Task and Countertask: The Interview of Christopher Steele’s Primary Subsource

According to the interview report from Christopher Steele’s Primary Subsource, the PSS confirmed that he had two sources behind the reporting that Carter Page met with Igor Sechin. He said one of those two sources — whom he described having ties to FSB — told him that Russia was sitting on kompromat against Trump (and Hillary). He described that his source for all the Michael Cohen reporting came from an old friend whom he trusted 100%. Steele’s Primary Subsource even took credit for some of the specific phrases in the Steele dossier — such as the one describing Michael Cohen’s efforts to sweep the Carter Page and Paul Manafort scandals “under the carpet.”

Even the Primary Subsource’s interactions with a person he believed to be Sergei Millian tracked most of the report based off the call.

[PSS] recalls that this 10-15 minute conversation included a general discussion about Trump and the Kremlin, that there was “communication” between the parties, and that it was an ongoing relationship. [PSS] recalls that the individual believed to be [Millian] said that there was an “exchange of information” between Trump and the Kremlin, and that there was “nothing bad about it,” Millian said that some of the information exchange could be good for Russian, and some could be damaging to Trump, but deniable. The individual said that the Kremlin might be of help to get Trump elected, but [PSS] did not recall any discussion or mention of Wikileaks.

The passage shows how badly DOJ IG over-read the interview when it first published the report and affirmatively stated that PSS “had no discussion” or “made no mention at all of” WikiLeaks.

On pages xi, 242, 368, and 370, we changed the phrase “had no discussion” to “did not recall any discussion or mention.” On page 242, we also changed the phrase “made no mention at all of” to “did not recall any discussion or mention of.” On page 370, we also changed the word “assertion” to “statement,” and the words “and Person 1 had no discussion at all regarding WikiLeaks directly contradicted” to “did not recall any discussion or mention of WikiLeaks during the telephone call was inconsistent with.” In all instances, this phrase appears in connection with statements that Steele’s Primary Sub-source made to the FBI during a January 2017 interview about information he provided to Steele that appeared in Steele’s election reports. The corrected information appearing in this updated report reflects the accurate characterization of the Primary Sub-source’s account to the FBI that previously appeared, and still appears, on page 191, stating that “[the Primary SubSource] did not recall any discussion or mention of Wiki[L]eaks.”

To be sure, the provenance of that claimed Millian conversation is an utter shitshow — consisting of a call with someone the Primary Subsource believed, but had no way of confirming, was Millian. But Steele’s Primary Subsource did confirm that most of that report tracked the call, whoever it was from.

Still, you wouldn’t know that the Primary Subsource described the multiple sources behind key allegations in the dossier from the way the DOJ IG Report described what was a raw intelligence report. For example, this passage doesn’t reveal that the Primary Subsource heard details on Page’s trip from people with high level connections, including the meeting with Sechin (remember, the FBI had another source report that he had heard rumors about the Sechin meeting, which probably partly explains why Mueller concluded that Page’s whereabouts in Russia were still uncertain).

A second example provided by the Primary Sub-source was Report 134’s description of a meeting allegedly held between Carter Page and Igor Sechin, the President of Rosneft, a Russian energy conglomerate. 337 Report 134 stated that, according to a “close associate” of Sechin, Sechin offered “PAGE/ TRUMP’s associates the brokerage of up to a 19 percent (privatized) stake in Rosneft” in return for the lifting of sanctions against the company. 338 The Primary Sub-source told the FBI that one of his/her subsources furnished information for that part of Report 134 through a text message, but said that the sub-source never stated that Sechin had offered a brokerage interest to Page. 339 We reviewed the texts and did not find any discussion of a bribe, whether as an interest in Rosneft itself or a “brokerage. ” 340

The IG Report also repeats uncritically stuff from both the PSS and his sources that is pretty obviously bullshit, such as the claim from the PSS — who had been paid full time by Orbis for years to collect this intelligence — that he didn’t expect his reporting to show up in written reports.

The Primary Subsource also stated that he/she never expected Steele to put the Primary Subsource’s statements in reports or present them as facts. According to WFO Agent 1, the Primary Sub-source said he/she made it clear to Steele that he/she had no proof to support the statements from his/her sub-sources and that “it was just talk.” WFO Agent 1 said that the Primary Sub-source explained that his/her information came from “word of mouth and hearsay;” “conversation that [he/she] had with friends over beers;” and that some of the information, such as allegations about Trump’s sexual activities, were statements he/she heard made in “jest.”341 The Primary Sub-source also told WFO Agent 1 that he/she believed that the other sub-sources exaggerated their access to information and the relevance of that information to his/her requests.

