Oleg Deripaska’s Co-Columnist Admits Oleg Deripaska May Have Fed Christopher Steele Disinformation

As early as March 2017, I have been suggesting that first, the last report, and, as time went on, much of the Steele dossier was disinformation.

Chuck Ross is now reporting, giving Daniel Hoffman primary credit for the idea, that the dossier may all have been disinformation. In his piece, he cites several of the ways I have suggested that the Russians would have learned and been able to insert disinformation into Steele’s reporting chain.

Hoffman asserted Russians could easily have learned about Steele’s efforts to collect intelligence on Trump, especially if Russian intelligence had hacked into the computer systems of the DNC, as Mueller has alleged.

The DNC and Clinton campaign hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS during the spring of 2016. Fusion hired Steele in June 2016. During the run-up to the election, Steele and Fusion GPS executives briefed DNC lawyers, reporters and government officials on the Trump investigation. Any emails or documents referring to the Steele project in the DNC computer systems would have been vulnerable to Kremlin-backed hackers.

Steele was also likely on Russia’s radar because of his past work as MI6’s Moscow station chief. Though Steele left British intelligence in 2009 and has not visited Russia since, his private intelligence firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, has handled Russia-related issues. He also provided dozens of private intelligence reports to the State Department, and investigated Russian efforts to bribe FIFA officials to host the 2018 World Cup.

Steele also has a murky business relationship with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Deripaska had long done business with Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman.

In this post I suggested the GRU (or FSB) may have learned about the dossier project from the hack itself.

I have reason to suspect that Russia obtained — and used — a list of recent FBI informants in developing their operation, which would likely have included Steele.

In this post, I suggested Deripaska may have been a likely Steele source.

But Chuck doesn’t consider the implications of it. I lay out here how the dossier’s contents would have led.

  • Democrats to misunderstand how accomplished the Russians were at hacking American targets
  • The FBI and Democrats to misunderstand how Internet trolling worked
  • Democrats to assume Russia planned to leak dated intercepts rather than recently stolen emails
  • The FBI and Democrats to look at Carter Page rather than Don Jr as a key player in outreach to Russia
  • The FBI to assume there was discomfort with the operation when there was ongoing aggressiveness

There’s one that deserves further attention (particularly for a guy whose outlet has given Deripaska a platform to spew propaganda): what the dossier says about Paul Manafort.

Sometime between July 22 and July 30, 2016, Steele would submit a report that claimed Paul Manafort was in

Speaking in confidence to a compatriot in late July 2016, Source E, an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, admitted that there was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them and the Russian leadership. 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.

Weeks before this report, Manafort had been in contact with Konstantin Kilimnik about using briefings on the Trump campaign to get whole with Deripaska. Days after this report, Manafort met clandestinely with Kilimnik in New York to walk him through the campaign’s polling data (which Kilimnik passed on, almost certainly to Deripaska). At the same meeting, Manafort talked about a “peace” deal that would amount to giving Russia everything it wanted in Ukraine. The Ukraine discussions would go through 2018.

The allegation that Paul Manafort was conspiring on election interference is the closest thing in the entire dossier to being true (though probably not the Carter Page part), though it seems clear he was not in command of what the Russians were doing.

That’s important because as the frothy right has been obsessing about for a year, Steele had been pursuing a belief, dating back to February 2016, that Deripaska was ready to flip on Russia. And we know from the transcript of the interview Bruce Ohr did with OGR and HJC that by July 30, 2016, Deripaska’s lawyer had told Steele about Manafort’s debt to Deripaska and was pursuing efforts to recoup it, and Steele had raised the issue with Bruce Ohr on July 30.

And then the third item he mentioned was that Paul Hauser, who was an attorney working for Oleg Deripaska, had information about Paul Manafort, that Paul Manafort had entered into some kind of business deal with Oleg Deripaska, had stolen a large amount of money from Oleg Deripaska, and that Paul Hauser was trying to gather information that would show that, you know, or give more detail about what Paul Manafort had done with respect to Deripaska.

So we know at about the same time as Steele did this report, he was in touch with Deripaska’s lawyer, if not Deripaska himself, and believed that Deripaska could be trusted to undermine Putin’s interests.

Now consider the substance of one of the most discredited parts of the dossier: that Michael Cohen went to Prague to meet with Russia. The initial story — the one told in three versions in October, after details of the dossier had already started getting leaked to the press — was not that Cohen was coordinating on the hack-and-leak, but that he was trying to clean up after Manafort (and Page).

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.

