A Special Report from the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism; Cliff Kincaid, Director
FBI Director James Comey has been caught going around to secret Congressional briefings in “recent weeks” touting the lurid fake “Trump dossier.” He has been claiming that it is a major foundation of the FBI’s investigation of purported Russian collusion with Trump to interfere in the election—months after the FBI had already assessed the “dossier” as non-credible.
Comey seems not to grasp the nature of the damage he’s inflicting on the Bureau and its reputation for efficient information-gathering and law enforcement. He is lost in a “wilderness of mirrors,” to use intelligence jargon popularized by the CIA’s legendary anti-communist mole-hunter James Jesus Angleton.
This “Trump dossier” is the controversial document supposedly composed by “ex” British MI6 agent Christopher Steele through the group known as Fusion GPS. Paid for by still-unidentified Hillary Clinton supporters, it was “opposition research” against then-candidate, now President, Donald Trump.
Fusion GPS has been revealed to be a pro-Russia lobby by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). British citizen Steele admitted he had larger plans than writing the “dossier” itself, but “really thought that what he had would sway the election“—by using the “dossier” to defeat Trump —said an associate to the BBC. That is called foreign interference in a U.S. election.
At this point, here is what we know for sure: the document, which was designed to “prove” that Trump is a Russian agent, originated with a group working on behalf of Russian interests and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Indeed, evidence points to Russian involvement—via Hillary financiers and their hired-gun Russia lobby firm Fusion GPS—in fabricating the “dossier” to discredit Trump by claiming that he was part of a conspiracy to help elect himself president.
A Russia expert with 50 years’ experience, writing for Forbes, says the “dossier” reads like it was written by “a Russian trained in the KGB tradition.” Its “poor grammar and shaky spelling” with “KGB-style intelligence reporting” just does not “fit the image” of work by a “highly connected former British intelligence” officer, who was Oxford educated.
The Russians may have cobbled the “dossier” material together and passed it on to Fusion GPS and Steele to assemble and edit for the Hillary backers.
This means that the House and Senate Intelligence committees have been investigating the wrong alleged scandal. It’s not Trump and his associates who should be under scrutiny; it’s Hillary Clinton and her paid operatives—and their ties to Russia.
Has the FBI and its British counterpart, the MI5 security service, opened a case against Steele to investigate him for working for a Russian lobbying firm operating in the U.S.? Or was Steele working undercover for MI6 to infiltrate the Russian lobby? On the other hand, Steele was a “confirmed socialist” in college at Oxford when he was hired by MI6, another point of suspicion for someone who would be dispatched to Moscow as a spy and later serve as head of the Russian desk at MI6, all extremely sensitive positions. Anyone remember the Cambridge Five Soviet spy ring?
In a significant development, The Washington Times now reports that Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, is considering legal action against BuzzFeed, which posted the fraudulent “dossier” that accused Cohen of conspiring with Russian agents. But Cohen never went to Prague—it was a “different Michael Cohen” who went there. Cohen told The Washington Times that he also is considering a lawsuit against Christopher Steele.
Cohen was probably chosen to be named in the “dossier” by its fabricators because the pro-Hillary media went viral against him for a campaign comment he made that enraged them. Cohen had dared to defy all the polls predicting Hillary would win, by saying, “says who?”—resulting in an extraordinary but belated post-election apology by The Washington Post.
A Cohen lawsuit could slow down the efforts by losing leftist Democrats and their minions to use the dossier as proof of a Russian conspiracy with Trump.
It appears that the only significant Russia connection the media have left is the story that Accuracy in Media first broke in 2015 when we revealed retired Lt. General Michael T. Flynn’s attendance at a public conference in Moscow with Russian president Vladimir Putin. This was to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the propaganda channel “RT” (Russia Today), aka “KGB-TV.” Flynn, former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, became Trump’s national security adviser before resigning over apparent misrepresentations he made to Vice President Mike Pence about his perfectly appropriate conversations with the Russian ambassador.
The idea that Flynn was in any sense a Russia agent was undermined by the contents of his book, The Field of Fight, arguing that Russia and China are behind an “enemy alliance” of countries and movements trying to destroy the U.S.
