As I diaried yesterday even if you take the sexy smelly stuff out of the story, there’s still much included in Steele’s memo that is very consistent with what we’ve seen from other areas.
Going beyond Trump’s sex-life there there are 9 far more pressing allegations including the argument that Trump has made numerous shady and compromising international business deals — from illegally spending money in Casto’s Cuba in violation of the embargo to his business interests being potentially blackmailed by Turkey — which leaves him vulnerable to foreign leverage (which is confirmed), that Trump was fully aware of the Russian hacking and disinformation campaign long before the election, that it was being directed personally by Vladimir Putin (which is confirmed), that his people were in a ‘co-operative conspiracy” with agents of the Kremlin, meeting with them secretly during the campaign (which is confirmed), that Trump used Kremlin generated propaganda in his campaign (which is confirmed), that the only thing changed by Trump in the RNC platform was to weaken their stance on the Russian annexation of Crimea and the Ukraine (which is confirmed) and that he helped pay for the relocation of some of the hackers once some officials in the Kremlin grew nervous and disenchanted about the project.
Some things in the memos remain unconfirmed, but not really that much.
And there are some intel agencies that are vouching for the credibility of Steele.
But in the rush to trample all over the dossier and its contents, one key question remained. Why had America’s intelligence agencies felt it necessary to provide a compendium of the claims to Barack Obama and Trump himself?
And the answer to that lies in the credibility of its apparent author, the ex-MI6 officer Christopher Steele, the quality of the sources he has, and the quality of the people who were prepared to vouch for him. In all these respects, the 53-year-old is in credit.
On Thursday night, as the former spy was in hiding, having fled his home in the south-east of England, former colleagues rallied to defend him. One described him as “very credible” – a sober, cautious and meticulous professional with a formidable record.
The former Foreign Office official, who has known Steele for 25 years and considers him a friend, said: “The idea his work is fake or a cowboy operation is false – completely untrue. Chris is an experienced and highly regarded professional. He’s not the sort of person who will simply pass on gossip.”
Contrary to the claims from the Trump camp that the Steele dossier is merely “fake news”, it appears that FBI and CIA took it seriously enough not only to do a CYA/FYI notification of Trump during his briefing last week, they also warned the Israelis — literally — to NOT TRUST TRUMP.
At least not until they had a chance to confirm or refute the worst of the allegations.
Oh and speaking of those:
President-elect Donald Trump allegedly invited Hungarian beauty queen Kata Sarka to his hotel room following a Miss Universe beauty pageant in Moscow in 2013, Sarka claimed. Trump has been married to his current wife Melania since 2005.
The former Miss Hungary first made the allegation last May during an episode of “Kasza Taxi,” a show similar to James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” segment.
“He grabbed my hand like this,” she showed the host. “He was standing in the middle of a group of bodyguards, he grabbed my hand, he pulled me towards himself, and he asked, ‘Who are you?’”
“He asked in English,” she continued. “Then, I was so surprised, I’ll tell you who it was in a moment, I was so surprised that I couldn’t say anything except, ‘Hungary.'”
“He was kind; he gave me his business card with his private phone number and invited me over to his room. I was surprised but, obviously, I did not take it seriously,” Sarka claimed.
So that has a familiar stench to it, and lest some think it’s just a made up hoax she made the claim last May before the earlier public reports of the Steele dossier back in October and it’s on tape.
Her statement I mean, that’s on tape, not the grabby grabby with the tiny hands. Yet.
Oh, and here’s another thing:
Adult magazine Penthouse has received three claims for its $1 million offer to anyone who could provide real tapes of President-elect Donald Trump’s alleged and unproven sexual escapades at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow, the publication’s editor exclusively revealed to International Business Times Thursday.
“If the story is real, which we don’t know if it is or not, it really kind of hits at the intersection between politics, scandal and sex, which as a brand both historically and currently is our sweet spot,” Aronowitz said in a phone interview.
He also said the advent and effect of “fake news” – articles containing false or inaccurate information spread by social media sites that many have credited with helping Trump win the Oval Office, including President Barack Obama - played a role in the offer.
“For us, this was the type of story that we wanted to jump all over. But at the same time there’s been so much floating around - as far as fake news stories – there have been so many people who have just been taking shots at President-elect Donald Trump because he’s an easy target, and we as a brand and as an informational source, we didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon,” Aronowitz said. “We wanted to make sure this story could be verified, that the murmurings of their being actual video documentation that corroborates the allegations, do exist. For us, this was a very real ask, which is just ‘Give us some facts, and let us share the real story with our readers and with the public.’”
