Dr. Spook and the Manchurian President?

 

Well, that’s a heck of a story to wake up to:

During a special briefing last Friday, leaders of the intelligence community gave President-elect Donald Trump a synopsis of unsubstantiated and salacious allegations that Russian operatives had obtained potentially compromising personal and financial information about the president-elect, a U.S. official confirmed Tuesday.

I gather that everyone who’s anyone in Washington has read the memo containing these allegations, but no one thought it was worth publishing (until now).

Some thoughts, in random order:

1. It looks as if the first publication to write about this was Mother Jones, on October 31. Here’s how they put it:

And a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence tells Mother Jones that in recent months he provided the bureau with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump—and that the FBI requested more information from him.

Let’s call the “former senior intelligence officer for a Western country” Dr. Spook, for short. Was Dr. Spook shopping this to every publication in the US? Or just to Mother Jones? Maybe Mother Jones was the only publication willing to publish it? Kurt Eichenwald at Newsweek also seems to have used the memos in his reporting. Did Dr. Spook fax his memos to every journalist in Washington? 

2. The story as it’s now being presented is that this became newsworthy because Trump himself had been briefed about it. Who leaked the story that he’d been briefed about it, and why? Why now? Apparently, “multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings” told CNN about this. How many people would have direct knowledge of these briefings in the first place? Why didn’t any of these leaking briefers think to come forward with this before the election, given that everyone in Washington apparently knew about this?

3. As Lawfare blog puts it,

… it is significant that the document contains highly specific allegations, many of which are the kind of facts it should be possible to prove or disprove. This is a document about meetings that either took place or did not take place, stays in hotels that either happened or didn’t, travel that either happened or did not happen. It should be possible to know whether at least some of these allegations are true or false.

If Dr. Spook was passing these memos to every journalist and politician in Washington as early as October 31, at least a few of the key points should have been substantiated by now, wouldn’t you think?

4. John Schindler of 20Committee says that the “GOP was informed back in the spring that Trump was a 1-man FSB kompromat machine come to life. They did nothing. This is on them now.” Was this circulating as early as last spring, then? And no one has made any progress since then in substantiating or discrediting it?

5. Presumably everyone in Hillary’s camp also knew about it, too: It was an oppo research briefing, right? I wonder what kept her from bringing it up?

6. According to the Guardian,

… the documents reached the top of the FBI by December. Senator John McCain, who was informed about the existence of the documents separately by an intermediary from a western allied state, dispatched an emissary overseas to meet the source and then decided to present the material to Comey in a one-on-one meeting on 9 December, according to a source aware of the meeting. The documents, which were first reported on last year by Mother Jones, are also in the hands of officials in the White House.

McCain is not thought to have made a judgment on the reliability of the documents but was sufficiently impressed by the source’s credentials to feel obliged to pass them to the FBI.

Who is this source? And who’s the Guardian’s source for this story, I wonder? The point of sending an emissary overseas to meet the source is to ensure that only he and the emissary knew of it. So I assume McCain authorized this leak. Why would McCain leak to the Guardian, though? Why not at least leak to a US publication?

7. The Guardian claims that as early as last summer, the FBI applied FISA warrant to monitor four members of the Trump team “suspected of irregular contacts with Russian officials.” If so — what’s up with the FBI? 

8. If Trump’s the victim of a disinformation campaign, who’s behind it? Is this the intel community’s response to Trump’s claim that they have “no clue?” Hillary’s revenge?

9. It doesn’t help when yet again, Trump replies using exactly the same language the Kremlin does:

10. I don’t understand how our Deep State works. Don’t we have spies of our own in Russia? Why do we need Dr. Spook to tell us this? Why is this only being reported now?

My verdict: I’ve got no idea what’s going on, but this seems fishy.

