Patterico's Pontifications

5/30/2023

Constitutional Vanguard: The Misinformation in the Steele Dossier Was Likely a Russian Operation to Help . . . Donald Trump? Yes, Donald Trump.

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:10 am



My latest piece — 9,000 words for the paid subscribers, while freeloaders get only 5,000 of those — explains why I think that John Durham is right that the Steele dossier had Russian misinformation . . . but I think that misinformation was planted there for the benefit of Donald Trump. How could I possibly think that? Well, all I can say is that Bill Browder agrees. This I know because I read his book.

After reading Browder’s compelling account of Glenn Simpson’s pro-Kremlin antics in Freezing Order, I am convinced that this theory is not only a possibility; it is the most likely scenario. The Russians deliberately planted disinformation in the dossier . . . false information connecting Trump and the Russians, so they could later show that information to be false, and discredit the entire narrative that Trump was in bed with the Kremlin.

In the extended entry for the paid subscribers I analyze the main takeaways from the Durham report and give my analysis as to why I think the Durham report is consistent with my belief that the Russians planted disinformation in the Steele dossier to help Trump. Excerpt:

There is no doubt that the Steele dossier is at the center of most of the complaints Republicans have made about the FBI’s investigation into Trump. And many of those complaints are indeed valid. Let me take a moment to drive that home. We pretty much knew from the Inspector General Horowitz’s report in 2019 — and Durham has added little to this — that the FBI was very sloppy and cavalier about how it treated its representations in the FISA warrants on Carter Page. In particular, the way they uncritically used the Steele dossier, and failed to include relevant caveats and exculpatory information—and the way they ignored Danchenko’s previous connections to the Russian government, as detailed above!—was unprofessional and in, at least one instance, even criminal. Horowitz shined the light on errors so pervasive that it is hard to believe they were not systematic.

Moreover, although Horowitz found no political bias in the opening of the investigation or the handling of the Steele dossier, the texts between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok were quite biased, unprofessional, and inappropriate.

But with all that said, the dossier’s significance to the Trump presidency has been wildly exaggerated, and its significance to the Mueller investigation is nonexistent.

Read it here. Subscribe here.

44 Responses to “Constitutional Vanguard: The Misinformation in the Steele Dossier Was Likely a Russian Operation to Help . . . Donald Trump? Yes, Donald Trump.”

  1. Several random points.
    One, the link didn’t get me there, but I got there anyway and I’ll assume you already fixed it.

    Two, there’s no doubt that Hillary intended to throw a ton of smeary dirt at Trump during the campaign, with the help of FusionGPS oppo research, paid with laundered money via Perkins Coie, but the practical result was that it didn’t hurt Trump politically. For one, his corruption is already baked into political equations.
    For another, Trump successfully turned this one trashy report into a maligning of any and all investigations of him as they related to Russia, no matter how legitimate those investigations were. Like his Election Fraud Hoax, he trotted out his Russia Hoax talking point ad nauseum, conflating two separate issues into One Big Russia Hoax Thing. The FBI didn’t help, what with the Carter Page FISA warrant applications.

    Three, I’m open to the possibility that Russian intelligence fed Danchenko a load of crap, much of which was too fantastic to believe let alone confirm. I suspect Putin actually has confirmable kompromat on Trump, but it’s only a suspicion. Since Putin wanted Trump to win, the Kremlin had no motive in giving Steele truthful intel.

    Four, to deflect from his own corruption, Trump’s successful schtick is to turn it around and declare that all his detractors are corrupt, not him. To me, it’s obvious what he’s been pulling, but an unnerving number have bought into this massive case of projection. The FBI may have uncomfortable levels of incompetence and bias, but I haven’t seen evidence that they’re corrupt, but IMO they mainly got this dirty reputation because of Trump’s years’ long smear campaign against them, and amplified by his amen chorus.

