:

    As I read, “…but scoffed that even if it did it would matter.” I expected a “not” after “would.”

    Deepest apologies if I misread.

  6. Maybe Ryan says:

    I came for easily falsifiable information put into the dossier. I heard mostly things that haven’t been falsified but are shown to be arguably less important than other things going on contemporaneously.
    Describing the dossier as disinformation rather than containing some disinformation seems like an aggressive attack in Steele’s integrity or competence. I’m not sure that is intended.
    I didn’t find anything in this post that makes me recant what I had believed – that Steele’s work was a useful effort to hunt through clouds that he couldn’t entirely dispell, but that did serve to ring loudly alarm bells that wouldn’t otherwise have been rung.
    I still think EW has an interesting theory and can’t say she’s wrong. Her knowledge is vast and her instincts deserve respect. I would need more evidence to be convinced though.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      that did serve to ring loudly alarm bells that wouldn’t otherwise have been rung.

      Josh Marshall’s “Yes, It’s Really a Thing” was posted on July 23rd, five days before “Russia, if you’re listening…” The first public hint of Steele’s work wasn’t until September, and that was only pieced together retroactively. Meanwhile, G 2.0 and WikiLeaks were doing their thing. Flynn’s RT dinner date was well-documented. Bells were ringing.

      Once you get into prove-a-negative territory, you need to start questioning what’s holding you to your beliefs.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        I think it’s fair to say that it drove up public concern about Trump-Russia connections, even it wasn’t the only driver.

        I’ve seen Steele described in the press as a fairly naive actor, unschooled in the wily ways of Washington, but I think that’s nonsense — you can’t be a successful analyst of Russian intentions without knowing a lot about the US political scene they are trying to influence. He knew how to push at least some buttons.

        I think he had an impact in framing the debate early on, not particularly well in the details, but definitely on the simple point that Trump and the Russians were conspiring. I think he used attributes that he knew were clever hooks for journalists — MI6 expert, secret dossier — that got headlines in a way that other pieces of information would not.

        It’s fair to note that it’s been something of a double edged sword. The headline generating controversy of the “secret dossier” backfired a bit as the GOP was able to use its cloudy circumstances to advance their own claims. On balance, I think the blowback was less effective than the initial uproar, though if it had come out a couple of months later, I suspect it would not have been much of a catalyst, and the negative aftereffects would have been just as strong.

        • Tracy says:

          I similarly think that the value of the dossier was in alerting the wider public to what the possibilities are. (I commented above that David Corn said: Steele stood by the “big picture” (i.e. conspiracy) of dossier.)

          As I was reading this, I was thinking: until parts of the dossier are “proven” or “disproven” (which may still happen), the Republicans can use it nefariously for their own agenda by falsely claiming it’s ALL rubbish and conflating it with the start of the investigation – although absurd, they accomplish their political ends by mucking up the issue.

  7. pseudonymous in nc says:

    Manafort was managing the conspiracy with the Russians, at least until he was fired and his hand-picked replacement Steve Bannon took over.

    Does this imply that Bannon inherited that part of Manafort’s role, in spite of his attempt to distance himself after the fact with the help of Michael Wolff? If so, oh.

    • emptywheel says:

      Agnostic on that point. His daughter said he was still in charge and I have no reason to doubt that he (or Gates) was still in charge of covering up the RU strings.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The Russian strings to Trump that Manafort and Gates attempted to hide also implicate them, something you’ve covered in depth.  So they were hiding their own crimes as well as Trump’s, and presumably others.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Manafort never really left the campaign, so I wouldn’t necessarily read it that way. I’m still wondering what role Bannon played in the troll campaign, at a minimum, though. It’s hard to imagine anyone better positioned than him to work on the interface between the Russian trolls and their counterparts in the US.

      • orionATL says:

        now this is interesting – bannon and the troll campaign. that’s worth thinking about. after all, it was bannon who pointed the trump campaign toward cambridge analytica for domestic trollery.

        clinton first mentioned russian interferance in the first (oct 5) debate. trump had a humorous dismissive prepared.. the info never caught on with the public until the dossier surfaced publicly in mid-october. that got folk’s attention at least a bit. i give steele full credit for bringing the problem home to this country. better that than a silent cover-up.

        • Tracy says:

          I agree, Orion, on alerting the American public – I for one never could have imagined! I’m sure there are many others like me…

    • Tracy says:

      Pseudonymous, do you believe that Bannon used Wolff’s book to distance himself? Interesting! I never could understand why he’d have blabbed so much!

  8. bmaz says:

    I still maintain that the “Dossier” is one of the most worthless, and over hyped, piles of red herring crap ever. The biggest “disinformation” surrounding the “Dossier” is that people are still paying any attention to it. It was NEVER going to have any direct evidentiary value in any trial proceeding. Its value to even the Carter Page warrant applications was superfluous at best. Claims to the contrary, such as by Devin Nunes are an outright lie

    The Page warrant apps would have completely stood up without one word of the DOJ admirable admission that they were aware of the “Dossier”. Had the DOJ not included that they had such knowledge, that would have been far bigger of an issue than if they so did.

    Sure, there is disinformation in the world. Has long been. To make this piece, even to whatever extent it may be disinformation, more important than it ever was, and certainly more than it is now, when there is the Mueller team plowing the actual facts, is silly.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      Going back to its origins as a research document for a political campaign, I think it’s fair to say it’s a failure. I suspect the Democrats hoped they could get well-documented items they could use in ads, in a debate, or at a minimum feed to reporters to encourage bad coverage of Trump.