That said: That people will believe it is Trump’s fault. His behavior toward Putin has been so sycophantic and bizarre that even an extraordinarily weird story like this sounds plausible. If Obama’s refusal to use the phrase “Islamic terrorism” convinced a significant number of Americans that he was a Muslim, the same phenomenon will be at work here — even if these memos prove to be a complete fabrication and fantasy.

It’s entirely plausible to imagine that Trump enjoyed the company of ladies of poor repute when he was in Russia. No one can say, with a straight face, “That’s ridiculous. Donald Trump is an upright and responsible married man and a faithful husband. He would never consort with Slavic hookers.” Exactly no one would be surprised if he had, and exactly no one would be surprised that the Russians taped the encounter.

Trump’s eagerness to adopt the Kremlin’s line in matters of foreign policy and his general mien of moral incontinence will be enough to convince a significant number of Americans that all of these allegations are true.

It won’t be enough for Trump to Tweet indignantly and wait for the media to bore with the story. It won’t. We’ll hear of nothing but this for years to come, I reckon.

What do you make of it?

UPDATE: The Trump Dossier: Dynamite or Disinformation? makes the skeptical case better than I did, and concludes:

In the absence of any evidence, this will do nothing but widen the dangerous divide within American society.

And here’s the irony: that’s exactly what the Kremlin wants. Whether damning proof of complicity with an antagonistic foreign power, or a piece of raw anti-Trump disinformation, at present this cache of documents is probably more effective than any number of hours of programming by Russia’s RT television station – which emerged as the star of the recent and deeply flawed open source on the hacking case – in turning America against itself.

 

Members have made 295 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of ToryWarWriter Member

    After what happened to Gawker I would not want to be Buzzfeed.

    This is deliberate disinformation that is highly suspect. No one else has been stupid enough to use it. My informants tell me it was faked up on 4Chan months ago.

    Its an intelligence land mine and only someone really *blank* would be crazy enough to use it.

    • #1
    • January 11, 2017 at 3:51 am
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  2. Profile photo of Cato Rand Member

    I agree it smells fishy, but I think we ought to get used to the smell of fish. We elected a guy who bathes in fish oil. We’re going to be smelling it for a while.

    • #2
    • January 11, 2017 at 3:53 am
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  3. Profile photo of Bryan G. Stephens Reagan

    So to sum up:

    Clear attack on Trump in an attempt to discredit him by players who have always attacked the Right.

    Immediate Response from Commentators on the Right: It’s Trump’s Fault for dressing like a slut.

    • #3
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:11 am
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  4. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    4chan trolled rick wilson, who tried shopping it around back in october where it went nowhere.

    NeverTrumps self-beclowning keeps reaching previously unreachable heights of hilarity. Seriously, their beclowning is so epic that its going to take down every institution that ever touched them.

    Credit where credit is due, JPod isn’t touching this.

    • #4
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:20 am
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  5. Profile photo of Mendel Member

    1) This smells faker than Brian Williams’ describing how he performed open heart surgery on a wounded soldier using nothing but a pen and a belt while under barrage in Iraq.

    2) Why is Trump holding his first news conference since being elected president to respond to an obviously fake story?

    3) Remember how Trump promised he would announce a plan to distance himself from his business interests sometime before the inauguration…….?

    Trump’s corollary to Rahm’s Law: Never let a good fake-news crisis go to waste by using it to distract people from your welching on that promise you never intended to keep.

    • #5
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:27 am
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  6. Profile photo of blood thirsty neocon Member

    If the media runs with this and it’s not true, then Trump can answer any future Russia-related media skepticism by saying, “You ran with the fabricated Buzzfeed memo, so who can believe anything you write?” And he will be right. The media better dot all of the eyes and cross all of the t’s on this, they’ve got very little time before the purge starts.

    • #6
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:28 am
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  7. Profile photo of Mendel Member

    blood thirsty neocon (View Comment):
    If the media runs with this and it’s not true, then Trump can answer any future Russia-related media skepticism by saying, “You ran with the fabricated Buzzfeed memo, so who can believe anything you write?” And he will be right. The media better dot all of the eyes and cross all of the t’s on this, they’ve got very little time before the purge starts.

