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Thread: The attempted Clinton-CIA coup against Donald Trump

  1. #581

    Default Trump, Putin Up Against US Deep State

    Trump, Putin Up Against US Deep State

    Finian Cunningham

    9 July 2017

    It was pleasing to see Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin greet each other cordially at the G20 summit. After their breakthrough first meeting, one hopes the two leaders have a personal foundation for future cooperation.

    At a later press conference in Hamburg, where the G20 summit was held, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he believed there was a chance for restoring the badly frayed US-Russia relations. He praised Trump for being thoughtful and rational. “The TV Trump is quite different from the real life one,” quipped Putin.

    Meanwhile, the White House issued a statement hailing the two-hour discussion (four times longer than originally scheduled) between the two leaders as a good start to working together on major world problems.

    “No problems were solved. Nobody expected any problems to be solved in that meeting. But it was a beginning of a dialogue on some tough problem sets that we’ll begin now to work on together,” said HR McMaster, Trump’s top national security adviser.

    Trump deserves credit for the way he conducted himself. He met Putin on equal terms and with respect. “It’s an honor to meet you,” said the American president as he extended a handshake.

    The much-anticipated encounter comes nearly seven months after Trump was inaugurated in the White House. Over that period, large sections of the US media have run an unrelenting campaign accusing Trump of being a Russian stooge and alleging that Putin ordered an interference operation in last year’s US election to benefit Trump.

    Apart from innuendo and anonymous US intelligence claims, recycled endlessly by dutiful news organizations, there is no evidence of either Trump-Russia collusion or Putin-sanctioned cyber hacking. Trump has dismissed the claims as “fake news”, while Moscow has consistently rejected the allegations as baseless Russophobia.

    Against this toxic background of anti-Russian propaganda, President Trump met Putin at the weekend. The two men were due to talk face-to-face for 30 minutes. As it turned out, their discussions went on for two hours. They reportedly exchanged views on pressing matters of Syria, Ukraine and North Korea among other things. Trump brought up the issue of alleged Russian meddling in the US elections, and Putin responded in detail to assure his American counterpart it was a fabricated brouhaha in which Russia had nothing to do with it.

    Only days before the big meeting, US media editorialists and pundits were warning Trump to confront Putin in an aggressive manner. The Washington Post, one of the leading anti-Russia voices, exhorted Trump to rap Putin on “US election meddling” as if the claim was a proven fact. It also urged the president to give notice to Putin that Russia had to accede to regime change in Syria. It was a get-tough order.

    To his credit, Trump did not allow the Russophobia in the US media to influence his manner with Putin. He was cordial, respectful and open to listening to the Russian viewpoint on a range of issues. So much so that it appears both leaders have agreed to work together going forward.

    The question now is: what next? Trump and Putin have evidently got off to a good start despite the inordinate delay and toxic background. But what does Trump’s willingness to engage positively with Moscow actually mean in practice?

    The US Deep State comprising the military-intelligence nexus and their political, media machine in Washington does not want to normalize relations with Russia. Russian independence as a powerful foreign state under President Putin is a problem that rankles US global ambitions. That’s why the Deep State wanted anti-Russia hawk Hillary Clinton to win the election. Trump’s victory upset their calculations.

    Under immense pressure, Trump has at times appeared to buckle to the US political establishment with regard to projecting hostility towards Russia, as seen in the prosecution of the covert war in Syria and renewed sanctions on Moscow.

    The day before he met Putin in Germany, Trump was in Poland where he delivered a barnstorming speech in Warsaw in which he accused Russia of “destabilizing countries”, among other topics. The American president also inferred that Russia was undermining “Western civilization”. It was provocative speech bordering on hackneyed Russophobia. It did not bode well for his imminent meeting with Putin. A clash seemed to be coming, just as the US media had been cajoling.

    However, the meeting the next day with Putin was surprisingly congenial. And the substance of discussions indicates a genuine desire from both sides to cooperate.

    It is good that both presidents have struck up a rapport and personal understanding. Nevertheless, it is important to not bank too much on that.

    Immediately following the constructive meeting between the leaders, the US media started cranking up the Russophobia again. The US media are vents for Deep State hostility towards Trump and his agenda for normalizing relations with Moscow.