In reality, at precisely that time, Deripaska aide Kilimnik was working with Rick Gates and Manafort to keep their ties with Ukraine buried.

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.

That’s part of what Manafort’s crime wave in fall 2016 was about, hiding his ties with Ukraine. He continued to lie about that as recently as November, when he was supposed to be cooperating.

If Deripaska was a source for Steele — and it seems inconceivable that Steele would be pitching Deripaska to the FBI as a source if he himself wasn’t relying on Deripaska — then the dossier’s coverage of Manafort is particularly interesting. Because it would suggest that Deripaska exposed Manafort in real time, just days before he would engage in what remains the biggest smoking gun act of the campaign, giving polling data to be passed on to Russia. But then he invented a cover story that hid his own role in the ongoing coverup.

As I disclosed last July, 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. 

66 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    Manafort’s departure from the campaign was presented to the public as a necessary step for a candidate and a campaign organization not doing so well in the polls. in reality it seems to have been an effort to close the door on any inquiries by nosy reporters into any relationship Russia and the trump organization.



    as for chuck Ross “reporting”, if I am to go by repeated unflattering comments here, that is an oxymoron. ross we learn, is reporting on somebody’s “idea”: “Chuck Ross is now reporting, giving Daniel Hoffman primary credit for the idea,…”; that’s not exactly hard reporting. further, the ideas seem to have been borrowed from emptywheel, or at least have been equally evident to Hoffman and ew.

    as for how Deripaska might have learned about Steele’s investigation for fusion GPS and the Clinton campaign, I thought one likely way was a fusion GPS employee who was working on both the Clinton campaign matter and parts of a legal matter involving russian rich kid denise katsyv and the doj (via katsyv family lawyer natalia veselnitskaya of June 9, 2016 fame).

  2. Willis Warren says:

    Ross is going with the “Russia was just trolling us to make us distrust Trump” strategy here… although, that requires ignoring Trump the candidate…

  3. orionATL says:

    leaving Ross’s credibility aside. no wait, I can’t.

    it seems odd that old Moscow hand Steele would be so completely duped, even by a Russian he trusted, if there were such :). which raises the issue of either lazy, sloppy work by ross or by steele, in the latter’s case to get an easy payday. then there’s the possibility of deliberate falsification which seems entirely out of character for Steele. I cannot imagine him working with bruce orr and providing info he suspected was false.

    I have no idea where in the political spectrum Hoffman fits.

    to repeat, something doesn’t feel right about this story. I have no idea what yet.

    • Geoff says:

      That’s been my take along. Doesn’t make sense. With all his steeped history into Russia, he must know that the government and the mafia their have only a fictional separation. I mean, the oligarchs owe who they are to the way the USSR was dismantled…so how in the world would get so taken in by a high level oligarch such as Deripaska, and think that he might even think about turning on his master and biting the hand that feeds? It just seems absurd to me. It’s like steele is an austin powers level of idiot.

    • InfiniteLoop says:

      Of course the story feels fishy. It’s riddled with logical holes, starting with the faulty underlying premise that the Steele dossier is the only reason anyone ever had to suspect Trump-Russia shenanigans.

      Since the Barr Letter hasn’t shut down calls for the full Mueller Report, writers like Ross are engaging in further fits of conflation and circular logic whereby the problems with the dossier definitively prove there’s nothing more to see here.

      The opposite is true.

    • viget says:

      I have said the same before as well (actually in response to one of your comments!), and then was promptly admonished by both @bmaz and @earlofhuntigdon that Steele was not “clueless” as I had labelled him.

      I agree with that. However, I still stand by my bafflement regarding how Steele, an accomplished MI6 officer, brilliant guy, could have been fooled by Deripaska. Surely someone in May-July 2016 must have known that Deripaska was helping to bankroll Manafort. Shit, this Nation article from October 2008 that I found today says just as much with regards to the McCain campaign (which Manafort was briefly involved in).

      Something DOES NOT ADD UP. I hate to think that either Ohr or Steele was deliberately obfuscating here, because that’s hard for me to stomach. Unless it was to try to throw off Russian intelligence (i.e. doublecross the doublecrossers).

      • phazed says:

        This is entirely plausible. You get fooled by someone until somebody else tells you you’re being fooled.

        When Steele went to the FBI, Ohr may have informed Steele that Deripaska was pulling his chain. Everything that followed (Steele frustrated with the FBI etc.) was a cover to dump the dossier and throw off the Russians??

        From July 2016 on, the dossier may have developed to achieve several goals at once. There may be more than one dossier.

