The architects of the development of the Steele Dossier and its weaponization in an attempt to take out the President of the United States have been engaging in some major damage control ever since it first came to light courtesy of BuzzFeed back in 2017. The whole initial strategy seems to have been to keep the dossier restricted to the chattering class populated by the left and by NeverTrumpers so they could spin conspiracy theories without any fear of contradiction. When the whole dossier became public, it began to fall apart in short order. And while Fusion GPS has tried to paint themselves as somewhat detached from the spreading of the dossier within the Department of Justice and other places, we know that Glenn Simpson was flogging the dossier allegations to Bruce Ohr after election day and that Fusion GPS marketed the dossier and access to its compiler, former British spook Christopher Steele, to the political press for fun and profit.
When the Mueller investigation found less than nothing it seemed like the Democrats were happy to let the Dossier fade. Then Bill Barr launched a very serious investigation into the circumstances surrounding the attempt to force President Trump from office and suddenly defending the dossier became a matter of personal concern to the guys running Fusion GPS. They published a rather fanciful book that requires a particularly stupid person to believe much of what they had to say. (Read this by my colleague Bonchie.)
NPR reviews new Glenn Simpson book. Says Steele dossier 'found its way to news organizations.' Why obscure what happened? In fact, Steele personally briefed dossier info to NYT WP CNN YAHOO New Yorker Mother Jones *before* 2016 election. https://t.co/OOTi0lnVvF pic.twitter.com/TL9MLZ0d7R
— Byron York (@ByronYork) November 22, 2019
The, impeachment happened and suddenly the Steele Dossier is creeping back into the news. Last Thursday, State Department apparatchik Fiona Hill testified before Comrade Schiff’s tribunal. There she was specifically asked about the Steele Dossier:
Mr. Jordan: (02:24:02)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Hill, during your deposition, I asked you “Was Christopher Steele’s dossier a rabbit hole?” Do you remember the answer you gave to that question?
Fiona Hill: (02:24:15)
Yes, I thought it was a rabbit hole.
Mr. Jordan: (02:24:16)
Yeah, and you also said, couple of pages later in the deposition or in the transcript that I have here of your deposition, that you thought he got played. Is that fair?
Fiona Hill: (02:24:26)
That is fair, yes.
That the Steele Dossier is actually a work of Russian disinformation by way of a credulous or complicit Christopher Steele is not news. Over a year and a half ago I posted The Steele Memo Is Much More Likely Russian Dezinformatsiya Than It is Intelligence based on my analysis of Steele’s sources:
Source A: senior Russian Foreign Ministry official
Source B: former top-level Russian intel officer still active in the Kremlin.
Source C: senior Russian financial official.
Source D: close associate of Trump who managed his trips to Russia
Source E: seems to be someone in the Trump organization
Source F: Female staffer at Moscow Ritz Carlton
Source G: senior Kremlin official
Former senior intelligence officer
Senior Russian government figure
Russian IT specialist
IT operator inside Russian State Owned Enterprise
FSB cyber operative
Source E: Ethnic Russian close associate of Trump.
Russian source close to Rosneft President Igor Sechin.
Official close to Presidential Administration Head S. Ivanov.
Russian émigré figure close to Trump campaign team
Two well-placed and established Kremlin sources
Source close to Ivanov
Source close to Dimitri Medvedev
Close colleague of Ivanov
Kremlin official involved in US relations
Ethnic associate of Trump
Friend of Kremlin insider
Well-placed Russian figure
Compatriot of senior member of Russian Presidential Administration
Compatriot of top-level Russian government official
Compatriot of two well-placed sources, one business/political elite and one in services/tourism
Compatriot of senior Russian leadership figure and Foreign Ministry official
Compatriot of Igor Sechin
The Wall Street Journal wrote a must read piece titled The Steele Dossier Fits the Kremlin Playbook which laid out the improbability that Steele could have interviewed these people without the FSB finding out what was going on and shaping the process:
There are three reasons the Kremlin would have detected Mr. Steele’s information gathering and seen an opportunity to intervene. First, Mr. Steele did not travel to Russia to acquire his information and instead relied on intermediaries. That is a weak link, since Russia’s internal police service, the FSB, devotes significant technical and human resources to blanket surveillance of Western private citizens and government officials, with a particular focus on uncovering their Russian contacts.
Second, Mr. Steele was an especially likely target for such surveillance given that he had retired from MI-6, the British spy agency, after serving in Moscow. Russians are fond of saying that there is no such thing as a “former” intelligence officer. The FSB would have had its eye on him.
Third, the Kremlin successfully hacked into the Democratic National Committee. Emails there could have tipped it off that the Clinton campaign was collecting information on Mr. Trump’s dealings in Russia.