Whether Flynn disclosed the entire story about his Russian contacts remains to be seen. The matter is irrelevant to the far more serious issue in Flynn’s case, namely the illegal disclosure of his wiretapped conversations to CIA mouthpiece David Ignatius of The Washington Post. Unraveling how and why this occurred could shed light on the Watergate-style surveillance that President Obama or his aides authorized on the Trump campaign and how the political intelligence was shared with Hillary’s operatives in the bureaucracy. (See previous AIM Special Reports March 18, April 4, April 11, April 17.)
We have previously pointed out the absurdities in the “dossier.” Some of the major media have acknowledged them as well. The document is a poorly slapped together collage of ridiculous contradictions and absurdities (e.g., Russian senior citizens in Miami as the DNC “hackers”).
Indeed, the very day the “dossier” was published on January 11, Newsweek posted an analysis, “Thirteen Things That Don’t Add Up in the Russia-Trump Intelligence Dossier,” with a video presentation titled “8 Reasons to be Skeptical.” The fact is that Newsweek had months to study the “dossier,” since its initial enthusiastic anti-Trump report made in time to influence the election. Newsweek saw some grave problems but withheld them until prompted to go public by the publication of the full 35-page “dossier.”
Newsweek caught one of the most glaring contradictions in the “dossier,” namely one paragraph saying that Russia “fed” Trump compromising intelligence on Hillary Clinton, the next saying they never did (though Newsweek did bungle some other points).
In a damning denial widely overlooked by the mainstream media, the BBC’s reporter covering the “Trump dossier” stated that:
“A former CIA officer told me he had spoken by phone to a serving [Russian intelligence] FSB officer who talked about the [claims of Trump sex] tapes. He concluded: ‘It’s hokey as hell.’” (BBC, Jan. 12, emphasis added)
Another intelligence source explained to the BBC how these “kompromat” (compromising) stories are made up by Russian intelligence for reasons of ego and pride:
“One Russian specialist told me…that [Russian] FSB officers are prone to boasting about having tapes on public figures [such as Trump], and to be careful of any statements they might make.” (BBC, Jan. 12)
But the hostile anti-Trump media claim the opposite, and insinuate that the “Trump dossier” might still be credible by seizing upon any hint of interest by U.S. intelligence, such as FBI director Comey’s secret briefings. Comey, in turn, has nothing else to prop up his fast-fading case for investigating Trump’s associates except by the desperate grasping of straws within the fake “dossier.” No “smoking gun” has ever been found.
“We can wait till hell freezes over. The material is not verifiable,” says the Stanford University Russia expert in Forbes. That is because the “dossier is fake news,” he concludes.
Indeed, despite its flaws and absurdities, the BBC reports that the FBI has been using the notorious fake “Trump dossier” as its “roadmap” in its baseless investigation of purported collusion between Trump and the Russians to get Trump elected, and of other (phony) allegations of Russian “interference” in the election.
Such charges, prominently featured in the major media (about 200 articles on the fake “dossier” in The Washington Post and New York Times alone), are obviously a factor in President Trump’s low approval ratings at the 100-day point in his administration. Based on a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, Trump would still beat Hillary if the election were held today, including by 43-40 percent in the popular vote.
Comey Must Go
In view of reports that the FBI relied on the discredited “dossier” to justify getting a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrant against one-time Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning issued a statement demanding that Comey either step down or be fired.
“The FBI’s incredible incompetence and outright complicity with the politicization of government spying removes the last shred of credibility that Director James Comey has and he needs to either resign or be fired,” said Manning.
Journalist Bob Woodward of Watergate fame called the “dossier” a “garbage document” and said U.S. intelligence chiefs (thus including FBI’s Comey) should “apologize” to Trump for promoting it. A British director of an investigations firm told Newsweek that the “dossier” is “bulls–t territory” and a “shoddy piece of work.” A U.S. intelligence official called it a “nutty” thing to report to the president.
The FBI attempted to pay Steele$50,000 to continue his phony pro-Hillary, anti-Trump “investigation” in October 2016, just before the election. But the increasing media publicity of the shadowy “dossier” forced the Bureau to slink away—until now—with Director Comey seemingly trying to breathe life back into the dead hoax.