Or the claim from a subsource who would be the key source of disinformation in the dossier if such disinformation exists that nothing in the dossier was attributable to her.

FBI documents reflect that another of Steele’s sub-sources who reviewed the election reporting told the FBI in August 2017 that whatever information in the Steele reports that was attributable to him/her had been “exaggerated” and that he/she did not recognize anything as originating specifically from him/her. 347

Nor would you know that from the reporting on the interview report of the Primary Subsource, released last night by Lindsey Graham.

Ultimately, the belated assessment of the Supervisory Intel Analyst probably appropriately attributes blame for problems with the dossier to multiple sources; a lot of the problems with this dossier stem from communication breakdowns and exaggerations from multiple people trying to make a buck.

According to the Supervisory Intel Analyst, the cause for the discrepancies between the election reporting and explanations later provided to the FBI by Steele’s Primary Sub-source and sub-sources about the reporting was difficult to discern and could be attributed to a number of factors. These included miscommunications between Steele and the Primary Sub-source, exaggerations or misrepresentations by Steele about the information he obtained, or misrepresentations by the Primary Sub-source and/or sub-sources when questioned by the FBI about the information they conveyed to Steele or the Primary Sub-source.

Let me be very clear: none of this means these allegations are true, nor does this excuse the failures to alert the FISA Court to key problems in the dossier. I was one of the first people to raise doubts about some of the problems with the allegations in the dossier, and I stand by that.

Operational security

What’s more interesting about the interview are the hints of all the ways the dossier could have gone so badly wrong. The interview report describes multiple ways that Russia’s spooks might have found out about the project and fed it with disinformation (the footnotes declassified earlier this year describes that several Russian spooks knew of the project after what would have been the PSS’ first trip to Russia to do the reporting).

Steele’s PSS was an analyst by training that Steele increasingly used in an operational role (including by getting him hired at some kind of consulting company that seems to have served as a kind of cover for his travel to Russia). The arrangement seems to have had spotty operational security. For better and worse, PSS said that he rarely took substantive notes.

[PSS] was asked if he takes notes on the information he is collecting from his sources, or if he keeps any kind of records. He was told by Steele that it is a security risk to take notes; he hasn’t kept notes or electronic records. He occasionally makes scribbles and/or chicken scratch notes here and there, but gives verbal debriefs in [redacted] following his trips [to Russia].

PSS would then share the information with Steele, whom he always briefed alone (making misunderstandings more likely). He had no communications with Steele while in Russia. PSS described that his debriefings with Steele were always at the Orbis office, which meant if Steele himself were surveilled, PSS’ ties to Steele would become obvious.

PSS was originally tasked to investigate Manafort (which he had little success on), at a time when Fusion was still being paid by Paul Singer, meaning this interview seems to confirm, once and for all, that not just Fusion’s reporting, but Steele’s, was initially paid for by a Republican. PSS specified for that reporting he did some of his reporting to Steele via an encrypted app.

But his communications with Steele included many insecure methods. He first met Steele in a Starbucks. Early on, he communicated with him via email and Skype, and Steele would task him, at least in part, via email. He described discussing Page’s trip to Russia with Source 3 on some kind of voice call, possibly a phone, while he was at a public swimming pool, though he also described talking in an opaque way about election interference. Likewise, the most problematic December 13 report was based on a conversation with the same source, which was also a phone call.

In short, while Steele and PSS and PSS’ sources made some efforts to protect their communications from the Russians that surely considered Steele a target, those efforts were inconsistent.

PSS described making three trips to Russia for his election year reporting. On the second trip, he got grilled suspiciously at the border. On his third, “nothing bad happened,” which made PSS suspicious about how perfectly everything had gone.

PSS repeatedly described being uncomfortable with the election year tasking, and he seems to have had suspicions in real time that Russia had taken note of it.

Ties to intelligence

Meanwhile, for all the reports that PSS was “truthful and cooperative,” the interview report describes that he “balked, meandered in the conversation, and did not really answer the question” about whether he used other sources for his election year reporting aside from the six he described to the FBI. And, as laid out in the interview report, it became increasingly clear over the three days of interviews that PSS was not entirely forthcoming about any interactions he had had with Russian intelligence.

