New reports in the media suggest that the Hillary Clinton presidential election campaign helped fund the production of a now infamous, though questionable, dossier on President Donald Trump. The file itself was compiled by a former British intelligence officer with connections in both Russia and the United States. There are still questions that have yet to be answered, however. How much of what has been reported is verifiable? Who initially reached out to a private intelligence and research firm for information that could derail Donald Trump’s political aspirations?
Perhaps the most interesting of all questions is: Why is the dossier once again in the news, given that the media knew of its existence even before last year’s election?
The Art of Honesty
It was a report in The Washington Post that brought the story surrounding the dossier back into the limelight Tuesday. The paper published an article revealing that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign had funded ongoing efforts to gather information on Trump’s alleged ties to Russia. As is so often the case, however, the Post provides no more than anonymous sources for most of its claims. The article cites “people familiarity with the matter,” who, of course, “spoke on condition of anonymity.”
Certainly, none of the information presented in this article has been directly refuted by either the DNC or former Clinton campaign operatives. The Democrats have attempted to distance themselves from these latest revelations. Former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has denied all knowledge of payments made to the research firm, Fusion GPS which, in turn, contracted former MI6 officer, Christopher Steele, to gather information on Trump. As reported by the Washington Post, the DNC has also issued a statement claiming that its new leadership had no involvement in the affair.
“[Chairman] Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization. But let’s be clear, there is a serious federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and the American public deserves to know what happened.”
Denying knowledge of an event, however, is not quite the same as denying it ever took place. The DNC statement was fashioned to immediately throw attention back to the ongoing investigation into the president’s supposed collusion with the Russian government. The combined efforts of the FBI, the House and Senate intelligence committees and the Department of Justice special counsel have yet to turn up any evidence of this suspected collusion.
A Republican Started It?
An additional facet of this story is that Washington-based Fusion GPS was originally hired by an anonymous Republican donor. The firm’s mission was to dig up information on Trump’s background and business dealings that could be used against him in the Republican presidential primary.
It is worth noting that none of the president’s primary opponents used any information provided by Fusion GPS and, indeed, may not have obtained any such information. Of similar note is that the establishment media, despite openly backing Hillary Clinton during the election campaign, declined to run with any information damaging to Trump and gathered by Steele. Byron York, writing in the Washington Examiner in August, cited legal documents from a British lawsuit over the matter. The documents reveal that Fusion and Steele himself briefed several U.S. media organizations on their findings. This briefing took place in September 2016 and was attended by “New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker, and CNN.”
Although it has been claimed that “sources” in the intelligence community had verified some of the information contained in the dossier, many of the most salacious allegations made within it have never been corroborated. It is for this reason, perhaps, that only two online publications, Buzzfeed and Mother Jones – neither of which are known for their fairness or accuracy – chose to report on the dossier at all.
As York also points out, the rumors that a Republican donor or operative may have originally hired Fusion are open to skepticism, although not entirely fanciful. The accepted, but not confirmed, backstory is that Fusion – through Steele – had acquired compromising information on Trump, but their original Republican patron pulled out of their arrangement. Seeking to make good on their time and efforts, Steele and his Fusion handlers then approached the Clinton campaign with an offer to provide this opposition research. The campaign accepted and continued to fund Steele’s activities.
Bigger Problems for Democrats
Meanwhile, the focus on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election has shifted dramatically, especially over the past week. Following the publication Sunday of a report in The Hill that detailed the FBI’s probe of criminal activities linked to the sale of American Uranium reserves, Democrats have new reasons to be worried.
The Washington Post report on the Steele dossier does seem to have appeared at a most opportune time. The paper is openly pro-Democrat, pro-Clinton, and anti-Trump. The revelations of possible Clinton funding of Fusion’s research is not something that would seriously damage either Clinton or the Democratic Party. If anything, it makes them look ridiculous for obsessing over Russian collusion, given that Steele worked in Russia to gather his information on Trump.
Should it be proven that the DNC and the Clinton campaign did indeed fund Fusion’s work, the repercussions are not good for either, but nothing technically illegal occurred.
The real story here is that the FBI has, at the very least, referred to this dossier within the scope of its own investigation into the president’s supposed connections to Russia. To say the least, this is not something that reflects well on the Bureau or the validity of its investigation.
To some, the timing of the Post’s article could be seen as too convenient. Ultimately, it is a story that reflects poorly upon Clinton, but it vies for attention, at this time, with the far more serious – and infinitely more damaging – Uranium One scandal. Coincidence? Perhaps. It could be merely an accident of when and how journalists acquire their information or when editors choose to publish – and this is probably the most reasonable explanation. Liberty Nation certainly has seen no evidence to support any “smokescreen” theory.
The Democratic Party and its media surrogates may be finally moving on from Clinton. The Washington Post publishing a report that further tarnishes her reputation and credibility may simply be a part of that move. How this story develops may reveal as much about the deceitful underbelly of Washington politics as it does about “What Happened” in the 2016 election.