Comey’s conduct is almost as bizarre as the wild charges in the “Trump dossier.” In fact, he has been promoting the “Trump dossier,” even as his own FBI and the rest of the Intelligence Community (IC) have been “distancing themselves” from it, according to CNN, no friend of Trump.
CNN’s report on this issue was immediately twisted around by Business Insider into a fraudulent headline that says the exact opposite, namely that “We just got a huge sign that the US intelligence community believes the Trump dossier is legitimate” (emphasis added). See AIM’s Special Report.
But after more than six months of investigation, the FBI admitted that the “Trump dossier” was totally unsubstantiated. According to The New York Times on February 14:
“One American law enforcement official said that F.B.I. agents had made contact with some of Mr. Steele’s sources.”
“The F.B.I. has spent several months investigating the leads in the dossier, but has yet to confirm any of its most explosive claims” (emphasis added).
Intelligence agency officials have consistently denied finding any evidence for such Trump collusion with the Russians, in the “dossier” or in any other material, such as NSA-GCHQ digital wiretaps of Trump associates, despite enormous efforts by the media to suggest otherwise—even to flagrantly contradict the media’s own reporting (see how Business Insider flipped CNN’s report, mentioned above, on its head).
But Comey is still promoting—not investigating or critiquing—the fake “dossier,” apparently to justify the Bureau’s use of the document as the basis for its investigation of Trump in the first place. Does Comey seriously believe that Russian senior citizens in Miami hacked the DNC?
Comey has become a major embarrassment to the FBI.
Where are the Sex Tapes?
CNN’s report on FBI Director James Comey’s promotion of the “Trump dossier” makes no mention of the dossier’s fake claim of a sex-tape (which wasn’t actually made or seen by anyone), which supposedly caught Trump in a “compromising” act in Moscow. The disgusting “sex perversion” allegation now seems to be getting dropped as an embarrassment since it never got any traction, unlike the fake claim of a Russian conspiracy with Trump, which persists like a cancer.
“If a story isn’t playing well or if there is too much credible pushback, the perpetrators simply move on without apology or correction.” That is what The Washington Post said in explaining how Russian “kompromat,” or “compromising,” material works in the media. They seem unaware of the supreme irony since it perfectly describes the Post’s own anti-Trump playbook in perpetrating the weaving of conspiracy theories involving Russia and Trump based on the “dossier.”
More than $2 million in offered rewards have failed to turn up the nonexistent Russian intelligence sex tape on Trump—which even the “dossier” does not say was actually made or that the alleged act was actually witnessed by anyone. Two porn magazines, Penthouse and Hustler, offered the $2 million to anyone who could provide the Trump sex tapes, but after several months there has been absolutely nothing. (See BBC). This goes unmentioned by the vast majority of the media.
The Stanford Russia expert and Forbes contributor Paul Roderick Gregory points to many signs of the Russian origin of the “Trump dossier.” Besides the KGB-style writing that calls it all into question, there is also the Russian “gossip junky” style, careful avoidance of verifiable facts, outlandish claims to exclusive “fly-on-the-wall” inside knowledge of Putin’s inner circle, and claims to “know more than is knowable” about “just about every conceivable event associated with” the alleged Trump-Russia conspiracy. Gregory says that the “dossier’s” stories are “so bizarre” that they “fail the laugh test,” and are such “utter nonsense, not worthy of a wacky conspiracy theory of an alien invasion.”
It turns out that this imaginary Russian blackmail sex tape of Trump is all based on the fantasy gossip of two Russian hotel maids who themselves saw nothing (anonymous “female staffers” of the hotel, “E” and “F,” says the “dossier,” not managers or executives with greater responsibility or credibility).
The hotel maids only passed on the hearsay “story” they were “aware” of from still other anonymous source(s)—apparently another hotel maid or two—but did not know the date and were unsure even of the year, though they “believed” it was in 2013 (“Trump dossier,” Steele report, June 20, 2016).
The “story” is skimpy on factual detail. The pro-Hillary Russia lobbying firm, Fusion GPS, and its agent Christopher Steele tread a fine line between too little detail and too much detail—the more the detail, the easier to slip up in fabricating fake facts, and the more easily refuted by thorough fact-checking.