      The report just doesn’t work that way, and rather than trying to push the Clinton campaign toward minimizing the risks of hackers, I think the main aim of any potential disinformation aimed at Clinton was to defang their political work.

      Part of the issue (I think blame isn’t quite the right word) is that Steele wrote more of an intelligence document, than a campaign one. He’s not a Karl Rove, and oppo research isn’t his expertise. Clinton would have wanted to know that one of Trump’s development partners was a Russian abortion clinic owner, or got a hold of a recording of him trashing Pittsburgh Steeler fans at the Miss Universe pageant. Instead, they got a list of possible connections that supported a larger conclusion, but nothing that was going to help in the last sprint to November.

      The hybrid nature of it — pseudo opposition research, accumulation intelligence details without being a true intelligence document — helps explain why it doesn’t really work as either one.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        What I read into bmaz’s comment is that a former MI6 agent’s research report is not relevant or critical to the work of the FBI, CIA and others, along with their foreign cooperating counterparts.  It’s a nice to have, but they would have their own sources, methods and processes, and would independently monitor and evaluate the Russian threat.

        To the extent Mueller’s team needed something, I presume they would have cooperation from those agencies.  Were Trump to put a wrench in those gear works, he would create systemic problems and blowback.

        • emptywheel says:

          The disinformation case is absolutely critical to make because the June 9 meeting is central to the conspiracy. And the right wing just renewed their effort to claim that was a giant conspiracy launched by Hillary rather than a legitimate effort to set up a quid pro quo.

          I know some like to dismiss it all as a distraction. On this point it assuredly is not.

          • bmaz says:

            And the “Steele dossier”, at best, which was commissioned by Fusion in June of 2016, is oh so critical to the contemporaneous, if not previous, June 9 Trump tower meeting exactly why?

            • pseudonymous in nc says:

              As EW has noted a few times, Simpson has only offered “May-June” when asked exactly when Steele was hired, and if it was in fact May, it possibly recontextualises what happened in early June:


              Veselnitskaya walked into Aras Agalarov’s office early on Friday June 3rd, Moscow time; Aras asked Emin to arrange a meeting, Emin called Rob Goldstone (who was in Moscow at the time) and Goldstone emailed Uday all before 11am ET / 6pm Moscow time; Goldstone expressed some degree of surprise in his Senate Judiciary testimony that he didn’t get any pushback from Uday about the meeting, given that the details conveyed to him were pretty vague.

              Steele’s opening memo references the Miss Universe pageant, which immediately puts some focus on the Agalarovs.

          • Bob Conyers says:

            Looking at this from the Russian perspective, I think it’s likely that they initially suspected Steele was doing work for an intelligence agency rather than a campaign. Quite frankly, hiring a guy like Steele about six months before the election doesn’t make a lot of sense as an oppo research move because that’s too late. So I think it makes sense to see their early moves in terms of reacting to an intelligence gathering effort, rather than a campaign looking for sound bites or 30 second attack ads.

            • Charles says:

              It comes down to whether, as Marcy has proposed, information in the hacks was sufficient for the Russians to figure out that Steele was the oppo guy. If they knew that, then he would have been an ideal conduit to Roger-Stone any attempt to investigate Russian interference. Feed him disinformation which could be disproven at the appropriate moment.


              So far, I don’t think we have the information to know.


              But Marcy’s assertion “And while I can’t tell whether the following examples arose from disinformation or some lack of due diligence or plain old hazards of human intelligence, all are examples where using the dossier to make decisions would have led the Democrats or the FBI to waste resources or act with less urgency than they should have.”

              seems incorrect. The earliest Steele claim that Marcy lists is June 20th. By then, the outlines of the Russian operation were pretty well known from much more solid information. In fact, for a fourth-tier person like Papadopoulos to learn (from a fifth-tier person life Mifsud) that the Russians had hacked Clinton suggests that the information was all over the place. What’s really astounding to me is how far behind the curve the FBI was.


              There are many things in life when the best opinion to have is none; wait for more facts to appear. The Steele dossier seems to me to be one of those things. How it came to be and why the product of an experienced MI6 operative should be so flawed and incomplete is certainly interesting, but what it contains seems not to bear on any core issues.

              • bmaz says:

                Even if so, who cares? It spurred action on the issue of Russian involvement and was never going to be evidence in the first place. The dossier remains the biggest red herring in history.

                • emptywheel says:

                  Because it is the central prop in the case against Mueller. If Mueller can’t finish his work because a perfectly sound investigation has been discredited by FUD, then you’ll care.

                  But it will be too late.

              • orionATL says:

                charles writes “… What’s really astounding to me is how far behind the curve the FBI was….”

                that to me is the key issue in the entire issue of the russian success in 2016, rather than “the clinton campaign should/(n’t) have done blah blah blah”

                no political campaign/party in this country has the leagal authority or reach (internat’l) to defend itself from foreign attack – none. the very best either party could do would be to take defensive measures, which podesta says the dems did with awareness. one successgul sphearfishing efgort out of thousands undertaken was all it took.

                the repeated effort to picture the 2016 democratic campaign as careless, suckers, fools strikes me as a classic instance of victim blaming.

                campaigns for president are large organizations focused on one thing – getting votes. security is not a large matter in the overview and will not be in the future, though you can bet it will get more attention from now on.

                the only persistent, effective protection either party will have must come from the fbi and dept of h. security domestically, and from cis/nsa internationally. that protection was not available to the clinton campaign because this country had never experienced an attack like this (though i think there was a limited russian attack on the ’84 reagin campaign.).

