Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 8:32 pm

Could Trump be a Russian spy? That train might have left the station years ago

Boy, life really does come at you fast. One day we’re (almost all of us) making golden-shower jokes; the next day, an ex-journalist like Dan Conover, whom I’ve known for more than a decade, takes the time that news-media outlets didn’t to peruse the document dump made public by BuzzFeed to bypass the salaciousness and get straight to the news.

For those of you playing catch-up, this Guardian article provides both background as to where the documents came from and some explanation of the basis for believing they might be reliable. (That said, the article itself is not well sourced.) Several outlets have identified the source of the documents as retired MI6 agent Christopher Steele and the author as an opposition-research specialist initially hired by one of Trump’s Republican primary opponents and later by a party or parties unknown.

Washington media apparently have known of the existence of the documents for weeks, if not months. Buzzfeed finally posted them; editor Ben Smith’s justification for doing so is here. The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan thinks this was an ethically bad call and explains why here. Normally I would stop and dig into the details of that ethical decision — I’ve always been fascinated with ethical hard calls in journalism — and at some point I will. But right now I want to try to keep focused on the actual news in the dump.

Nota bene: The documents remain unverified. But more on that in a bit.

I haven’t had time to read the whole thing. But Dan did and wrote about it on Facebook; with his permission, I’m reposting a good bit of what he said here:

The real meat is in Report No. 95. It’s the only report in the Buzzfeed dump that is incomplete, as it appears to be missing the final page, which would include the date on which it was filed.

If it is deemed credible, then it accuses Trump and his campaign of an actual crime — not poor judgment, not allowing themselves to become vulnerable to blackmail at some point in the future. Report No. 95 says that “TRUMP’s team” passed intelligence on Russian oligarchs and their families living in the United States directly to Russian agents.

In other words: Espionage.


The opening summery claims that a Trump associate admitted that the Kremlin was behind WikiLeaks’ DNC hack, and that “TRUMP’s team” used “moles within DNC and hackers in the US as well as Russia.”

It further claims that Russians received intel from Trump’s team on “Russian oligarchs and their families living in US,” and that the mechanism for transmitting this intel involved “pension disbursements to Russian emigres living in US as cover, using consular officials in New York, DC and Miami.”

Detail item No. 1 cites a “Source E,” described as “an ethnic Russian close associate of Republican US presidential candidate Donald TRUMP.” In late July, Source E told a compatriot 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 adviser, Carter PAGE, and others as intermediaries. The two sides had a mutual interest in defeating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, whom President PUTIN apparently both hated and feared.”

Detail item No. 2, still citing Source E (who appears to be an unwitting source), talks about the WikiLeaks operation and claims this was conducted “with the full knowledge and support of TRUMP and senior members of his campaign team.”

Highlighted: “In return the TRUMP team had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue and to raise US/NATO defence commitments in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine, a priority for PUTIN who needed to cauterise the subject.”

Detail item No. 3 discusses the structure of the anti-Clinton intelligence network, and the mechanics of the two-way flow of intelligence between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

And there’s Detail Item No. 4, which I quote in its entirety:

“In terms of the intelligence flow from the TRUMP team to Russia, Source E reported that much of this concerned the activities of business oligarchs and their families’ activities and assets in the US, with which PUTIN and the Kremlin seemed preoccupied.”

Detail items Nos. 5 and 6 describe the Trump team’s political calculations and Trump’s investment efforts in Russia.

But let’s go back to the important part. Detail No. 4 alleges a crime, and other passing references in other reports reinforce the claim — particularly in Report No. 97 (30 July). In the opening summary of the July 30th report, the opposition research consultant writes:

“Source close to Trump campaign however confirms regular exchange with Kremlin has existed for at least 8 years, including intelligence fed back to Russia on oligarchs’ activities in US.

“Russians apparently have promised not to use ‘kompromat’ they hold on TRUMP as leverage, given high levels of voluntary co-operation coming from his team.”

The consultant expands on that claim in Detail No. 4:

“As far as ‘kompromat’ (compromising information) on TRUMP were concerned, although there was plenty of this, he (ed note: the source is described as a Russian emigre in an earlier Detail item) understood the Kremlin had given its word that it would not be deployed against the Republican presidential candidate given how helpful and co-operative his team had been over several years, and particularly of late.”

Long story short: This material is unverified, but if it can be verified, it means that we’ve gone way past “conflict of interest” and “potential security risk” and have wound up at “Trump is guilty of having spied for the Russian government for the past eight years.”

Can it be verified? I don’t know. Dan knows a lot more about the national-security apparatus than I do, and he doesn’t know.

But here’s what I do know: We as a country can’t afford not to try to find out. If this doesn’t call for a joint select Congressional committee with an investigative staff full of hard-nosed former prosecutors, nothing does. This is sure as hell more important than Hillary’s emails. This is about giving a longtime Russian spy the keys to the thermonuclear kingdom.

And here is where we find out who the real patriots are. They’ll be the ones, in Congress, elsewhere in government, and in the media, who make an effort to find out the truth. They’ll face some of the most vicious opposition in the country’s history. And it is not an exaggeration to say that the fate of the country could depend on whether they succeed — even if the ultimate truth is that Trump, for all his bad qualities, is innocent.




  1. […] SOURCE […]

    Pingback by Could Trump be a Russian spy? That train might have left the station years ago – Greensboro 101 — Wednesday, January 11, 2017 9:08 pm @ 9:08 pm

  2. Lex says: “We as a country can’t afford not to try to find out. If this doesn’t call for a joint select Congressional committee with an investigative staff full of hard-nosed former prosecutors, nothing does. This is sure as hell more important than Hillary’s emails. ”

    No I don’t think even a Democratic majority would or should be chasing this rabbit down the hole. Move on.

    Well slap me silly. Who’d ever thunk it ! Piers Morgan sees this for what it is. A big nothing burger… the work of a fabulist.

    ” It’s bulls**t.

    President-elect Donald Trump didn’t pay prostitutes to urinate on his bed in the presidential suite at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow, three years ago.

    Neither did Trump do this to deliberately defile a bed that had been used by Barack and Michelle Obama.
    And nor did Vladimir Putin secretly videotape the whole thing to use as blackmail against Trump at a later date.
    It’s all complete baloney.

    Horribly damaging, deeply offensive baloney which will of course have caused huge distress to Trump, his wife Melania, and their wider families.