        • Stacey says:

          It’s always been a point of concern for me that there was all of that confusion around the FBI investigation that Steele thought should have been underway and then the newspaper article said it wasn’t and that sort of created a sense of WTF in Steele because that made no sense. There’s always been this sense of ‘levels of obfuscation’ going on in that, which I suspect would be for reasons of double crossing the double crossers more than any other explanation.

          Anyway, I think this is why Donald Trump has a lot of questions around the “oranges” of this investigation himself…as he kept misspeaking in an interview today 4/2/19. Mental decline on full display, there, Hoss?

  4. orionATL says:

    Daniel hoffman:

    “… You know, President Trump is not a neophyte, he knows Brennan, by virtue of Brennan’s own mixed record as DCIA, and public statements after leaving office.  The President knew that Brennan was the right person to pick a political fight with…”

    personally, I doubt President Trump knows anything about brennan’s record at CIA unless someone just that might minute told him.

    trump certainly is not a neophyte. he is more ignorant than, and less interested in learning than, any neophyte I could imagine.

    • P J Evans says:

      Does Hoffman even know what a neophyte is? Because Tr*mp fits the definition better than any president I can remember (and I remember Kennedy).

  5. orionATL says:

    the daily caller’s bolded summary at the beginning of Ross’s article:

    “…8:21 PM 03/31/2019 | US
    Chuck Ross | Reporter

    Special counsel Robert Mueller’s finding of no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia undercuts the Steele dossier’s core claim of a “well-developed conspiracy” to influence the 2016 election.

    Intelligence experts said the dossier should be investigated as possible Russian disinformation.

    “The intelligence community was misled,” an intelligence expert said. … ”


    – “no collusion” has been established.

    – “intelligence experts” (who) think the dossier should investigated as Russian disinformation. translation: this provides a justification for the trump administration to conduct a retributive, harassing investigation of the fbi/special counsel investigation of the trump’s campaign collusion with Russia.

    – “the intelligence community was misled.” are you kidding me? the entirety of the NSA, CIA, FBI, …. and whichever other of the 17 agencies? the Brits, the dutch, the australians, and whoever else got in on the act?

    the Steele “dossier” was the cause of the u.s. multi-agency counter-intelligence investigation? those agencies whose concerns Sen. McConnell was unwilling to certify in fall, 2016? really?

  6. orionATL says:

    of course none of the above has any direct bearing on the accuracy or inaccuracy of Hoffman’s ideas. it merely establishes the political context in which they were published.

  7. dwfreeman says:

    Perhaps the Barr summary is merely an extension of the Steele dossier, a complete effort at disinformation about the Mueller Report.

    There were two campaigns to elect Trump, one by the Russians, with multiple motives and no required aid.

    And the other one was run by the candidate who left ample traces on the record, in public, and through direct associate and indirect contact with Russian government sources that he wanted and sought their help, and never dissuade those connections to promulgate his election that no one foresaw.

    The fact that Barr tried to obfuscate the collusion question in his letter to Congress and usurp the role of Mueller as first responder on obstruction –if, in fact, those are the only two issues of unprosecutable criminality uncovered in his yet unreleased and likely heavily redacted report– isn’t this an example of an unexpressed tacit agreement to delay, hinder and deny a conspiracy to obstruct or cover-up a potential case for impeachment?

    Whether the Steele report was real political intelligence in real time or sordid disinformation served up to confuse our counterintelligence and confound election activities in 2016, Putin’s passion play was wildly successful, and that principal summary conclusion ain’t even in question on whatever side is making the argument.

    Because if this is true, then even our own intelligence agencies were misled about what the Russians were actually doing.

    • klynn says:

      This. Excellent analysis. I would add a third campaign run through select MSM, journalists, non profits and PACs.

  8. orionATL says:

    and Hoffman’s “ideas” do provide a rationale for the trump administration’s conducting an “investigation” of the fbi/DOJ investigation of connections between the trump campaign and russia should it choose to use them. we could have the makings of a political backfire.

  9. AitchD says:

    If Trump’s deep base doesn’t get to see (or listen to) a pee tape, they’ll desert him, vote for someone else, or stay home because he’s not the guy they thought he was.

  10. Savage Librarian says:

    Could this be one of the reasons Deripaska’s sanctions were lifted, as an incentive not to do more damage?