Penthouse is now an arbiter of “facts.” Any minute now Larry Flynt is going to start offering up $2 Million and we’ll have golden-smut bidding war. Yes, people this is our newly elected Presidential Administration. It’s almost as classy as a golden toilet, with gold fixtures in a bathroom lined in gold lame’ and a… oh you get the picture.
But lest we start laughing too hard at the surreal absurdity of it all there is yet more from the BBC.
“The rumors or the allegations or whatever you want to call them have been circulating for a number of months now,” [BBC Correspondent Paul] Wood said in a BBC 4 radio broadcast Wednesday. “I saw the report, compiled by the former British intelligence officer, back in October. He is not, and this is the crucial thing, the only source for this.”
Wood elaborated, saying at least one Eastern European intelligence service was “aware” of the material Russia may have on Trump and that includes both audio and video and of more than one alleged incident.
“It’s very, very difficult, of course, to talk to U.S. intelligence people. They’re breaking the law if they talk to you,” the BBC correspondent pointed out. “But I did ask somebody with connections in the CIA to pass a message to them and I got a message back that there was allegedly more than one tape, not just video, but audio as well, on more than one date, in more than one place, in both Moscow and St. Petersburg.”
Wood admitted intelligence officers can be wrong, but that the Central Intelligence Agency claimed the dossier is “credible.”
“But it is viewed as credible by the CIA and that’s why it landed on President Obama’s desk last week, on the desk of the congressional leadership and was given to Mr. Trump as well. And even congressional Republicans are talking about investigations and Democrats, I know, are talking about impeachment.”
Oh man, he said the “I” word. Be still my heart. and oh God wouldn’t that mean “President Pence?” But let’s be rational, If it was really getting that bad we’d have heard a sign of it by now — just a whiff — just a hint — just a… Ruh Roh!
House Democrats walked out of a classified briefing sputtering with anger over FBI Director James Comey’s response to claims of Russian election hacking.
Several of the lawmakers who took part in Friday’s meeting said they’d lost confidence in Comey and had become convinced he’s unfit to lead the agency, reported The Hill.
“I was non-judgmental until the last 15 minutes,” said Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN). “I no longer have that confidence in him. Some of the things that were revealed in this classified briefing — my confidence has been shook (sic).”
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said he was “extremely concerned” about what had been revealed, which was confidential.
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) was so shaken by what he’d learned that he could barely complete a sentence.
“I’ll just — I’m very angry,” Takano said.
Getting serious, lawmakers have refused to say if this has anything to do with Trumps ties to Russia, because they’d be revealing classified information, and in fairness it could be something else. My first guess would be that it’s something we know that we don’t want someone else to know we know because then they’d figure out how we figured it out. It’s like what pokers players call “a tell”, only in this case on the sources and methods of our tradecraft, so we may not truly find out for some time.
Some reports indicate that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz demanded to know why she wasn’t personally informed as soon as the FBI discovered they’d been hacked by Russia, Comey’s answer was reportedly unsatisfactory and hinted at gross partisanship.
So there’s that.
It also might have been related to the impression Christopher Steele slowly gained that the FBI was stonewalling on the information he had gathered, so he decided to go around them.
Mr Steele also decided to pass on information to both British and American intelligence officials after concluding that such material should not just be in the hands of political opponents of Mr Trump, who had hired his services, but was a matter of national security for both countries.
However, say security sources, Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails
In the same month Mr Steele produced a memo, which went to the FBI, stating that Mr Trump’s campaign team had agreed to a Russian request to dilute attention on Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine. Four days later Mr Trump stated that he would recognise Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. A month later officials involved in his campaign asked the Republican party’s election platform to remove a pledge for military assistance to the Ukrainian government against separatist rebels in the east of the country.
Mr Steele claimed that the Trump campaign was taking this path because it was aware that the Russians were hacking Democratic Party emails. No evidence of this has been made public, but the same day that Mr Trump spoke about Crimea he called on the Kremlin to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The New York office, in particular, appeared to be on a crusade against Ms Clinton. Some of its agents had a long working relationship with Rudy Giuliani, by then a member of the Trump campaign, since his days as public prosecutor and then Mayor of the city.