    The New York Times reported another breathless story about Trump’s election campaign having contact with “Kremlin-connected” people. CNN ran opinion pieces on how the president had fallen into a trap laid by Putin.

    It is hard to stomach this outlandish confabulation that passes for journalism. And it is astounding that a friendly meeting between leaders of nuclear powers should not be received as a good development.

    But it shows that Trump his up against very powerful deep forces within the US establishment who do not want a normalization with Russia. The US Deep State depends on confrontation, war and endless militarism for its existence. It also wants a world populated by vassals over which US corporations have suzerainty. An independent Russia or China or any other foreign power cannot be tolerated because that upends American ambitions for unipolar hegemony.

    Trump’s encounter with Putin was commendable because he did not succumb to toxic Russophobia and adopt a stupid, mindless tough-guy posture. Instead, Trump reached out to Putin in a genuine way, as two human beings should do.

    The US Deep State is not about humanity or understanding. It is about maintaining perceived dominance over other humans, where anyone seen to be an obstacle is disposed of in the most ruthless way.

    President John F Kennedy was assassinated in broad daylight by the US Deep State because he dared to seek a normalization and peaceful coexistence with Moscow. The Deep State does not want normalization or peace with Russia or anyone else for that matter because there are too many lucrative vested interests in maintaining the war machine that is American capitalism.

    This is not to predict a violent demise for Trump. The Deep State has other methods, such as the orchestration of media and other dirty tricks.

    Trump’s friendly overtures to Russia are at least a promising sign. But given the power structure of the US, and its incorrigible belligerence, it is doubtful that Trump will be allowed to go beyond promises. If he attempts to, we can expect the dark forces to step up.

    What needs to change is the US power structure through a democratic revolt. Until that happens, any president in the White House is simply a hostage to the dark forces of the Deep State.
    "There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

    Joseph Fouche

  2. #582

    Default A Russian assesses the Trump-Putin meeting

    My "morning after" observations on Putin-Trump meeting

    Vladiir Goldstein

    It was an extremely important meeting for one reason. It was not a victory, nor it was a loss. That was what Russians call "razvedka boem" that is, "reconnaissance through a skirmish." You try out your opponent through some fire exchange. Try out in a particular way.

    We know very well that on the scene of foreign affairs Trump is not an independent player. But how dependent is he? Say, you know how good a swimmer you are, and then you jump in the river, and you practically don't move. That means that the current is moving at your speed.

    So now, Putin might have a much better sense of Trump and Tillerson speed. So if no breakthroughs occur after their meeting and conversations, if we get the same propaganda and bombing in Syria, the same pro-NATO BS from newly appointed envoy to Ukraine, Volker, the same failure to de-escalate in North Korea --we would at least know the speed of the current. If Trump gets, say, 10% of what he wanted to accomplish, we also know the speed of current. That's of paramount importance for any foreign policy decisions.

    It was easier with Clinton, Obama or Bushes, because these puppets were the voices of the establishment. You knew what to expect from them. Just read the policy paper of Atlantic Council or the Council of Foreign Affairs, and that's what you'd get. With Trump it is a different matter. How strong is he a swimmer? How far can he deviated from these idiotic policy papers. How much will Tillerson help?

    What has emerged, is that both him and Tillerson do actually want to think and act like statesmen. They are not clowns of liberal imagination. If they fail or if they start acting in the very opposite way from the way they acted during the meeting, Lavrov and Putin would at least know the amount of pressure that the deep state is capable of exerting.

    Putin and Lavrov, of course, are a different matter. They are decision makers on the foreign scene. They more or less call the shots. As opposed to the domestic scene, by the way. There, Putin might be like Trump. Swimming against the current. I don't claim to know all the players and all the currents in Russian domestic policy, but it is clear to me that Putin can say things and they won't be carried out. As opposed to the foreign relations, which makes dealing with Russia very easy for other countries.