And that’s all there is. No names, no dates, no witnesses, no tapes, no evidence, no nothing.
Hillary Campaign Collusion with Loretta Lynch?
In a long piece on April 22, The New York Times attempted to figure out FBI Director Comey’s puzzling actions, in the course of which they dropped a bombshell. The Times reported that in early 2016 the FBI received copies of some emails and attached documents that had reportedly been hacked by the Russians.
One document was a disturbing “memo and an e-mail” from a Democrat Party “operative” who was “confident” that Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch would curtail and contain the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s infamous private email server, i.e., perpetrate a Watergate-style cover-up.
Collusion between the Obama administration and the Hillary campaign has been strongly suspected, especially since the infamous secret meeting of Attorney General Lynch with Bill Clinton on the tarmac in Phoenix. This “could be read as a message to Lynch that she’d better not charge Hillary if she expected to keep her job.” Bill Clinton didn’t even have to discuss the email server investigation with Lynch, as pointed out by the embedded reporters on the Hillary campaign in their sympathetic postmortem book Shattered.
But conservatives, they note, already “had pretty good circumstantial evidence that the Obama Justice Department and the Clinton [campaign] operation were coordinating on the e-mail scandal.”
Interestingly, this damning email the FBI obtained—about their boss Lynch rigging the Hillary email-server investigation—was never part of the WikiLeaks emails leaked from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary campaign chair John Podesta, or the “Trump dossier’s” schizo-conspiracy. So where did it come from?
The New York Times claims that unnamed “intelligence agencies” of unspecified nations could look inside nebulous and undefined “Russian networks” to “see” and copy what U.S. emails had been hacked, and that the bombshell email on AG Lynch was one of them. The FBI was merely a recipient of the hacked material and did no cyber warfare itself. No official U.S. agency is credited with the “seeing.”
This is not mere speculation. Soon after the Obama administration claimed on October 7 that Russia was interfering with the election, Newsweek reported on November 4 that “Ukrainian hackers began posting emails and other documents obtained from inside the Kremlin, although it is not clear if this effort was done in coordination with the American government [or in what time frame the hacking was done]” (emphasis added).
If U.S. agencies were using anonymous Ukrainian hackers—not U.S. cyber agencies—to “see” into supposed “Russian networks,” then the attribution to “Russia” or the “Kremlin” would hinge entirely on the unknown Ukrainians’ credibility, veracity and cyber skills. Clearly, no one in the U.S. Intelligence Community is willing to say this is conclusive proof of anything.
Even the “DNC” emails may not have come from the DNC. The Hillary campaign found some evidence that some or all of the DNC emails could have come from Hillary confidante Capricia Marshall’s email account or even John Podesta’s, according to the just-released book on the “doomed” Hillary campaign (Allen & Parnes, Shattered, chapter 18).
Like Comey, they were caught in the “wilderness of mirrors,” in which nobody is quite sure who is deceiving whom.
The Role of the CIA's John Brennan
By Cliff Kincaid
In its lengthy feature article on FBI Director James Comey, The New York Times disingenuously evades the new evidence from the British press that nails former President Barack Obama's CIA Director John Brennan for using the "Trump dossier" as weaponized fake intelligence, which he wielded to spearhead an interagency task force to investigate Trump during and after the election campaign. The Times article's sole mention of Brennan suppresses any mention of its own reporting by three of the same reporters on January 19 about the six-agency, anti-Trump task force or working group (and naturally there is no investigative reporting to dig into the task force's scandalous operations).
But, of course, that was the same New York Times article, in its January 20 print edition, that headlined the "Wiretapped...Trump Aides." The Times wants to forget all about that, now that President Trump has made the Obama "wire tapping" an issue.
The timing and use of the "Trump dossier" suggests that Hillary's agents during the campaign panicked when Julian Assange announced on June 12, 2016, that he would soon release emails from within the Hillary campaign – unauthorized and uncensored – not official State Department releases redacted to protect Hillary.
It seems as if Hillary's backers hired someone to throw together any sleazy garbage that they could use to blunt the impact, or even nullify the potentially disastrous effects of the Hillary/DNC emails, which as far as they knew could come out any day or any minute from WikiLeaks. The first Christopher Steele report in the "dossier," with the vilest allegations of all, was rushed out in record time, dated barely a week later, on June 20.