    They are. Numerous MSM outlets were provided these documents before the election, but they passed. Most of those same outlets today are intentionally staying light on the details of the allegations while playing up caveats about the allegations being unconfirmed.

    But it doesn’t matter: Trump will still hang this around the MSM’s neck no matter how cautious they are, and his supporters will take his word for it. After which Trump will then turn around and grant those same MSM outlets 2-hour exclusive, friendly interviews after his own supporters have stopped paying attention again.

    • #7
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:33 am
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  8. Profile photo of Instugator Thatcher

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: His behavior toward Putin has been so sycophantic and bizarre that even an extraordinarily weird story like this sounds plausible.

    Do you have easily linkable evidence of this or is it more in the vein of the AP fact-checking Trump’s claim that Meryl Streep is overrated?

    • #8
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:34 am
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  9. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    From Instapundit

    MORE: From the comments: “A friend pointed this out: In this ‘report,’ British intelligence describes events surrounding the ‘World Cup Soccer tournament.’ Soccer. Let’s repeat that… Soccer!! What self-respecting Brit would call the biggest sporting event in the world a ‘soccer tournament?’”

    • #9
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:37 am
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  10. Profile photo of Austin Murrey Inactive

    Time to stop relying on John Schindler apparently.

    The lawyer who was supposedly meeting with “RIS” (is that Russian intelligence or an actual service like the FSB or SVR?) denies it, says he’s never been to Prague in his life, claims his passport backs him up completely and some cursory work on his geotaged tweets apparently shows…he’s telling the truth unless he hopped a plane, had the meeting and flew back in a 36 hour period?

    • #10
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:44 am
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  11. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    Austin Murrey (View Comment):
    Time to stop relying on John Schindler apparently.

    The lawyer who was supposedly meeting with “RIS” (is that Russian intelligence or an actual service like the FSB or SVR?) denies it, says he’s never been to Prague in his life, claims his passport backs him up completely and some cursory work on his geotaged tweets apparently shows…he’s telling the truth unless he hopped a plane, had the meeting and flew back in a 36 hour period?

    You mean a guy who likes to send pictures of his penis to students may not be reliable? I am shocked. SHOCKED!

    • #11
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:45 am
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  12. Profile photo of Austin Murrey Inactive

    Guruforhire (View Comment):
    From Instapundit

    MORE: From the comments: “A friend pointed this out: In this ‘report,’ British intelligence describes events surrounding the ‘World Cup Soccer tournament.’ Soccer. Let’s repeat that… Soccer!! What self-respecting Brit would call the biggest sporting event in the world a ‘soccer tournament?’”

    I think I also read about a meeting at the Russian consulate in Miami – there isn’t a consulate there from what I can tell.

    • #12
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:46 am
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  13. Profile photo of Austin Murrey Inactive

    Also, and I honestly am not sure about this, wasn’t this summarized as a two page addendum to the supposedly 50 page briefing on Russian interference?

    If so what the heck was in the 48 pages and why aren’t we talking about that?

    • #13
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:50 am
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  14. Profile photo of Ekosj Member

    Harry Reid was pushing this story back in Oct. The same Harry Reid who freely admits having promulgated a lie about Romney and excusing that behavior because “It worked!”

    So I just dismiss this in its entirety.

    • #14
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:53 am
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  15. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    Austin Murrey (View Comment):
    Also, and I honestly am not sure about this, wasn’t this summarized as a two page addendum to the supposedly 50 page briefing on Russian interference?

    If so what the heck was in the 48 pages and why aren’t we talking about that?

    Thats a lot of ManBearPig

    • #15
    • January 11, 2017 at 4:54 am
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  16. Profile photo of Gumby Mark Thatcher

    The best assurance we have this is false is that many in the MSM had it for months before election. If they’d been able to confirm anything don’t you think this would have been splashed all over front pages in October?

