One of the mysteries of Russiagate concerns Fusion GPS, the firm which hired Orbis to compile the Steele dossier. The dossier investigates Trump's dealings with Putin. The urination incident is but one item on the list, and hardly the most important.
We are told that Trump's enemies -- first Republican foes, then Democratic -- commissioned this research. What complicates the situation is the fact that the Russian government also
hired Fusion. Russia's goal: Discrediting William Browder and ending the Magnitsky Act, which has made life difficult for Putin and his pals.
We also have to deal with the right-wing propaganda meme that Fusion is controlled by Evil Hillary, the modern world's distaff Adam Weishaupt.
Fusion, Fusion, Fusion...just which side are you on?
Are you anti-Putin or pro-Putin? That quandary has seeped into Trump's twitter feed and into the congressional questioning of William Browder.
Perhaps the simplest theory is that Glenn Simpson, head of Fusion GPS, is a gun for hire. The company does oppo research. If your money is green, you get results.The company's ideology will switch on a dime -- or, if not a dime, then X number of dollars.
Here's the latest
: The House and Senate intelligence committees are scrambling to talk to Christopher Steele, and so are Mueller's people. This has led to tension between the congressional probes and the Special Counsel. There is also tension between Republicans and Democrats on the committees. Apparently, the Republicans believe that the Dems are secretly in cahoots with Steele.
Steele was contracted during the 2016 campaign by Fusion GPS, a U.S.-based opposition research firm. Republicans have accused Fusion GPS of fostering links to Russia, and say Fusion lobbied on behalf of Kremlin interests without properly registering as a foreign agent, a claim which Fusion denies.
“What is clear is that the president and his allies are desperately trying to smear Fusion GPS because it investigated Donald Trump's ties to Russia,” Tracy Schmaler, a representative for Fusion GPS, said in a statement.
Heretofore, I've been operating under the presumption that Fusion began to work for Russian interests after
it dealt with Steele. (Published reports have made the timeline difficult to dope out.) But what if Fusion was already in Russia's orbit?
What if Moscow wanted
the Steele dossier to come into existence?
This idea makes a certain degree of Machiavellian sense. We know that the Russians hacked into the Republicans as well as the Democrats. We know that they've done their best to collect kompromat on both parties. Kompromat can be used to insure the victory of a given candidate in a political race -- and
to insure that candidate's compliance once he gets into office.
Recall one of Roger Stone's rules: Always use a cut-out
. That was a rule in Spookworld long before Roger Stone got involved in politics.
Christopher Steele of MI6 may have been working as a Russian cut-out without knowing it.
Then again: It is also possible that Steele was witting
of his ultimate sponsor.
The suggestion may seem ridiculous at first, but don't be too quick to dismiss the idea. There are a number of right-wing British spooks working for Cambridge Analytica, which lists Russian mobster Dmitry Firtash
as a board member. I've seen no evidence of a link between Orbis and Cambridge Analytica beyond the fact that both enterprises employ British spooks, but something really weird
seems to be going on between a faction of British intelligence and Russia. Right now, I don't have enough data to offer even a wild piece of conjecture as to what that "something" might be.
The ease with which Steele's team acquired his intelligence has always struck me as unusual. For example, in previous posts I identified Boris Ephsteyn as the likeliest candidate for the dossier's "Source E." (I'm not saying that Ephsteyn is definitely the guy; I'm saying that nobody else fits the dossier's description.) For the moment, let us hypothetically presume this theory to be correct. The question then becomes: Why
would Ephsteyn blab so freely to Steele about such matters?
It is possible that the "pee pee" incident never occurred. It is also possible that Steele was told this story in order to backstop a fake
video. Putin's people may have concocted a cinematic extravaganza which is being held in reserve, just in case Trump needs to be deep-sixed in a hurry.
There is a precedent for this sort of thing.
Decades ago, an eastern bloc intelligence service used lookalike actors to create a video of Ronald Reagan engaged in a rather gross sexual act with Vicky Morgan. (How
gross? Viewers have described the use of a strap-on.) I'm not sure of the original purpose of this production, but my understanding is that it was deemed insufficiently convincing. Through a convoluted series of events
(partially detailed in various news articles published in Los Angeles after Morgan's death), a copy of the tape ended up in the possession of porn magnate Larry Flynt, who originally believed it to be genuine. He probably still has the thing. I know that he has shown it at various soirees; Frank Zappa (of all people) once gave a first-hand report during a radio interview. I've talked to someone else who has seen the video, although I won't give his name without permission.
Well after the fall of the USSR, former FSB man Vladimir Putin resurrected this grand tradition of videotaped sexual kompromat. Sometimes the evidence is genuine, as it apparently was in the case of Putin's foe Mikhail Kasyanov. Sometimes the evidence is ginned up. For example, most observers don't believe in the bona fides of a video showing Yury Skuratov in bed with two nubile young lovelies. (Skuratov was a prosecutor general who got on Putin's bad side.)
Consider this NYT story from 2016: "Foes of Russia Say Child Pornography Is Planted to Ruin Them."
Old-style kompromat featured doctored photographs, planted drugs, grainy videos of liaisons with prostitutes hired by the K.G.B., and a wide range of other primitive entrapment techniques.
Today, however, kompromat has become allied with the more sophisticated tricks of cybermischief-making, where Russia has proved its prowess in the Baltic States, Georgia and Ukraine.
I'm sure that such tactics have been used in other countries, including the United States. In a couple of previous posts, I've asked whether nearly every
computer contains illegal imagery hidden away in some nearly-inaccessible file, just as the paper money in your wallet probably contains trace amounts of cocaine. Pirated apps might deliver a covert payload. So could that all-too-convenient piece of freeware you use every day -- your media player, your firewall, your image editor. Ubiquitous illegal imagery could serve a "just in case" purpose: If you ever become a nuisance to the Powers-That-Be, a forensic examination of your computer system can "prove" you to be a monster. After the horrifying truth comes out, your loved ones will tell interviewers: "I had no idea..."