In early October, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, signed off on a subpoena for the bank records of Fusion GPS, the shady lobbying firm that was behind the development of the Trump dossier while simultaneously taking substantial amounts of money from Russians associated with Vladimir Putin to lobby for the repeal of the Magnitsky Act. The main purpose was to find out who funded the Trump dossier. By early November, however, it became clear that there was another purpose as well. Nunes was trying to find out if Fusion GPS paid journalists to push the Trump dossier story.
The idea is not farfetched. We have an example on the front page today of a journalist being paid to speak before a far left group about how to frame issues for the media. We know that Politico alumni Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman collaborated with the Clinton campaign. Thrush ran his articles past the campaign for approval and Haberman was reputed by the campaign to be available to “tee up” stories for them. We know that Fusion GPS organized a briefing by Christopher Steele for members of the media.
“Later, Democrats paid for the same research on Trump’s past and alleged Russian ties.
Fusion GPS contracted with Steele, who had once worked as an undercover spy in Moscow. The court document lifted a veil on Washington’s inner workings, with Steele laying out how Fusion briefed select reporters on the material for which it and Steele had been paid to gather.
‘The journalists initially briefed at the end of September 2016 by the Second Defendant (Steele) and Fusion at Fusion’s instruction were from the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker and CNN,’ Steele’s lawyers said, adding that he “verbally and in person” briefed the first three organizations in mid-October and a reporter from Mother Jones via Skype.”
And it was damned successful according to Kimberley Strassel:
Among the dossier’s contents were allegations that in early July 2016 Carter Page…held a “secret” meeting with two high-ranking Russians connected to President Vladimir Putin. It even claimed these Russians offered to give Mr. Page a 19% share in Russia’s state oil company in return for a future President Trump lifting U.S. sanctions. This dossier allegation is ludicrous on its face. Mr. Page…has testified under oath that he never met the two men in question or had such a conversation.
Yet the press ran with it. On Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo News’s Michael Isikoff published a bombshell story under the headline: “U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin.” Mr. Isikoff said “U.S. officials” had “received intelligence” about Mr. Page and Russians, and then went on to recite verbatim all the unfounded dossier allegations. He attributed all this to a “well-placed Western intelligence source,” making it sound as if this info had come from someone in government rather than from an ex-spy-for-hire.
The Clinton campaign jumped all over it, spinning its own oppo research as a government investigation into Mr. Trump. Jennifer Palmieri, the campaign’s communications director, the next day took to television to tout the Isikoff story and cite “U.S. intelligence officials” in the same breath as Mr. Page. Other Clinton surrogates fanned out on TV and Twitter to spread the allegations.
Fusion GPS had been successful in convincing the presiding judge, Democrat donor and Obama nominee Tanya Chutkan, to keep just about everything under seal. But, for reasons we don’t know, she was removed from the case last week and a fairly tough trial judge, Richard Leon, assigned the case. Now things are beginning to appear in the public record that shed more light on what is happening. This, for instance, is some of the billing data released today:
The Perkins Coie payments are the pass through from the Clinton campaign. The redacted names are of three journalists. Those names are significant:
From this we can deduce that “Media Company A” is, more likely than not, Yahoo. The fact that the three redacted reporters covered the dossier and were on the Fusion GPS payroll looks more than a little suspect.
If you read more of the court filing you will see that Fusion GPS has basically engaged in a pattern of deception in relation to their records production, something you could do if you thought the judge had her finger on the scale.
From House Intel court filing yesterday, "Additional transactions requested by Committee include transactions related to Plaintiffs (#FusionGPS) work on behalf of another media outlet in which Plaintiff could have seeded its research, Media Company A." https://t.co/YBuGQM6ZYx pic.twitter.com/Jvq2dvy3ae
— Nick Short (@PoliticalShort) November 22, 2017
I have to give it to Fusion GPS and the Clinton campaign. They paid for an unverifiable dossier on Trump…a dossier assembled by a guy who used paid intermediaries to interview the sources. They brought in tame and bought media outlets to brief them on the dossier, they were able to get the dossier into the hands of the FBI which apparently used it as the basis for a FISA warrant on Carter Page, the tame and bought media wrote about the allegations and the Clinton campaign were able to hit the issue that had been “teed up” out of the park. This was a thing of beauty. Right up until it spun out of control. Which it did because no one thought Trump would win.