    • #16
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:12 am
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  17. Profile photo of Kozak Member

    Meanwhile, we all just forget that Clinton received millions in “donations” from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, helped give away a huge percentage of our Uranium supply to Russia, and just this weekend oh by the way, the FBI confirmed her home brew server was penetrated by at least 2 hostile and 1 friendly intelligence agency, and that thanks to her daily emailing of Sid Vicious Blumenthal of classified information gave them a direct pipeline into the State Department.

    But Trump supposedly played water games with Russian sluts. Right.

    • #17
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:13 am
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  18. Profile photo of Karl Nittinger Coolidge

    Gee, I’m wondering if there might have been a certain group within the conservative movement who warned against the possibility of these things happening? No matter, I’m sure the entire media and cultural establishment will just shrug off this and everything else that comes up over the next 4 years and there won’t need to be any political capital spent on fighting weekly media story fires that suck the oxygen out of any policy agenda momentum…….

    • #18
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:18 am
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  19. Profile photo of blood thirsty neocon Member

    Kozak (View Comment):
    Meanwhile, we all just forget that Clinton received millions in “donations” from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, helped give away a huge percentage of our Uranium supply to Russia, and just this weekend oh by the way, the FBI confirmed her home brew server was penetrated by at least 2 hostile and 1 friendly intelligence agency, and that thanks to her daily emailing of Sid Vicious Blumenthal of classified information gave them a direct pipeline into the State Department.

    But Trump supposedly played water games with Russian sluts. Right.

    Who is this Clinton person of whom you speak? He or she sounds sleazy. Look, the election is over. Trump is the only circus in town now.

    • #19
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:19 am
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  20. Profile photo of Kozak Member

    • #20
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:20 am
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  21. Profile photo of Kozak Member

    blood thirsty neocon (View Comment):
    Who is this Clinton person of whom you speak? He or she sounds sleazy. Look, the election is over. Trump is the only circus in town now.

    And I see all the clowns are working overtime in the media again.

    • #21
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:21 am
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  22. Profile photo of blood thirsty neocon Member

    Karl Nittinger (View Comment):
    Gee, I’m wondering if there might have been a certain group within the conservative movement who warned against the possibility of these things happening? No matter, I’m sure the entire media and cultural establishment will just shrug this and everything else that comes up over the next 4 years and there won’t need to be any political capital spent on fighting weekly media story fires that suck the oxygen out of any policy agenda momentum…….

    I presume that you will still take the tax cut, Obamacare repeal, and the very conservative nominees, including to the Supreme Court. Of course, those wise conservatives said that none of these things would come to pass.

    • #22
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:24 am
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  23. Profile photo of blood thirsty neocon Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    blood thirsty neocon (View Comment):
    Who is this Clinton person of whom you speak? He or she sounds sleazy. Look, the election is over. Trump is the only circus in town now.

    And I see all the clowns are working overtime in the media again.

    He’s ring leader-in-chief. He lives for this. He will use this to his advantage.

    • #23
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:25 am
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  24. Profile photo of Kozak Member

    Karl Nittinger (View Comment):
    Gee, I’m wondering if there might have been a certain group within the conservative movement who warned against the possibility of these things happening? No matter, I’m sure the entire media and cultural establishment will just shrug this and everything else that comes up over the next 4 years and there won’t need to be any political capital spent on fighting weekly media story fires that suck the oxygen out of any policy agenda momentum…….

    Dude you think the “entire media and cultural establishment” would react any differently no matter who the GOP elected? You think things would be any better with Cruz? or Walker? Look at what they tried to do Jeff Sessions yesterday. Get real.

    • #24
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:25 am
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  25. Profile photo of Wiley Inactive

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: 8. If Trump’s the victim of a disinformation campaign, who’s behind it? Is this the intel community’s response to Trump’s claim that they have “no clue?” Hillary’s revenge?