    Five, on Russia, Trump can do one thing to prove his claim that he’s actually tough on Putin, and that’s make a public statement condemning Putin’s invasions (which I’ve never seen him do), urge Putin to end his war and withdraw from all of Ukraine, and state that no sanctions will be lifted until Ukraine is restored to its pre-2014 status. Since you’re betting houses, Patterico, I’ll bet mine that Trump will never say something like that, even if Putin drops a nuke.

    Six, I wasn’t aware how closely Glenn Simpson was tied to Russians. What a sumbich.

    Seven, regarding Durham and predications, someone tell me this: Was there ever a presidential campaign that had more contacts with a hostile foreign power than Trump’s in 2016? Or even a non-hostile power for that matter?
    Related, was there ever a hostile foreign power that meddled more in an American presidential election than Putin in 2016?. The answers to me are an obvious “none” and “none”, and it’s why Durham’s opinions about full vs. preliminary investigations are full of sh-t. That, and there isn’t that great deal of difference between the two scopes of work, from what I’ve read.

    Eight, there are a slew of FBI/DOJ officials who’ve been harshly criticized by the Trumpist Right, such as Weissman, Mueller, Comey, Strzok, McCabe, etc. Is there a name of a senior official who was involved that you don’t hear? Yes, it’s Bill Priestap. He seems to be one guy who’s been above reproach, and a reliable source spanning multiple investigations.

    Nine, if you want to know how prominent Steele reports were in the Mueller investigation, pull up the Mueller report and do a word count. Steele is mentioned 28 times, mostly ancillary and incidentally. Manafort is mentioned 516 times, by comparison.

    Paul Montagu (8f0dc7)

  2. Paul, I agree with all of your points and I think they are all consistent with (and I think some of them are made in) my piece. Great stuff.

    Also I did not realize the link was bad. Thanks for telling me. It’s fixed now.

    I feel like this one landed with a thud, at least so far. Maybe it will get picked up by someone but so far it seems totally overlooked. I find that frustrating because, as I think you can tell if you are one of the few people who read the whole dang thing, I worked on it pretty hard. And I think it advances the public conversation in a way I have not seen expressed elsewhere.

    At least, it might advance that conversation, if anyone knew about it and read it.

    Patterico (3bb61b)

  3. Also deleted a meaningless sentence fragment from the post. Thanks to DRJ for alerting me to that.

    Patterico (ef4035)

  4. This is a really interesting idea. I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m not sure it will get legs since it doesn’t advance either narrative.

    Time123 (ab94c9)

  5. I think it advances an anti-Trump narrative, although I think I am even-handed about the flaws in the FBI investigation. But it performs a bit of jiu-jitsu on the argument that obviously the presence of Russian-derived misinformation in the Steele dossier shows the Russians were out to get Trump. Quite to the contrary, I believe they were trying to give him a counter argument once the dirt on his connections to Russia hit the press. And it has worked beautifully. Just look at the reaction to the Durham report!

    I think the argument is pretty solid. The Glenn Simpson connection is the cherry on top of a sundae that already was the only logical conclusion when you consider how badly the Russians wanted Trump in office.

    Patterico (cbf686)

  6. That’s a good point. But it’s a complicated argument and would be harder to follow for ppl not close into it.

    Time123 (ab94c9)

  7. I believe they were trying to give him a counter argument once the dirt on his connections to Russia hit the press. And it has worked beautifully. Just look at the reaction to the Durham report!

    it also reminds me of how Barr used his position to handle Trump’s legal problems.

    DRJ (2c762c)

  8. Good piece, and it got me to sign up as a paid subscriber. But not sure that I buy that the Russians specifically wanted to help Trump, as opposed to wanting to create mischief and weaken whoever won the 2016 election. Certainly they wanted to hurt Hillary, but isn’t it likely their main goal was to create suspicion and distrust about both candidates? While Trump was able to function as president and have some success in implementing policies, the Steele allegations had him under a cloud for a long time. If the idea was to ultimately benefit Trump by making allegations that could be easily disproven, it took quite a while for that to come about.