    • Vicks says:

      I know it sound nuts, but the sanctions were lifted 2 days after “Nastasia Vashukevich, the model who recorded a former employer of Paul Manafort allegedly discussing US relations with a Russian deputy prime minister during the 2016 election, has promised in a Moscow court not to release any further recordings.”
      I mean if she really did have evidence and Deripaska hunted her down and shut her up. Team Trump would owe Deripaska bigley…
      The first recording was said to have been put out on YouTube, Deripaska sued to get it stopped.
      After she put out the first recording, she was arrested in Thailand for what appears to be bogus charges and claimed Deripaska was behind it. She was held a year, released and was deported back to Belarus. She never made it, the plane was diverted to Moscow and she was pulled off and disappeared until she appeared in court a few days later crying and swearing she was sorry and would never anger Mr. Deripaska again. At some point she added that she had given the recordings to Deripaska.
      A bad script for a movie for sure, it almost seems too mild for what we have seen happens when you cross the Russian one percenters but when it happened, the timing off both stories just stuck out to me.
      I have never seriously thought the Trump crew was in deep with Russians working on the election; not because they were not corrupt but because I always figured Russia would have enough sense to not get directly involved with those boneheads.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Thanks, Vicks. I remember reading those stories. But chronology has never been my strong suit. Interesting!

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Here is a detailed breakdown with maps & visuals by Scott Stedman that ties together Manafort, Kilimnik, Deripaska, Prikhodko & Vashukevich.


        And here are connections between Vashukevich, Deripaska, Prikhodko, Assange, and Adam Waldman.
        (not sure of some of the info in this):

        It is from The Bell by Anastasia Stognei. The title is “Revelations to come? A deep dive into what Nastya Rybka might know”

        You will have to do an internet search on the title. Some weird things there.

      • BroD says:

        “I have never seriously thought the Trump crew was in deep with Russians working on the election; not because they were not corrupt but because I always figured Russia would have enough sense to not get directly involved with those boneheads.”

        And Russia wasn’t in it on a simple quid pro quo basis–they just wanted to screw with us.

        • Vicks says:

          Yes, above all Putin HATES the United States. We are and always have been “the enemy” and all of this was about attacking us to divide and make us weaker.
          IMHO much of what we have seen that has one side yelling “collusion” with total conviction, and the other “no collusion!” with such confidence goes to the problem of proving intent for greedy a-h*les like Manafort, and the “immoral is not illegal” standard that has been consistent in the “winning” strategies of DJ Trump.
          I think there is a good chance that no one in Trump’s team actively “colluded” with Russia to help their boss win, but I am convinced many of them were aware of what was going on (including DJT) and lied their asses off when questioned because they knew that saying and doing nothing, was not just wrong but shamefully wrong; traitorously wrong.
          But not illegal! No Collusion!

          • P J Evans says:

            As long as you think it’s “collusion”, you’re not going to get the problems. It’s “conspiracy”, and it doesn’t require that everyone helping know that it is, or that they intended to be part of a conspiracy, or even that it succeed.

              • P J Evans says:

                Some of us have been paying attention to your rants. (I’ve read enough legal docs to know that wording matters. One of the wills I have is a fine example of “dysfunctional family”.)

              • Tom in AZ says:

                “bmaz says:
                April 2, 2019 at 6:59 pm
                Good job PJ!! I believe my work here is done!”

                Or maybe not, but PJ has paid attention ;)

            • Vicks says:

              I was trying out sarcasm, mocking the trump by using the word collusion, it looks like it did not present the way I intended.
              Speaking of intent, my point was that the more I get to know these characters the easier it is for me to believe that many that joined the campaign did it with the primary motivation of seeing how they could use their positions to enrich them selves, getting DJT elected was a distant second.
              Does anyone really think Manafort came on board and worked for free because he was he was passionate about the candidate?
              If having to decide between whethet Manafort handed over polling data to help the campaign or if he did it because he was getting squeezed and needed to start getting “whole” on his debt to Deripaska which would the smart money be betting on?
              It is my understanding that in order to indict for conspiracy they would have to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt his intent was to to help DJT
              If Mueller could not find enough to indict any of them (for conspiracy) the only answer I can come up with for why they lied so much and covered up so much and played the stupid “media is the enemy of the people” game and tried to take down the justice department is because they knew. And they knew if it ever came out it would be almost as bad as if they were out changing ballots.
              We would be that much closer to “we are going to impeach the m.f’er.”
              They hid this because they they knew it was bad .
              Truml is an illegitimate president. Pack up your things and don’t let the White House hit you on the way out.
              Or something like that….

  11. Fran of the North says:

    By all accounts, Steele was an intelligence officer in MI6 whose work was respected, and his Russian connections were solid and well placed.

    The key to any intelligence operation is separating signal from noise. Noise is data and observations, signal is interpretation. In the classic intelligence service, this is done by vetting new data against the information or best assessment of past data. That vetting is done by multiple intelligence agents and agencies, all comparing notes and discussing differences vigorously.