    So I remain pretty optimistic about this meeting. The villains are afraid of exposure. At least, it will be much easier now to establish who are these nasty bastards who create the undercurrent for foreign policy, and how much power they actually have. But the very fact that Trump and Tillerson told Fiona Hill, McMaster and other nefarious neocons to wait on the sidelines is rather encouraging.
    "There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

    Joseph Fouche

  3. #583

    Default Useful backgrounder: Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the Economic Rape of Russia

    Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the Economic Rape of Russia

    Chronicles of Harvard University Russian Economic Team Scam and Deep Corruption of Academic Economics
    "There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

    Joseph Fouche

  4. #584

    Default Americans Are Living Under "Intellectual Martial Law"

    Americans Are Living Under "Intellectual Martial Law"

    Authored by James Howard Kunstler via

    The disgrace of America’s putative intellectual class is nearly complete as it shoves the polity further into dysfunction and toward collapse. These are the people Nassim Taleb refers to as “intellectuals-yet-idiots.” Big questions loom over this dynamic: How did the thinking class of America sink into this slough of thoughtlessness? And why – what is motivating them?

    One path to understanding it can be found in this sober essay by Neal Devers, The Overton Bubble, published two years ago on — a friend turned me on to it the other day (dunno how I missed it). The title is a reference to the phenomenon known as the Overton Window. Wikipedia summarizes it:

    The Overton Window, also known as the window of discourse, is the range of ideas the public will accept…. The term is derived from its originator, Joseph P. Overton (1960–2003), a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy….

    Devers refines the definition:

    The Overton Window is a concept in political sociology referring to the range of acceptable opinions that can be held by respectable people. “Respectable” of course means that the subject can be integrated with polite society. Respectability is a strong precondition on the ability to have open influence in the mainstream.

    This raises another question: who exactly is in this corps of “respectable people” who set the parameters of acceptable thought? Primarily, the mainstream media — The New York Times, The WashPo, CNN, etc. — plus the bureaucratic functionaries of the permanent government bureaucracy, a.k.a. the Deep State, who make and execute policy, along with the universities which educate the “respectable people” (the thinking class) into the prevailing dogmas and shibboleths of the day, and finally the think tanks and foundations that pay professional “experts” to retail their ideas.

    The Overton Window can be viewed as a mechanism of political control, demonizing anyone who departs from the consensus of respectable thought, and especially if they express their heresies in public speech.

    This has consequences.

    Deavers explains:

    The trouble with the Overton Window as a mechanism of political control, and with politicization of speech and thought in general, is that it causes significant collateral damage on the ability of your society to think clearly.

    If some thoughts are unthinkable and unspeakable, and the truth happens in some case to fall outside of polite consensus, then your ruling elite and their society will run into situations they simply can’t handle….

    An unwise political elite is one incapable of thinking clearly about their strategic situation, acting in concert, or sticking to a plan….

    An insecure political elite is one which has either no sufficient mechanisms of political power short of the politicization of speech and thought, or is faced by such powerful but somehow never decisively powerful enemies that they need to permanently escalate to a state of vigorous politicization of speech and thought. We can compare this state to “intellectual martial law” for its structural similarity to the physical-security equivalent.

    We’re now living under that condition of “intellectual martial law.” The consequent degradation of thinking means that the polity can’t construct a coherent consensus about what is happening to it (or devise a plan for what to do about it). This is exactly the point where the Overton Window turns into an Overton Bubble, as described by Devers. The bubble comprises ideas that are assumed to be self-evident (though they actually aren’t) and notions that are potentially destructive of society, even suicidally so.

    Here is a partial list of the current dogmas and shibboleths inside today’s Overton Bubble:

    Russia hacked the election of 2016 (no evidence required).
    Russia (Vladimir Putin in particular) is bent on destroying the USA.
    All immigrants, legal or illegal, have equal status before the law.
    National borders are inconvenient, cruel, and obsolete.
    Western Civilization is a malign force in human history.
    Islam is “the religion of peace,” no matter how many massacres of “infidels” are carried out in its name.
    Men are a negative force in society.
    White men are especially negative.
    Brownie points given for behaviors under the rubric LBGTQ.
    All discussion about race problems and conflicts is necessarily racist.
    The hijab (head covering worn in public by some Muslim women) is a device of liberation for women.
    There should be a law against using the wrong personal pronoun for people who consider themselves neither men nor women (recently passed by the Canadian parliament).
    A unifying common culture is unnecessary in national life (anything goes).
    Colonizing Mars is a great solution to problems on Earth.