                an unprepared fbi with a politically timid leader in comey failed to foresee and protect.

                i will add what may seem an odd comment:

                i don’t see how any collection of large data sets can ever be protected as long as data processors, programmers, and it specialists insist on concatenating data sets. absolute seperation, despite its inconvenience, seems essential to me. the russians did not just get emails. they got financial data and strategic plans for states as well. rayne may have something to say here :)

          • orionATL says:

            i can never understand why the best rejoinder to any right-wing attack is not to describe what they are doing and why they are doing it and then repeat that solid argument over and over.

            why try to reason with these characters by showing that some of the dossier was inspired by, e. g., deripaksa? why not simply say this latest attack is an effort to discredit the mueller investigation.

            for that matter, why not use some of the arguments here about the relative insignificance of the dosssier, or better still, use the argument that compared to american intelligence work that far surpassed it in quality and quantity, the dossier was a crude and very limited bit of intelligence.

            for example, nytimes, 7/18/18, sanger and rosenberg:

            “… Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

            The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation…. ”

            why is the right-wing still being allowed to exploit the dossier instead of being challenged repeatedly about the existence of this far more detailed information available from american intelligence?

  9. Thomas says:

    Interesting analysis!

    Recently I read the Senate Judiciary hearings with Glenn Simpson.

    A couple of observations.

    Veselnitskaya, representing Katsyv and Prevezon, hired Baker Hostetler which in turn hired Fusion GPS to investigate Browder. Essentially they were trying to prove that Browder was the tax fraud criminal, and not the Russians who stole the $230 million dollars in tax payments and then laundered the money, partially by acquiring Manhattan real estate.

    In the Senate Judiciary hearing, Simpson testified that Browder is, at best, unethical and that he is implicated in the Panama Papers scandal. Simpson was working with Baker Hostetler and met with Veselniskaya (he downplays their interactions) at the very same time period that Fusion GPS was investigating Trump. Later, after Fusion GPS was retained by Perkins Coie, Simpson met with Veselnitskaya both before and after the Trump Tower meeting on June 9th.

    The rightwing narrative is that Simpson was working for Hillary and hired Steele who then paid Russian contacts to invent an anti-Trump pack of lies. He was doing this at the very same time that he was trying to discredit Browder, the billionaire promoter of the Magnitsky Act?

    Veselnitskaya has said that the Trump Tower meeting was about the Magnitsky Act. Simpson met with her both the day before and the day after that June 9th meeting. Simpson is very cagey about when things happened, but it seems clear from his testimony that he did not engage Steele until after the Trump Tower meeting, and after the DC Leaks leak. It seems REALLY unlikely that Veselnitskaya did not tell Simpson about the Trump Tower meeting.

    So…is it possible that Veselnitskaya became aware of Simpson’s later contract with Steele? If she passed any info to Russian intelligence, then right there is the possibility that Steele was being fed disinformation. Simpson says over and over that he compartmentalized his work with both clients, but he was in a position to know all the info at the same time. Why wouldn’t the Russian government watch Simpson? Why wouldn’t they learn of his research on Trump?

    I am not someone who believes that all disinformation is discredited because it is disinformation. Liars must tell you a part of the truth or why believe anything that they say? What we don’t know yet is…how much has been corroborated by GCHQ or the CIA or the FBI or NSA or the US State Dept or the DOJ? For instance, is there intel (whether signal or human) that corroborates the statements by the FBI, in the Carter Page FISA applications, that Page coordinated the quid pro quo when he met with Russian officials in Russia in July 2016?

    Page has admitted he met two Russian officials, but not the two officials named in the Steele dossier. Do the officials that Page admits meeting have some connection to the officials named in the Steele dossier?

    Imagining Steele’s efforts: Human or signal intel could have corroborated the substance of the Page meeting being discussed by the officials named in the dossier, and that they knew that the meeting was with Page….but the receiver of that intel (presumably, a Steele contact) could have mistaken the discussion of the meeting as corroboration of both the substance of the meeting AND the participants, when only the substance was correct intel.

    The officials named by Steele could have learned this information from the actual Russians who met Page. But is that disinformation or just a misinterpretation of raw intel? Only in context of all the info could one discover the facts.

    Regardless of all of that, the Steele dossier does seem likely to have been the target of a disinfo campaign, because of the proximity of the actors and their intersecting and conflicting agendas, without even examining content!

    One final thought. Even if Browder is a scoundrel, the Magnitsky Act has been applied to numerous individuals in Putin’s cesspool kleptocracy,no? Simpson holds himself out as professional with integrity and as a hired gun at the same time.  Literally.


    • Tracy says:

      Thomas – I also found it interesting that Fusion had as clients Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin; it seems an odd coincidence, no?

  10. Thomas says:

    My machine suddenly started reporting that MSNBC was NOT SECURE a couple of hours ago. Can anyone confirm this?

    • greengiant says:

      Confirmed. Even with it backflows into Sophisticates can determine actual IP address being used or spoofed Related side issue is a definite vulnerability in some/all browsers where a bookmark or last used “” stops at unsecured malware doppelganger “” instead of starting at “” I just updated bookmark to counter act that.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Still crickets.

      I hope MSNBC is working on the problem.

      If it was just a certificate expiration problem, the certificate could have been replaced by now, at least with a temporary certificate from letsencrypt.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        That they have not went with a temporary certificate by now tells me that they were hacked and that they know it.

        Avoid, avoid, avoid.

        If you visit you may be under attack via html injection, in particular, javascript injection.