    I don’t see a link on the 4Chan source yet, so here’s one. My son (a millennial programmer with a computer degree) says 4Chan is the gutter of the internet.

    • #25
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:27 am
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  26. Profile photo of Karl Nittinger Coolidge

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Karl Nittinger (View Comment):
    Gee, I’m wondering if there might have been a certain group within the conservative movement who warned against the possibility of these things happening? No matter, I’m sure the entire media and cultural establishment will just shrug this and everything else that comes up over the next 4 years and there won’t need to be any political capital spent on fighting weekly media story fires that suck the oxygen out of any policy agenda momentum…….

    Dude you think the “entire media and cultural establishment” would react any differently no matter who the GOP elected? You think things would be any better with Cruz? or Walker? Look at what they tried to do Jeff Sessions yesterday. Get real.

    “Dude”, do you think there would be stories like this about any of the other GOP candidates that – true or not – could be seen as being even remotely plausible?

    • #26
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:29 am
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  27. Profile photo of Austin Murrey Inactive

    Wiley (View Comment):

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.: 8. If Trump’s the victim of a disinformation campaign, who’s behind it? Is this the intel community’s response to Trump’s claim that they have “no clue?” Hillary’s revenge?

    I don’t see a link on the 4Chan source yet, so here’s one. My son (a millennial programmer with a computer degree) says 4Chan is the gutter of the internet.

    He’s not wrong.

    Karl Nittinger (View Comment):
    “Dude”, do you think there would be stories like this about any of the other GOP candidates that – true or not – could be seen as being even remotely plausible?

    The New York Times attacked Rubio for having a fishing boat in Miami. They refused to publish this.

    • #27
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:34 am
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  28. Profile photo of Karl Nittinger Coolidge

    Guruforhire (View Comment):
    4chan trolled rick wilson, who tried shopping it around back in october where it went nowhere.

    Rick Wilson, from 15 minutes ago…

    I’m not BuzzFeed’s source. Since their source was anonymous, and I don’t know who it was, I’ll settle it this way; if — arguendo — I had been their source, I hereby release the authors of the story, its editors, and BuzzFeed generally from any off-the-record/background protections of anonymity I would have asked for. Over to you, folks.

    The vast majority of stories we worked were about Trump’s financials and his relationship — and that of his team — with Russian interests. This was — to my estimate — as significant a compromise as anything in the sexual arena. He could easily refute and dismiss the financial ties by opening his tax returns and his books to scrutiny, but we know that’s not happening.

    https://medium.com/@therickwilson/fool-chan-e97fba24384f#.n0c4ksfki

    • #28
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:34 am
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  29. Profile photo of Guruforhire Member

    Karl Nittinger (View Comment):

    I’m not BuzzFeed’s source. Since their source was anonymous, and I don’t know who it was, I’ll settle it this way; if — arguendo — I had been their source, I hereby release the authors of the story, its editors, and BuzzFeed generally from any off-the-record/background protections of anonymity I would have asked for. Over to you, folks.

    The vast majority of stories we worked were about Trump’s financials and his relationship — and that of his team — with Russian interests. This was — to my estimate — as significant a compromise as anything in the sexual arena. He could easily refute and dismiss the financial ties by opening his tax returns and his books to scrutiny, but we know that’s not happening.

    https://medium.com/@therickwilson/fool-chan-e97fba24384f#.n0c4ksfki

    BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    • #29
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:36 am
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  30. Profile photo of Karl Nittinger Coolidge

    Austin Murrey (View Comment):
    The New York Times attacked Rubio for having a fishing boat in Miami. They refused to publish this.

    I should reiterate my original phrase, “stories like this”…no where did I imply that I believe that GOP candidates are generally inoculated from biased media scrutiny. A fishing boat in Miami is everyday stuff….this isn’t analogous.

    • #30
    • January 11, 2017 at 5:37 am
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