The Steele DossierMarch 26, 2018
While the Trumpian news cycle is never ending and continuously updating, a major piece from the New Yorker came out this month: Christopher Steele, the Main Behind the Trump Dossier. Here are some quotes and thoughts.
“It was as if all criminal roads led to Trump Tower,” Steele told friends.
Within a few weeks, two or three of Steele’s long-standing collectors came back with reports drawn from Orbis’s larger network of sources. Steele looked at the material and, according to people familiar with the matter, asked himself, “Oh, my God—what is this?” He called in Burrows, who was normally unflappable. Burrows realized that they had a problem. As Simpson later put it, “We threw out a line in the water, and Moby-Dick came back.”
While simply being in the proximity of crime in no way makes you guilty, it is pretty clear that Trump doesn’t keep or attract the greatest company. It’s astounding how easy it has been to find some crime committed by so many of his associates.
Much has been made about why didn’t Obama or law enforcement take some action. It’s clear that Obama did, but was unable to get Republican buy-in and didn’t want to appear to be interfering in the election. So much for being a good sport.
In early September, 2016, Obama tried to get congressional leaders to issue a bipartisan statement condemning Russia’s meddling in the election. He reasoned that if both parties signed on the statement couldn’t be attacked as political. The intelligence community had recently informed the Gang of Eight—the leaders of both parties and the ranking representatives on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees—that Russia was acting on behalf of Trump. But one Gang of Eight member, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, expressed skepticism about the Russians’ role, and refused to sign a bipartisan statement condemning Russia. After that, Obama, instead of issuing a statement himself, said nothing.
And why didn’t some sort of law enforcement get involved?
Page suggested that they could take their time, because there was little reason to worry that Clinton would lose. But Strzok disagreed, warning that they should push ahead, anyway, as “an insurance policy” in case Trump was elected—like “the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
It seemed so unlikely that Trump would be elected, that officers didn’t get as involved as they could have. Comey had similar feelings as Obama regarding affecting the outcome. It’s surprising that given that feeling, he still came forward with his statement about reopening the Clinton email investigation.
James Comey, then the F.B.I. director, had reportedly changed his mind about issuing a public statement, deciding that it was too close to the election to make such a politically charged assertion.
Apparently that decision didn’t last very long.
What’s so unfortunate about all of this is how much the inaction makes sense. The claims and evidence were murky and clouded. It seemed unlikely that Trump would achieve an upset victory. The allegations seemed far-reaching and, in many ways, outlandish. To many, Steele was an unknown and he also didn’t reveal his sources. No wonder there appears to be little movement. Additionally, any movement that was taking place was hidden from the general populace and even many in the government.
We’ll see what kind of conclusion we reach, but it would have been hard to predict what’s happened over the last two years.