The Trump-Russian collusion story is one big pile of manure. That actually was never in doubt but each day it appears more and more likely that the “dirty dossier” is a part of a larger conspiracy to stop Trump.
So we’re clear- The Washington Free Beacon engaged Fusion GPS to do opposition research on Trump. That’s it. They had nothing to do with the dossier.
Chuck Ross has provided us with a timeline:
Oct. 2015: It was reported late Friday that the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative website funded by GOP mega-donor Paul Singer, hired Fusion GPS to investigate Trump. Free Beacon’s editor said Friday that the research was standard opposition research and that it was not tied to the dossier work that would follow several months later. It is not clear what, if anything, Singer knew about Free Beacon’s hiring of Fusion. The hedge fund manager was Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s biggest backer.
Here is Matthew Continetti’s statement about this:
Since its launch in February of 2012, the Washington Free Beacon has retained third party firms to conduct research on many individuals and institutions of interest to us and our readers. In that capacity, during the 2016 election cycle we retained Fusion GPS to provide research on multiple candidates in the Republican presidential primary, just as we retained other firms to assist in our research into Hillary Clinton. All of the work that Fusion GPS provided to the Free Beacon was based on public sources, and none of the work product that the Free Beacon received appears in the Steele dossier. The Free Beacon had no knowledge of or connection to the Steele dossier, did not pay for the dossier, and never had contact with, knowledge of, or provided payment for any work performed by Christopher Steele. Nor did we have any knowledge of the relationship between Fusion GPS and the Democratic National Committee, Perkins Coie, and the Clinton campaign.
Then after Jeb Bush dropped out Fusion GPS approached the Clinton campaign:
March: Fusion GPS approached Perkins Coie, the law firm for the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. Perkins Coie general counsel revealed this week that Fusion offered to continue Trump opposition research it had started while working for a Republican candidate.
April: Perkins Coie, using money from the Clinton campaign and DNC, hires Fusion GPS. Marc Elias, a Perkins Coie partner and general counsel for both the campaign and DNC, would serve as the bagman.
That month, Federal Election Commission records show that the Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie a total of $150,000 for legal services. The DNC paid the firm around $107,000. It is unclear how much of that went to Fusion GPS. Both the campaign and DNC would pay Perkins Coie hundreds of thousands more dollars throughout the campaign.
In May of 2016 The Free Beacon severed ties with Fusion GPS.
There was no dossier at this time. Then..
June: Fusion GPS hires former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and his London-based firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia. Steele discloses this in court filings earlier this year as part of a lawsuit he faces over the dossier. Steele said he worked for Fusion GPS from June through November.
June 20: Steele writes first memo of the dossier. It alleges that Trump used prostitutes during a visit to Moscow in 2013 and that the Kremlin was blackmailing him with the evidence. The memo also alleges that the Trump campaign was engaged in a well-orchestrated collusion campaign with Russian operatives.
Steele put the dossier together. The information in the dossier was fed to Steele by “Russian officials”:
Mr. Steele makes clear that his unproven charges came almost exclusively from sources linked to the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin. He identified his sources as “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure,” a former “top level Russian intelligence officer active inside the Kremlin,” a “senior Kremlin official” and a “senior Russian government official.”
If the Russians were seeking to help Trump get elected, why the hell would they feed Steele information damaging to Trump? Does anyone in his or her right mind think Putin was unaware of this?
It was about this time that a FISA warrant was sought to spy on Trump:
We know that that effort began some time in the late Spring or early Summer of 2016 because an application was made to the FISC in June/July. That application mentioned Trump by name–and was rejected. Why FISA? Because a Title III “wiretap” would have required an actual investigation based on a violation of a real US criminal law and a quite high and specific standard in the application for a court order.
That application was made by the FBI.
It was refused, but the obama administration was desperate to spy on Trump. Thus, the dossier:
But in the anti-Trump conspiracy that’s exactly what was needed: FISA coverage, “wiretaps.” There was no time to do the painstaking research on Trump and his associates–they needed FISA and they needed it NOW. They’d already been turned down at least once. The NSA info was essentially useless, because what they really wanted was to get conversations between Trump and his associates here in the US–all USPERs–not international conversations (those were either lacking or harmless). Yes, NSA probably scoops up internal US communications of USPERs, too, but to use it without a FI and without a FISA order would be illegal. Therefore, the “dossier.”
The dossier was the vehicle for obama to spy on Trump, but he couldn’t do it directly. Trump’s personal communications would be picked up as “incidental collection.”
The only available information about the scale of incidental collection under Section 702 comes from raw intelligence obtained by the Washington Post as part of the materials revealed by Ed Snowden. The Washington Post surveyed those materials and found that 90% of communications collected under Section 702 “were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.” Remember, under current law, any of the communications incidentally collected under Section 702 can be used by federal agencies like the FBI in investigations or prosecutions.
A “dossier” that could provide that sort of “reason to believe” would justify a FI and then FISA coverage. And therefore access to Trump campaign related communications (the extent would be dependent on the nature of the FISA order, who were the USPERs listed as targets–Page for sure, Flynn maybe, etc.). NB: Although they were claiming Trump collusion with Russia, what they were really targeting was campaign communications. By claiming that key people were foreign agents they could collect ALL their domestic communications with anybody.
You’ll want to read the whole thing. With the dossier in hand, a second FISA application was approved:
September: The FBI obtained a surveillance warrant from a judge on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on Carter Page. The application for the warrant reportedly cited the dossier as evidence.
That means all of Page’s communications, all his emails, everything. All approved on the basis of Kremlin propaganda.
Then the obama administration went berserk unmasking the Trump campaign:
An Obama official made “hundreds of unmasking requests” during the final year of the previous administration, according to a letter from a top Republican who raised new concerns that officials sought the identities of Trump associates in intelligence reports for “improper purposes.”
“Unmasking” refers to the formal request to identify Americans in an intelligence document.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has questioned whether Obama officials improperly sought the names of Trump transition members in this way – and, in the letter obtained by Fox News, Nunes provided new details about what his investigators have found.
“[T]his Committee has learned that one official, whose position has no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama Administration,” he wrote to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
Only one request, Nunes wrote, “offered a justification that was not boilerplate and articulated why” the identity was needed for official duties.
Three of the nation’s intelligence agencies received subpoenas in May explicitly naming three top Obama administration officials: Former CIA director John Brennan, former national security adviser Susan Rice, and former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power.
Nunes’ letter appears to make reference to Power as the official who made “hundreds” of requests.
The DNC and the Clinton campaign (and maybe the obama administration) hired Fusion GPS to collect dirt on Trump. Fusion then hired Steele, who obtained all sorts of salacious disinformation from high level Kremlin officials to assemble the dirty dossier, which was then used to obtain FISA approval to spy on Trump and his associates and eventually try to take him down. If the Russians wanted to help trump, why not pass on propaganda damaging to Hillary? It’s far more likely that Bill Clinton would be cavorting with hookers in Moscow (or in Putin’s home) than it is Trump.
It is the democrats who colluded and still are colluding with the Russians. They are using Russian propaganda to smear Trump and the obama administration might have been party to this since April of 2016.
Paul Manafort is going to take a hit for something having nothing to do with the 2016 election from someone who seems to have ignored the money laundering and bribery schemes in 2010.
This whole thing stinks of conspiracy.