By Paul Roderick Gregory
The role of Fusion GPS and one of its key associates, a former Soviet intelligence officer, must raise the question as to whether the Steele dossier, which was orchestrated by a suspected unregistered agent of Russia, was a plant by Russian intelligence to harm Donald Trump?
David Satter, one of our top experts on Russia and himself expelled by the Kremlin, writes:
Perhaps most important, Russian intelligence also acted to sabotage Mr. Trump. The ‘Trump dossier, full of unverified sexual and political allegations, was published in January by BuzzFeed, despite having all the hallmarks of Russian spy agency ‘creativity.’ The dossier was prepared by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer. It employed standard Russian techniques of disinformation and manipulation.
Much of the credibility of the Orbis dossier hinges on Steele’s reputation as a former M15 intelligence agent. Satter writes, however, that “after the publication of the Trump dossier, Mr. Steele went into hiding, supposedly in fear for his life. On March 15, however, Michael Morell, the former acting CIA director, told NBC that Mr. Steele had paid the Russian intelligence sources who provided the information and never met with them directly. In other words, his sources were not only working for pay. Furthermore, Mr. Steele had no way to judge the veracity of their claims.”
If Steele disappeared for fear of his life, we must suspect that he feared murder by Russian agents. The only secret he might have had to warrant such a drastic Russian action would be knowledge that Russian intelligence prepared the dossier.
According to a Vanity Fair article, Fusion GPS was first funded by an anti-Trump Republican donor, but, after Trump’s nomination, Fusion and Steele were paid by Democratic donors whose identity remains secret. Writes Satter: “Perhaps the time has come to expand the investigation into Russia’s meddling to include Mrs. Clinton’s campaign as well.”
As someone who has read every word of the Steele Trump dossier and has studied the Soviet Union/Russia for almost a half century, I can say that the Steele dossier consists of raw intelligence from informants identified by capital letters, who claim (improbably) to have access to the highest levels of the Kremlin. The dossier was not, as the press reports, written by Steele. No matter how experienced (or gullible) Steele might be, there is no way for him to know whether his sources are clandestine Russian intelligence agents.
In Stalin’s day, some of the most valued KGB (NKVD) agents were called “novelists,” for their ability to conjure up fictional plots and improbable tales to use against their enemies. Some of Steele’s sources claim detailed knowledge of the deepest Kremlin secrets, such as Putin’s personal control of Clinton emails or negotiations with Putin’s head of the national oil company. If they truly had such knowledge, why would they “sell” it to Steele? The most likely explanation is that the Steele dossier is the work of Russian intelligence “novelists” charged by the Kremlin with defaming Trump and adding chaos to the American political system.
Mueller’s Difficult Task
While leaks from within the investigation focus on possible obstruction of justice, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s writ – to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election – requires him to consider “matters” that Dems would prefer be left alone.
Special Counsel Mueller has been given a broad charge and no deadline — a formula for trouble. He is supposed to “investigate Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election.” Given the many accounts of Russian contacts of Trump campaign officials and hangers-on, Mueller must follow these leads, which apparently have lead nowhere over a nine month investigation as reported even by Trump unfriendly sources like CNN. Mueller, therefore, should not require much time to rule out coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia state actors. Mueller must be careful to avoid detours into loosely related issue by scalp-hunting investigators. Mueller also must shut down leaks from within his office, if he wishes his reports to be credible to the American people.
Mueller must also conduct an investigation which is perceived as fair to both sides. On the Clinton/Democratic side, there are a number of unanswered questions related to Russian electoral intervention. Among them is the question of whether the “wiped clean” Clinton e-mails are in Russian hands (as asserted by the Steele dossier), whether the tarmac meeting of Bill Clinton and the Attorney General quashed the investigation of Hillary’s e-mails, and whether the Clintons and Russian uranium interests engaged in quid pro quo and “pay to play” operations.
The most important unanswered question is whether the Clinton campaign funded the Orbis Trump smear campaign and did they understand the campaign could be conducted by Russian intelligence?
Mueller must question Steele himself on his sources and some of the sources themselves, investigate whether they could be Russian intelligence agents, and determine the role of Clinton donors and campaign officials in the funding of the anti-Trump dossier.
The Fusion-Steele matter is explosive because it suggests that Russia’s most damaging intervention in the 2016 campaign may have been its creation of the Steele Dossier, remarkably paid for by the Clinton campaign! If so, the Clinton campaign (not Trump) was the prime sponsor of Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election.
Paul Roderick Gregory is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, at Stanford, and energy fellow and Cullen Professor of Economics at the University of Houston. He is also a research professor at the German Institute for Economic Research Berlin. His specialties are Russia and Comparative Economics. He has written more than 20 books on economics, Russia and comparative economics.www.paulgregorysblog.blogspot.com
This article was first published by Forbes –