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Friday, January 13, 2017

Watersportsgate: Did Trump's inauguration czar "leak" Donnie's dirty secret?

Palmer Report readers: Thanks for visiting. I'll have more to say on this topic soon. I remain persuaded that Ephsteyn is the source for some of the Orbis dossier's claims.

Daily Kos readers: I was viciously smeared on your site and was disallowed from responding. Before reading the piece below, READ THIS.

And now, here is the post as originally written...

*  *  *

The Orbis dossier continues to have fascinating repercussions -- for example, we have just learned that the Senate Intelligence Committee will now hold hearings into Trump's Russian ties. Don't let anyone try to convince you that this decision is unrelated to the dossier.

The preceding post on "Watersportsgate" inspired a couple of informants to send me interesting leads. In fact, they may be bombshells.

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS POST. You won't find this information anywhere else. Only widespread discussion can generate verification.

As everyone now knows, the report containing the "golden shower" allegation originated with a private intelligence-gathering firm called Orbis, run by a respected former MI6 agent named Christopher Steele. Orbis caters to high-powered corporate clients. In that world, a private intelligence firm simply cannot stay in business if the product is sloppy or mendacious.

No-one can fairly claim that the dossier was put together for purposes of propaganda, for the simple reason that the text was never meant for public consumption. Buzzfeed put the dossier online only after learning that the American intelligence community was taking these claims very seriously -- seriously enough to brief both Obama and Trump.

Everyone is talking about those 36 pages, but few have actually read them (even though I went to the trouble of putting the whole lot through OCR; scroll down a couple of posts). Those who have bothered to read this material know that the true source for the "golden shower" story is not CNN -- not Buzzfeed -- and, ultimately, not even Orbis. Orbis got the story from three separate sources, labeled Source D, Source E and Source F.

Source D appears to be someone who works for Trump. Source F is someone who works for the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow.

The "big fish" in this barrel is Source E: He not only confirmed the watersports "kompromat" claim, he also spilled many another bean. In fact, I would say that those other beans are the truly important ones.

Writers for the Washington Post -- who have apparently seen an unredacted version of the dossier -- identified Source E as a Russian emigre who is very close to Donald Trump. But so far, no-one has given you a name.

Until now.

An anonymous informant tells me that Source E is Boris Epshteyn, the man who is running Trump's inauguration. As you may have heard, his job has not been an easy one. During the campaign, Epshteyn -- an investment banker born in the former USSR -- was often seen on cable television, defending Trump at every turn.

You are probably wondering: How can I be sure of this identification, since I have only one anonymous informant? In truth, I'm not certain -- not 100%. But the claim certainly seemed very plausible after I checked out Epshteyn's Wikipedia page and looked up this NYT biographical sketch.

Everything fits. EVERYTHING.

He's a Russian emigre. He knows Moscow very well. (Source E knew Source F, who works at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton.) He's extremely close to Trump. He got "in" with the campaign via a relationship with Trump's son.
In October 2013, Epshteyn helped moderate an investment event "Invest in Moscow!" The panel was composed mainly of Moscow city government officials, like Sergey Cheremin, a city minister who heads Moscow’s foreign economic and international relations department.
In the Orbis dossier, Source E's special area of knowledge seems to be investment in Russia.

Epshteyn got his start in Republican politics as part of the 2008 John McCain campaign. McCain has played an intriguing role in the saga of the Orbis dossier. The story at the other end of that link makes a lot more sense if you posit that McCain has a pretty good idea as to who was feeding information to Orbis.
Published reports conflict about how, when and from whom McCain learned about and obtained the memos.

In a story published late Wednesday on its website, the New York Times reported, without attribution, that McCain caught wind of the anti-Trump memos and got copies last month from David J. Kramer of Arizona State University's McCain Institute for International Leadership.

That would contradict other published accounts, including one Tuesday in the Guardian, which reported McCain "was informed about the existence of the documents separately by an intermediary from a western allied state" and "dispatched an emissary overseas to meet the source."