    That is my considered verdict on Watergate Scandal No2.

    How can I be so sure?

    First, Trump has categorically, furiously, emphatically denied it.
    (His ‘I’m a germaphobe’ defense alone at today’s press conference is pretty compelling, given I’ve personally seen him recoil from shaking hands many times).

    Second, the Russians and Putin himself have equally categorically, furiously, emphatically denied it.

    Third, the 35-page dossier containing the bombshell claim has done the rounds of many of America’s leading media outlets for months and nobody’s been able to verify any of it, even as they were champing at the bit to destroy Trump’s presidential campaign.

    Fourth, and perhaps most damningly of all, even Buzzfeed, the website part-owned by NBC that broke ranks and published it last night, admits it has no evidence to prove it’s true, has not been able to independently verify it, and may never be able to verify it.

    ‘Buzzfeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government,’ it stated.

    Its editor Ben Smith added: ‘There is serious reason to doubt the allegations.’


    So let me get this absolutely straight: they haven’t got a Scooby-doo if this devastatingly embarrassing hookers-and-urination claim is true or not?

    Nor are they prepared to investigate it further to try to verify it before publication?
    Instead, Buzzfeed’s just chosen to fling it all into the public domain like a farmer depositing a large truckload of excrement into a field of ravenous pigs, so we can all wallow in Trump’s humiliation – even if he never actually did any of it.”

    As Trump said at his press conference, every high profile person who goes to Russia is warned that Russian intelligence agencies routinely bug hotel rooms in big cities like Moscow and St Petersburg precisely to amass such potentially damaging material with which to blackmail people.

    He may be many things, but he’s not stupid.

    What I think we’re dealing with here is a variant on the legendary story, also involving pigs, about Lyndon Johnson when he was running for president.

    Concerned about the race getting close, he told his campaign manager to start a massive rumor about his opponent having sex with a pig.

    ‘Christ, we can’t call him a pig-f***er!’ the campaign manager protested. ‘Nobody’s going to believe a thing like that.’
    ‘I know,’ said Johnson. ‘But let’s make the sonafab*tch deny it!’

    Trump has now had to publicly deny paying prostitutes to urinate for him. A claim that was made, it has emerged, by unnamed people who had been specifically tasked with unearthing damaging information about a political rival.
    That damage is now mostly done, and it’s outrageous given it’s almost certainly untrue.
    ‘Publishing this dossier reflects how we see the job of reporters in 2017,’ said Ben Smith, someone I know well, and respect, from my time at CNN when he was a regular guest on my show.

    Really, Ben?

    Then frankly, we’re all truly going to hell in a handcart.

    Because if the new journalism is simply publishing whatever comes across your newsdesk, without any independent proof that it’s true, then that’s not journalism – it’s exactly as Trump called it today: ‘cr*p.’
    Or to put it more politely, it’s another blazing log on the ugly bonfire currently fueling ‘fake news’.

    My former employers CNN, who first reported yesterday on the dossier, but crucially didn’t include the details of the specific allegations, are not as culpable as Trump believes in all this, but they’re not blameless either.
    They gave an official gloss to a dossier that looks extremely flimsy and full of wild badly-sourced allegations, thus making it seem more important and accurate than it was, and of course, prompting Buzzfeed into running with the full works.

    And the real villain here is whoever leaked it to Buzzfeed and other media in the first place, if the motivation was purely to damage Trump at the expense of the truth, particularly if that person works for the US intelligence community.
    The stakes are very high here.

    A free press is the very cornerstone of any democracy.

    If fake news goes mainstream like this, without any checks and balances, then the pivotal place of the free press in American culture will be over, toast, defunct, kaput.

    So shame on you, Buzzfeed.

    As Trump said at his press conference, what you did to him was ‘an absolute disgrace’.

    And that’s a fact ”


    Reason magazine reports that the whole thing might be a prank by 4Chan. And provides this clear headed thoughts.

    ” If you’ve ever wondered why the news media is treated with derision and distrust, today is your lucky day.

    Buzzfeed has published a “dossier” of unclear provenance that says President-elect Donald Trump is a pervert who is being blackmailed by Russian agents who have compromising material about his sexual kinks.

    Sensational, provocative, insane, scatological (urological?), incredible—the dossier is all that and more. Read about how Trump supposedly insisted on staying in a hotel room used by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama and hired prostitutes to urinate on the bed. Yes, it’s that level of report.

    And it’s all horseshit, if you believe Buzzfeed’s own intro to the material, which stresses that we’re talking about “explosive — but unverified — allegations.” Worse still from a journalistic perspective is this sort of phony-baloney gesture that insulates the publisher evens as it distances any truth claims:

    Now BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.

    I like Wikileaks and other forms of forced transparency, but we shouldn’t confuse what Buzzfeed is up to here with that, or with journalism. There’s no reason to believe that the material is in any way accurate or meaningful, other than as opposition research that circulated among various government agencies and media outlets, all of whom passed on it because it reeks not of urine but of falsity. Here’s what Buzzfeed honcho Ben Smith tweeted about this all:

    View image on Twitter
    Ben Smith ✔ @BuzzFeedBen
    Here’s the note I sent to @buzzfeednews staff this evening
    7:32 PM – 10 Jan 2017
    4,074 4,074 Retweets 5,435 5,435 likes

    There is serious reason to doubt the allegations. You got that? But let’s publish them anyway because, WTF, who doesn’t want to read them? The press works better when it verifies information and brings it to the public’s attention, and lets us plebes make of it what we will. In this case, all we have is a document that may or may not be “real” or a fake.

    Remember all the serious discussions of fake news and how Trump and his deplorables were ruining everything good and clean-smelling in America? Well, the one thing you can say this time around is: Don’t blame the billionaire. Yes, he can and should be more voluntarily transparent. But media and journalism, like politics, have become tribal and ritualistic, arenas of something far worse than epistemic closure. Yesterday, I noted that serious liberals sick of ever-expanding presidential overreach need to join with libertarians and conservatives to create a world in which the executive branch isn’t all-powerful. We need to do something similar in media discourse, too, and not simply go back and forth from right to left with hysterical and fabulistic attacks on real and imagined enemies. At least, we need to do better if we want to be a semi-serious people.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, January 12, 2017 8:38 pm @ 8:38 pm

  3. Yeah, Pierce Morgan, no.

    Fred, there’s a real easy way for Trump to disprove the allegations as to Russian financial control: Release his tax returns. But you and I know he ain’t gonna do it, and you know why.