From their perspective of defending Hillary, it had to be something on Trump so foul, so disgusting, that no one would pay any attention to what the WikiLeaks emails from Hillary said or disclosed. Hence, the first "Trump dossier" report concocted on or before June 20 tried to claim Trump hired prostitutes to "golden shower" (urinate on) the former Obama bed in the Moscow hotel (or as we have seen, "someone" said "someone else" said Trump "may" have done so, and it "may" have been taped, maybe in "some year" or other, etc. Our words in quotes).
The Hillary funders evidently did not count on the "Trump dossier" being so repulsive that even the most hate-filled major media, such as The New York Times and CNN, could not stomach publishing it or risking lawsuits from a billionaire like Trump. So they simply drew attention to the document without reproducing it, at first only by veiled allusion.
As the election approached, the increasingly frantic media began leaking out more and more from the sickening "dossier." (NYT, July 29; Yahoo News September 23; Mother Jones October 31; Washington Post November 1, Newsweek November 4, Salon November 4, etc.)
In addition to Comey, who took the bait, we have evidence that Obama's CIA director John Brennan was involved in spreading the allegations, briefing Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) (who turned around and lambasted Comey), and using it and illegal NSA-GCHQ wiretap data to set up an interagency task force to investigate Trump. Such CIA-led actions were in violation of the CIA charter forbidding them from carrying out any law enforcement, police or internal security functions (50 U.S. Code 3036(d)(1)). (AIM Special Report, April 17)
Trying to make something out of nothing, the illegal intelligence agency leaks suggest that the CIA has found some minor "aspects" in the "dossier" that are "corroborated" by intercepted wiretap communications. But these turned out to be pseudo-corroborations of long-known matters of public knowledge (such as alleged Trump adviser Carter Page's "secret" visit to Moscow, actually openly reported in the press on July 7).
In fact, essentially the same story indicating that a few business meetings in the "dossier" were "confirmed" by intercepted communications – but not important facts – ran in Yahoo News on September 23, 2016.
So this is old fake news, designed to magnify and exaggerate trivia to suggest the opposite of what was actually known, which was that nothing incriminating or wrongful about Trump associate's business activities with Russia had been found – no "smoking gun." (AIM, Febrary 20 and April 17, 2017; cf. Washington Post November 1, 2016; and CNN)
Leftist media are so desperate that the slightest (fake) "corroboration" – or pseudo-corroboration – is trumpeted as a major victory, with blaring headlines: "Trump Russia dossier key claim 'verified'" (BBC); "The Trump 'Dossier' Is Looking More Credible All the Time" (Mother Jones).
This silly hoopla was due to the "dossier's" claim that a Russian diplomat named "Kulagin" (misspelled) was actually a spy involved with the (fake) Trump-Russia operation. U.S. intelligence confirmed he was a spy named Kalugin (correct spelling), but conveniently didn't happen to confirm the Trump conspiracy. (Republican operative Roger Stone wryly commented: "If 007 [Steele] wants to be taken seriously, he ought to learn how to spell.")
In fact, most Russian "diplomats" are spies, and agent Steele, with a heavy background in counter-Russian intelligence operations, would easily be able to spot spies just looking at a diplomatic biographic registry (as any well-informed civilian student of intelligence can do). Or he could call a friend at MI6 or the FBI. This is a bogus "corroboration" that doesn't corroborate the relevant point – the alleged collusion of Trump with Russia.
What Did Hillary Know?
Jennifer Palmieri, a senior spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, made an amazing confession about media manipulation when she explained the "lessons we campaign officials learned in trying to turn the Russia story against Trump" last year. That is exactly what the Democrat-controlled media cohorts have done and continue to try to do – turn the Russia story against Trump.
In a Washington Post column, Palmieri urges Democrats to continue to "relentlessly" push the Russian angle as evidence of impeachable "treason" by now-President Trump that "undermines our democracy," etc. This despite the gross hypocrisy of normally pro-Russian "progressive" Democrats always screaming "McCarthyism" at the slightest hint of complaint about their own fawning Russian sycophancy.