CNN reported Tuesday that McCain learned about the dossier from "a former British diplomat who had been posted in Moscow."
The Guardian now identifies the intermediary as Sir Andrew Wood.

Why would a high-level British official contact McCain? Perhaps the UK wanted background information on the man we know as Source E. Perhaps they knew that McCain was in a position to divulge that kind of information.

Intriguingly, Ephsteyn is married to a Google executive. His Twitter feed has been very sparse of late, and contains no reference to the controversy generated by the Orbis dossier.

If Ephsteyn is Source E, then we may fairly presume that the joint intelligence task force investigating these claims went to the FISA court specifically to get permission to eavesdrop electronically on Boris Ephsteyn. Remember: Permission is needed only if the target is an American.

Permission was finally granted in October. I have no idea what the intelligence "haul" might have been.

And that's not all folks! Another anonymous informant sent me an astonishing link to a certain Google document marked "private." This document gives details of more than 200 companies in Russia that can be linked to Donald Trump.

Remember, Trump says he has no business dealings in Russia.

I suggest that you download this document right now; I have no idea how long it will be online. As for its credibility and accuracy -- well, in my opinion, this can be determined only after a large number of people start doing research. Could it be a hoax? Possibly. But if so, it is unlike any other hoax I've ever seen.

Comments:
Boris Epshteyn was one of Trump's most prominent surrogates, second only to Kellyann. He was on TV so much, one wonders how he even had the time to read the daily talking points memo. He lied so remorselessly and concocted such audacious, fanciful excuses for the candidate, it made me ill to listen to him and I had to switch the channel.

If this turns out to be true, I wonder how CNN and MSNBC will feel about giving so much air time to a Russian double-spy. (I don't watch Fox.)
 
You've probably seen this:
"Trump: I assume A.J.’s clean. I hope he’s clean.
Benza: Meanwhile, he bangs Russian people…
Stern: Russian people?
Trump: Who are you talking about, Russian people, A.J.? I don’t know anything.
Benza: He used to call me when I was a columnist and say, “I was just in Russia, the girls have no morals, you gotta get out there.” [Trump’s] out of his mind."

Not sure if you've seen this:
(thread on Rosneft sale)
October 18 memo notes: "offered PAGE/TRUMP's associates the brokerage of up to a 19 per cent (privatised) stake in Rosneft".
On December 7, Russia sold a 19.5% stake in Rosneft.
I'll note that most people seem to be interpreting "the brokerage of" as the full amount, but it seems to me that it could be just the opportunity to handle the sale; some kickback.
Also, ancillary to that.
 
Thanks, Joseph, for your view. Certainly more than I can figure out.

Truly jaw-dropping.
 
Thank you for your excellent investigation and journalism, and thank you for making this visible on Democratic Underground.
 
Astounding. Any sense of why Epshteyn would have talked? In the face of his rabid advocacy, what would his motive be?
 
Why am I after reading all of the stories on Trump's shower videos reminded of the Michelle Obama "Whitey" tapes that never materialized?
It would be funny if the videos were real and I would love to watch republican (and pro-Trump news media) heads explode, but I have my doubts.
 
"Calamari"? By any chance, do you work for the Koch-topus?

I was in the thick of the Whitey tape imbroglio and found out the hard way that the whole thing was the concoction of some GOP dirty tricksters. But I also consider myself something of an expert on political hoaxing -- I even wrote about half a book on the subject, a couple of chapters of which have appeared in this blog.

All I can say is, I've never seen a hoax like this. Most of them are lazy and contain obvious tells.

Your problem, Mike, is you think that the "pee" allegation is IT. You have to read the rest of that dossier.

Also, I must repeat: Orbis catered to some high-powered clients. You should chekc out the world of private intelligence firms (and not just Orbis). You simply don't last in that business if you peddle a bunch of crap. Reputation is everything.
 
The document of Trump's Russian business ties is from the Federal Tax Service of Russia - 2005-2016. Trump's taxes must be subpoenaed so we can cross reference these claims. I have read the dossier enough to know that Boris is indeed Source E.
 
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