    Comment by Lex — Thursday, January 12, 2017 9:55 pm @ 9:55 pm

  4. “Fred, there’s a real easy way for Trump to disprove the allegations as to Russian financial control: Release his tax returns. But you and I know he ain’t gonna do it, and you know why.”

    No Lex. I don’t know why. Tell us.

    BTW here is a person, Glenn Greenwald, who you have quoted many times as someone who can’t be ignored and no Trump supporter, who debunks this big lie.

    ” In January 1961, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address after serving two terms as U.S. president; the five-star general chose to warn Americans of this specific threat to democracy: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” That warning was issued prior to the decadelong escalation of the Vietnam War, three more decades of Cold War mania, and the post-9/11 era, all of which radically expanded that unelected faction’s power even further.

    This is the faction that is now engaged in open warfare against the duly elected and already widely disliked president-elect, Donald Trump. They are using classic Cold War dirty tactics and the defining ingredients of what has until recently been denounced as “Fake News.”

    Their most valuable instrument is the U.S. media, much of which reflexively reveres, serves, believes, and sides with hidden intelligence officials. And Democrats, still reeling from their unexpected and traumatic election loss, as well as a systemic collapse of their party, seemingly divorced further and further from reason with each passing day, are willing — eager — to embrace any claim, cheer any tactic, align with any villain, regardless of how unsupported, tawdry, and damaging those behaviors might be.

    The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest. There is a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combating those threats: from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.

    But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the U.S. election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive. Empowering the very entities that have produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit over the last six decades is desperation of the worst kind. Demanding that evidence-free, anonymous assertions be instantly venerated as Truth — despite emanating from the very precincts designed to propagandize and lie — is an assault on journalism, democracy, and basic human rationality. And casually branding domestic adversaries who refuse to go along as traitors and disloyal foreign operatives is morally bankrupt and certain to backfire on those doing it.

    Beyond all that, there is no bigger favor that Trump opponents can do for him than attacking him with such lowly, shabby, obvious shams, recruiting large media outlets to lead the way. When it comes time to expose actual Trump corruption and criminality, who is going to believe the people and institutions who have demonstrated they are willing to endorse any assertions no matter how factually baseless, who deploy any journalistic tactic no matter how unreliable and removed from basic means of ensuring accuracy?

    All of these toxic ingredients were on full display yesterday as the Deep State unleashed its tawdriest and most aggressive assault yet on Trump: vesting credibility in and then causing the public disclosure of a completely unvetted and unverified document, compiled by a paid, anonymous operative while he was working for both GOP and Democratic opponents of Trump, accusing Trump of a wide range of crimes, corrupt acts, and salacious private conduct. The reaction to all of this illustrates that while the Trump presidency poses grave dangers, so, too, do those who are increasingly unhinged in their flailing, slapdash, and destructive attempts to undermine it.
    For months, the CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sought to defeat Donald Trump. In August, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell announced his endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” The CIA and NSA director under George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, also endorsed Clinton and went to the Washington Post to warn, in the week before the election, that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin,” adding that Trump is “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”

    It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that war, while Trump denounced it. Clinton clearly wanted a harder line than Obama took against the CIA’s long-standing foes in Moscow, while Trump wanted improved relations and greater cooperation. In general, Clinton defended and intended to extend the decades long international military order on which the CIA and Pentagon’s preeminence depends, while Trump — through a still-uncertain mix of instability and extremist conviction — posed a threat to it.

    Whatever one’s views are on those debates, it is the democratic framework — the presidential election, the confirmation process, congressional leaders, judicial proceedings, citizen activism and protest, civil disobedience — that should determine how they are resolved. All of those policy disputes were debated out in the open; the public heard them; and Trump won. Nobody should crave the rule of Deep State overlords.

    Yet craving Deep State rule is exactly what prominent Democratic operatives and media figures are doing. Any doubt about that is now dispelled. Just last week, Chuck Schumer issued a warning to Trump, telling Rachel Maddow that Trump was being “really dumb” by challenging the unelected intelligence community because of all the ways they possess to destroy those who dare to stand up to them:

    And last night, many Democrats openly embraced and celebrated what was, so plainly, an attempt by the Deep State to sabotage an elected official who had defied it: ironically, its own form of blackmail.
    Back in October, a political operative and former employee of the British intelligence agency MI6 was being paid by Democrats to dig up dirt on Trump (before that, he was paid by anti-Trump Republicans). He tried to convince countless media outlets to publish a long memo he had written filled with explosive accusations about Trump’s treason, business corruption, and sexual escapades, with the overarching theme that Trump was in servitude to Moscow because they were blackmailing and bribing him.

    Despite how many had it, no media outlets published it. That was because these were anonymous claims unaccompanied by any evidence at all, and even in this more permissive new media environment, nobody was willing to be journalistically associated with it. As the New York Times’ Executive Editor Dean Baquet put it last night, he would not publish these “totally unsubstantiated” allegations because “we, like others, investigated the allegations and haven’t corroborated them, and we felt we’re not in the business of publishing things we can’t stand by.”
    The closest this operative got to success was convincing Mother Jones’s David Corn to publish an October 31 article reporting that “a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country” claims that “he provided the [FBI] with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump.”

    But because this was just an anonymous claim unaccompanied by any evidence or any specifics (which Corn withheld), it made very little impact. All of that changed yesterday. Why?

    What changed was the intelligence community’s resolution to cause this all to become public and to be viewed as credible. In December, John McCain provided a copy of this report to the FBI and demanded they take it seriously.
    At some point last week, the chiefs of the intelligence agencies decided to declare that this ex-British intelligence operative was “credible” enough that his allegations warranted briefing both Trump and Obama about them, thus stamping some sort of vague, indirect, and deniable official approval on these accusations. Someone — by all appearances, numerous officials — then went to CNN to tell the network they had done this, causing CNN to go on air and, in the gravest of tones, announce the “Breaking News” that “the nation’s top intelligence officials” briefed Obama and Trump that Russia had compiled information that “compromised President-elect Trump.”

    CNN refused to specify what these allegations were on the ground that it could not “verify” them. But with this document in the hands of multiple media outlets, it was only a matter of time — a small amount of time — before someone would step up and publish the whole thing. BuzzFeed quickly obliged, airing all of the unvetted, anonymous claims about Trump.