    Also — and this is just a side point that doesn’t affect the main conclusions — it seemed that the piece was a little too hard on the supervisory FBI agent who got emotional and left the room after being shown the information on the so-called “Clinton Plan.” The Durham report also said that the agent was told that the information was unverified and that his reaction was that whether it was accurate or not he should have been told about it. That makes him seem a little less naive or credulous and more like someone upset in a “what else wasn’t I told about?” kind of way. Maybe give the guy a break?

    My 2 cents: Trump is a bad guy, a bully with a soft spot for other bullies like Putin, and a wholly unworthy representative of a populist movement. The movement itself deserves respect, but its criticisms of the anti-democratic actions of the elites are, unfortunately, often discredited because Trump also makes those criticisms, solely for his own benefit like virtually everything else he does. I don’t see him as pro-Russia, per se, or really sincerely pro-anything except pro-Trump, and to that end he will say or do anything. It’s depressing to think that he actually has a chance to be elected president in 2024. Once upon a time, if a non-politician became president, it was someone solid like Eisenhower (or even Grant, for all his faults). Now we have a major party that may decide, again, to nominate a moral zero like Trump. How far the US has fallen.

    RL formerly in Glendale (7a2d64)

  9. Good article, Patterico.

    It was a tactic Trump would appreciate. “Red herrings” are part of his daily diet. With leftovers to feed his grievance.

    nk (689034)

  10. But not sure that I buy that the Russians specifically wanted to help Trump…

    The Mueller and GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee reports established that Putin was acting to help Trump win, and to sow chaos and discord.

    Paul Montagu (8f0dc7)

  11. The Russians deliberately planted disinformation in the dossier . . . false information connecting Trump and the Russians, so they could later show that information to be false, and discredit the entire narrative that Trump was in bed with the Kremlin. That’s more like something that Bill and Hillary Clinton would do – and did, in the 1990s. Like the speech that Bill Clinton gave to Treasury Department employees on March 17, 1993, claiming that 3 of the 4 ATF agents killed on February 28, 1993 had been assigned to his security. (this is known as a red herring)

    This is what I think:

    1) The Russians knew that Christopher Steele was collecting information on why Putin wanted Trump to win.

    2) This was a genuine search for information on the part of the Clinton campaign.

    3) The Russians did not know that Steele was working for the Clintons – because he never told anyone. That was his big secret he kept from anyone he asked. And he had been hired specifically, (being British and all that) so that it would not be traced to the Democrats.

    4) So it was naturally assumed by the Russians that he was (still, or on contract) working for MI6, or possibly, British Conservatives.

    5) The Russians did not ignore Christopher Steele, because they didn’t want the British to begin to doubt all that Steele had reported years before. Because that was also disinformation. Steele had to continue to believe that he had good sources, and that people in the Russian government readily talked and gave away secrets

    6) The Russians assumed that none of their anti-Trump information would leak, so it was not at cross purposes with their attempts to help Trump get elected.

    7) The intent of Putin was to mislead the British government – with the possibility that, in the event Trump got elected, they could build distrust between the UK government and the United States – thus splitting the closest alliance the United States had.,

    8) More important than that, was simply to conceal the real reason Putin wanted to see Trump elected.

    9) They were:

    A) Because he thought that Hillary Clinton was against him, because Victoria Nuland had been instrumental in co-ordinating (simply by being a means of encouragement and communication) the Maidan Revolution (Революція гідності, romanized: Revoliutsiia hidnosti, translation Revolution of Dignity) in February 2014 that removed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych from power. He thought Victoria Nuland was one of Hillary’s women.

    She was not because if she had been she would have left the State Department shortly after she did. Putin thought that Hillary had some principles, and diminishing his power an separating Ukraine from Russian influence was one of them.

    Incidentally, in this connection we have an example of Hillary seeding the media false information, because she repeatedly claimed that she thought that Putin was against her because she had criticized the 2011 Russian Parliamentary elections, so she couldn’t have been allied with him in 2013, but in reality the statement was pro forma and the break betweenn the Clintons and Putin came in 2014

    B) Putin hoped to plant agents of influence in a future Trump Administration. His best hopes were Nike Flynn and Paul Manafort.

