This is the first of three related posts I’m going to write today on the FBI, Fusion GPS, and their actions during the 2016 election. (part two, part three)
Fusion GPS, the somewhat shadowy Democrat oppo research firm that hired the somewhat sketchy but wonderfully named Christopher Steele to compile the now infamous Trump dossier is balking at cooperating with Congressional investigators.
The Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month threatened to subpoena the firm, Fusion GPS, after it refused to answer questions and provide records to the panel identifying who financed the error-ridden dossier, which was circulated during the election and has sparked much of the Russia scandal now engulfing the White House.
What is the company hiding? Fusion GPS describes itself as a “research and strategic intelligence firm” founded by “three former Wall Street Journal investigative reporters.” But congressional sources say it’s actually an opposition-research group for Democrats, and the founders, who are more political activists than journalists, have a pro-Hillary Clinton, anti-Trump agenda.
“These weren’t mercenaries or hired guns,” a congressional source familiar with the dossier probe said. “These guys had a vested personal and ideological interest in smearing Trump and boosting Hillary’s chances of winning the White House.”
Fusion GPS was on the payroll of an unidentified Democratic ally of Clinton when it hired a long-retired British spy to dig up dirt on Trump. In 2012, Democrats hired Fusion GPS to uncover dirt on GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. And in 2015, Democratic ally Planned Parenthood retained Fusion GPS to investigate pro-life activists protesting the abortion group.
There are a lot of interesting parts to this story. Fusion GPS shopped this dossier all over Washington making it a matter of common gossip but the allegations were so nebulous that not even CNN ran with it. After the election, BuzzFeed posted it and they are now tied up in a libel suit with one of the people mentioned in the dossier. The dossier, to the extent that it can be verified, has been debunked:
Steele’s most sensational allegations remain unconfirmed. For instance, his claim that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen held a “clandestine meeting” on the alleged hacking scheme in Prague with “Kremlin officials” in August 2016 unraveled when Cohen denied ever visiting Prague, his passport showed no stamps showing he left or entered the US at the time, witnesses accounted for his presence here, and Czech authorities found no evidence Cohen went to Prague.
Steele hadn’t worked in Moscow since the 1990s and didn’t actually travel there to gather intelligence on Trump firsthand. He relied on third-hand “friend of friend” sourcing. In fact, most of his claimed Russian sources spoke not directly to him but “in confidence to a trusted compatriot” who, in turn, spoke to Steele — and always anonymously.
But his main source may have been Google. Most of the information branded as “intelligence” was merely rehashed from news headlines or cut and pasted — replete with errors — from Wikipedia.
In fact, much of the seemingly cloak-and-dagger information connecting Trump and his campaign advisers to Russia had already been reported in the media at the time Steele wrote his monthly reports.
Despite the unverifiable nature of the document, James Comey’s FBI offered to pay Steele 50,000 of your dollars to dig up more smut on Trump. Why, one might ask, would the FBI be involved in using a guy working for a Democrat oppo research firm to investigate the GOP candidate for president? And somehow the CIA also decided that Steele was credible.
The fact that Fusion GPS is refusing to cooperate with Congressional committees looking at the very subject of the dossier they produced can be explained by a number of scenarios but none of them involve the dossier being true.
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