Throughout the past two years, which seem more like two centuries, we've witnessed myriad episodes of the unapologetic incompetence of Donald Trump and his surrogates. I don't think we need to do the complete list, but there's one area that stands out more than most today. Specifically, it's kind of amazing Trump won the presidency given how he knows nothing about politics. Indeed, his political doofery makes the notion of Russian help even stronger. He simply couldn't have done it alone without the Kremlin's training wheels.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post dropped a story in which reporters Adam Entous, Devlin Barrett and Rosalind S. Helderman describe how the Democratic National Committee helped to finance the authoring of the notorious "Steele Dossier," a relatively brief document detailing the various links between Trump, his surrogates and the Russian government.
Yes, it's the same dossier that includes the "pee-pee tape," but it also goes into significant detail about contacts between Trumpers like Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn with Russian power-players such as Vladimir Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, and a cast of a dozen other Russians. Russian pop-star Emin Agalarov makes an appearance, as does Julian Assange and even Jill Stein. The document lays it all out: the hacking efforts, the trolls, the disinformation campaigns on social media. All of it.
And, yes, we already knew that the DNC and the Clinton campaign picked up the financing of the dossier after a mysterious Republican donor, possibly linked to Jeb!, walked away once Trump secured the GOP nomination. According to the new Post article, the DNC and the Hillary campaign were repped by the law firm of Perkins Coie and Marc Elias, who hired Fusion GPS and Steele.
Among others, Mother Jones reporter David Corn, way back on Halloween Day, 2016, noted that the the Democrats helped finance the document, and how former MI6 agent Christopher Steele joined the opposition research effort thereafter. CNN added its two-cents back in January.
That's the extent of it. There's a dossier with dirt about Trump's collusion with the Russian attack on our election. Exactly none of it has been discredited, as some have reported. Information found in the dossier has been re-created by the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to Republican Chairman Richard Burr. Part of the dossier was paid for by Republicans during the primaries, the rest was covered by the Democrats during the general. Bipartisanship at its finest. And none of it is beneficial to Trump. So, you'd imagine the White House and the president himself would prefer to keep our eyeballs far, far away from anything resembling the notion of a Trump-Russia dossier.
But nooooo. These fumbling dinguses are using the Post article as a springboard to inexplicably focus more attention on the dossier, as if they want us to continuously discuss its content, despite the reality that none of it is favorable to Trump or his people. In that regard, thanks, Trumpers! This isn't just politically stupid, it's a dumb idea in any endeavor. If you want people to avoid endlessly mulling damaging information, don't call attention to the damaging information. Now, Trump, Trump Junior and their fanboys at Fox News and elsewhere can't stop talking about it.
Not only are these political gumps re-injecting the dossier into the national conversation, they're also suffering from an obvious reading comprehension problem because contrary to what they're saying, there's nothing in the Post article that links Hillary with Russia, or the DNC with Russia, for that matter. Nothing! Nevertheless, the above roster of brainless psychonauts seem to believe the dossier was compiled in association with Russian intelligence, and while some of it might be disinformation (aka. "deza") circulated by Russia's FSB, the document is absolutely not a Russian project. At all. Indeed, the Steele dossier exposes the Russian plot to attack the United States, both in terms of its goals and its methods.
The only link to Russia we can find is maybe, kinda-sorta, through an American law firm known as BakerHostetler. Bear with me here. Fusion GPS, the opposition research agency that originally began compiling the dossier, performed some separate contract work for BakerHostetler, which was hired to defend a crooked Russian/Cyprus outfit controlled by Kremlin-backed oligarchs called Prevezon Holdings in a case brought against it by the U.S. government. A tax fraud scheme by Prevezon was the target of an attorney named Sergei Magnitsky, who was eventually imprisoned by the Russian government and died after being relentlessly tortured.
The Washington Post's Josh Rogin confirmed that the two projects were entirely separate: "[Fusion GPS's] work on the Trump dossier was on a different timeline."
But Trumpers are making it appear as if Hillary Clinton herself colluded with Russia to create the dossier, despite the fact there's zero reporting along those lines. In other words, they're making it up. Fusion GPS wasn't hired by Prevezon or the Russia government. Hillary Clinton, it's also worth noting, is despised by Putin.
However, the following information about Don Junior might be worth knowing.
It turns out that a Russian named Natalia Veselnitskaya (remember her?) worked with BakerHostetler on both the Prevezon fraud case and the law firm's lobbying against the "Magnitsky Act," a menu of sanctions applied against Russia in retaliation for its torture and murder of Magnitsky, the man. And by now you know that Don Junior met with Veselnitskaya and other Russian operatives on June 9, 2016 to discuss the lifting of the Magnitsky sanctions and to receive damaging information that Russia had compiled about Hillary Clinton. The meeting represents the very definition of collusion/conspiracy and the whole deal directly involves Junior, Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.
Junior/Kushner/Manafort --> Veselnitskaya/Akmetshin --> Kremlin.
Fusion GPS --> BakerHostetler --> Veselnitskaya --> Prevezon --> Kremlin.
Republicans/Hillary/DNC --> Perkins Coie --> Fusion GPS --> Steele --> The Dossier.
Take a look where each thread ends. Frankly, given these links, I'd much rather be the Republicans/Hillary/DNC group than Junior/Kushner/Manafort group right now, wouldn't you?
Oh, and one last thing. BakerHostetler was also retained by the congressional Republicans in their 2014 lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. The firm later backed out. Whoops.
So, yes. By all means, let's talk about Veselnitskaya, the dossier, BakerHostetler, Prevezon, sanctions and the Magnitsky Act. The more eyeballs the better. Denizens of Trumpland, camped out in front of their Fox News Skinner Box, should learn more about the dossier anyway. Maybe some of them will read it. (Or they can download and listen to me reading the dossier word-for-word here.)
Even if Mueller decides to take a look at any DNC links to Russia (perhaps he already has), it won't matter. The links to the Democrats have nothing to do with the Prevezon case or collusion with Russians. The links to Don Junior, on the other hand, have everything to do with collusion and, secondarily, the Prevezon fiasco -- all told, Junior literally confessed to meeting with Veselnitskaya & Company.
Hell, if it turns out there's some sort of connection between Hillary and the Kremlin, let's hear it. If such a link exists and there's enough legitimate reporting about it, as there has been about Trump and Russia, I'll join the chorus shouting about a conspiracy involving Hillary, too. But for now, it's all Trump, and if he continues to bungle and botch his way through the politics on the Steele matter, it might just rocket-propel us closer to indictments.