    10) The false reasons that Russian intelligence gave to Christopher Steele for Putin’s favorable attitude toward Trump consisted mainly of two different ideas: (if one doesn’t work, try another)

    A) Putin had “compromat” on Trump. This was intended to be believable – it’s just that Russia had comparatively little accurate judgment of Trump and America. The idea that Trump hated Obama and arranged for the soiling of a bed he had once slept in sounded plausible (only) to a Russian.

    B) Trump and Russia had been working together for a long time, somewhat like armand Hammer.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  12. 10. Paul Montagu (8f0dc7) — 5/30/2023 @ 4:15 pm

    The Mueller and GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee reports established that Putin was acting to help Trump win,

    I mean, what was the purposes of leaking the DNC emails?

    and to sow chaos and discord.

    That’s an alternative explanation.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  13. Great decision, RL! Patterico’s Substack is terrific.

    The Russions, especially the KGB and Putin, have been using disinformation against the West for decades. I agree with Patterico that it was designed to help Trump and/or to hide how intensely the Russians were cultivating Trump.

    But it doesn’t matter if people aren’t sure what Russia’s goals were. The point of Russian disinformation is to confuse, create chaos, and make people give up trying to learn the truth or to believe truth can be known. As we see with the Steele Dossier and the Durham Report, it worked beautifully.

    DRJ (fd3827)

  14. RL formerly in Glendale (7a2d64) — 5/30/2023 @ 2:56 pm

    If the idea was to ultimately benefit Trump by making allegations that could be easily disproven, it took quite a while for that to come about.

    That wasn’t the idea.

    The idea was to not shake Christopher Steele’s belief – and the belief of MI6 – that he could penetrate the Russian government and had done that successfully ten years before- by giving him answers. False ones, of course.

    It may have been in part deliberately refutable – like naming meetings between Trump people and Russians that could never have taken place – in case it backfired in some way. But not so as to discredit the whole things,

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  15. What a great Substack article, Patterico.

    Does anyone have ideas how to get this post out for people to read, especially in government and journalism? We are always hearing about the dangers of foreign hacking and sometimes we see serious consequences in our real lives. Disinformation campaigns are as pervasive and dangerous.

    DRJ (fd3827)

  16. That’s an alternative explanation.

    Why not both, Sammy?

    Paul Montagu (8f0dc7)

  17. Retribution. When Trump said “I am your retribution” at Mar-a-Lago, he was talking to Putin. The downfall of America in retribution for the fall of the Soviet Union. And Trump, not Hillary, was the more likely candidate to accomplish it. To divide and destroy America.

    nk (b152ca)

  18. I really have no dog in this race, except to say that this dossier has been overthought to death by both sides. I think that it’s a lot simpler than people make it.

    The Russians created this clumsy attempt to inject dirt in the US presidential race. It was a well thought out as their invasion of Ukraine. Hillary picked it up as a club to hit Trump with, and Trump picked up the clumsy silliness of the package to attack Hillary with.

    In the end we had two incompetent buffoons slinging poo, and trying to make this into some complex plot is the same kind of 3-D chess that Trump excels in.

    But I could be wrong. God knows I haven’t spent enough time overthinking this as others have.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  19. Remember, the Russian goal was not to elect him or her, it was to convince as many Americans as possible that their country and its elections were no good. Sure, Trump is invested in that, too, but it’s not like he needs Putin to guide his monomaniacal self-interest.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  20. @18 russia bought a few internet ads that nobody saw. Despite the media their was no russia trump collusion. Hillary’s campaign of you have no choice but to vote for me or else! Voters in mich, penn. and wisc. chose or else.

    asset (9f38c3)

  21. RL formerly in Glendale,

    As usual, I think your points are totally within the bounds of rational discourse. We see things differently, but in each case you could be right and I could be wrong.