        And, if I am completely wrong on this, and they were not hacked, then there are even way bigger problems.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      This is really getting strange. (at this time)

      Netcraft reports that the site does not even exist.

      Yet, content is returned from *cough* an http site that looks like *cough*.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        This points to a DNS posioning issue. And one may or may not see the problem depending upon where they are coming from. I.E., which DNS resolvers they are using.

          • bmaz says:

            You are full of shit and have no idea of the real facts. Just like when you ignorantly and incorrectly injected your own horseshit opinions as to this blog’s status.

            You are just full of shit, coming and going, and nobody should pay attention to anything you say.

  11. GKJames says:

    Am curious about the dossier’s reference*** to intelligence on oligarch activities in the US, which Trump is said to have provided to Moscow long before he ran for president. Unclear is whether Moscow paid him for the information, though it stands to reason that, given his financial difficulties, he’d have insisted on some form of economic benefit. Trump spying for Russia; there’s a headline.

    ***(P. 11) “[I]n terms of established operational liaison between the TRUMP team and the Kremlin, the emigre’ confirmed that an intelligence exchange had been running between them for at least 8 years. Within this context PUTIN’s priority requirement had been for intelligence on the activities, business and otherwise, in the US of leading Russian oligarchs and their families. TRUMP and his associates duly had obtained and supplied the Kremlin with this information.”

  12. SteveB says:

    Even the label “The dossier” irritates me : because it implies that it comprises a unified whole, and people are prone to treat it as such; there are even examples of this within the thread(which at this point is only 10 comments long).

    What Steele produced are a number of memos reporting raw intelligence which came his way. Insofar as the collection of those memos tracks anything it is his receipt and onward transmission of intelligence : it does not eg track his investigation ie how when and why he tasked sources to provide the info. Thus at best the Steele memo collection is a series of updates on the product of work in progress, and the product was always only going to be straws in the wind. If any of his sources or subsources were compromised and fed disinfo then this would serve the Russian services very well.

    The references to Carter Page is worthy of note: he’s one line of inquiry that USG counter intelligence services, and any Democratic Party investigator such as Steele were bound to enquire about, so blatant was he, and with a sketchy background of mixing with spooked up Russians. But from what we know now the more CP looks like a distraction, a deliberately fostered distraction. It requires very little imagination to consider how whispers and rumours about him were spread in Moscow to be eagerly picked up by Steele’s little birds.

    Another matter, [not mentioned by EW, for very good reason of wanting to focus on stuff requiring analytical weight] is the “pee tape” kompromat. This is in the very first memo. What a lure that has proved to be: its caused so much shit that at this point it almost doesn’t matter whether it ever truly existed.

    The Russians only ever wanted Trump to believe they could be friends: they were always more focusseed on making him an asset. Having cards up their sleeves for use as and when necessary depending on how the relationship developed, is clearly a useful objective in an intelligence operation. Having Trump potentially harried by his own spooks, or embarrassed by his domestic political enemies could prove very useful.

    Obviously such things are mere speculations: but in an environment where it is questioned how the Russians may have sought to gain from feeding disinfo into the Steele and other intelligence gathering efforts, then they may be points to consider

    It will be of some interest to discover in due course, if we ever do, the extent to which “the dossier” was the product of Russian tradecraft, but surely it is already pretty clear that it is irrelevant to the principal developments of the Mueller investigation and the lines of inquiry now being pursued.

  13. TheVirginian says:

    Marcy, your sleuthing skills have confirmed a speculation made by Ben Macintyre, in which he said:

    “They set up an ex-MI6 guy, Chris Steele, who is a patsy, effectively, and they feed him some stuff that’s true, and some stuff that isn’t true, and some stuff that is demonstrably wrong. Which means that Trump can then stand up and deny it, while knowing that the essence of it is true. And then he has a stone in his shoe for the rest of his administration.”

    The master story teller himself, David Cornwell, agreed with this assessment in an interview with Macintyer on Terry Gross’s Fresh Air radio program. Sorry no link for that.

    Keep up the good work. You are the best.

      • earlofhuntingfdon says:

        Christopher David Steele does have the three names usually required to be a patsy.  But they don’t roll off the tongue like Lee Harvey, James Earl or Bob Lee.

        The cited conversation was more benign than the quote.  It was plucked from a NYT’s interview of Cornwell and McIntyre, a historian and novelist, about, alas, Cornwell’s last book.

        The emphasis was on other things, but both agreed that Putin was a master strategist, agent handler, and developer of kompromat.  The quote about Steele was offhand, a description more about Putin than Steele.  The latter was set up by way of having some of his sources compromised with disinformation.  The referenced conversation between Cornwell and Terry Gross was to the same effect.

        EW has long been saying the same, while spending more time exploring its effects.

        • Tracy says:

          Yes, I saw in one of Marcy’s posts a link to this (been catching up on her past posts on the dossier).

  14. quebecois says:

    I still read you daily Marcy, love the education I get here.  Rarely comment because I’m always so impressed by the level of commenting by the regulars here, and I wouldn’t want to get on bmaz bad side.  I’ll be going sideways, hope you’ll forgive this.

    Firing Strzok is partisan hackery of the worst kind. Will Americans sit by while Trump and his goons fire government employees for expressing their political views that do not agree with them?  FBI agents should only be Republicans?  I hope Mueller will look into this, the president should not be able to influence the FBI to fire such a good employee.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        Some day you should have another separate F1 thread so I can launch into a rant about the politics around F1 race courses, but that’s way off topic here.

