Diary

The Steele Dossier, Part 3: Digging Deeper Into the Memos

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 file photo, Glenn R. Simpson, co-founder of the research firm Fusion GPS, arrives for a scheduled appearance before a closed House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Testifying to Congress, Simpson quoted former British spy Christopher Steele as saying that any intelligence, especially from Russia, is bound to carry intentional disinformation, but that Steele believes his dossier is “largely not disinformation.” (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

In part 1, I looked at the genesis of the Steele dossier and in part 2 started to examine its contents.  Next, we pick up with the alleged “compromising” information on Trump (the pee-pee tape).

Thomas Roberts was the host of the Miss Universe pageant and he stated that Trump arrived on November 8 and checked into the Ritz-Carlton’s presidential suite.  There were several meetings and Trump had lunch with Emin Agarolov where Trump’s bodyguard stated that another Russian offered to send five prostitutes to Trump’s room which Schiller refused. 

Whatever happened, it is unlikely prostitutes performed a golden showers routine on the bed.  Trump was in Moscow for, at most, 37 hours during which time he was involved in meetings, attending a pageant, appearing in a music video, and having lunch and dinner with people.  Rob Goldstone, Emin’s publicist, said he was with Trump for 31 of those hours Trump was in Moscow and no prostitutes were involved.  One is not sure how long it takes two prostitutes to stage a golden shower show on a bed once slept in by Obama, but if it happened, it was in the five hours Trump was not with Goldstone.

Finally, the memo states that Russia has a dossier on Hillary Clinton that contains intercepted communications while she was in Russia.  This is hardly big news as Russia would likely have compiled dossiers on the American Secretary of State and presidential candidates, including Trump, Sanders, and others.  

Regardless, there is no known source of anything from this dossier ever being made public.  If they had such potentially embarrassing information on Clinton and if they were so intent on getting Trump elected, why was the information never released?  The memo also says Putin spokesman, Dimitry Peskov, is personally responsible for the Clinton dossier.  Peskov is a spokesman for Putin but also serves as a gatekeeper- allowing and denying access to Putin. 

The second memo is dated July 26, 2015- an obvious typo, or is it?  The two main points of the memo are about a sophisticated hacking system used by the Russians and that they often coerce or blackmail Russians outside Russia to assist.  Between June 20 and July 19- the date of the third memo- a lot had happened.  The Brexit vote occurred creating a political shockwave around the world.  Prior to signing on with Fusion GPS, Steele had been working on something called “Project Charlemagne” which was looking into Russian political interference in Germany, Italy, France and Great Britain.  

On July 14 at the RNC, a plank was removed from the convention’s platform calling for lethal defensive aid for Ukraine.  There is nothing in the memo about these events.  The memo is likely snippets from his Charlemagne research repackaged and sent off to Fusion GPS.  There was a lot of talk in the US press about Russia and political interference in July 2016 and perhaps the repackaging was directed at the US election.  Further, despite the assertions of the memo, there is no mention of Downer’s meeting with Papadopolous, nor does he have any mention of the GRU’s alleged role in hacking the DNC. 

The next memo- #94- is dated July 19, 2016.  Here, Steele gets specific and names Carter Page as being a campaign official who met with Igor Sechin, one of the most powerful oligarchs in Russia and one very close to Putin.  He also allegedly met with Igor Diveykin, the senior Kremlin Internal Affairs official. Diveykin allegedly broached the subject of the Clinton information.  Page denies he met with Sechin or Diveykin.  We know that Page had traveled to Russia in this time period to deliver a lecture.  Sechin’s official diary shows only that he met with a diplomat from Venezuela in this time period and later flew to that country to sign an oil deal.

The next memo has no date and is number 95.  There are four assertions: (1) there was active coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign designed to defeat Clinton who Putin “hated and feared;” (2)  Russia hacked the DNC and leaked it to Wikileaks with the cooperation and urging of the Trump campaign; (3) in return, the GOP platform would be watered down with respect to lethal aid for Ukraine, and (4) Kremlin agents in the US would be paid through a pension scheme.  Although there is no date on the memo, it is likely from late July.  

In the lead up to the DNC convention, Wikileaks started to publish the internal emails.  Around this time, Wikileaks sent an email to Donald Trump, Jr. pointing to the publication, but this was after they published the emails and were more a guide on how to access the leaked documents.  If there was a direct line between the campaign and the Kremlin, some have pointed to campaign manager Paul Manafort and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.  Manafort did try to brief him on the campaign about two weeks before the RNC convention as a possible way to repay a business debt.