    Its editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, published a memo explaining that decision, saying that — although there was “serious reason to doubt the allegations” — BuzzFeed in general “errs on the side of publication” and “Americans can make up their own minds about the allegations.” Publishing this document predictably produced massive traffic (and thus profit) for the site, with millions of people viewing the article and presumably reading the “dossier.”

    One can certainly object to BuzzFeed’s decision and, as the New York Times noted this morning, many journalists are doing so. It’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario where it’s justifiable for a news outlet to publish a totally anonymous, unverified, unvetted document filled with scurrilous and inflammatory allegations about which its own editor-in-chief says there “is serious reason to doubt the allegations,” on the ground that they want to leave it to the public to decide whether to believe it.

    But even if one believes there is no such case where that is justified, yesterday’s circumstances presented the most compelling scenario possible for doing this. Once CNN strongly hinted at these allegations, it left it to the public imagination to conjure up the dirt Russia allegedly had to blackmail and control Trump. By publishing these accusations, BuzzFeed ended that speculation. More importantly, it allowed everyone to see how dubious this document is, one the CIA and CNN had elevated into some sort of grave national security threat.
    Almost immediately after it was published, the farcical nature of the “dossier” manifested. Not only was its author anonymous, but he was paid by Democrats (and, before that, by Trump’s GOP adversaries) to dig up dirt on Trump. Worse, he himself cited no evidence of any kind but instead relied on a string of other anonymous people in Russia he claims told him these things. Worse still, the document was filled with amateur errors.

    While many of the claims are inherently unverified, some can be confirmed. One such claim — that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen secretly traveled to Prague in August to meet with Russian officials — was strongly denied by Cohen, who insisted he had never been to Prague in his life (Prague is the same place that foreign intelligence officials claimed, in 2001, was the site of a nonexistent meeting between Iraqi officials and 9/11 hijackers, which contributed to 70 percent of Americans believing, as late as the fall of 2003, that Saddam personally planned the 9/11 attack). This morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that “the FBI has found no evidence that [Cohen] traveled to the Czech Republic.”

    None of this stopped Democratic operatives and prominent media figures from treating these totally unverified and unvetted allegations as grave revelations. From Vox’s Zack Beauchamp:

    Meanwhile, liberal commentator Rebecca Solnit declared this to be a “smoking gun” that proves Trump’s “treason,” while Daily Kos’s Markos Moulitsas sounded the same theme:

    While some Democrats sounded notes of caution — party loyalist Josh Marshall commendably urged: “I would say in reviewing raw, extremely raw ‘intel,’ people shld retain their skepticism even if they rightly think Trump is the worst” — the overwhelming reaction was the same as all the other instances where the CIA and its allies released unverified claims about Trump and Russia: instant embrace of the evidence-free assertions as Truth, combined with proclamations that they demonstrated Trump’s status as a traitor (with anyone expressing skepticism designated a Kremlin agent or stooge).
    There is a real danger here that this maneuver could harshly backfire, to the great benefit of Trump and to the great detriment of those who want to oppose him. If any of the significant claims in this “dossier” turn out to be provably false — such as Cohen’s trip to Prague — many people will conclude, with Trump’s encouragement, that large media outlets (CNN and BuzzFeed) and anti-Trump factions inside the government (CIA) are deploying “Fake News” to destroy him. In the eyes of many people, that will forever discredit — render impotent — future journalistic exposés that are based on actual, corroborated wrongdoing.

    Beyond that, the threat posed by submitting ourselves to the CIA and empowering it to reign supreme outside of the democratic process is — as Eisenhower warned — an even more severe danger. The threat of being ruled by unaccountable and unelected entities is self-evident and grave. That’s especially true when the entity behind which so many are rallying is one with a long and deliberate history of lying, propaganda, war crimes, torture, and the worst atrocities imaginable.

    All of the claims about Russia’s interference in U.S. elections and ties to Trump should be fully investigated by a credible body, and the evidence publicly disclosed to the fullest extent possible. As my colleague Sam Biddle argued last week after disclosure of the farcical intelligence community report on Russian hacking — one that even Putin’s foes mocked as a bad joke — the utter lack of evidence for these allegations means “we need an independent, resolute inquiry.” But until then, assertions that are unaccompanied by evidence and disseminated anonymously should be treated with the utmost skepticism — not lavished with convenience-driven gullibility.
    Most important of all, the legitimate and effective tactics for opposing Trump are being utterly drowned by these irrational, desperate, ad hoc crusades that have no cogent strategy and make his opponents appear increasingly devoid of reason and gravity. Right now, Trump’s opponents are behaving as media critic Adam Johnson described: as ideological jellyfish, floating around aimlessly and lost, desperately latching on to whatever barge randomly passes by.

    There are solutions to Trump. They involve reasoned strategizing and patient focus on issues people actually care about. Whatever those solutions are, venerating the intelligence community, begging for its intervention, and equating its dark and dirty assertions as Truth are most certainly not among them. Doing that cannot possibly achieve any good and is already doing much harm.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, January 13, 2017 1:18 am @ 1:18 am

  5. Greenwald has done a commendable job of exposing the excesses of the national-security state. But he has not disproved the main thrust of the information in these documents — that Trump and his people have been working for the Russian government. Again, that information remains unverified, as Josh Marshall points out, and as I pointed out multiple times in my post. But the fact that so far no one has been able to come up with any proof that it DIDN’T happen, combined with Trump’s unprecedented secretiveness regarding his financial relationship with Russia, means that a full investigation is essential. You continue to poo-poo Watergate more than 40 years after the fact despite overwhelming evidence that it happened, that it was illegal and unconstitutional, and that it was enormously damaging. That doesn’t put you in a strong position to argue that we should ignore evidence of what MIGHT be Logan Act violations and espionage, if not treason. Moreover, you were gung-ho to investigate every little allegation about Hillary Clinton. You need to sack up and be a patriot now.

    Comment by Lex — Friday, January 13, 2017 7:31 am @ 7:31 am

  6. Lex said: ” But he ( Glenn Greenwald ) has not disproved the main thrust of the information in these documents — that Trump and his people have been working for the Russian government. ”

    So lets see, a salacious opposition research paper of highly questionable veracity is leaked to the press, which BTW the NY Times or the WAPO didn’t touch , and so what you are saying is that it has to be disproved. LOL. Get serious.

    This is more like it:

    ” What I think we’re dealing with here is a variant on the legendary story, also involving pigs, about Lyndon Johnson when he was running for president.