    That list defines the general preoccupations of the thinking classes today - to the exclusion of other issues.

    Here is an alternative list of matters they are not generally concerned about or interested in:

    The energy quandary at the heart of our economic malaise.
    The enormous debt racked up to run society in the absence of affordable energy inputs.
    The dangerous interventions and manipulation in markets by unelected officials of the Federal Reserve.
    The extraordinary dysfunction of manipulated financial markets.
    The fragility of a banking system based on accounting fraud.
    The dysfunction and fragility of the American suburban living arrangement.
    The consequences of a catastrophic breakdown in the economy due to the above.
    The destruction of planetary ecology, threatening the continuation of the human race, and potentially all life.

    Now, the question of motive. Why does the thinking class in America embrace ideas that are not necessarily, and surely not self-evidently, truthful, and even self-destructive? Because this class is dangerously insecure and perversely needs to insist on being right about its guiding dogmas and shibboleths at all costs. That is why so much of the behavior emanating from the thinking class amounts to virtue signaling — we are the good people on the side of what’s right, really we are! Of course, virtue signaling is just the new term for self-righteousness. There is also the issue of careerism. So many individuals are making a living at trafficking in, supporting, or executing policy based on these dogmas and shibboleths that they don’t dare depart from the Overton Bubble of permissible, received thought lest they sacrifice their status and incomes.

    The thinking classes are also the leaders and foot-soldiers in American institutions. When they are unable or unwilling to think clearly, then you get a breakdown of authority, which leads to a breakdown of legitimacy. That’s exactly where we’re at today in our national politics — our ability to manage the polity.

    Read Neal Devers’ excellent article, The Overton Bubble.
    "There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

    Joseph Fouche

  5. #585

    Default How to talk to your teen about colluding with russia



    JULY 12, 2017

    Even the best-behaved teen is likely to encounter a situation where he or she is tempted to collude with Russia. Unfortunately for parents, a teen’s natural tendency to test the limits of independence can often manifest itself in his or her exchanging sensitive information with Russian emissaries for material or other rewards. If not constructively addressed during adolescence, colluding with Russia can have much more serious consequences in adulthood.

    Here are a few tips for engaging in a healthy conversation with your teen about the hazards of colluding with Russia:

    Keep the Lines of Dialogue Open

    Don’t be shy about asking your teen where she has been, who she has spent time with, or why she has receipts from Cypriot bank wire transfers hidden under a false bottom of her jewelry case. If you discover a folder marked “parental Kompromat” try to stay focused and not act emotional. Think about her point of view and why she would consider it important to have your social security number, Gmail password, and Pornhub search history in a secret folder. Take advantage of these “teachable moments” to have meaningful discussions about colluding with Russia with your teen.

    Explain the Negative Consequences of Colluding With Russia

    When talking to your teen about colluding with Russia honesty is the best policy. You shouldn’t shy away from mentioning that a Federal indictment could turn into an awkward blemish on a college application, or that retributive Polonium poisoning could likely hamper one’s ability to compete for a coveted lacrosse scholarship. Remind them also that sharing their behavior on social media is never a good idea. Posting a selfie with a Russian aluminum magnate or “checking in” to a Kremlin safe house can have ramifications that are difficult to erase later on.

    Understand Your Teen Will Likely Experiment at Some Point

    Parents must be realistic and remember that despite their best efforts their teen will try colluding with Russia at a party, in their friend’s basement, or even in a hotel room after the prom. Your teen should understand that if he has been out late colluding with Russia he should never, under any circumstances, get in a car — especially a nondescript windowless van with diplomatic license plates. He should understand that you will come get him and give him a ride home no questions asked!

    Saying No to Peer Pressure

    If other teens in your child’s peer group are colluding with Russia, then she is likely to feel pressured to follow suit in order to fit in. For example if she goes to a mall and sees one of her friends stuff a thumb drive up under the paper towel dispenser in the restroom, she will no doubt feel a curious exhilaration and a compulsion to emulate such behavior. Similarly, teens may also be influenced into colluding with Russia by movies, TV shows, or current events that depict colluding with Russia as “cool,” “fun,” or even a little dangerous. You should actively assist your teen by praising their good behaviors and accomplishments, which can help passively discourage transgressive forays such as offering to launder money through a complex array of shell companies or cash real estate purchases.