    Steele probably got hung out to dry by a number of factors.

    1) Because he was independent, he didn’t have any other signals against which to compare his data. Without that vetting, his assumptions and reported conclusions could very easily go astray.

    2) Odds are good that he got stung in a classic counter intelligence operation. GRU and/or FSB knew exactly what he was doing, who he was working for, and they constructed a plausible scenario and built a story and the ‘leaks’ to direct his conclusions.

    3) His customers, Fusion and the DNC, were working in a time constrained environment. It is probable that there was considerable time pressure from them to provide regular updates. Those pressures only served to amplify the potential for misreading the data, and exacerbate the lack of additional analysis and other sources of intel.

    In the same fashion that the U.S. got played in the social media arena, so too did we get played in the political intelligence arena. The entire U.S. government position that ‘interfering’ in an election was something that was against the pale was used by the Russians to play Steele, the DNC and finally the U.S. government like a fiddle.

    • Eureka says:

      Thanks, Fran– nice nutshell. My money’s on a lot of #1 — tho all factors are interdependent– ramified by the uniquely piqued Deripaska drama (he’s the clearest “win-win”-er here).

      • Fran of the North says:


        Thank you for your condolences the other day. All is good here. Sorrow, but also celebration of life well lived and world-view and lessons passed down.

        Best, Fran

        • Eureka says:

          It does take time for that sorrow to become more of an echo…; you are right that they live through us now. I am glad all is well, and you and yours are in my thoughts– Best to you. E

  12. Joel Fisher says:

    But you (and others) don’t mention the smokescreen effect of putting out a cloud of disinformation while, within the cloud, doing the very thing the false cloud hides. When the cloud is discovered to be disinformation, voila: everything in the cloud is thought to be false.

    • Hika says:

      Yep. Lots of people realized there was something fishy about GWB’s time with the TANG during the Vietnam War. Dan Rather unfortunately waved the wrong pieces of paper in the air to prove it.
      The story of the debunking of a forgery completely overwhelmed the underlying truth of the original story. These manuevres are not new inventions.
      That’s why what EW does is so valuable. Look at the documents carefully and trust no b4st4rd.

    • orionATL says:

      Joel writes: “When the cloud is discovered to be disinformation, voila: everything in the cloud is thought to be false.”

      I am well aware of this argument. it is a false argument. it is an argument used by folks who manipulate others. the counter is as I wrote:

      1. what is the overall message of the steele “dossier”? – the Russians are coming, and they are working on trump. whoever cozzened Steele, if that happened, forgot to change that overall message.

      2. what is the evidence independently gathered that supports the Steele message? the Russians were coming, they came, they succeeded in suborning trump and the trump campaign, and they conquered, i.e., they will get their sanctions relief sooner or later; they got trump attacks on nato; they got trump bumbling with major trade partners.

      it also happens to be the case that no one knows the actual content of those conversations Steele or associates had with Russian sources. virtually all of this vein of criticism is based on what somebody presumes or what somebody heard from somebody else. tell me, is it possible that the sources whom Deripaskas presumed to have salted into steele’s rolodex said exactly what Steele reported?

      we are now 1 1/2 years past the public release (by buzz feed) of the Steele document and Steele’s thesis has been proven in spades, not least by the print media in general and the emptywheel website in particular. nonetheless, people keep gnawing on this old bone as if it were fresh meat.

      • orionATL says:


        buzz feed was not the first to report to the public what the media cognescentti of Washington had long heard but ignored out of “media propriety”, i.e., fear of damaged credibility and reputation – that an unflattering trump dossier had been compiled implicating trump and russia. that honor goes to mother Jones and reporter David corn:


        and here is corn’s later report on the dossier’s author, Christopher steele:


        It is rarely noted in the telling of the tale of the deficiencies of the Steele dossier, but i believe it is the case that corn’s article followed by days the public comment by FBI director Comey that secretary Clinton was again under FBI investigation. this was the nicely timed, very, very late-in-the-election comment that, if I recall correctly, Nate silver estimated cost Clinton1 1/2 points and the election. (though if there was the manipulation of votes that vote totals suggest there was in Michigan and wisconsin, that might have been irrelevant.)