    Concerned about the race getting close, he told his campaign manager to start a massive rumor about his opponent having sex with a pig.

    ‘Christ, we can’t call him a pig-f***er!’ the campaign manager protested. ‘Nobody’s going to believe a thing like that.’
    ‘I know,’ said Johnson. ‘But let’s make the sonafab*tch deny it!’ ”

    Time to move on, Lex.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, January 13, 2017 11:25 am @ 11:25 am

  7. Sorry, Fred, but EVEN IF there is nothing to this document, and that’s still way up in the air, we still have a helluva lot of evidence from other sources that Trump has potentially dangerous financial entanglements in Russia, entanglements that could give Russian banks/the Russian mob/Putin (they’re basically the same thing) leverage over the leader of the Free World. An investigation clearly is called for, and you know goddamned good and well that if it were Hillary in this situation you’d be screaming bloody murder.

    Comment by Lex — Friday, January 13, 2017 5:46 pm @ 5:46 pm

  8. Whatever other evidence do “we ” have ” from other sources that trump has potentially dangerous financial entanglements in Russia … the mob.. etc etc ” ? Stop that’s enough.Show your cards or fold. This is bordering on black helicopterism. Round up the usual suspects. What is it you want investigated , Lex.? Perhaps who stole the strawberries from the USS Caine’s Officers Mess.? Or what was Trump doing in Area 51? Really show me this evidence . I must have missed it. Nope ,sorry there is no there there.

    Look and pay close attention to the below video. Glenn Greenwald’s responses in the interview by Tucker Carlson pretty much blunt all the mini hysteria at BuzzFeed and agita of folks in denial about a Trump presidency.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Friday, January 13, 2017 6:48 pm @ 6:48 pm

  9. Here’s more on the former MI6 agent who compiled the information. Seems he served on MI6’s Russia desk and has an inconvenient reputation for accuracy:

    I’ll have more on the finances in the morning. Long story short, we need a real investigation, and that means one with someone smarter and less partisan than Richard Burr in charge of it.

    Comment by Lex — Friday, January 13, 2017 8:27 pm @ 8:27 pm

  10. Mother Jones .. David Corn ( asshat ) Puleese give me a break . Total self chest thumping guano.

    Lex stop it. You are embarrassing yourself . It’s Ratheresque . . It’s sad . It’s delusional .. fake but true ? Get a grip.

    “It now seems virtually certain that the “dossier” on Donald Trump that was published earlier this week by BuzzFeed is fake news — a fiction intended to undermine the president-elect of the United States. The potential harm to our democratic process of introducing such material into political discourse is obvious — about as obvious as the release by Russian agents of DNC and Podesta emails. In one sense, the release of the Trump dossier is even worse because it appears that the leaked emails were genuine.

    How did the false dossier come into being? As I understand it based on the reporting I’ve seen, political opponents of Trump hired a British company headed by an ex-spy to investigate Trump’s dealings with Russia and his conduct in that country. It’s been reported that originally anti-Trump Republicans retained the company’s services [or those of the company that used the British company], but once Trump became the nominee, or presumptive nominee, Democrats paid the freight.

    The investigation generated the dossier. The information contained therein, or at least some of it, almost certainly was concocted, perhaps by shady sources in Russia.

    How did the false dossier enter into the political bloodstream? I assume the dossier was provided by the British company to the Democratic political enemies of Trump who at that point were paying for the company’s services.

    Presumably, these enemies then sought to get it into circulation, quite possibly through the efforts of one of the company’s principles — the one who is said to be a former spy with a decent track record. Trump’s political enemies appear to have received an assist from one or more of our intelligence agencies and then from BuzzFeed.

    Did the political enemies of Trump who paid the British company know that the information it obtained and then peddled was false? It seems clear that they knew or should have known.

    The nearly universal reaction of those who have familiarity with real intelligence seems to be that the dossier is a joke. Newspapers with no love for Trump refused to run stories based on the dossier because it seemed so fishy. The enemies of Trump who were behind the dossier must, at a minimum, also have had that strong impression.

    Who, by name, are the people who knowingly or with extreme recklessness injected into our politics false information with the potential to derail the president-elect of the United States? As of early this morning, I haven’t seen any reporting on this.

    The question seems worth investigating. It shouldn’t be that difficult to investigate.

    I understand that the mainstream media which, to its credit, didn’t push the false dossier story, would like to forget about this extraordinary attempt to bring down the president-elect. That way, it can focus its efforts on writing yet more stories about Russian hacking or on finding new ways to discredit Trump.

    But perhaps one enterprising reporter will show some interest in investigating what may be the most daring attempt at political fraud since Rathergate.”

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, January 14, 2017 12:46 am @ 12:46 am

  11. Gee, Fred, funny how actual intelligence professionals seem to think there’s some there there.

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, January 14, 2017 9:03 am @ 9:03 am

  12. As for Russian financial involvement with Trump and vice versa, here’s Don Jr. bragging back in 2008 about Russian money “pouring in” to Trump’s business. Here’s a more detailed look at how those financial connections came to be; it basically says that Russian money kept Trump’s businesses afloat after his several bankruptcies. So, no, unlike you, I’m not just pulling stuff out of my ass. Trump’s in hock to the Russians up to his eyeballs, and apparently you’re OK with that.

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, January 14, 2017 9:13 am @ 9:13 am

  13. More on Trump and Russia from the BBC. This doesn’t go as far as Dan Conover does, but it’s bad enough. Bottom line: Senior U.S. intelligence officials thought there was enough there there to brief both Obama and Trump. If this was crap, it never would have gotten that far.

    Comment by Lex — Saturday, January 14, 2017 11:24 am @ 11:24 am

  14. No my friend you are ignoring the fact that those senior intelligence officials and their apparatchiks are still smarting from the election and that there is no president elect Clinton. Of course they passed along crap knowing it was crap and then leaked the briefing. Come on now you are smarter than that.

    Lex , I am afraid I am going leave you alone in your room talking to your self about this trumped-up ( pun intended ) fable. This has no legs and is going no where . Its 24 hours are up.