Instead of objective reporting, reporters and news analysts should have done more protective "watchdogging" of Hillary in the campaign, Palmieri wrote in her postmortem afterthoughts about Hillary's defeat. Her account reflects the Hillary campaign's knowledge of the "Trump dossier" and its helpful influence on their campaign to "turn the Russia story against Trump," as we will see.
Palmieri's account is confirmed by the inside account of the "doomed" Hillary campaign by pro-Hillary journalists who say the campaign wanted to "really build the case that Trump was actually in league with Moscow" to get elected, not just unknowingly getting help from Russia from afar. (Allen & Parnes, Shattered, chapter 18.) Thus, they wanted to push the conspiracy theory of the "Trump dossier."
This was a clue that the use of the "dossier" was a partisan political trick all along. The Washington Post, whose owner Jeff Bezos has a glaring conflict of interest through his financial relationships with the Trump-hostile CIA and NSA, could be counted on to promote the partisan propaganda claims of the Hillary campaign even though it was skeptical of the "dossier" as evidence.
The Post used the "dossier" as a guide, or roadmap, for claiming a Russian conspiracy with Trump – some 150 articles in the Post have covered or mentioned the "dossier" to date – while at the same time pooh-poohing the "dossier."
According to Palmieri, by July-August of 2016, the Hillary campaign was hearing from Obama's national security officials that the "shocking" report indicated that "Russia had probably undertaken an effort to 'recruit' Trump" as an agent and that "Russia may have been conspiring with Trump or his allies behind the scenes to win the election for him." This is clearly the echo of the "Trump dossier."
Palmieri admitted, "Frankly, it sounded kind of wacky...it sounded too fantastic to be credible," but suggests it was nonetheless background input used even in the Hillary-Trump debates, for example. Clearly, the "dossier" fabrication went overboard in its shocking allegations, too far to be credible for many. But if initially composed in a panic to anticipate and blunt the imminent release of the devastating DNC/Hillary emails, it makes sense as the product of excessive zeal by political disinformation flacks.
Hillary's campaign chair John Podesta and his George Soros-funded Center for American Progress seem to have gotten the "Trump dossier" last year but also found it too salacious and unworthy of open publication. Instead, the Podesta Center used the "dossier" as its clandestine roadmap to researching anti-Trump material.
None of the Podesta Center "research" actually involved investigating or critically analyzing the "dossier." No retraction or correction has been made to their web article in the four months since it was posted on December 21, even after Newsweek exposed some of the "dossier's" biggest frauds and after Bob Woodward christened it the "garbage document."
Without identifying Steele or the "dossier," Podesta's people simply recycled the "dossier" from the Yahoo News report of September 23, 2016, as if all true. The Podesta group cites the November 4, 2016, Newsweek article titled, "Why Vladimir Putin's Russia Is Backing Donald Trump," which was an obvious regurgitation of Steele's "Trump dossier" (later Newsweek wised up some, as mentioned above, but the Podesta group ignored that fact).
The leftist website Salon, in turn, rehashed Newsweek, The Washington Post rehashed Mother Jones, and so on and so on.
With the FBI and CIA playing their respective roles, an interactive fake-news echo chamber emerged between the anti-Trump media and their allies in the intelligence agencies. Using "official" and anonymous sources to suggest some form of authenticity for highly dubious information and gossip, each echoed the other, and another, and another.
The unethical media have shown they are determined to destroy the Trump administration using what one of their own heroes admits are "garbage" allegations. There is not a lot that can be done about this kind of reckless reporting, except to expose their motives, refute their fake facts, and try to hold journalists accountable.
But in regard to the intelligence community, President Trump has to understand that the incompetence, unprofessional conduct, and partisan political activities must be rooted out.
What's more, as the CIA's legendary James Angleton knew, America's national security depends on identifying, purging and prosecuting the moles. Comey is clearly not up to the job.
Related AIM Special Reports
British Role Confirmed in Trump Spying Scandal
on April 17, 2017
Just Who Was the Russian Agent After All?
on April 11, 2017
Watergate-style Wiretapping Confirmed
on April 4, 2017
A Watergate-style Threat to the Democratic Process
on March 18, 2017
How CNN Recycled Last Year's Fake News
(column) on February 20, 2017
© Cliff Kincaid