    • orionATL says:

      let’s take a look at this much maligned dead horse. here is the buzz feed report from January 10, 2017. it includes a copy of the Steele report:


      chapter one from June 2016

      chapter 1 with its summary section and details section seems quite professional and straight forward.

      it includes a summary and 6 paras of details of conversations with russians. the message a reader takes away is unambiguous – the Russians are messing with u.s. elections with cyberwarfare and they have been working on trump for 5 years.

      o.k. assume this conversant was a Russian whose Gov had made up a script for him to follow. in the first place, this conversation would be quite remarkable admission from a Russian involved in a Gov setup, right? secondly, would the facts contained therein be negated by the fact that Deripaska had pointed Steele there? no. the accuracy of the facts of the conversation having to do with Russian interference are independent of deripaksa (or steele). that accuracy rests on independent confirmation of the facts Steele reports? is there such? yes there is. quite a bit. not least the trump tower deal.

      a second chapter involves Russian cybercrime against the u.s. again there is ample independent corroboration of this issue, including work done in Pittsburg and included in the Mueller report.

      what’s the legitimate complaint?

    • orionATL says:

      here is miss wiki on the Steele dossier:

      paras. reformatted for emphasis.

      “… [2] In June 2016, Fusion GPS subcontracted Steele’s firm to compile the dossier. His instructions were to seek answers to why Trump would “repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state”.[9]

      Clinton campaign officials were reportedly unaware that Fusion GPS had subcontracted Steele, and he was not told that the Clinton campaign was the recipient of his research.[10][11] 

      Following Trump’s election as president, funding from Clinton and the DNC ceased, but Steele continued his research and was reportedly paid directly by Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn R. Simpson.[12] The completed dossier was then handed to British and American intelligence services.[13]

      The media, the intelligence community, and most experts have treated the dossier with caution due to its unverified assertions, while Trump has denounced it as fake news.[14] 

      Russian intelligence agencies have sought to create false doubt as to the veracity of the dossier.[15]However, the U.S. intelligence community takes the allegations seriously and is investigating them.[16][17][18][19] 

      The Trump administration, Fox News, and congressional Republicans have falsely[20][21] claimed that the launch of U.S. intelligence community probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election were based mostly on Steele’s dossier.[22][23][24] Instead, the House Intelligence Committee, then in Republican control, concluded in an April 2018 report that the probe was triggered by the actions of Trump adviser George Papadopoulos, not the dossier; meanwhile the February 2018 Nunes memo, written by staff members for that committee, also reached the same conclusion.[24][25][26]

      In May 2018, former career intelligence officer James Clapper stated that “more and more” of the dossier had been validated over time.[27]Overall, some allegations of the dossier have been corroborated,[28] others remain unverified and, according to a December 2018 Lawfare retrospective, “none of [the dossier], to our knowledge, has been disproven.”[29] Some parts of the dossier may require access to classified information for verification.[30][31]… “

      • orionATL says:

        the article from miss wiki (my affectionate nickname for wikipedia) I cited above really is worth reading in its entirety. you will find valuable history there that you will not find in the writing of Steele detractors. it gives a much more balanced, wide-angle view of the history and players in “the saga of the dossier” :)


  13. Stephen says:

    Argh. I keep thinking we’re talking about the late poet Daniel Hoffman. “What does it matter that the tales are lies?” and so forth. But seriously:

    Marcy, everything you say (as usual) is well sourced and cogently reasoned. But for once I have to question one of your conclusions. You’ve been arguing that essentially the whole of the “Steele dossier” was disinformation, that he never accessed any genuine intelligence sources. There are two problems with this position. First, as others have pointed out, Steele (unlike the Trump gang that can’t shoot straight) is an experienced operative, not a fool. But there is a more important problem. If Steele was not getting any real intel, then why on earth would the Russian government want to give him phony dirt on Trump? There is no question but that they wanted Trump to win or at least overperform in the election, right? Having phony stories circulating about how Trump was compromised or otherwise corrupted wouldn’t help that cause – unless there were also true stories about to circulate. Then, and only then, does it make sense to interpolate salacious untruths into the record. Because then, when the fake stuff gets exposed as such (or strains credulity), the true stories are also cast into doubt.

    There is probably no way of discerning exactly what elements of Steele’s report were derived from genuine vs. phony sources (and even the “real” ones might have been getting fed misinformation, if their status was known to the Kremlin). Unless, I suppose, Steele himself were to reveal all. Which seems unlikely. Too bad.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      Stephen, very well said. This is exactly what has been bothering me about all of the dismissal of the Steele intel. Why would the Russians add to the considerable amount of negative information about their candidate, if their intent was to give competition to Hillary ? One would think that they would have other ways of discrediting Steele, if that was their objective.