As the election approached, FBI director James Comey made public his bombshell letter saying that Ms Clinton would face another email investigation. Two days before that Mr Giuliani, then a part of the Trump team, talked about “a surprise or two you’re going to hear about in the next few days. We’ve got a couple of things up our sleeve that should turn things around”.
It was following Giuliani bragging about the upcoming Weiner/Abedine email letter ahead of time — which would have illegal for him to know about if it came from active agents, confirming that the FBI had indeed become “Trumpland” -— that Steele decided to go to the Press and contacted David Corn of Mother Jones. That caused a small murmur but it soon subsided — I know, I had the same response when I wrote about Corn’s report last week — then the election occurred and Trump was surprisingly victorious. Undaunted, Steele and his associates kept working on the information and trying to get it looked at. Eventually John McCain met former British Ambassador to Russia Sir Andrew Wood who arranged to get McCain a copy of the dossier. McCain then apparently hand delivered it to Comey.
This would essentially link the New York Office of the FBI as being effectively complicit in actively ignoring information about Trump being aware and active in the Russian hacking and influence campaign while they instead chased the pointless white rabbit of Hillary’s and Abedine’s emails around and round a mulberry bush right up until days before the election and Comey finally violated DOJ guidelines with his letter to Congress generating ire of the DOJ’s inspector general.
Whatever it was that was said at this classified meeting, the Dems are pretty upset and beginning to demand that Comey step down. That’s serious.
Let me close by going back to the original issue, it’s been reported by the Telegraph that American Intelligence officers have told their Israeli counterparts not to reveal critical information to Trump or his people, if that’s true why would they reveal that kind of information to Trump themselves? This might be why he says he briefings are redundant and repetitive, they aren’t fully trusting him with the Crown Jewels yet. And worse, what happens if they ultimately can’t disprove Steele’s allegations or even worse than that they ultimately prove them true?
What’s the operating scenario for them moving forward from there?
Perhaps they have found out it’s true and that’s why we’re getting all these leaks which seem to be from the Intel community. Not to get all Dirk Gently — “it’s all connected” — but this may be why when Trump ran a sanity check for leaks on his own staff leaking about his briefings, it was still leaked.
‘I’ll tell you what does happen. I have many meetings with intelligence. And every time I meet, people are reading about it,' Trump complained, possibly referencing reports on his classified briefings, which he has chosen not to receive daily.
President-elect Donald Trump said he set a trap for his intelligence briefers and that they fell for it by leaking word of a classified briefing he had with them
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'Somebody’s leaking them out,’ Trump said, after inveighing against leaks generally.
‘So I said, "Maybe it’s my office. Maybe my office." Because I’ve got a lot of people … Maybe it’s them?’
‘What I did, is I said I won’t tell anyone. I’m going to have a meeting, and I won’t tell anybody about my meeting with intelligence,’ Trump continued.
He even shielded one of his closest aides from word of the meeting.
‘Nobody knew – not even Rhona, my executive assistant for years. She didn’t know – I didn’t tell her. Nobody knew,’ Trump continued – drawing laughter from collected family members and staff.
Having set the trap, Trump says the word leaked anyway.
‘The meeting was held. They left, and immediately the word got out that I had a meeting. So, I don’t want that. It’s very unfair to the country. It’s very unfair to our country what’s happening,’ he said.
Which means — besides the fact that he just leaked his own leak about a secret briefing — that he caught them. The USIC did leak it. Probably not the briefers themselves but they have staff, people who actually compile the information and put it together for delivery to the President. They’re deliberately fucking with him the same way they ratfucked Patreaus.
And it seems to be working.
Only yesterday the committee chairman Richard Burr, a Republican, had told reporters that connections between the president-elect and Moscow would be outside the remit of his committee’s ongoing investigation into Russia’s allegedattempts to influence the election through hacking and other cyberattacks.
But Burr – in a statement issued jointly with the panel’s top Democrat, Mark Warner – said the committee would use “subpoenas if necessary” to force Trump’s team, as well as officials from the Obama administration, to testify.
“As part of the Senate select committee on intelligence’s oversight responsibilities, we believe that it is critical to have a full understanding of the scope of Russian intelligence activities impacting the United States,” the statement said.
Among other things, the inquiry will examine “counterintelligence concerns related to Russia and the 2016 US election, including any intelligence regarding links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns”
You get all these guys subpoenaed under oath and let them lie like they usually do and then the real facts start coming out and it’s “Game Over, man, Game Over!”