    My reaction to your two main points is:

    Yes, I think it’s conceivable that the Russians simply wanted to sow chaos. But I think it’s
    more likely they were primarily focused on getting Trump elected.

    First, our intelligence services were quite clear that Putin preferred Trump to Hillary. Unlike Trump, I trust our intelligence folks over Putin.

    And for the reasons I stated at length in the piece, they made a good call from their perspective. He was ridiculously accommodating to Putin and would be again. I view any actions they took planting disinformation unfavorable to him in that light.

    And the Glenn Simpson angle—which you did not address but which I thought was the most compelling piece of evidence—to me seals the deal.

    Sure, this meant that Trump operated under a cloud for a while as president. After all, I don’t think the Russians’ goal was to have Trump as an *effective* American president. They just wanted him instead of Hillary. Having him operate under a cloud was likely a bonus, as long as he got elected.

    As for the emotional FBI agent … I can see being annoyed at not being told something I think I should have known. But his “emotional” reaction as described in the Durham report—and to be fair, I wasn’t there, so I could be wrong—comes across like a guy who seemed to think this was a very significant piece of information that had been hidden from him. And I view it as laughably insignificant—the kind of thing that, if you told me, I would have reached back into my childhood days for an appropriate response:

    Well DUUHHHH!!

    Getting emotional about it strikes me as risible—and indicative of a certain sort of Trumpiness that is not uncommon among sworn law enforcement types.

    Whether Trump is truly pro-Russia out of conviction or is pro-Russia simply because Putin flatters him, is irrelevant to me. Either way he is pro-Russia. Elect him and you’re voting for Ukraine to lose. Which is unthinkable to me. Any movement that supports Trump is not worthy of respect in my eyes. Such a movement is worthy of deep contempt. YMMV.

    Love to hear from you as always, and proud to have you on board as a paid subscriber. Kick around the archives. I think you’ll find some worthwhile stuff there.

    Patterico (544a16)

  22. Whether Trump is truly pro-Russia out of conviction or is pro-Russia simply because Putin flatters him, is irrelevant to me. Either way he is pro-Russia. Elect him and you’re voting for Ukraine to lose.

    I can get to this without considering the Steele Dossier.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  23. @22 Do trump voters care if ukraine loses? The isolationists didn’t care if britian lost to hitler and I don’t think they care either. Before world war II the conservative government in britian didn’t care if franco and hitler won in spain or if italy defeated ethiopa. The japanese bombed and sank the uss panay in 1937 and we did nothing. During the vietnam war and afgan/iraq war conservatives supported killing the yellow man and muslims ;but like the bundists before world war II they support the dictator. As tucker carlson said why not support putin!

    asset (9f38c3)

  24. Page 12 of the Mueller report PDF…

    The IRA later used social media accounts and interest groups to sow discord in the U.S. political system through what it termed “information warfare.” The campaign evolved from a generalized program designed in 2014 and 2015 to undermine the U.S . electoral system, to a targeted operation that by early 2016 favored candidate Trump and disparaged candidate Clinton.

    Paul Montagu (8f0dc7)

  25. Paul Montagu (8f0dc7) — 5/31/2023 @ 5:49 am

    The campaign evolved from a generalized program designed in 2014 and 2015 to undermine the U.S . electoral system, to a targeted operation that by early 2016 favored candidate Trump and disparaged candidate Clinton.

    That’s probably about right, Because Putin couldn;t know tthat Donald Trump had a shot – and a serious shot – at the presidency until about the late summer of 2015. And the DNC information was not leaked until after it had been discovered – to leak was a separate decision.

    In October, 2016, Putin was believing the polls, and gave up hope for Trump/ (when exactly did Manafort share internal Trump poll results with a Russian government operative?)

    And Putin actually tried to take the presidency away from Donald Trump (through Jill Stein’s recounts) when it looked to him that Trump might be anti-Russia because he was discussing making Mitt Romney Secretary of State after the election. But that phase didn’t last long.