        • bmaz says:

          Yes. I used to do a LOT more as to F1 but it has been mostly boring the last few years. I should be doing more. I apologize.

          Here is an oldie but goody:

          I would suggest watching the video at the top all the way through. It is long but truly worth it.

        • orionATL says:

          i say f1 should beware liberty media. they sat on the atlanta braves for a decade – tight-fisted as hell. that the club is doing well now is no thanks to liberty. they seem to love to retain bungling top management, but then it’s the rare corporation that doesn’t?

          and somehow i got the idea in my head that roger penske was going to get involved in this – was it an american competitor to f1?

      • Rusharuse says:

        Lewis to win his 5th . . Danny #1 in 2019 . . Is Bruno off to Formula E?

        btw Ronnie Spector is 75 . . still a fox but, eh! Vroom vroom!

      • quebecois says:

        I haven’t seen a race this year, no tv, no interest to watch it.  I’ve read about it.  There seems to be a Ferrari-Mercedes engine parity that is interesting, Honda has not upped his game much, Renault is barely hanging on.  The williams is a complete aero failure.  Looks like Stroll bought Force India, Lance will have a few more years behind an F1.  Ricciardo’s move to Renault might not be the best idea.  Verstappen seems to be mellowing out after a disastrous start to the season.  Leclerc is damn talented.  But, as I said, I have no interest in following it this year…

        • bmaz says:

          For the little that it is worth, I think Leclerc is still one year away from having the second seat at Ferrari. And that is kind of exiting. Leclerc is really talented. Yes, there is, for once, a real battle for the Drivers and Constructors Championships this year. That is a very good thing. Given that Red Bull is going to Honda power next year, I am not sure that Ricciardo stepped down one bit by going to Renault. We shall see, and that is what makes F1 interesting!

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    In the Manafort trial, one of the bank fraud charges against Paulie involved making fraudulent statements in a loan application to The Federal Savings Bank.  TFSB’s CEO, Steve Calk, apparently knew that about Manafort’s alleged fraud, but claims to have decided independently to grant the loan, “for personal reasons.”

    Implicit in that is that Calk had the discretion to do that, and that his reasons were objectively valid and consistent with his duty of loyalty and fair dealing with his bank employer.  Evidence elicited by Mueller’s team brings that into question.

    Ellis is deciding whether to admit Calk’s evidence.  He asks whether Calk’s knowledge negated any reliance Calk might have placed on Manafort’s false statements.  No reliance, no bank fraud.

    Ellis should know the answers.  There are several.  As Mueller’s team has argued, Manafort’s fraudulent statements were wrongful as to the bank, the entity that made the loan.  If Calk decided to make the loan, then logically, rather than void the fraud, Calk chose to become a party to it.  He became a co-conspirator.

    That conclusion is furthered by evidence that Calk’s “personal reasons” were corrupt – he was negotiating with Manafort for a senior position in the Trump administration.  Calk wrongfully used his bank’s money to buy a political appointment (which he didn’t get), which would have only benefited him.  He defrauded his bank to get it.

    Those allegations seem more than sufficient to make these fact questions for the jury.  Ellis should admit the testimony.

    • Bob Conyers says:

      I admit I haven’t read Ellis carefully on this but his objection seemed about as nonsensical as if Calk had walked into a bank while a guy in a ski mask was passing a note to a teller and announced to the bank employees “It’s OK, he’s a friend of mine, just give him whatever he wants.”

      Some bigwig approving the heist doesn’t excuse the guy who writes “I have a gub, give me all your money.”

      • Avattoir says:

        Having noted consistently I despise how Ellis runs his courtroom, Imma cut him slack here.

        1. There’s a widely known inclination among a lot of judges to play Devil’s Advocate with the attorneys – sometimes one side sometimes the other most obvious when it’s both.

        2. In contrast with the attorneys, judges enter trials with NO months of having worked up all the witnesses, prep’d every conceivable issue & fully noted up the law. Judges, especially those who’ve come to the job from trial work, particularly at the beginning when they’re first hearing trials without the safety net of having been on one of the teams of attorneys that’ve worked towards the trial like a game / bloodsport, KNOW they don’t know as much about the case as counsel do.

        For a time I was an arbitrator (Why? A very mild sense of adventure, plus Boyoboyo thought I: maybe I could get to baste some big time sports commish with barbeque’d lamb juice; I even mused briefly getting off a clean shot at golf – for Charlie Pierce).

        Anyway, it’s statistically unlikely any of you have read even one word I wrote on any of the arbitration work I did. Why? B/c most settled so I didn’t have to decide; some narrowed down to a simple Pick the Winner but leave out written reasons as each side will interview you orally after; etc. Because most of the combatants in that world (certainly all I caught) are private interests that expend big resources ensuring their exposure in such battles is nil or mere rumor or narrow technical, and boring beyond belief to any third party reader, plus IAE buried under repeated paper avalanches.

        My point in raising this is to report how vulnerable I felt in that role. I don’t mean fearful: the attorneys representing were for the most part contemporaries, sometimes, even colleagues, or junior to me, sometimes former students. What I felt was naked.

        Unlike the attorneys representing, I hadn’t been involved in any client meetings, conferences, discussions, lunches, dinners, coffee talks, hallway interruptions, fatchews or bull sessions, which together tend inevitably to work over every conceivable business detail associated with the case, including the most mundane.

        Moreover, I never once got the impression the parties involved  were at all interested in me as arbitrator due to any special expertise I claimed or had. It was the exact opposite: mostly I was known  for ZERO technical experience in their world, at most a fingernail grip on the concepts.