This started with his lawyers’ careful caveat at the beginning of the process that PSS did not have any contacts with people he knew to be part of the Russian intelligence services (the interview as a whole was conducted under a proffer).

[PSS] indicated, to his knowledge, he has not had any contacts with the Russian intelligence or security services. [ANALYST NOTE: His attorney emphasized “to his knowledge” during this part of the discussion.]

PSS said he had contact with Russian government officials, but — “as far as he … knew,” not with anyone in SVR, GRU, or FSB.

On day three, however, PSS described a friend (whose experience he drew on for a report on how Russia coerces criminal hackers to work for the intelligence services) who had had been busted for involvement with online pornography and pressured to work with the FSB. The Senior Intel Analyst noted that conflicted with his earlier claim to have no known ties to Russian spooks.

[ANALYST NOTE: This is in contradiction to [PSS’s] statement the first day, at which time he indicated that he did not have any contacts associated with the Russian intelligence and security services.]

Later that same day, PSS seemed to acknowledge that a Russian official and a Russian journalist he interacted with were spooks. The FBI noted,

[ANALYST NOTE: This contradicted [PSS’s] earlier statements regarding having no contact with Russia’s intelligence and security services, and it also contradicted regarding not really knowing if [a Russian official] was actually connected to Russia’s intelligence and security services.]

The EC goes on to describe PSS “brush[ing] aside the idea of being approached by the intelligence and security services” while he was a student.

This squirreliness about his own ties with Russian spooks was probably just self-preservation, an effort to avoid any exposure on 18 USC 951, but it is probably the key issue where the FBI questioned his candor in real time.

Countertasking

Meanwhile, PSS described at least three of his sources — Source 1, Source 2, and Source 3 — in such a way that led the FBI to wonder whether PSS was being tasked by his own sources. S1, for example — who has a close relationship to a Russian intelligence officer (probably FSB) —  always asks PSS to do projects together.

[S1] is always trying to get [PSS] to start projects and make money together — [PSS] related how [S1], like others, is always asking questions like, “Can you get us some projects?” or “Can you get us financing?” or “Let’s do something together dealing with [redacted]!” [PSS] doesn’t consider this as his source “tasking him” but as simply the normal course and scope of networking in these circles. [PSS] did help [S1] with an academic book about [redacted].

And both Source 2 and Source 3 — the sources for some of the more problematic information in the Steele dossier — knew PSS brokered intelligence. Both also discussed brokering information in Russia.

[S3] is one of the individuals who knows that [PSS] works for due diligence and business intelligence. [As an aside at this point, [PSS] insisted that [S2] probably has a better idea about this than does [S3] because [S2] is always trying to monetize his relationship with [PSS]. [PSS] reiterated again to interviewers that [S2] will often pitch money-making ideas or projects — “Let’s work together. I [S2] can try and get [redacted] to answer a question, but I’ll need some money to do it.”] [S3] has an understanding that [PSS] is “connected.” In fact, either [redacted] morning or [redacted] morning, [S3] reached out to [PSS] and asked him for help in [redacted] on how [redacted] living in the United States are viewing the Trump administration. She is asking him [redacted] by the weekend, probably so she can sell it to a friend in Moscow.

And because PSS asked Orbis to help S1 — the guy with close ties to an FSB officer — get a scholarship for language study in the UK, S1 presumably knows what Orbis and who Steele is.

In addition to S1, Source 5 also has ties to Russian intelligence. This showed up in footnote 339, which was partly declassified earlier this year.

This is to be expected, of course. Indeed, the dossier prominently touts the intelligence sourcing of its allegations, as I noted the first day the dossier was published. If the person on whose source network Steele was relying didn’t have ties to spooks, it would be as problematic.

The thing, though, is that it’s certain now that many of the allegations in the dossier are not true or were rumor, particularly virtually all the allegations sourced to Source 3 (the source for all the Michael Cohen reporting), PSS’s childhood friend whom he trusts 100%. That’s true even though generally the reports were sourced to people with at least indirect access to senior level officials.