    Remember, any effort you make now to address your teen’s colluding with Russia is like an investment in their future. The last thing any parent wants is for the behavior to carry into adulthood when it can seriously hurt the parent as well as the child!
    Sage advice, I think you'll all agree.
    "There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

    Joseph Fouche

  6. #586

    Default This could be your child...

    ...if you don't teach them about the evils of colluding with Boris

    Coming soon to a TV near you, the gripping tale of the American patriot who went under cover for the FBI among radical Muslims in Michigan...

    "I Fed Three Wives"
    "There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

    Joseph Fouche

  7. #587

    Default Peak Bonkers

    All Russians are spies and work for Putin.

    Some of them are likely under your bed.


    "There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

    Joseph Fouche

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Rigby View Post
    All Russians are spies and work for Putin.

    Some of them are likely under your bed.


    Jeepers. I went and checked and sho nuf, there were spies there -- Boris and Natasha, to be exact.
    "We'll know our disinformation campaign is complete when everything the American public believes is false." --William J. Casey, D.C.I

    "We will lead every revolution against us." --Theodore Herzl

  9. #589

    Default Pompeo the Conspiraloon: 5 weird conspiracy theories from the CIA Director

    5 weird conspiracy theories from CIA Director Mike Pompeo

    By Adam Garrie

    22 July 2017

    Mike Pompeo sounds increasingly unhinged when talking about Russia, Wikileaks and the media

    In a tirade against Russia based news outlets RT and Sputnik, Donald Trump’s CIA Director Mike Pompeo blasted Russia for interfering not only in the 2016 US Presidential election but “the one before that and the one before that”. This would imply that Russia helped install Barack Obama in the White House even after his severely anti-Russian foreign policy became well known.

    These statements are blasted by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the following way,

    “If (Pompeo’s) statements mean that we interfered in the elections in 2008 and 2012 that means that President Obama owes us his victories. I’ll refrain from comment. In my opinion, this crosses the lines of what is reasonable”.

    Pompeo’s assertion came after a tirade in which he said that Russia’s current Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov helped develop a ‘propaganda’ strategy which underlies RT and Sputnik’s alleged purpose. Pompeo further asserted that Gerasimov did this in the early 1970s. According to Pompeo,

    “His (Gerasimov’s) idea was that you can win wars without firing a single shot, with firing a very few shots in ways that are decidedly not militaristic. And that’s what happened.

    What changes is the cost to effectuate change through cyber and through RT and Sputnik, the news outlets and through other soft means has just really been lowered. It used to be expensive to run an ad on a television station. Now you simply go online and propagate your message, so they have found an effective tool, an easy way to go reach into our systems and into our culture to achieve the outcome they are looking for”.
    The ludicrousness of this claim can be easily debunked when one learns that General Gerasimov was born in 1955. If one can conservatively say that 1973 was the ‘early 1970s’, this means that Gerasimov developed a communications strategy that relied on the internet being up to 2017 standards when he was 18 years of age. There is simply no logic in Pompeo’s assertions.

    This is the same Mike Pompeo who has told some rather strange tall-tales about Wikileak’s founder Julian Assange while simultaneously claiming that RT is part of Wikileaks.

    In April of 2017, Pompeo stated,

    “It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is – a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia. In January of this year, our Intelligence Community determined that Russian military intelligence—the GRU—had used WikiLeaks to release data of US victims that the GRU had obtained through cyber operations against the Democratic National Committee. And the report also found that Russia’s primary propaganda outlet, RT, has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks”.
    He then stated,

    “No, I am quite confident that had Assange been around in the 1930s and 40s and 50s, he would have found himself on the wrong side of history”.
    So to recap, the following are Mike Pompeo’s most ludicrous conspiracy theories

    1. Russia’s current Chief of the General Staff invented the concept of RT and Sputnik, one which relies on the power of the internet in 2017, in the early 1970s when he was in his late teens and still in the equivalent of high school.

