Thursday, January 12, 2017

Of Urine and Other Leaks

Office in London of research firm Orbis Business Intelligence

On rainy days in early January in Los Angeles, I watch the not-yet-begun presidency of dt begin to unwind.

He is his own worst enemy, of course.  

The New York Times today presents a detailed history of the 35 pages that emerged on Tuesday, eclipsing President Obama's farewell address.

We learn the considerable credentials of the British former spy against Russia, Christopher Steele, hired in June 2016 to investigate Trump's personal and financial history.  He founded and now conducts research through Orbis Business Intelligence in London.

The political research firm Fusion GPS had been hired in September 2015 by "a wealthy Republican donor" wary of Trump's candidacy for president to do standard "opposition research" on Trump, a practice now common in presidential campaigns.

In a sidebar, one of the three authors of the article, "How a Salacious Dossier Became a Political Crisis," presents a timeline of what happened from September 2015 until now.

It's an eye opener.  Clearly dt's effort to discredit the 35 pages as "fake news" will not be successful except among his most blind supporters.

Thank you to Scott Shane, Nicholas Confessore, and Matthew Rosenberg who untangled and wrote about this nation-shaking series of events.  They are the Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of 2017. 

They point out that we don't know whether any of the charges presented in Christopher Steele's memos is true, but he sent the memos from June to December 2016 to Fusion GPS, who shared them with its clients, with the FBI, and with numerous journalists by early fall.  Some memos were circulating as early as July, when Rick Wilson, a supporter of Marco Rubio, heard about them. 

"After the election, the memos, still being supplemented by [Steele's] inquiries, became one of Washington's worst-kept secrets, as reporters--including from the New York Times--scrambled to confirm or disprove them," write Shane, Confessore, and Rosenberg.

"Remarkably for Washington," they continue, "many reporters for competing news organizations had the salacious and damning memos, but they did not leak because their contents could not be confirmed."

"That changed only this week, after the heads of the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency added a summary of the memos... to their report on the Russian cyberattack on the election."

"That level of official attention prompted numerous news organizations to decide to inform the public about the memos," concludes Shane in his bulleted timeline and summary.

Shane also raises the most important question being voiced about these memos and their investigation by the FBI since early fall:

"Why did the FBI director write [and release publicly] two letters about Clinton's emails, but not this?  That is a question the director, James B. Comey, may eventually have to answer."

The claims in the memos, embarrassing even to a man who has been unfazed by many other reports about him, include:
  • sex with Russian prostitutes that included peeing on each other,
  • Russian attempts to bribe him, which he mostly resisted, and
  • coordination with Russian intelligence during the hacking and release of DNC emails.
Jokes circulating on Twitter:
  • dt has put the P back in President
  • dt as PEOTUS (President-Elect of the US) now has a new meaning.

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