        But I don’t pretend to know things I don’t, not being afraid to show my ignorance nor expose my stupidity asking what might be (and sometimes proved to be) to all of them (not just the attorneys) “that stupid question”.

        So last Friday and today again, IMO Ellis’ questions could actually qualify within some of the categories of ‘clarification” to which I don’t actually ascribe his brand of cranky or any agenda.

        In particular, the things Ellis said about Calk, to me at least, fall within this category.

        From the comfort of my desk thousands of miles away, I’m under no pressure and at full leisure to think quickly of a whole raft of reasons why Calk’s actions don’t give Manafort a ‘true defense’ to any of the charges on this indictment.

        But if I’m in Ellis’ position, I’m pretty sure I’d want to hear each side’s full argument on the issue before I started working on how to direct the jury on the relevant law.


        Also, that crack to the effect that ‘neither side will be happy’? That’s classic cranky trial judge, I mean, so common even non-cranky judges say it. I can’t remember even one arbitration where I DIDN’T use it.

        It supposed to work like a cattle prod: anything you folks can agree on is more likely to be something all you can live with, compared to whatever I might choose “arbitrarily”; plus if you really want out your client, both sides should make sure to give the arbitrator their absolute best shot.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Plus, it seems that everyone at the TFSB, from the loan manager to the bank president, recommended against making the $16 million in loans.  They were overruled by the CEO.

      That alone raises a question of self-interest and self-dealing, especially given the unusual character of the loan compared to typical loans made by the bank, and the its unusual size as a percentage of total bank assets.

      All of that reinforces the fraudulent character of the loan, which remained despite the CEO’s decision to grant the loan for “personal reasons,” which the jury might find were corrupt.

      • orionATL says:

        your arguments at 7:01 and here are nicely articulated and listed out for re-examination. given accurate facts, there really can’t be any doubt about calk’s self-serving and manifort’s deception. in fact i’m surprised calk has not already run into serious bank regulator objections.

        at this point i am tired of hearing excuses for ellis (which i made early on when suckered into this charade of his). ellis wants the manafort prosecution to fail. nothing could be clearer now. he questioned the justification for bringing the case at the beginning. he repeatedly stomped on prosecution arguments in the middle of the case thereby posdibly swaying the jury. now at the end he is trying to discredit (with the jury again) another piece of evidence against manafort not dependent on gate’s testimony.

        ellis is improperly influencing the case and the jury. i’m tired of seeing him get away with this with the explanation of “crusty old codger”. i know a bit about that role; it should not have to be played manipulatively.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          What’s more surprising is that Calk’s board has not fired him.  He clearly wants to leave, is cavalier in either the bank’s people or its funds, and isn’t too concerned with complying with bank regulations and reporting.  Just what a bank’s board should want in it’s top officer, non?

    • bmaz says:

      There is nothing at “The Hill” that should be taken at face value without other knowledge or corroboration. It is truly a shit site.

      • pseudonymous in nc says:

        It’s a clickharvesting paraphrase of a NYDN story based upon getting a copy of the book a day early. “The Hill” is either paraphrase or bullshit.

    • Trip says:

      Aside from the source (both the Hill and Omarosa), this sounds like something Donald would say. There was a certain level of contempt for his brother who died after substance (alcohol) abuse issues. These issues make Trump feel superior.  Junior was following that path as party animal. Supposedly he straightened up and is desperate to please his father (who will never-ever allow Jr to feel competent nor give him full approval), and no vulnerable history gets wasted (by Donald) when it could be used as a weapon instead. Knocking Junior to the floor for not wearing a suit (to a f-kin baseball game) demonstrated how much his children’s appearances mattered more than the children themselves. If Trump can blame someone else for (his) fuck-up (s), he will not miss that opportunity.

  16. Manqueman says:

    Someone help me with this:

    I am old and decrepit, but my recollection is from Day 1, Steele and company made it clear that the dossier was what was being discussed about Donald and as such some of it may be true, some not, and some who knows. The press chose to obfuscate that and still does, prefer to treat it has a compendium of facts, some of which, probably for nefarious reasons, are actually deliberate lies or something.

    Is my memory correct?? I realize I’m going back ~a year and a half which in Big Media time is literally like eons, before man walked. Still.

    Please help a dotard!

  17. Willis Warren says:

    trump is quoting every right wing idiot who thinks Strzok justifies Mueller’s firing today. I hope he fires Mueller. I’m in the mood for a good old fashioned dustup

  18. NJrun says:

    Marcy, your introduction alternately says the dossier was “filled” or “seeded” with disinformation. Not the same thing, in fact hugely different.

    i can buy that the dossier had wrong information in it. Steele says as much. It was raw intelligence and nobody expected it to be 100% true.

    But as I’ve said before, there is no way Trump and the Russians would have dreamed this up as a way to refute allegations. You’re so deep in the spy v spy stuff, and that’s a nice role to have, but this is a political question. The dossier didn’t help Trump politically, and your theory is essentially a political calculation. Yeah, Trump has desperately latched on to a way to try to discredit it, but that is only believed by people who would support anything that comes out of his mouth. There’s literally.001 percent of the population that is swayed by questions about whether allegations are sourced properly.

    Look at it this way – if this is such a brilliant strategy, why isn’t it used more? Politicians inventing dirt on themselves to be able to deny it and shame their opponents? Because they know when people hear the dirt, it gets in their minds no matter whether it gets refuted or not.