    Sammy Finkelnan (c66955)

  26. I agree that the Steele Dossier seems like the perfect misdirection. However, it emerged in part just before the 2016 election. Certainly it was unsubstantiated and unverified “raw intelligence”, but it seeded suspicion that Trump’s odd Putin admiration and soft perspective on Russia in the election run-up was because Putin had something on Trump, most likely some sort of financial entanglement. So, one would argue that the benefit to Trump did not occur until after the election. Before the election, the dossier operated against Trump creating some Manchurian-scale doubt about his “vettedness”.

    Now, one could counter-argue that the over-the-toppedness of the dossier…with pee tapes and the like…could also come across as grossly unfair, and could generate sympathy and be seen as the elites trying to slime the great outsider candidate. Perhaps, but I would need to see polling data about the pre-election impact of the Steele dossier. I would imagine the Comey announcement of the Hillary server investigation was a bigger influencer. Still, we can consider it as a long-play by Putin just in case Trump did defy the odds and win to protect his “asset”. Certainly the Far Right obliged by appropriately mocking the dossier’s claims and using that to delegitimize everything Russia (cue Jan Brady complaining Russia, Russia, Russia!). There will be confirmation bias here. Like Montagu, I too suspect that Putin does actually have something on Trump…and NATO is the prize. I can never risk that possibility….but I remain an outlier in the conservative electorate.

    AJ_Liberty (5f05c3)

  27. asset (9f38c3) — 5/30/2023 @ 10:29 pm

    @18 russia bought a few internet ads that nobody saw.

    The whole thing hurt Trump more than it helped.

    Despite the media their was no russia trump collusion.

    Trump had no secret back channel to Moscoe=w. We know that several ways. Putin probably never thought if taking Trumpm into his confidence. But I think that in some way he got Mike Flynn in.

    Sammy Finkelnan (c66955)

  28. Re the emotional agent:

    First, I agree the Durham Report description makes it seem like he was hurt/betrayed/etc that he was not told about the formal CIA memo sent to the top FBI officials that Clinton was trying to tie Trump to Russia.

    Note: Who wasn’t tying Trump to Russia? Trump, Pappadapoulos, Manafort, Stone, and others had ties. Hillary must have been using the mildest opposition research in presidential history.

    Second, the emotional agent doesn’t get to decide what his superiors tell him. It was his job to investigate and come to conclusions, just as the CIA had investigated and reached conclusions. The FBI general counsel said he would have been more skeptical of the Trump-Russia story if he had known about the CIA memo revealing the Clinton Plan. One hallmark of independent investigations is to not taint the various investigations by sharing conclusions in advance. They certainly wouldn’t have told the lead investigator in advance, if they wanted aan impartial investigation.

    But I could see the emotional agent wanting all the information he could get. I doubt Crossfire Hurricane did much to help his career and probably hurt it. Hearing that information may have made him feel he could have escaped the fallout from the investigation, if he had only known. IMO that might explain the emotion.

    DRJ (fd3827)

  29. FWIW Durham could have left the agent’s emotions out of the report, or he could have done much more to explain the agent’s emotion and abrupt leaving. I feel sure the emotional agent was asked why he was upset and left the room. The more interesting question to me is why Durham put that in the report and left it dangling there.

    DRJ (fd3827)

  30. . So, one would argue that the benefit to Trump did not occur until after the election. Before the election, the dossier operated against Trump creating some Manchurian-scale doubt about his “vettedness”.

    in the general election, Trump was dealing with the rape stories, the Access Hollywood leak, etc. He was relying on FAKE NEWS to absolve him of everything thrown at him, and it worked.

    DRJ (fd3827)

  31. To me, he got to the point he embraced the allegations because the more dirt that came out, the more people tuned out. All they remembered was FAKE NEWS.

    DRJ (fd3827)

  32. The Constitutional Vanguard piece was great, and the discussion in this thread very productive. My mind was changed more than once. Kudos all around.

    lurker (cd7cd4)

  33. Paul Montagu (8f0dc7) — 5/30/2023 @ 11:03 am

    Two, there’s no doubt that Hillary intended to throw a ton of smeary dirt at Trump during the campaign, with the help of Fusion GPS oppo research, paid with laundered money via Perkins Coie, but the practical result was that it didn’t hurt Trump politically. For one, his corruption is already baked into political equations.