      • Mickey says:

        One thing that keeps popping into my head is the arrogance and confidence that the GOP had in both being able to discredit the Steele report, and in repeatedly trying to point to it as the sole evidence of the Russian conspiracy/connections to Trump.

        If this was (and it looks like it is) an effort to discredit any kind of investigation into Russia aiding Trump’s campaign by employing red herrings, this too would be part of the conspiracy and perhaps should be investigated?

    • Zadius says:

      Sometimes the half-truths are the most effective lies. There’s an old classic way to destroy a man: take photos of him with his mistress then go public but say the woman is an escort. If he comes out and denies it all, then release the photos and everyone will believe it was an escort. Otherwise he somehow has to try to say, “Oh no that’s not an escort, I’m just cheating on my wife in the normal way!” Either way, the half-truth is more destructive than the truth. I suspect that there are many well constructed half-truths floating around and it’s tying people in knots.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Well said. And Putin & the Kremlin like kompromat on anyone & everyone. A lot like J. Edgar Hoover.

      • Eureka says:

        Adding: and half-truths as effective lies works the other way as well, towards getting ahead of a story, dampening impact (Rudy! Rudi! Rude!)

    • vicks says:

      As I understand it the dossier is/was “raw data” as I imagine that it means it is like a transcript; a question was asked and the answer recorded. A story, true or false is wrtten down as it is told. An investigator investigates and I would assume his client is entitled to all the information collected.
      I keep comming around the thought that someone lying about a person or event may be just as important as the event or story they are trying to cover up (or create)
      We know Steele thought enough of what he collected was true enough to speak out about but unless I am missing a chunk of the story I am not sure we know enough to figure it out line by line.

      • orionATL says:

        that how I view things.

        it bothers me a great deal that, for all the criticism, there has been no effort i’ve read to check out the dossier chapter by chapter, item by item. the last (December) chapter has been criticized, rightly I think, and other inaccuracies noted (ew had a column and list on this), but no systematic effort to disprove. and how could there be? the Russians were coming was steele’s message. and they came in force. to bad we did not pay attention to the warning.

        • Bill Smith says:

          There has been efforts. It does not holdup very well. For example, how many claims does it make about Cohen? They all appear to be wrong.

          Other things are correct but where well known at the time Steele wrote about them.

  14. orionATL says:

    look, aside the road up there. it’s a dead horse.

    why my gosh, it’s old dossier. poor old fellow.

    I can’t believe …

    the rag and bones man is beating him with a daily caller. scoundrel!

    1. what would you say is the main message from the entirety of the Steele “dossier”? I’d say it was that the Russian government was interfering in the American presidential by making an effort to entice Republican candidate Donald Trump to work with them to defeat Hillary clinton.

    2. what if i told you that before you read it, all 16 chapters had been doctored by some Russian who had placed inaccuracies in each of the chapters? what would your view of that main message you had just read? why it would be the same, wouldn’t it? because the dossier was doctored (if it was, to the extent it was) prior to Steele ever writing its chapters.

    doesn’t it seem strange that a Russian operative would leave the main message of Steele’s research – that russia was messing with the presidential election – unaltered while dicking around with difficult-to-check trivia about whether Cohen went to Prague or elsewhere? with who Carter paige met with? what could Deripaska have been up to? it’s hall of mirrors time, folks. step right in and make up any explanation you please. was Deripaska fooling the Americans only? the American and the Russian Gov? had steele gone over to the other side. did Hillary Clinton write the document?

    3. in point of fact, the Steele dossier was the first unambiguous warning the American public had of what was happening. it should receive credit for that. it does not. Steele should receive credit. he does not. no good deed goes unpunished in American politics.

    4. the steele reports did not stand alone. it seems highly likely that the NSA, FBI, CIA had independent information available to them to confirm the main thesis of the dossier. almost certainly they had intercepts of ambassador kyslyak’s conversations with trump campaign officials including general flynn. further, the British and Dutch were not constrained by American rules about who could be monitored. there was enough confidence in independent confirmation of the main thesis of the Steele report that the Obama administration and American intelligence official tried to get a unified statement on that to the public, but senator McConnell held it up. the election proceeded with interference (with much Facebook help).

    4. so what did that sly russkie do that changed the key message – the Russians are messing with our presidential election – of the Steele dossier? nothing. nothing at all. all he/she did was put in some inaccuravies and disinformation. who paid attention to that? not many. what did it do to dim the message of the dossier? nothing. how are those inaccuries being used now? as the last desperate hope of Republican operatives to draw attention away from the factual (not the legal) findings of the Mueller report.

    don’t forget the hall of mirrors. walk in. pick your favorite suspicion. who was doing what to who. have fun.