All the huffing and puffing aside, that should be the takeaway from this. Steele was definitely not collecting this intelligence in optimal fashion, and sharing it with the press made things far worse. But in January 2017, it looked like raw intelligence, of varying quality, which is precisely what it was billed at. Yet, well before any pitches Steele made to the press, it seems some really well-connected people in Russia were feeding Steele’s PSS information that distracted from the real events going on and focused it elsewhere.

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32 replies
  1. tvor_22 says:

    Do you think Steele’s early Larouche observations were trustworthy? I know anyone discussing larouche is liable to come across as a nutbag, but the connection made between Stone and LaRouche and the timing is certainly noteworthy, as is LaRouche people’s years long ongoing contact and promotion of Binney.

    Just thinking who Murray’s source got the material from is all.

    Binney had admitted that Podesta material was hacked, but he has consistently attempted to mislead people into thinking Murray was receiving DNC emails (even though he knew that shit had already been published when he and Murray met).

    His only public connection with Stone I can discern would be via LaRouche’s flying monkeys.

    Do you think any of this will ever be confirmed or debunked definitively, or am I doomed to perpetual tinfoil-hatting this particular thread?

    • emptywheel says:

      Wait, which observations?
      Are you looking for ties between *Binney* and Stone? There are others, starting with Andrew Napolitano.

      • tvor_22 says:

        I meant the portion of the report that mentions using LaRouche as a Kremlin conduit for dissemination of kompromat… or something.

        > Kremlin official involved in US relations commented on aspects of the Russian operation to date. Its goals had been three-fold—asking sympathetic US actors how Moscow could help them; gathering relevant intelligence; and creating and disseminating compromising information (‘kompromat’). This had involved the Kremlin supporting various US political figures, including funding indirectly their recent visits to Moscow. S/he named a delegation from Lyndon Larouche; presidential candidate Jill Stein of the Green Party; Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page; and former DIA Director Michael Flynn, in this regard and as successful in terms of perceived outcomes.

        Then from Douglas Caddy, Feb 20, 2016: “Stone wrote me: Thanks for connecting me with Harley Schlanger [to connect him with Larouche] – he is a great guy and shares our goals. I think we hit it off. I have a back channel to Trump and we are fighting the globalists.”

        Later on Caddy sent a letter to Comey (on Dec 10 2016) and later another to Mueller (on June 27 2017) that he had connected Stone with Schlanger/Larouche. He says: “It is my impression that as a result of that February meeting the LaRouche organization agreed to use its extensive Russian contacts to open up a back channel for the Trump campaign to communicate directly to Russian intelligence”

        He then claims private detectives began stalking him shortly thereafter and implied Stone had sent them after him. source: http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/topic/24173-attorneys-file-on-roger-stone-larouche-and-russia-influencing-the-2016-presidential-election/

        This seemed all very untrustworthy sitting in the timeline, but fits the MO of Stone harassing witnesses.

        Anyway… The LaRouche stuff could all be another layer of misdirect of course. It just stuck out like dogs balls in the timeline when trying to figure out when, why, and how Binney got involved and via what channels (Steele’s claims, Caddy’s claims, Roger and LaRouche connecting up in 2016, then all Binney’s appearances with LaRouchePAC, Binney being at the exact same time and place as Murray during the handoff, as well as his ongoing desperately thirsty attempts to obfuscate the whole affair)…. in addition to the more obvious whitehouse forensicator VIPS reachout dog and pony show.

        BTW if you’re looking instances of Binney stepping on his own feet, this interview is hilarious: https://www.facebook.com/1331354320209243/videos/can-timing-and-technology-shatter-russian-hack-fake-news-with-special-guest-bill/571419476692881/

        The interviewer inadvertently debunks him in a kind of inverted Columboesque way a number of times, once by playing a very interesting obscure interview with Murray.

          • tvor_22 says:

            Makes you wonder about Caddy’s sincerity in sending letters to both Comey and Mueller. Like, was he actively taking part in a smokescreen op to obfuscate more obvious and direct connections?

            What blows my mind is people like Binney willingly playing footsy with these people–and not even caring what that looks like. Like, how can someone of his background be that stupid? Is his apparent mendacity just epic epic stupidity and incompetence and he’s really the victim of manipulation? That is like the number one confounding factor in looking at everything related to Trump’s cronies.