    The main dirt was that Putin was supporting Trump, which she tried to make worse than it was.

    The Fusion GPS hiring of Christopher Steele was a genuine search for information (or else she could made things up much cheaper) She got lemons -nothing was believable – but she decided to make lemonade.

    She mainly tried to get an FBI investigation started (and that fact leaked) so she could neutralize the FBI investigation of her. If it affects both major candidates, it’s not a deciding factor.

    For another, Trump successfully turned this one trashy report into a maligning of any and all investigations of him as they related to Russia, no matter how legitimate those investigations were. Like his Election Fraud Hoax, he trotted out his Russia Hoax talking point ad nauseum, conflating two separate issues into One Big Russia Hoax Thing. The FBI didn’t help, what with the Carter Page FISA warrant applications.

    Three, I’m open to the possibility that Russian intelligence fed Danchenko a load of crap, much of which was too fantastic to believe let alone confirm. I suspect Putin actually has confirmable kompromat on Trump, but it’s only a suspicion. Since Putin wanted Trump to win, the Kremlin had no motive in giving Steele truthful intel.

    Four, to deflect from his own corruption, Trump’s successful schtick is to turn it around and declare that all his detractors are corrupt, not him. To me, it’s obvious what he’s been pulling, but an unnerving number have bought into this massive case of projection. The FBI may have uncomfortable levels of incompetence and bias, but I haven’t seen evidence that they’re corrupt, but IMO they mainly got this dirty reputation because of Trump’s years’ long smear campaign against them, and amplified by his amen chorus.

    Five, on Russia, Trump can do one thing to prove his claim that he’s actually tough on Putin, and that’s make a public statement condemning Putin’s invasions (which I’ve never seen him do), urge Putin to end his war and withdraw from all of Ukraine, and state that no sanctions will be lifted until Ukraine is restored to its pre-2014 status. Since you’re betting houses, Patterico, I’ll bet mine that Trump will never say something like that, even if Putin drops a nuke.

    Six, I wasn’t aware how closely Glenn Simpson was tied to Russians. What a sumbich.

    Seven, regarding Durham and predications, someone tell me this: Was there ever a presidential campaign that had more contacts with a hostile foreign power than Trump’s in 2016? Or even a non-hostile power for that matter?
    Related, was there ever a hostile foreign power that meddled more in an American presidential election than Putin in 2016?. The answers to me are an obvious “none” and “none”, and it’s why Durham’s opinions about full vs. preliminary investigations are full of sh-t. That, and there isn’t that great deal of difference between the two scopes of work, from what I’ve read.

    Eight, there are a slew of FBI/DOJ officials who’ve been harshly criticized by the Trumpist Right, such as Weissman, Mueller, Comey, Strzok, McCabe, etc. Is there a name of a senior official who was involved that you don’t hear? Yes, it’s Bill Priestap. He seems to be one guy who’s been above reproach, and a reliable source spanning multiple investigations.

    Nine, if you want to know how prominent Steele reports were in the Mueller investigation, pull up the Mueller report and do a word count. Steele is mentioned 28 times, mostly ancillary and incidentally. Manafort is mentioned 516 times, by comparison.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  34. #21

    Thanks for the kind words. I look forward to reading more CV articles.

    And just to clarify, the “movement” I have respect for predates Trump’s emergence as a political figure and will in all probability continue long after he is a memory. It’s a shame he has hijacked it but this too shall pass, or at least I hope it will.

    RL formerly in Glendale (7a2d64)

  35. I would imagine the Comey announcement of the Hillary server investigation was a bigger influencer.

    I would imagine that every day of the Washington Post’s continual disparagement of Trump before the election was more of an influence than anything Putin might do — at least among people who read the Washington Post.