    You initiate smear campaigns against opponents because if they have to deny the smears, you’ve won — people hear the smears and not as much the denials. And in any event, the smear is out there. There is nothing to be gained by smearing yourself. And in the Bush example discussed previously, the information was already out there, and as an issue it had already had little effect on the polls.

    As a political strategy, a disinformation dossier didn’t help Trump in 2016. Smearing Hilary and depressing her support among the left is what won the election. As a legal strategy, it doesn’t help either. Disinformation doesn’t fool or hinder the Mueller investigation. They’ll prove what they can prove.


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Much of that argument is nonsense on stilts.  About .001 percent of it seems accurate.  Literally.

      • NJrun says:

        Thanks for showing me the error of my ways. Convincing argument.

        Another question would be how exactly did this disinformation campaign get started? And what problem was it trying to solve?

        Developing this disinformation plan would have to have started long before the campaign. Before the primary, since the dossier was originally a GOP effort.

        So Putin’s cronies (and maybe Trump or his team) would have been trying to come up with a plan to discredit allegations that did not exist or at least were not widely known.

        They would have had to have assumed that Trump’s connections to Russia would come out and that the best way (or one way) to deal with it would be an even more incriminating document that made Trump look even worse.

        And then they would have had to have done a lot of planning to set up who was going to provide the disinformation and how. And coordinated with Trump or his people (who were mostly not on board when all of this would have had to been planned).

        Could all that have happened? Sure, anything is possible, but it’s all circumstantial and it would have been a huge risk.

        Why would anyone on Trump’s side think that a detailed set of allegations against Trump, including the stuff with hookers that could have turned off his evangelical base, would have helped him? There is no precedent for that. Again, most people aren’t paying attention to the convoluted details of spycraft.

        And if reports are to be believed, there were killings and other repercussions in Russia after the dossier was released. Didn’t sound like Putin was thrilled about that information coming out.

        Again, if someone knows a dossier is being compiled, could there have been an effort to try and head it off at the pass with wrong info? Sure, but I don’t see any way a purposeful plan to create a dossier with disinformation helped Trump or makes sense in any way in the context of American political life.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          The dossier effort, from the start, may have always been about having an angle to discredit.

            • Tracy says:

              NJrun, I agree with you that people will remember a thing that is repeated over and over again; even if later discredited, they’ll remember what they originally heard, a well-researched psychological phenomenon.

              With your questions, maybe try reading back through some of Marcy’s past posts on the dossier, this helped me to understand her theory more. She links to one in the first couple of lines here; from there you can jump onto others. There’s a whole history to the evolution of these thought processes (this helped me, anyway).

  19. Palli says:

    I’m simple, so it seems to me the overaching upshot of the dossier’s divertionary problems for Hillary & the DNC was to neglect domestic issues (with the exception of gender equality obviously). International issues, a strong suit for Hillary, had a spotlight urgency when Elias commissioned a report on the Russia trump relations. But the raw findings could not translate into solid material for an intelligent public campaign. Hillary said she had plenty of opposition research (international intrigue) on trump but she just couldn’t use it.

    Meanwhile, politics is local bread & butter. And the candidate with a down to earth message was made a supporting actor. The perfect campaign could have been: “Make American Stronger” – even better healthcare, income & racial equality, cost of living salaries, better public schools & less expensive public colleges, clean water & air, affordable housing and together we can withstand any onslaught from a foreign power. The DNC assumed-incorrectly-that message was a given plus, after all, changes would be necessary to become honest brokers policies to fulfill the claim.

    The dossier was a shiny object and the DNC lost the focus on the voter’s lives.

    • bmaz says:

      Other than the fact that people yammer about “the dossier” relentlessly now, your evidence that it materially affected the domestic campaign then is exactly what??

      • Palli says:

        I’m just an active Progressive Dem voter. So, no, it’s my interpretation of the campaign & gist of discussions in left circles over potlucks & coffee as we tried to understand it.

        The international intrigue took a lot of air space in DNC campaign thinking. It wasn’t going to take that many votes to win and Hillary is not dumb. I believe without the investment in the Steele trump/Russia information & disinformation emphasizing issues of international affairs already in investigative hands, she could have represented more effectively bread & butter issues. She was stronger on international issues & liked that contrast to Bernie’s side of the party which was known as weaker on international experience & policy. There were so many other domestic social issues to make trump unpalatable. Was her head already in the WH thinking about Russia policy? It felt like it was more interesting than clean water for Flint to her. Marcy points out ways disinformation misquided the DNC. I am just saying the very nature of the Dossier might have been a problem too. Hillary could have been both less anxious about the raw spy data and more convincing about domestic election issues that were definitely not comprised of “raw” data.

        Whether my thoughts about this are truly valid or not, I am more interested in a bigger question: Would we now have a Mueller investigation, the discovery of Russian intervention in American campaigns/elections & the prospect of exposing trump level domestic & international financial crimes if the DNC had not commissioned the Steele Dossier. Secondly, would we also have that investigation if Hillary Clinton had “won” with more votes in the important Electoral College states.

        Did I explain myself OK, bmaz? (I worry about looking politically stubborn/just ignorant. NOT fishing for validation, just referencing my totally different expertise.)


        • bmaz says:

          I’ll renew my question: Other than talking to uninformed “voters” AFTER the fact, your evidence that the “dossier” really altered the Clinton campaign domestic ground strategy is exactly what?? I am fairly informed on this, and know of no such compelling evidence. Please let me know.