        • emptywheel says:

          I don’t dismiss the import of Stone’s Larouche ties (and I’ll note we’re still trying to figure out the guy whose name ends in R that shows up in one of Stone’s warrants — though that guy seems to have been introduced to Stone by Ortel).
          But I don’t think it remotely difficult to imagine other ways that Stone would have ties to Binney, if they’re even directly necessary. Again, Napolitano is close to both, and has floated some of the same whack theories on Russia. But there are other easily imagined ties.

      • tvor_22 says:

        and Alan Dershowitz and so on, but you know I’m more drawn to wild geese, much to my downfall. (The more lengthy reply/unhinged rant is stuck in moderation as it included urls to sources.)

        I meant the dossier entry that mentions conduits for disseminating kompromat and LaRouche delegates visiting Russia in the same paragraph. It names LaRouche delegates, Flynn, Carter Page, but also Stein, making it easy to dismiss. It was early though so I thought it might be more trustworthy.

  2. PeterS says:

    Some say the Steele dossier is largely irrelevant. Yes, but there’s a difference between “irrelevant because it’s complete garbage” and “irrelevant to the unfolding of events, while still being partly valid as raw intelligence”. I am grateful to ew for helping me understand this better. 

    • Rayne says:

      I’ll maintain the dossier was relevant as a red flag. There was enough material in it which should have demanded more and deeper investigation, more validation. Enough for the Clinton campaign and DNC to examine how campaigns should work given the possibility of foreign interference even within the party. But hindsight is, as they say, 20/20.

      • Yargelsnogger says:

        “But hindsight is, as they say, 20/20.”

        That feels like it should be a campaign slogan or at least a metaphor for our upcoming election. “2020: The Hindsight election”. I’m also partial to “2020: The Walkback of Shame” election, but it doesn’t pun off of 2020 so effectively.

  3. Savage Librarian says:

    I’ve only read halfway through the interview notes from the PSS so far. One person who came to mind who might fit some of the characteristics of this PSS, and whose name might fit in the redacted space, is Henry Greenberg. If it is him, though, I could see how that could be problematic. If it’s not him, it will be interesting to learn who it might be.

  4. mospeck says:

    country right now seems to be taking the long ride down to 437 river street
    ht tps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taV1gQciL5E
    Seems like raw intel like the Steele was strangely leaked out by reputable news organizations
    “..they were clever..all the way down the line they were bloody clever”
    The Spy who Came in from the Cold is also a great movie

  5. Franktoo says:

    Thanks for the post. Would it be fair to summarize by saying that the disclosures about the FBI’s interviews with the PSS did not weaken the credibility of Steele’s allegations that were essential to the FBI’s submissions to the FISA court?

    • emptywheel says:

      No.
      There were real problems with the dossier, and the DOJ IG Report raised them. What is notable with the interview, though, is that the DOJ IG didn’t reveal how much the PSS did confirm (even though that’s a far cry from meaning it is true, which I don’t believe it is).
      The Q has always been whether Steele invented this. DOJ IG suggested he may have. That overstates what the evidence shows.

  6. Franktoo says:

    You wrote: “PSS was originally tasked to investigate Manafort (which he had little success on), at a time when Fusion was still being paid by Paul Singer.”

    I am confused. I understood that Steele only began to work for Fusion after being funded by the DNC. Furthermore, I also understood that Steele’s initial reports were sent to Fusion less than one month (one trip by the PSS?) after signing a contract, presumably leaving too little time for Russia to launch a disinformation campaign targeted to the connection between Steele and the DNC. Such a campaign would threaten the larger strategy of defeating Clinton, a project that needed to be completed in October. (Promoting dissension could wait.) One month appears to be too little time to gain official approval and plant information on the PSS’s sources. The story of Cohen’s trip to Prague was reported several month’s after the PSS’s first trip under the Fusion contract and could have been planted to discredit Steele. (Alternatively, a meeting in Prague could have simply been an internal cover story for a meeting in the US. Furthermore, Lewandowski remained chairman of Trump’s campaign until June 20, so it isn’t clear why Fusion would have been particularly interested in Manafort (in charge of corralling delegates) in the spring. Perhaps Manafort was of interest to one of Steele’s other clients in the spring or Steele was interested in Ukraine. Any thoughts?

    • emptywheel says:

      Fusion was researching Manafort pretty much from when he came onto the campaign (they weren’t the only ones, either). And the request to Steele was to find out what kind of crime ties he had, which is what the Singer-funded part of the project was.