    Bottom line is that the hard core “anti-Trump crowd so desperately want it to be true that they are lining up behind their prejudices and this means we are living in two separate and opposing realities. And this of course is where societies break down. ”

    I will bow out now and leave you with this:

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Saturday, January 14, 2017 8:29 pm @ 8:29 pm

  15. Welp, Fred, you insisted that claims of Trump’s financial involvement were nonsense, so I documented it and you just ignored it. Now you’re trying to discredit the senior intelligence officials who reviewed the material and decided to brief both Obama and Trump on it. Let me ask you, which is more plausible? That the Russians have accumulated a fair bit of compromat on a guy who traveled repeatedly to Russian and boasts of loving to have sex with beautiful women AND who is up to his eyeballs in financial dealings with Russians? Or that the leaders of multiple U.S. intelligence agencies decided to spin a bullshit tail just because they were all Clinton-loving anti-Trumpites? Occam’s razor and common sense both favor my version over yours. But tell me again that I’m the crazy one.

    Comment by Lex — Sunday, January 15, 2017 11:28 am @ 11:28 am

  16. Lex, I said I was going to bow out, and I meant it at the time , but someone just brought to my attention two interviews of Stephen Cohen a contributing editor at the Progressive Nation magazine. In addition Cohen is professor emeritus of Russian studies, history, and politics at New York University and Princeton University. Certainly no Trump supporter .

    What he has to say is worth listening to and below you have that chance. Whether you take it is, of course up to you.

    До свидания!

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Sunday, January 15, 2017 4:03 pm @ 4:03 pm

  17. Bonus Points:

    Bob Woodward is an Associate Editor at the Washington Post. He is the recipient of nearly every major American journalism award and his reporting on Watergate was instrumental in the Post’s Pulitzer Prize.

    Woodward said Sunday the Trump dossier is a” garbage document” and that it should never should have been part of an intelligence briefing. He adds those intelligent officials made a mistake should apologize for leaking it.

    Okay, call me crazy but I am with Woodward on this one.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Monday, January 16, 2017 11:19 pm @ 11:19 pm

  18. Fred, Woodward is doing what he has done since the Reagan Administration — saying what he needs to say to maintain access. He has no way of knowing independently whether the document is “garbage,” and to claim that it is simply flies in the face of the known facts about Trump’s Russian connections that I’ve already outlined and for which you had no answer. You’re with Woodward because in this particular case what he says conforms to your prejudices, even as you continue to insist that Watergate wasn’t that bad. C’mon.

    Comment by Lex — Tuesday, January 17, 2017 7:21 am @ 7:21 am

  19. Lex, please disabuse your self of the notion that I have ever poo pooed Watergate or said it wasn’t bad.

    Back to the topic

    Here Clarice Feldman provides a nice wrap up of this matter

    January 15, 2017

    The Trump Dossier Puts the Deep State in Deep Doo-Doo

    ” Mr. Garfinkle of Garfinkle’s New Method Hebrew School in Milwaukee used to frequently echo King Solomon’s admonition; “There’s nothing new under the sun.” I was reminded of that this week when the rapidly unfolding “scandal” of Trump’s purported dealings with Russia hit the news. It has more than a few similarities with the Dan Rather faked-up story of GW Bush’s National Guard service where an anonymous, never-found source supposedly gave Bill Burkett a demonstrably fake report and Dan Rather ran with it. This time a Bush (Jeb) is involved but as an instigator of the story, not a victim. John McCain acts as the intermediary passing the junk on to the Intelligence Community, which makes sure it is published.

    If you’re confused about it, let me put it in the context of the most reliable information I’ve been able to put together, noting that I think the story is likely to become even more clear over the next few days. As you will see, the dossier is so ridiculous, if anyone in the Intelligence Community fell for it, he’s too stupid to allow in place, and if no one did but they still played a role in publicizing it, everyone involved needs to be fired

    A. Digging Up Dirt on Opponents

    In September of 2015 someone — now revealed as a Jeb Bush Super PAC donor — paid Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C. outfit, to compile a dossier of dirt on Donald Trump. Fusion engaged Christopher Steele, a former MI-6 agent in London, to do the job. While early accounts of the story refer to him as a “respected source”, he has a history of dumpster diving for Democrats.

    Kimberley Strassel at the Wall Street Journal has been reporting on his work for some time and explains why he keeps getting hired: “to gin up the ugliest, most scurrilous claims, and then trust the click-hungry media to disseminate them. No matter how false the allegations, the subject of the attack is required to respond, wasting precious time and losing credibility.”

    She warns this will be the left’s game:

    But it says something about the brass-knuckle approach of the left that it would go so far as to write a dossier suggesting that Mr. Trump is a Manchurian candidate — and then to foist that report into the hands of intelligence officials.


    So the left will increasingly rely on campaigns of delegitimization designed to force opponents onto a back foot, push them off task, or even bully them out of the public arena. In the absence of a winning policy argument, this is, in their minds, the best they’ve got. Republicans had better be ready for it.

    At about the time Trump won the nomination, funds from the Bush donors were cut off. Whether this was because the report was so shoddy or the effort so unavailing isn’t clear. At that point supporters of Hillary Clinton became involved in financing the search.

    Steele hadn’t been in Russia for decades and as a former British spy could not have done the work himself. So, as the account in the New York Times continues, “he hired native Russian speakers to call informants inside Russia and made surreptitious contact with his own connections in the country as well.”

    Beginning in June and until December Steele delivered his findings — a series of short memos — to GPS. Although post-election no one was paying, Steele continued on this muckraking operation,

    The memos suggested that the Russians were trying to influence Trump and stated that one of Trump’s lawyers, Michael Cohen, had met with a Russian official in Prague. (A claim Cohen has credibly rebutted.)

    Word of the dossier made it to the FBI via Senator John McCain, a man with an apparently insatiable desire to betray. McCain, who heard about the dossier from a former diplomatic colleague of Tony Blair (Sir Andrew Wood), dispatched someone (apparently former State Department official David J. Kramer) to London to pick it up, then handed it off to the FBI.

    From sources as yet unknown, news of the Steele report made it to journalists who investigated and finding no verification after investigating refused to print it.