If the FSB did discover that Mr. Steele was poking around for information, it hardly could have resisted using the gravitas of a retired MI-6 agent to plant false information. After hacking the DNC and senior Democratic officials, Russian intelligence chose to pass the information to WikiLeaks, most likely to capitalize on that group’s “self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity,” according to a 2017 report from the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Simultaneously the Kremlin was conducting influence operations on Facebook and other social-media sites.
In fact, even the news agencies who were pimping the Russia Hoax were well aware that there was a significant chance that the dossier was disinformation inserted by the Russians into our political life. Here is New York Times reporter Scott Shane in January 2018:
Yeah, I was just going to sort of throw up a curve ball out for people to contemplate, and maybe Jonna would want to respond to this, but it’s something that has bothered me for the whole past year. Since the dossier became public, and actually before that because we got a look at some of that stuff earlier than a year ago, and that is if if Michael Cohen did not go to Prague, that one in particular I spent some time trying to prove or disprove because it had some detail. Some of the things in the dossier are very vague and a little hard to, you know, nail down; that one said that he had met with a guy named Oleg Solodukhin who was with a Russian cultural organization called Rossotrudnichestvo which has an office in Prague. The question…here’s the question if that’s not true who made it up? And the thing that occurred to me was this was not planted by some Clinton operative this was probably concocted by Russian Intelligence because of that level of detail–and when you think about Christopher’s Steele, the retired British intelligence agent, calling his buddies who called their buddies in Moscow to get this information–you know the the FSB is is certainly capable of following those trails and polluting them with certain, you know, disinformation so if–this is just a complete, you know, speculative hypothesis but I think one that we should all keep in mind–we believe that Russia carried out a very successful information operation aimed largely at Hillary Clinton, what if they also kind of hedging their bets also carried out an information operation aimed at Donald Trump? And that some of the dossier is was put there by Russian Intelligence with the idea, essentially, of casting a shadow over Trump. If that happened, you know, that the operation against Clinton was, I think everyone would agree, extremely successful; if there was an operation against Trump, it’s cast a shadow over the first year of his presidency right? So if he did nothing, if there was no collusion, it’s, you know, kind of daunting to think about this as a Russian achievement.
Today, Chuck Todd had Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, sort of the pudgy, gravy-infused Dynamic Duo of soft coup attempts, on his show to defend their work. It is mostly a defense of Steele’s bonafides and #OrangeManBad. This Fritsch guy even justifies it by saying, “Does anyone doubt that Donald Trump would be capable of inciting a foreign or working with a foreign government, to affect the political process here in this country? That’s exactly what the House is looking at right now.” But it is really obvious that Jim Jordan’s exchange with Fiona Hill rattled them:
Let me get to respond to Fiona Hill. She called it – most people may know what was said. But here’s what she said.
REP. JIM JORDAN:
Dr. Hill, during your deposition, I asked you was Christopher Steele’s dossier a rabbit hole? Do you remember, do you remember the answer you gave to that question?
Yes, I thought it was a rabbit hole.
REP. JIM JORDAN:
Yeah, and you also said a couple pages later in the deposition, or in the transcript that I have here of your deposition, that you thought he got played. Is that fair?
That is fair, yes.
Fiona Hill’s an expert.
She is. Actually, she’s not of the same exact area of expertise as Chris. She’s not a disinformation specialist.
And so she is a Russia specialist in general. She’s entitled to her opinion. I know she knows Chris and has worked with him for a long time. So I’m not sure that that is very well-understood within that one remark.
I mean, I was puzzled by her comment, because I don’t really know what a rabbit hole means in that context. I will say, though, that you can’t actually catch rabbits without going down some rabbit holes. So you need to actually follow leads where they take you. And we have full confidence in Chris’ ability to do exactly that.
They aren’t puzzled by the comment. Everyone knows the “down the rabbit hole” refers to Alice in Wonderland and that she was clearly saying that Steele was an dupe of the FSB and assisted them in planting disinformation. The fact that Todd had to have them on the show at a time when no one in the world could care less about the Steele Dossier and to specifically attack the mounting body of evidence that indicates the Dossier was fabricated by the Russians is significant. Once could almost imagine that they are creating their own criminal defense strategy by evincing complete confidence in the Dossier and a wide-eyed and childlike faith in the abilities and integrity of Christopher Steele so that he’s left as the pivot man on this particular circle-jerk.
My God. I mean when even Seth Mandel is laughing at a NeverTrump narrative crashing and burning, you know you’ve really lost it.
You didn’t have to be an expert to see Steele got rolled by Putin’s chuckleheads. But if you believe the dossier, you are by definition *not* an expert, nor should you be allowed to operate heavy machinery
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) November 24, 2019