CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE: Countdown: Top stories of 2018
by WorldTribune Staff, January 3, 2019
Some two years after it was published, the unverified anti-Trump dossier authored by ex-British spy Christopher Steele remains “the cornerstone” of the case for collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, a columnist noted.
The intricate fabric of media reports, redacted intelligence documents and opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign provides insights into other politicized narratives targeting the Trump administration.
Though it remains unverified, “the dossier abides,” media columnist Lee Smith wrote for the Federalist on Jan. 2. “Even as prominent and early collusion theory promoter journalist Michael Isikoff now questions its probity, many still contend that Steele’s reports have not been ‘disproven.’ ”
The press, political operatives from both parties, and law enforcement and intelligence officials all played key roles in the Steele dossier’s dissemination, Smith noted.
“None of it would have been possible, and it certainly wouldn’t have lasted for two years, had the media not linked arms with spies, cops, and lawyers to relay a story first spun by Clinton operatives,” Smith wrote.
His analysis drew on interviews with current and former U.S. officials that showed how “Clinton-funded operatives and senior law enforcement figures orchestrated a media campaign and weaponized the dossier to obtain the October 21, 2016 warrant” on an unknown Trump official Carter Page.
“Until then, I was an unknown name,” Page told The Federalist. “The advantage of smearing a private figure is that you can make up whatever lies you want. If you’re sketching someone on a blank slate, then it’s easy to draw a fictional characterization.”
Intelligence officials said the fact that Page was relatively unknown made him an attractive target.
“It can be tougher to make a FISA case on a prominent, government-connected figure,” said former Army intelligence officer Chris Farrell, now director of investigations at Judicial Watch. “But you can spin a tale about a guy who is on the margins. You can make sweeping generalizations, you don’t have to be too detailed. And they’d use the lack of information on Page to explain that’s precisely why they need the warrant — to learn more about him.”
Farrell said the details of the operation to secure the FISA warrant suggest it “may have been directed by the FBI.”
Smith wrote that Page was likely targeted as a means of accessing the Trump team’s communications, according to intelligence officials.
Similar operations have since replicated the dossier model to target President Donald Trump and his polices as well as Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, Smith noted.
“The reported murder of Arab intelligence operative and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi was used as a platform by Turkish intelligence, the government of Qatar, and U.S. operatives to advance a campaign through the press, with the Post playing a leading role, against the administration’s pro-Saudi policies,” Smith wrote.
“Democratic officials teamed with the media” in an attempt “to thwart Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, also using an FBI investigation as a political tool,” Smith noted.
A congressional investigator on the Republican side familiar with the dossier operation said “We were very concerned when Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee pushed for another FBI investigation of Kavanaugh. We didn’t know who would get it at the bureau and who we can trust over there.”
Smith also noted that “Cyber-security experts hired by the Senate Intelligence Committee to write a report on how Russian social media accounts helped Trump beat Clinton themselves created fake Russian social media accounts to dirty the GOP Senate candidate in last year’s special Alabama election. As the dossier operation targeted Trump, the bot operation created the impression that Roy Moore was supported by the Kremlin.”