    2. Russia interfered in the US elections in 2008, 2012 and 2016, meaning that Russia supported Barack Obama who was the most anti-Russian US President in modern memory, but no one noticed this Russian interference at the time.

    3. RT collaborates with Wikileaks which is a hostile intelligence agency rather than an on-line publisher.

    4. Julian Assange, a self-styled free speech advocate and anti-war activist would have supported Hitler in the 1930s and 1940s.

    5. RT and Sputnik are supported by Russia because they are cheaper than going to war. This is ostensibly a bad thing in Pompeo’s view.

    Mike Pompeo seems like less of an intelligence chief than a simplistic conspiracy theoretician.
    Up Pompeo!

    "There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

    Joseph Fouche

  10. #590

    Default McCain and the Trump-Russia Dossier: What Did He Know, and When?

    McCain and the Trump-Russia Dossier: What Did He Know, and When?

    A British spy. An Arizona senator. And one inflammatory dossier on Donald Trump. The connection between them is starting to unravel...

    Elizabeth Nolan Brown
    Jul. 16, 2017 1:15 pm

    Did John McCain and a controversial D.C. lobbying group conspire to get the infamous "pee dossier" into the hands of the press?

    A lawsuit making its way through court in the UK hopes to determine just what role the senator and his associates had in making the lurid dossier public.

    New filings in the lawsuit, obtained by McClatchy, detail how David Kramer—employed by the nonprofit and purportedly non-political McCain Institute—acted as a representative of McCain in the Arizona senator's dealings on sensitive intelligence measures. It also reveals that McCain was one of a just few people with whom the dossier's author, ex-British spy Christopher Steele, shared a copy of his final findings. So how did they get from there to publication in Buzzfeed?

    One possible—and intriguing—pathway lies with Orion Strategies, a group known for using the media and the McCain machinery to lobby on behalf of foreign governments. While the Steele suit doesn't mention Orion, a closer look at the two-man lobbying shop showcases too-close-for-comfort ties to many principal players in the dossier's leak and a long history of influencing McCain policy and press coverage when it comes to Russia-related issues.

    By now we know the basics behind the dubious document: it was prepared by Steele in December, largely from work done between June and November 2016 for Fusion GPS, a D.C.-based political consulting firm. Fusion was paid first by anti-Trump Republicans and later by Hillary Clinton supporters to produce evidence of Trump's alleged financial and political ties to Russia.

    In January 2017, a leaked copy of the dossier was published by Buzzfeed, under the editorial direction of Ben Smith. Smith said the document was obtained by reporter Ken Bensinger and vociferously defended Buzzfeed's decision to run a document it called "not just unconfirmed" but also inclusive of "clear" errors. "This was a real story about a real document that was really being passed around between the very top officials of this country," Smith said on Meet the Press.

    It was McCain who gave the FBI the dossier, in December. It alleges the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin to "hack" the U.S. election. "The Russian regime had been behind the leak of embarrassing email messages emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), to the Wikileaks platform," and as a result Trump had agreed to "sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue," the dossier claimed.

    It also claimed Trump had personally commissioned a "golden showers" show from Russian sex workers.

    A federal investigation was reportedly underway before McCain handed over the dossier, but his copy was a more complete version than the one obtained earlier by U.S. intelligence agencies. McCain said he turned over the document out of civic duty.

    "I received that information from a credible source and I thought the only thing for me to do would be to give to the FBI," he told Fox News in January. Having it and doing nothing "would be a breach of my oath of office."

    Yet McCain's well-known feud with Trump, his longtime advocacy against Russia, and a possible personal beef with the firm behind the dossier—Fusion was also paid by Russia to push for the repeal of sanctions authored by McCain as part of the Magnitsky Act—provide reason to suspect altruism may not have been McCain's sole motive.

    It was "late summer/August 2016" when Steele began briefing reporters on his research, according to a recent document filed by Steele and his company, Orbis Business Intelligence Limited, in response to the lawsuit Aleksei Gubarev filed against them. Gubarev, a Russian venture capitalist, claims he and his companies (Webzilla BV, Webzilla Limited, and XBT Holding S.A.) were falsely identified as part of the DNC hacking operation in the dossier authored by Steele and published by Buzzfeed.