      • Franktoo says:

        Thanks for straightening me out. Manafort clearly was widely known to be such an unsavory character with worse connections that no candidate should have been willing to have him associated with his campaign. That made him an obvious target for Fusion’s opposition research.

        According to their book, however, Simpson and Fritsch knew their funding from Singer would be drying up, got in contact with Elias in March, and in late April secured a contract with the DNC (beginning May 1?). Only after securing funding from the DNC did they pursue a contract with Steele in mid-May (beginning June 1?). IF this information is correct, then the PSS never made a trip to Russia funded by Paul Singer. And the Russians would have had to move extraordinarily quickly to insert disinformation into Steele’s first shocking report (based on a PSS trip to Russia) that was dated June 20. Of course, if the PSS or someone inside Orbitz were working for Russian intelligence, then Steele’s first report could have contained Russian disinformation – though I personally find it absurd to suggest that Russian intelligence would do anything that might directly harm Trump’s chances of getting elected.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        Speaking of Singer, it looks like Kushner tried to be a conduit through Dan Senor. So, there you go, 3 names ending in “R.” We could rule out Jared because Stone already knew him. That leaves two names. It seems possible that Ortel may have known Singer. In addition to both of them having similar interests in corporate finance and politics, they also may have had common interests through their children.

        “Donald Trump Wooed Key GOP Donors Sheldon Adelson, Paul Singer, and the Kochs” – 11/4/15, Gabriel Sherman
        …..
        “Before he got into the race, Trump made overtures to Singer, the founder of the hedge fund Elliott Management and the GOP’s biggest donor last year. Trump’s emissary was his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. According to a source, Kushner told Trump during a meeting at Trump Tower that he could help broker a meeting with Singer. Kushner, the owner of the New York Observer, indicated to Trump that the paper had been helpful to Singer. Trump told Kushner to make it happen. Kushner emailed Dan Senor, an executive at Elliott Management and a close associate of Singer’s, to introduce Trump, according to three sources close to Singer and Trump.”

        “But Singer wasn’t interested, and the meeting with Senor never happened…”

        https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2015/11/trump-wooed-GOP-mega-donors.html

        • Savage Librarian says:

          But this is what Stone said about how Singer came to support Trump:

          Salisbury News: “Roger Stone: ‘Marco Rubio Is Done’ “ – 3/4/16

          “Stone told host J.D. Hayworth during an interview as part of Newsmax TV’s Super Tuesday coverage. “The Koch brothers induced the billionaire hedge fund manager, Paul Singer, to put $25 million into Rubio and another $75 million into another stop-Trump campaign.”

          ht tp://sbynews.blogspot.com/2016/03/roger-stone-marco-rubio-is-done.html

        • bmaz says:

          Keep in mind that Senor’s wife, former journalist Campbell Brown, is head of global products at Facebook.

  7. Rugger9 says:

    According to Reese Erlich at Informed Comment (Juan Cole’s shop) the NYT story about the Russian bounties is beginning to unravel, for example the much proclaimed half-million bucks of bounty money turned out to be drug deal proceeds.

    I’m one of those who really did not like the WH-meekness-in-the-face-of -Russian-bounty concept, and still consider it as within the parameters of what this WH would do if Putin asked, but this wasn’t it as it turns out…until there is more evidence of Russian malfeasance. I will say if it does pan out later, I’ll be back in full blast mode, but for now, the NYT is walking it back and so will I.

    https://www.juancole.com/2020/07/really-russian-afghanistan.html

    • viget says:

      Hold on now…

      I don’t see that NYT is walking back their story, just that military brass is saying that so far there isn’t any direct evidence that bounties lead to the death of US troops.

      That’s different than saying there is no evidence that bounties were offered. Perhaps they were, but the Taliban was unsuccessful.

      Also, I wouldn’t discount a “drug money” payout as not being a bounty. If Russia truly is paying bounties, they’re not going to send GRU officers to Kabul with suitcases of money. They’re going to use cutouts, likely many layers of cutouts to obfuscate the source of the funds. That’s money laundering 101, and the Russians are experts at that.

      Finally, any article that uses the phrase “deep state” in a credulous manner is extremely suspect to me. I don’t care what outfit published it, treating the “deep state” as a real entity reeks of ulterior motives to me and is propaganda until otherwise proven.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I imagine Putin remembers more about Iran-Contra than does Trump.