    However since Trump voters are not big on the MSM, the biggest single influences helping Trump secure his votes were:

    1) Hillary’s clear disdain for Trump’s “deplorables”
    2) Hillary collapsing on camera and
    3) Hillary’s platform of “more of the same.”

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  36. For one, his corruption is already baked into political equations.

    Indeed. It wasn’t that Trump’s voters didn’t understand what an assh0le he was, and maybe a bit crooked, but that the alternative they were presented with was far far worse.

    [insert several paragraphs reiterating the economic stress of the working class]

    Trump was the only one who said he would correct things, and if he was a bit of an assh0le, well, maybe that was a good thing.

    I will point out that 70% of Biden’s economic plan (the part that doesn’t involve printing money) is completely stolen from Trump. China? Check. Supporting domestic manufacturers? Check. Trade barriers for “unfair” imports? Check. Go back and listen to his SotU if you don’t see it yet.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  37. To the host. Sometimes conversations take off, and others are like heavy lift rockets that need to build power. The post was interesting and made me think, consider a unique point of view. You can ask my wife how much heavy lifting that takes

    steveg (71e1c9)

  38. The Constitutional Vanguard piece was great, and the discussion in this thread very productive. My mind was changed more than once. Kudos all around.

    Thanks. There can hardly be a better compliment. I think this has been one of the better discussion threads I have seen.

    Patterico (599b82)

  39. @35 The single biggest influence helping trump were angry bernie sanders supporters. ( your number 3 would be part of this.) Trump became president in 2016 because bernie sanders supporters in mi, pa. and wi. voted for jill stein (check the difference in her 2012 and 2016 vote totals in those 3 states) voted for trump (check Iowa and other states for obama/trump voters) Or left top of the ticket blank as 70,000 did in michigan ;but voted down ballot democrat. Your 1, 2, and comey letter had no effect as sanders voters like everyone else hated the clintons for years. Biden in 2020 held out his hand to sanders voter instead of giving the back of it as hillary did in 2016. I still voted (wrote in) green party ticket in 2020.

    asset (7c7f4e)

  40. IMO one of the negative consequences of having a manipulative government and political leaders, as opposed to a transparent government and political leaders, is that people are more willing to see conspiracies behind every government action. It is corrosive.

    DRJ (fd3827)

  41. that the FBI was very sloppy and cavalier about how it treated its representations in the FISA warrants on Carter Page.

    I think the FBI was probably very sloppy and cavalier on all FISA application warrants and didn’t take the requirements seriously.

    With Carter Page I think the FBI made a strategic decision to give Senator Harry Reid and the Democrats a little bit of what they wanted. Carter Page was carefully selected because he no longer was involved with the Trump campaign, so it would not involve the possibility of spying on a major presidential campaign.

    The Steele dossier was used (and also laundered through Yahoo so it should appear as a second source) in the FISA warrant application but the underlying counterintelligence investigation was started earlier and involved a misreading of what has been told to somebody else:

    Disinformation that Russia might have Hillary’s deleted emails, which was later interpreted a truthful (why would a Russian agent tell the truth?) and as referring to the hacked and leaked DNC emaiis,

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  42. I think that one of the reasons that Biden is pushing advanced arms to Ukraine is that he’s concerned about what Trump might do if he wins. There’s a sense that Putin is now marking time, hoping that Trump will pull the plug.

    Shorter: Trump is to Ukraine as Jane Fonda is to South Vietnam. Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  43. people are more willing to see conspiracies behind every government action.

    When there ARE conspiracies behind some of those actions, it’s not unreasonable to see them everywhere. Sometimes though the “conspiracies” are just like-minded people marching in step.

    Kevin M (2d6744)

  44. Kevin M (2d6744) — 6/2/2023 @ 8:45 am

    . There’s a sense that Putin is now marking time, hoping that Trump will pull the plug.

    Zelensky thinks the war might be over by the time Trump could get a chance to do anything. Or that’s the plan. Jan 2025 is too far into the future to worry about.

    Sammy Finkelnan (89a911)


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