    The FBI, tried to get permission to tap into a server in the Trump Tower, which was denied, then in a strangely odd act tried twice to get a warrant from FISA to tap into it. Whether this was in response to the dossier, I do not know. Andrew McCarthy writes in National Review Online:

    To summarize, it appears there were no grounds for a criminal investigation of banking violations against Trump. Presumably based on the fact that the bank or banks at issue were Russian, the Justice Department and the FBI decided to continue investigating on national-security grounds. A FISA application in which Trump was “named” was rejected by the FISA court as overbroad, notwithstanding that the FISA court usually looks kindly on government surveillance requests. A second, more narrow application, apparently not naming Trump, may have been granted five months later; the best the media can say about it, however, is that the server on which the application centers is “possibly” related to the Trump campaign’s “alleged” links to two Russian banks — under circumstances in which the FBI has previously found no “nefarious purpose” in some (undescribed) connection between Trump Tower and at least one Russian bank (whose connection to Putin’s regime is not described). That is tissue-thin indeed. It’s a good example of why investigations properly proceed in secret and are not publicly announced unless and until the government is ready to put its money where its mouth is by charging someone. It’s a good example of why FISA surveillance is done in secret and its results are virtually never publicized — the problem is not just the possibility of tipping off the hostile foreign power; there is also the potential of tainting U.S. persons who may have done nothing wrong. While it’s too early to say for sure, it may also be an example of what I thought would never actually happen: the government pretextually using its national-security authority to continue a criminal investigation after determining it lacked evidence of crimes.

    The second thrust of the Steele “investigative” report suggested Trump had engaged in some scatological conduct while in Russia, hiring prostitutes to urinate on the bed the Obamas had used there.

    These claims were not only unverifiable, they were ludicrous as well, as was the Intelligence Community’s justification for giving them one second’s worth of credence.

    As Iowahawk tweeted: “Unconfirmed Denial of Unsourced Blockbuster Allegations Raises Questions, According To Insiders Who Requested Anonymity.” ( Fred comment . LOL )

    At American Digest, Gerard Vanderleun explains precisely why:

    1) An international business man who has spent decades in the rough and tumble world of real estate development and skyscraper construction and may be presumed to have some sophistication when it comes to wheeling and dealing with governments of all sorts throughout the world travels to

    2) Moscow. Not Moscow, Idaho, but Moscow in Russia. That would be Moscow the capital of one of the most paranoid and intrusive governments in the world (Both now and for the 19th and 20th centuries). It is a society and a government with a long history of…

    3) Secret police and the clandestine surveillance of its own citizens and visitors to the extent that the US was digging bugs out of the walls of its own embassy in Moscow for decades. When he gets to Moscow he stays at…

    4) The Moscow Ritz-Carlton in the “Presidential Suite.” Since such accommodations are typically only taken by the filthy rich and/or representatives of foreign governments such as, say, presidents. And then this sophisticated and reasonably intelligent billionaire real estate developer…

    5) Assumes that such a suite in such a capitol city of such a government has no surveillance equipment at all installed in its rooms, bathrooms, closets, and — most importantly — bedrooms. He then asks the hotel staff to show him…

    6) The bed in which Barack Obama and his wife slept in when they were in this same “Presidential Suite.” Upon being shown the bed our businessman then…

    7) Contacts two high-dollar Russian hookers (who would never, ever, have anything to do with the KGB or other intelligence organs of Russia) and instructs them to…. Wait for it….

    8) Urinate on said bed in order to give said businessman some odd sort of thrill and…

    9) Said businessman remains utterly positive no agency of the Russian state is running cameras and microphones from every possible angle in the master bedroom in a “Presidential Suite” in a top hotel in the capital of Russia and…

    10) The two damp hookers will never, ever, reveal a word about their golden shower in the Ritz Carleton’s “Presidential Suite.”

    While I know that millions of morons are nodding like the drinking bird over the glass in their deep and abiding belief in this overflowing crock, I still find it hard to believe that there are smart people out there that really are this stupid. But of course they are not that stupid, not the smart ones. Instead they know this is a crock and yet they find they must drink from it lest their #NeverTrump fantasy world dissolve.

    Sad. Their repetitive manic desperation now has foam flecking their lips and jowls as they dive down deep, and not for the last time, into this fuming septic tank of their own political sewage. Without even a snorkel. If they ever get out of the tank they will need a long, long golden shower

    B. The Intelligence Community Peddles the Dirt (then feigns dismay that it makes its way into the press).

    Among the morons apparently “drinking this up” besides John McCain were high officials in the Intelligence Community, which passed the rumors on to the president and key congressional staff, although — despite conflicting reports about this — apparently never shared it with president-elect Trump. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper claimed to have been “dismayed” that this leaked out after having passed it on. He claimed as well that the Intelligence Community “hadn’t made any judgment on whether the claims within the document were reliable”

    As my online friend Cecil Turner observes: “Former U.S. intelligence officials described the inclusion of the summary — drawn from ‘opposition research’ done by a political research firm — as highly unusual.

    “Assuming, of course, that it is. The problem with this sort of thing is that it’s on the borderline between unknown and unknowable. Every character involved is either anonymous or has a name that sounds pseudonymous, and the sources are professional liars.

    “Roll eyes, wait for actual evidence. The fact that it leaked strongly suggests there is none.”

    CNN, however, lapped it up, informed its readers of the existence of scandalous reports on Trump, and BuzzFeed, a clickbait site owned in part by NBC, then published the dossier, a portion of which, it seems, was provided by infonerd bulletin board 4 Chan.

    Asked why it had published an account of this nonsense which other news agencies had refused to print because it was completely unverifiable, CNN blamed BuzzFeed, noting it had not released the details, presumably on the assumption that readers whose curiosity had been piqued by the news wouldn’t want details.

    Steele has gone to ground ostensibly because he fears Russian reprisals, but I think it’s because he wants to avoid answering questions about what are obviously fabrications to satisfy political interests who paid for this shoddy product.

    As John Bolton commented:

    Kassam asked if Bolton had ever heard of the man revealed as the creator of the dossier, former British MI6 officer Christopher Steele. “Could it be the case that somebody has just paid this guy to write these things, so this leak came out?” Kassam asked.

    “Well, actually, that thought occurred to me because it’s so bad. I haven’t found anybody, including friends who are experienced in both diplomacy and military and intelligence affairs, who haven’t just laughed at most of it,” Bolton replied.

    “It’s filled with anonymous sources, single-source information and whatnot. If I were a corporate customer, and I wanted, in effect, a private investigator — I think that’s what this firm basically is — and I got something back like this, I would refuse to pay. You or I could sit down at a computer right now and type out these 35 pages, just let our imaginations run wild, and if somebody would pay for it, I suppose it’s nice work if you can get it,” he said.

    c. Is it Just IC Incompetence or is the Deep State Deliberately Undermining Faith in Trump and Aiding a Russian Disinformation Campaign?

