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Presidents Trump & Putin Revisit the Dossier

The Fusion GPS dossier, a collection of memos that was compiled by Christopher Steele, was financed by the Hillary Clinton campaign in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee. The document was packed with salacious, unverified content, notably alleging that the Russian government possessed "a covert video supposedly showing Russian prostitutes following Trump's instructions to urinate on a bed once slept in by the Obamas at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton," according to The Week.

As you may expect, the dossier is hardly a reliable piece of intelligence. Serious questions remain about the circumstances under which it was compiled, and worse yet, many of its contents are blatantly incorrect.

Christopher Steele

David Harsanyi of The New York Post validated the former consideration, writing that "sources in [Fusion GPS] were correcting Steele, who’d mischaracterized a meeting with a Trump source. No, there was no 'walk-in' from the Trump campaign, as Steele had maintained in his testimony."

In addition to lacking integrity, Steele repeatedly made the cardinal error of not even fact-checking the basic claims that he made, putting everything that he wrote in doubt. According to The Federalist,

Much of the [Fusion GPS] report was vague or unverifiable. One of the few claims that could be easily checked turned out to be extremely wrong. Steele claimed that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen had met with Duma foreign affairs head Konstantin Kosachev in Prague 'to clean up the mess left behind by western media revelations of…[former Trump campaign manager Paul] Manafort’s corrupt relationship with the former pro-Russian Yanukovych regime in Ukraine and Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page’s secret meetings in Moscow with senior regime figures in July 2016.' The only problem was that Cohen had never been to Prague and Kosachev said he hadn’t been there in five years.

Despite the fact that the dossier failed authentication checks, it made its way into the FBI via Bruce Ohr, associate deputy attorney general under former President Barack Obama. Ohr is married to Nellie Ohr, who worked for Fusion GPS, the company that hired Steele.

A memo released by the House Intelligence Committee stated that the dossier was partly used by the FBI to attain a FISA warrant on Carter Page, a Trump campaign advisor. According to Byron York of the Washington Examiner, the "Steele dossier formed an essential part of the initial and all three renewal FISA applications against Carter Page," allowing the FBI to surveil him.

Even more astoundingly, the memo made the case that the dossier was what pushed the FBI to pursue the surveillance of Page. York wrote that Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the FBI, "confirmed that no FISA warrant would have been sought from the FISA Court without the Steele dossier information" (emphasis mine).

So, the Intelligence Committee's memo validated what I said in article published in October, where I wrote that "the DOJ’s probe [into Donald Trump] – which is being completed by a team that now includes fierce Democratic partisans – is being pursued based on an absolute fairy tale" (emphasis mine).

On Monday, President Vladimir Putin of Russia validated my claim that the dossier advances a false storyline. When asked whether his government has dirt on Trump, as insinuated by the document, Putin said that he didn't even know that Trump was in Moscow when the tape was allegedly recorded.

CBS News reported on Putin's comments, writing,

When asked if Putin had any compromising or damaging information on Mr. Trump from his time in Russia, Putin told reporters that he had heard of such a rumor, but that when Mr. Trump visited Russia for the Miss Universe pageant, he claimed, 'I didn't even know he was in Moscow.'
'Back then, when he was a private individual, a businessman, no one informed me he was in Moscow,' claimed Putin. 
Mr. Trump responded as well, saying that if Russia had any compromising material on him, 'it would have been out long ago.'

Effectively, Putin, by assuring that he had no dirt on Trump, furthered arguments that the dossier advances a provably false storyline.

Then-Republican nominee Donald Trump

Even for those who do not trust the Russian president, Owen Matthews of Newsweek has offered some raw logic with regards to the accusations, writing,

[T]here was little hint that Trump would pursue a political career that would take him much further than his campaign to convince Americans that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. and therefore was not legally permitted to be president. Five years ago, Trump was recovering from his latest bankruptcy, and concentrating on his reality show The Apprentice and the Miss Universe competition.

Matthews' point is crystal clear: Why would Vladimir Putin consign Donald Trump, then a New York City loudmouth, when he had no apparent path to the presidency?

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Hopefully, there will be further investigation into how the dossier was created; how made it into the corridors of U.S. investigative services, which will require extensive testimony from Bruce Ohr (under oath, of course); and how much of an impact it had in the investigation into President Trump.

From what we can see at this point, it appears that the dossier had a much larger role in the Trump-Russia investigations than anyone wants to acknowledge.

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