    Steele's company first began working with Fusion back in 2010, according to what he told the court. In 2016, he began work on Fusion's Trump opposition-research project, producing 16 memos for Fusion prior to the November election. Steele briefed reporters from select outlets (The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, The New Yorker, Yahoo, and Mother Jones) on the contents of the memos but did not "provide any of the pre-election memoranda to media organizations or journalists, [nor] authorize anyone to do so."

    Steele also talked about his work with Sir Andrew Wood, a British ambassador to Russia from 1995-2000 and current fellow at the think tank Chatham House. It was Wood who tipped off McCain to the memos.

    At McCain's request, Wood arranged for Steele "to meet [David] Kramer, representative for Senator McCain, in order to show him the pre-election memoranda on a confidential basis," according to court documents. Kramer is identified in them as "the Senior Director for Human Rights and Human Freedoms at Senator McCain's Institute for International Leadership."

    There were "no grounds that led [Steele and Orbis] to suspect that Senator McCain and Mr. Kramer were not acting in their official capacities at any time up to or including the publication of the December memorandum to Mr. Kramer," according to Steele's court filing. Kramer was understood at all times to be an official representative of McCain.

    Notably, Kramer is not a representative of McCain in McCain's capacity as a U.S. senator. And McCain is (theoretically) not a representative of the non-profit and non-partisan McCain Institute where Kramer is employed. In fact, McCain has publicly attempted to distance himself from the Institute, which accepts large donations from his former campaign fundraisers, all sorts of interests before McCain's senate committees, and foreign companies and regimes with extremely questionable human-rights records.

    McCain even said last year that he has "nothing to do with" the McCain Institute, after being asked about a $1 million donation from the Saudis. And yet Kramer, the McCain Institute leader, allegedly went around brokering intelligence as an official representative of McCain the senator.

    Only after the election—when Steele's contract for the work with Fusion was through—did he compile the content of the memos, along with newly gleaned intel, into the so-called "pee dossier" that wound up in the hands of McCain and later Buzzfeed.

    Steele's lawyer told the court he compiled the dossier around December 13 and only shared it with his business partner Christopher Burrows, an unnamed U.K. security official, Fusion, and David Kramer, "who was acting on behalf of Senator McCain."

    In an encrypted email to Fusion, Steele "explicitly stated that the memoranda were only to be provided to Mr. Kramer for the purpose of passing them on to Senator McCain," according to Steele's court filing. Steele "understood that the contents of the memoranda would be treated in the strictest confidence and would only be used by Senator McCain in his official capacity and for the sole purpose of analyzing, investigating, and verifying their contents to enable such action be taken as necessary for the purposes of protecting U.S. national security."

    It's possible Fusion broke this confidentiality, though the firm's long-term business relationship (and non-disclosure agreement) with Steele and its business relationship with the Russians would seem to advise against such a move. It's also possible Steele is hiding something—he is the one facing charges related to release of the dossier—or that the British security official leaked the documents to the U.S. press through some unknown channel.

    But while we're considering all possibilities, let's look at the link between Sen. McCain, the McCain Institute staff, and Buzzfeed: Randy Scheunemann and Orion Strategies. Scheunemann and Michael Mitchell, his partner in Orion, have a controversial history when it comes to their relationships with the Georgian government, other foreign entities, Sen. McCain, and the U.S. press.

    Back in 2008, "while McCain's presidential campaign was gearing up, Scheunemann played dual roles, advising the candidate on foreign policy and working as a lobbyist for Georgia," as The Washington Post noted then. "Between Jan. 1, 2007, and May 15, 2008, the campaign paid Scheunemann nearly $70,000 to provide foreign policy advice. During the same period, the government of Georgia paid his firm $290,000 in lobbying fees."

    Orion has also lobbied on behalf of authorities in Montenegro, Latvia, Romania, Macedonia, Taiwan, and Japan.