Enter Anastasia Vashukevich- a/k/a Nastya Rybka- a seductress of billionaires.  She claims that she got close to Deripaska and had overheard conversations between her and Russian deputy prime minister Sergei Pridhodko discussing business, relations with the US, and making disparaging remarks about Victoria Nuland.  Prikhodko is a legend in Kremlin politics after the fall of the Soviet Union and had served in every administration from Yeltsin to Putin.  Rybka was later arrested in Thailand on sexual solicitation charges.

Source E reported to Steele that Russia had hacked the DNC and that they passed on the emails to Wikileaks to establish plausible deniability.  Most importantly, this was actively encouraged and supported by the Trump campaign.  To repay the Russians, Trump would drop the language in the GOP platform in favor of lethal aid to Ukraine and instead focus on NATO and the Baltic states.

There are a few points about this.  First, Steele, despite his reputation and investigative prowess relying on his army of reliable sources, never mentions who in the Trump campaign encouraged the leak to Wikileaks.  Second, a party’s platform is not written in stone and the eventual winner is not obliged to abide by anything in that platform.  The proof is in the fact that after being sworn in, President Trump provided a lethal aid package to Ukraine.  

Some suspected Manafort of the language change in the platform, but one delegate revealed that adviser J.D. Gordon told her Trump personally ordered the language change and provided the rationale: he did not want to start a war over Ukraine.  It is true that Trump was highly critical of NATO, at one point calling it “obsolete” and stating that European countries were not paying their fair share.  The problem with using that to back up the Steele dossier’s assertions is that Donald Trump had been saying the same thing about NATO since at least 2000.

Next comes report #97 dated July 30, 2016 making two assertions: the Kremlin is worrying about blowback from their cyber efforts and Trump has exchanged information with the Kremlin for eight years.  July was a wild month in the election.  Wikileaks released the DNC emails.  Clinton had been absolved by Comey.  Maybe the Russians felt nervousness, but Trump kept tweeting out about the emails calling the DNC and Clinton “stupid.”  Finally, Crossfire Hurricane began.  The memo cites as a source a Russian emigre close to the Trump team.  This could have been either Felix Sater or Sergei Millian, with most believing it to be the latter.  

We know that on July 22, George Papadopolous contacted Dimitry Timofeev and asked about Millian.  Two weeks later, they set up a Skype conversation directly.  The memo makes no mention of this contact even though Millian is an alleged source.  Did Timofeev not contact Millian?  Second, the memo states regular interactions between Trump and the Kremin for eight years, while a previous memo stated five years, so which is it?

Report #100 is dated August 6, 2016 and is long on Kremlinology and worries within the Putin orbit.  In late July or early August, the FBI was briefing both campaigns on Russian interference.  Steele had been in contact with the FBI by now through Michael Gaetta.  It is reasonable that Russia was aware of the investigation given the heavy coverage of the DNC hacks in the press and attributing it to the Russians.  Espionage and influence campaigns are supposed to be secret affairs and if Peskov was in charge, he had every reason to be afraid of retribution.  

Hence, it stands to reason that Ivanov’s unease with Peskov’s handling of the situation is understandable.  He was Russia’s former defense minister and had cooperated with the Bush administration during the war in Afghanistan.  Yet, if there was this great unease in the alleged operation on the part of Putin and within the Kremlin, that does not explain Ivanov’s “demotion” to “special representative on the environment” in early August 2016.  Further, Ivanov was given the task of giving an interview to the Financial Times in October 2016.  Russian government officials giving interviews to Western media outlets is a tightly controlled process.  In that interview, he denied that Russia preferred Trump over Clinton or that Russia was interfering in the election.  It boggles the mind that the Kremlin would put Ivanov in such a situation.  It was Peskov’s job as Putin’s spin doctor.  

Reports 101 and 102 are a pair and both dated August 10, 2016.  In #101, Steele suggests the Kremlin had decided against any more leaks and a change in tactics.  Specifically, it states that Ivanov is against further DNC leaks and spreading rumors and misinformation.  Whether true or not, no one apparently listened to Ivanov as the online persona, Guccifer 2.0, released emails from the DCCC two days later.