    • Fran of the North says:

      I’d suggest that your point in 4.1 is probably signed sealed and delivered. The human intelligence that Steele collected has been another input into the U.S. intelligence services, and some portion of it has been confirmed, some unconfirmed, and some downright disproved.

      I hope that at some point we get the unclassified version on just exactly how dirty Team Trump actually was, and which Goopers sold their country for an election victory.

      Finally, your point about Steele being the canary in the coal mine is spot on. Pity his skinny little birdy legs are pointed at the sky.

  15. Steve says:

    I’ve always taken the position that the dossier may contain disinformation and have never been fully comfortable with the relationship between Fusion and Prevezon. From my perspective Steele and Fusion are highly credible but there is a possibility that they have been played. I suspect they would probably agree.

    However, I don’t think it would be fair to say that the dossier should be discarded because of inaccuracies and potential disinformation. It is a raw intelligence document that it merely reporting the information provided to Steele.

    More importantly, there are a number of things the dossier got right like the DNC hacking, some Webzilla involvement, Carter Page meetings, WikiLeaks/Russia connection, withdrawal of Kalugin, etc. Very importantly, the dossier discloses the Rosneft sale before it was public and before BP, which is the second largest shareholder, even found out about the deal.

    • orionATL says:

      these details of what the dossier got right are very informative. we rarely see that side presented in this debate.

      that the dossier was raw intelligence is likewise oft ignored by critics, as is the fact that Steele made a concerted effort to wake the FBI up to the russian threat thru his contacts there. raw intelligence though it be, what Steele reported was grossly accurate as to Russian government intent with respect to trump and with respect to involvement in the American election process. Steele’s work was the light in the bell tower that this nation’s guardians chose to ignore out of political fear. too bad.

      clinton has said, as I recall, that she did not know of this oppo research effort. I am curious if the Clinton campaign ever used any of it as it would have been expected to do. the mainline of attack on the Steele dossier (though not the only) comes from trump supporters and has to do not with its use in politics but with its use in legal proceeding by the FBI and DOJ to investigate whether there was collusion between trump&co and the russians. we can hope we are about to learn more about that investigation :).

  16. orionATL says:

    there are very few journalists who will defend Steele’s work. why is that? I’ve said before, the guy ought to be a hero to the American people, but he is a pariah instead to the press instead, or at least they are too cowardly to review his work and motives favorably given these have been rendered suspect by critics working mostly on supposition. amazingly, Russian manipulation of the essential veracity of the Steele report (trump suborned and russians messing directly with voter’s minds) seems not to have been considered.

    there seem to be three distinct types of critics of the Steele report:

    1. trump supporters and trump – this would include hyperpartisan junkyard dog Devin nunes former chair of the house intelligence committee who coordinated his committee’s “oversight” investigation with the White House andvthe president he was investigating. it also prominently includes rep. trey gowdy, only marginally less a trump lackey.

    2. Russian operatives – I have seen nothing about these folk, yet one should assume they exist. deripaksa, given his alleged closeness to Putin and the critical fact that most of his wealth is tied up in physical plant in russia, should be considered as a premier candidate, but seems to have been credulously forgiven this possibility. are there others? why no reporting on this possibility.

    3. critics whose motive seems to be to use criticism of the Steele report to imply that Clinton, the Clinton campaign, or the 2016 dnc were fools or incompetent. I don’t think either of these is accurate. few if any campaigns, whose focus simply is not IT, would have known exactly how to defend against the Russian attack on the clinton campaign before the Mueller report. now all are forewarned about the probable nature of an attack and how its booty may be exploited to harm a campaign. the real question for future campaigns (and for detractors of the Clinton campaign which afterall was was working in the dark if at all) is that it may be difficult to defend except for Facebook postings. and of course the Russians, with help from the israeli private spooks, have shown domestic political operatives how successful it can be to mess with voters minds. who needs the Russians any more. they can now move on to areas of American influence in Latin America or south and east asia.

    • Rayne says:

      There are at least four more categories of critics:
      — skeptics who are unable to verify the content of the dossier and/or see flaws and holes in the dossier;
      — skeptics who don’t trust the intelligence community, both formal and ad hoc/consultants as well as the law enforcement entities with which IC interfaces;
      — persons burned by Steele or Orbis or Fusion GPS but don’t want to out themselves and instead inject doubt into discussions around the dossier;
      — entities who do not want to draw attention to their possible role in dossier’s inception.

      They may not be uniformly loud in their criticism for reasons you can guess.

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