          • Palli says:

            Perhaps, then, I and some other “uninformed” voters were trying to rationalize-near the end the election-why the campaign in WI, IN & OH was so lackluster about the issues Hillary could not reassure us about. Maybe it didn’t alter the Clinton campaign domestic ground strategy, months before set in stone. 

            • bmaz says:

              Agreed, there was some bad strategy there. But if you can show me one iota of evidence that had anything whatsoever to do with the “dossier” I’ll be happy to listen. I know of no such evidence.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Christine Todd Whitman says on MSNBC that Donald Trump just “didn’t understand the complexities” of regulating asbestos. That is probably technically correct. He doesn’t. But he does understand the bottom line.

    Trump hated asbestos abatement programs when they were first launched in the early 1980s, because it would hurt his bottom line as a large property owner. He argued that when applied, asbestos was “safe”, meaning there was no need to require him to spend his money to make his buildings safer for his tenants. How medieval, just like his arguments opposing mandating sprinklers in high rise properties.

    His argument ignores a couple of things. It ignores human exposure from the mining, processing and manufacture of asbestos. It ignores that it never stays applied. Materials fray and release asbestos fibers, sharp, diamond-like micro-particles that infiltrate the lungs and cause chronic irritation and in a great many cases, cancer. It is the tobacco of building materials.

    Asbestos use was once ubiquitous in both commercial and residential properties, in automotive brakes and heat shields, in plumbing, ovens, toasters, water heaters, and furnaces. In fact, anywhere heat build up could lead to combustion.

    Companies that used it and their insurers have gone bankrupt owing to decades of personal injury suits. Its use has caused many tens of billions in damages. It has been banned for decades as a threat to human health.

    That’s why Trump’s latest targeted “deregulation” has caused alarm. It would, in effect, permit new asbestos use. Anything to help a guy’s bottom line. Would that Mr. Trump and his children had to live with the direct consequences of his behavior.

    • Trip says:

      And a Putin connection:

      Russian Asbestos Giant Praises Trump Administration Actions to Keep Deadly Carcinogen Legal
      ‘Donald Is on Our Side,’ Says Company With Ties to Putin

      The company’s applause for Trump comes as Russia is poised to become the leading importer to the U.S. of asbestos, which causes diseases that kill an estimated 15,000 Americans a year. A recent study led by Jukka Takala, president of the International Commission on Occupational Health, found the death toll from asbestos exposure may be much higher, at nearly 40,000 Americans a year and more than 255,000 a year worldwide.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my.  I’ll bet its imports and exports are exempt from any American sanctions on Russia, too.  Anything to help a guy’s bottom line.

        Meh, 40,000 a year dead. No more than “unavoidable” traffic deaths. Just a blip. Gotta make money and boost trade. Those are important.

        • Trip says:

          Well, unless it’s retributive Chinese tariffs on soybeans from US farmers. Trade; a funny thing with Trump. I would hope there would be tariffs on MAGA hats, but it probably wouldn’t stop idiots from buying them anyway. Hell, I could almost feel sorry for soybean farmers, but most are staunch Trump supporters, so I guess you get what you pay for? Shit vote=shit results.

  21. Desider says:

    Beautiful, Marcy – I imagine it wasn’t just that I asked for this, but it clarifies much of the dossier misdirection that’s thrown people and investigations/court cases off, grossly understating the problem despite serving some purpose in flagging “hey, something weird’s going on” back in Aug 2016 (for the spooks/press) and Jan 2017 for the rest of us.
    I guess Carter Page was the perfect idiot savant to hide Gates in plain site. I still wonder if there’ll be a Tad Devine revelation eventually.
    Anyway, thanks for highlighting – don’t know that it’s simple enough to penetrate the internetz gnosis, but eventually it’ll come around.

  22. x174 says:

    this posting answers the doubters in a real put-up or shut-up wat. nice work. ultimately, the red herring argument has its problems as the trump criminal organization must spin everything–it’s all they got (along with many complicit billionaires).

    i can respect the argument that weaknesses in the steele dossier provided an easy in for the cretins that work for the head of our criminal organization known as the federal government.

    but spin can be spun in many and multifarious ways. omarosa’s masterfully pawning trump is a critical case in point. i was alerted to the possibility that trump’s intended spin is getting spun from an article by chris cillizza, “Donald Trump’s Omarosa’s obsession is telling,” in which he writes parenthetically

    His Omarosa tweets came among a particularly active morning on Twitter for the President, during which he also attacked Bruce Ohr of the “Justice” Department — the quotes around “Justice” are Trump’s — “disgraced” Christopher Steele, Ohr’s wife Nelly, recently fired FBI agent Peter Strzok, plus his old standby, Hillary Clinton.

    From this catalogue of additional tweets, it is clear what trump wants the world to be focused on. but instead the world of the msm is obsessed with trump’s potty mouth and the possibility that there might be a tape of the royal turd using the n-word.

    poor trump. he’s been pawned by his own pathetic creation, like a modern-day un-doctored Frankenstein. it’s also funny that trump’s saying that he hired her because he felt sorry for her. wonder what reason he really hired her for? token african american. if so, his claim that he felt sorry for her is just another racist smear. from his recent tweeting alone, his habitual dialect appears to be Rank Racist. so the more he tweets against African-Americans, the more repulsive he becomes.

    the image of trump drowning in he’s own verbal excrement comes to mind.

    we will just have to wait to see if mueller et al efforts amount to nothing more than a fart in the wind or the criminal conviction of the reprobate-in-chief along with full-scale defcon-3 exposure of putin’s malignant actions against the us.

    thanks for the vigorous debate on the potential misuses of information.

    onward and upwards!

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