    Glenn Greenwald (hardly a Trump fan) thinks it’s more, and on examination of the Intelligence Community’s handling of this tripe, it’s hard to disagree with him. He points out the unprecedented support for Hillary Clinton in this “deep state,” and takes issue with their advancing the Steele memos

    …the Deep State unleashed its tawdriest and most aggressive assault yet on Trump: vesting credibility in and then causing the public disclosure of a completely unvetted and unverified document, compiled by a paid, anonymous operative while he was working for both GOP and Democratic opponents of Trump, accusing Trump of a wide range of crimes, corrupt acts, and salacious private conduct. The reaction to all of this illustrates that while the Trump presidency poses grave dangers, so, too, do those who are increasingly unhinged in their flailing, slapdash, and destructive attempts to undermine it.


    Once CNN strongly hinted at these allegations, it left it to the public imagination to conjure up the dirt Russia allegedly had to blackmail and control Trump. By publishing these accusations, BuzzFeed ended that speculation. More importantly, it allowed everyone to see how dubious this document is, one the CIA and CNN had elevated into some sort of grave national security threat.

    ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER it was published, the farcical nature of the “dossier” manifested. Not only was its author anonymous, but he was paid by Democrats (and, before that, by Trump’s GOP adversaries) to dig up dirt on Trump. Worse, he himself cited no evidence of any kind but instead relied on a string of other anonymous people in Russia he claims told him these things. Worse still, the document was filled with amateur errors.

    David Goldman, who did support Trump, was more succinct: “Warning the intelligence communities about salacious and politically motivated leaks: the president-elect threatened to drag their shenanigans into the daylight. No one has ever done that to the spooks before. I’m lovin’ it.”

    In any event, McCain’s much-touted hearings on Russian interference with the election should prove to be a million laughs. He obviously believed this nonsense was credible enough to seek it out and pass it on, so I hardly imagine he’s in a position to make credible calls on what the hearings involving these now discredited documents reveal or on the wisdom and good faith of the officials involved in leaking them.”


    Comment by Fred Gregory — Tuesday, January 17, 2017 5:35 pm @ 5:35 pm

    • An op-ed that disproves nothing. And you have yet to respond to the documentation of Trump’s troubling indebtedness to the Russians.

      Comment by Lex — Tuesday, January 17, 2017 5:42 pm @ 5:42 pm

  20. Lex,

    I have read both of the linked stories that you claim prove Trump is indebted to the Russians. The American Interest column was meandering, disjointed series of rumor an innuendo proving absolutist nothing. Not even up to Nation Enquirer standards.

    The 2008 story ” Donald Trump Jr. bullish on Russia and few emerging markets ” contains no facts that support your claims about Trump and the Russians. Did you read it ?

    Let me take all this another step for some reason you failed to mention.

    ABC reported in September 2016 that Trump has business interests in Russia, not that the Russian government paid him money.

    CLAIM: ABC News has reported that Donald Trump received millions of dollars from Russia.

    SNOPES :Mostly False.

    ORIGIN:On 31 October 2016, the blog Bipartisan Report posted a story entitled “BREAKING: ABC Uncovers MILLIONS Of Payments From Russia To Trump, Campaign Panics.” Hours later, Occupy Democrats posted a similar story:

    [ Republican nominee Donald Trump has been treading treasonous territory for months now, raising eyebrows around the nation for a foreign policy that openly supports the ambitions of Vladimir Putin, the dictator of the Russian Federation. He’s surrounded himself with men with close ties to the Kremlin and the oligarchs that pull the strings behind the scenes; he’s being openly supported by Russian state-controlled media and by Russian intelligence services, who have breached the electronic servers of Democratic Party operatives and released selected pieces of information in an attempt to sow discord.]

    Both posts were referencing a report that was, by then, more than a month old. A 22 September 2016 story from ABC News does say Trump has business investments in Russia, but it does not say that Trump is being paid millions by the Russian government, which might be inferred by the headlines on the above posts:

    [ As questions have been raised about Trump’s business interests with Russians, the candidate has sought to distance himself from Moscow.

    “For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia,” he wrote on Twitter in July.

    He later told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “Will I sell condos to Russians on occasion? Probably. I mean I do that. I have a lot of condos. I do that. But I have no relationship to Russia whatsoever.”

    But an ABC News investigation found he has numerous connections to Russian interests both in the U.S. and abroad.

    “The level of business amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars — what he received as a result of interaction with Russian businessmen,” said Sergei Millian, who heads a U.S.-Russia business group and who says he once helped market Trump’s U.S. condos in Russia and the former Soviet states. “They were happy to invest with him, and they were happy to work with Donald Trump. And they were happy to associate—[and] be associated with Donald Trump.”]

    Trump’s relations with Russia and that country’s president, Vladimir Putin, have been the source of intrigue and consternation through the course of the 2016 election cycle. But while the report pointed to Trump’s dealings with Russian businessmen, it does not claim that government officials are funneling him money. Instead, it raises concerns that Trump will be swayed as president by his financial interests in Russia to the detriment of U.S. foreign policy — namely, lifting sanctions to ease the flow of money:

    [ But Florida broker Daniel] Pansky and [New York real estate agent Victoria] Shtainer told ABC News that purchases from Russian buyers in New York and Miami began to drop precipitously in 2014, when the U.S. imposed economic sanctions on Russia in response to the Russian military incursion into Crimea.

    To Russian buyers looking to move money out of their home country, Shtainer explained, the sanctions “basically cut off their oxygen.”

    Should Trump come out on top in the elections in November, he has said he’ll consider whether or not to lift sanctions on Russia.

    “We’ll be looking at that, yeah we’ll be looking,” Trump responded in July when asked if he would roll sanctions back. ]

    While Trump has expressed an affinity for Putin, no evidence of a direct monetary link between Trump and the Kremlin has been presented. The question raised by the ABC report was the possibility that Trump might use the office of president to benefit his own finances, while the blog posts asserted that Trump’s relationship with Russia had less to do with business than with cozying up to the Kremlin — a claim that was not made by the original source of the story.

    Okay Les, what else you got ?

    BTW you didn’t respond to Prof. Cohen. Once more ” the reckless branding of Trump as a Russian agent are coming mostly from the Clinton camp ”

    One more thing. You alleged that I had downplayed Watergate. Again I ask you to produce substantiation or apologize.

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Wednesday, January 18, 2017 2:06 pm @ 2:06 pm

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