    McCain, meanwhile, sponsored measures supporting Georgia's position on South Ossetia, supported giving Georgia a $10 million grant, and spoke in favor of Georgia's inclusion in NATO and greater American intervention in Russia-Georgia conflict. He has advocated for things like a $6 billion arms package for Taiwan and, more recently, for Montenegro to join NATO—calling Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) a Putin puppet when he objected.

    In 2011, Orion's foreign-lobbying activities once again raised eyebrows after Ken Silverstein reported on the agency's close ties to Eli Lake and a few other prominent foreign-policy journalists prone to positive coverage of Orion's clients. "Orion seeks to create a media echo chamber on Georgia and Russia," wrote Silverstein.

    Ben Smith—then at Politico, now editor-in-chief at Buzzfeed—rushed to Orion Strategies and Lake's defense, mentioning Silverstein's "pro-Russian source" for the story, who could have been "a Russian government employee or foreign agent paid to plant it."

    For a few years, Orion heads were in regular contact with Smith, Lake, and several other sympathetic D.C. journalists, including now-frequent McCain Institute guest Jamie Kirchick (who once wrote a whole pro-Scheunemann column without disclosing his relationship to Scheunemann). Orion took its media darlings on foreign trips, picked up bar tabs, and got them exclusive interviews with their clients, according to Orion's Foreign Action Registration Act filings.

    Other frequent Orion contacts at this time included John McCain, David Kramer, and Kurt Volker—the McCain Institute executive director who was recently appointed to the State Department as an ambassador for Ukraine interests. During the first week of December 2010, for instance, Orion arranged an interview between Lake and a Georgian official, met with McCain about "Georgian defense requirements," and met with Smith about Georgia and Wikileaks.

    Most of these relationships continued throughout the 2016 presidential election. From June 5 through November 13, 2016, Scheunemann was in contact with Volker at least three times and Lake more than a dozen times, according to its public disclosures. In early 2016, Volker went on a "study trip" with Orion to Japan; Lake went on a similar trip in August. In April, Volker and Kramer were guests at an Orion dinner. Sometime in this period, Scheunemann personally donated $5,200 to the Friends of John McCain.

    On October 16, 2016, Orion Strategies hosted Volker, Kramer, and Lake at a small dinner in Washington. The week after the election, Scheunemann met with Kirchick. In between these Orion-initiated gatherings, Scheunemann mingled with McCain, Kramer, Volker, Kirchick, Lake, Andrew Wood, and foreign intelligence officials at the likes of the Halifax International Security Forum—where Wood said he first spoke to McCain about Steele's memos—and the McCain Institute's conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, focused on the U.S. election and "the Russian threat."

    Should Kramer or McCain have wanted to get Steele's December Trump-Russia dossier to sympathetic members of the media, it wouldn't have had to look far to find them.

    Asked whether Orion or Scheunemann played any role in Buzzfeed obtaining the dossier, Smith said Buzzfeed "would never comment on confidential sources in any way."

    But getting hung up on whether Orion directly brokered the dossier's release to media may miss the larger picture, anyway. The close contact between a U.S. senator, leaders of an allegedly non-governmental (and tax-exempt) organization that bears his name, lobbyists for foreign governments (including Russia on Fusion's end, and Russia enemies like Georgia on Orion's end), foreign intelligence agents, paid opposition researchers, and influential U.S. media—going back at least a decade, and including ample activity surrounding the 2016 election—should raise eyebrows even under ordinary circumstances. And we are living in a time where top people the world over are trying to verify whether a reality TV star turned U.S. president compromised U.S. democracy over a tape of Russian ladies peeing.

    So where does this leave us? Are the likes of McCain, Kramer, et al. simply fellow dupes in a Democrat-driven, foreign-op stoked ploy to influence the U.S. election with outlandish accusations? Or did they play a more active role in bringing this bombshell to the American public?

    The Steele lawsuit may eventually provide more clarity. In the interim, as everyone focuses on Trump and his family's shady shenanigans with Russia—none of which are necessarily diminished by anything here—we might also do well to apply the same scrutiny to just how and why the dossier details came to be and came to light.
    * This post has been updated to reflect that the dossier claimed Trump hired women to pee on his hotel-room bed, not to pee on him.
    "There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

    Joseph Fouche

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