        Oh, the Deep State exists. It’s just not what Trump describes. (If he weren’t such a buffoon, he would be part of it.) Trump uses the term to refer to groups of people – civil servants and other public employees, like congresscritters – who value competence, laws, and the Constitution above loyalty to him. For Trump, it’s an epithet, like fake news.

        The real Deep State is a set of overlapping interests, which persist regardless of routine changes in government. Its members often disagree about specifics, but agree on the principal that government should work for and cater to their interests. The English would call it the Old Boy net.

        Its avatars are the wealthiest individuals, and representatives of their families and the corporations they control. Examples include David Rockefeller, the Koch brothers, Jeff Bezos, and their principal courtiers. The latter include men like John J. McCloy, the Dulles brothers, Dean Rusk, Henry Kissinger, Samuel P. Huntington, and Eugene Scalia (the fox now in charge of the chicken coop that is Trump’s Labor Dept.). In between bouts of government employment, they manage their principals’ businesses, foundations, or legal exposure. Since the early 1970s, those interests have increasingly included foundations, think tanks, university departments, and the most powerful lobbyists – Heritage, FedSoc, AEI, Haley Barbour.

  8. Rugger9 says:

    OT: Kanye’s not helping DJT either, since everyone who was paying attention knew that Harriet Tubman was getting slaves to Canada where they would be free.

    I don’t know which WH aide dreamed up this idea for Kanye West being the wedge to split the Black vote but it has the stench of Jarvanka about it. Kanye is something of a sellout and DJT won’t shut up which focuses the attention of all voters to his unrelenting racism.

    Youtube has West’s SC rally, it seems he’s trying to be more incoherent than DJT and just might succeed.

  9. x174 says:

    mt–thanks for reading through the EC and teasing out some of its more salient bits. i’m curious to know the status of the two warrants that the IG did not flag as invalid. since page was known to be a source for the agency, it seems likely that the bureau had some additional perspective on what did and what did not pass muster in the dossier. it could be interesting to compare these “consolidated write-ups” and the mueller rpt with the british “russia report,” which i’ve read will be coming out next week (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-53428246). appreciate your reading/analysing these painful-to-read redacted docs!

    • emptywheel says:

      Page was *not* a source for “the Bureau,* or even the CIA. He was an approved contact for the CIA (meaning, they knew of one of his ties to SVR, and they were allowed to ask him about it, and he didn’t hide that one contact). But he had other contacts he didn’t tell the CIA about, and the last contact was after CIA ended his approval.

    • bmaz says:

      The IG report was more flawed than the warrants themselves. Frankly, “the dossier” was not critical to any of them. Michael Horowitz did not even bother to address the actual legal standard for warrant analysis, which is known by anybody that practices criminal law and has even a passing familiarity with warrants, as the Franks standard.

      I will try to make this simple for you: Franks stands for the proposition that if there is still minimal probable cause in a warrant affidavit after any offending material is excised (often called blue pencilling among practitioners), the warrant stands up legally. All of the Page warrants/re-ups stand up just fine under a Franks analysis, and the “dossier” reference is minor and irrelevant. Calling any of said warrants “invalid” is beyond absurd if you do not even consider the actual relevant legal standard. You are biting off on bullshit Fox News blarney. And the mighty Horowitz, it turns out, is pretty much a total hack for not having done so.

      • BobCon says:

        Obviously this is all based on a Biden win, which is never going to be the lock of the week. But if Biden wins, what happens to Horowitz?

        I can’t imagine anyone believes he could legitimately snap back from being a waste of space, but I don’t have a sense of how challenging it would be to get a serious replacement installed.

  10. joel fisher says:

    It’s very disheartening to observe that a battle of narratives is being waged between reality and the frothy right–“resolved: if any portion of the Steele dossier is unconfirmed by high quality video evidence, the whole Russia investigation is a hoax”–with the frothies and their man in the bully pulpit either winning or at least holding their own. Moreover, no real, factual backing up or discrediting (Humorless assholes with enforceable and enforced subpoenas are required; not humorless assholes with bogus “executive privilege” claims.) of Steele’s work will occur under the current regime. If Trump loses, then what? Will the new people at least insist on answers? I was hopeful in 2009 that some of the Iraq disaster would be looked into, but no. I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed again.

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