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September 9, 2017 1:23 pm - NewsBehavingBadly.com

A few days ago – and very much under the radar – John Sipher, and authority on foreign policy and the intelligence profession – published a fresh and updated analysis of the “Steele Dossier” to the Just Security blog. The “dossier,” a compilation of summary reports produced between June and December 2016 by Orbis Business Intelligence for a GOP-connected client who sought opposition research on then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, rigorously freaked out the media and political sectors when it was published on the BuzzFeed web site.

Given the report’s prescience in the wake of continuing revelations about Trump, his inner circle, and Russian tampering in the 2016 US elections, Sipher draws several conclusions early on in his post:

Although the reports were produced episodically, almost erratically, over a five-month period, they present a coherent narrative of collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. As a result, they offer an overarching framework for what might have happened based on individuals on the Russian side who claimed to have insight into Moscow’s goals and operational tactics. Until we have another more credible narrative, we should do all we can to examine closely and confirm or dispute the reports.

Many of my former CIA colleagues have taken the Orbis reports seriously since they were first published. This is not because they are not fond of Trump (and many admittedly are not), but because they understand the potential plausibility of the reports’ overall narrative based on their experienced understanding of both Russian methods, and the nature of raw intelligence reporting. …

[O]ne of my closest former CIA colleagues told me that he recognized the reports as the obvious product of a former Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) officer, since the format, structure, and language mirrored what he had seen over a career of reading SIS reports provided to CIA in liaison channels. He and others withheld judgment about the veracity of the reports, but for the reasons I outline further below they did not reject them out of hand. In fact, they were more inclined for professional reasons to put them in the “trust but verify” category.

Sipher points out that the press, politicians, and the public have misunderstood the actual nature of the dossier’s information:

[T]he so-called Steele dossier is not a dossier at all. A dossier suggests a summary or case history. Mr. Steele’s product is not a report delivered with a bow at the end of an investigation. Instead, it is a series of contemporaneous raw reports that do not have the benefit of hindsight. Among the unnamed sources are “a senior Russian foreign ministry official,” “a former top-level intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin,” and “a close associate of Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump.” Thus, the reports are not an attempt to connect the dots, but instead an effort to uncover new and potentially relevant dots in the first place.

A few key findings of the Steele’s report, according to Sipher, are:

  • “Three sources in the Orbis report describe a multi-year effort by Russian authorities to cultivate, support and assist Donald Trump.”
  • “Russian President Putin was supportive of the effort to cultivate Trump.”
  • “The dossier of FSB-collected information on Hillary Clinton was managed by Kremlin chief spokesman Dimitry Peskov.” (Later in the article, Sipher writes, “Mr. Steele could not have known that the Russians stole information on Hillary Clinton, or that they were considering means to weaponize them in the U.S. election, all of which turned out to be stunningly accurate.”)
  • “In one account, Putin and his aides expressed concern over kick-backs of cash to Manafort from former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, which they feared might be discoverable by U.S. authorities.” [NBC News, for one, made those fears come true.]
  • “The Orbis report also refers specifically to the aim of the Russian influence campaign ‘to swing supporters of Bernie Sanders away from Hillary Clinton and across to Trump’ … John Mattes, a former Senate investigator who helped run the online campaign for Sanders, said he was struck by Steele’s report. Mattes said, Steele “was writing in real time about things I was seeing happening in August, but I couldn’t articulate until September.”

As for compromising visual media starring The Donald:

The report also alleged that the internal Russian intelligence service (FSB) had developed potentially compromising material on Trump, to include details of “perverted sexual acts” which were arranged and monitored by the FSB.  Specifically, the compromising material, according to this entry in the report, included an occasion when Trump hired the presidential suite at a top Moscow hotel which had hosted President and Mrs. Obama, and employed prostitutes to defile the bed where the President had slept.  Four separate sources also described “unorthodox” and embarrassing behavior by Trump over the years that the FSB believed could be used to blackmail the then presidential candidate.

[T]he salacious sexual allegations should not be dismissed out of hand.  Efforts to monitor foreigners and develop compromising material is completely consistent with Russian M.O.  I am certain that they have terabytes of film and audio from inside my apartment in Moscow.  Putin himself is known to have been implicated in several sex stings to embarrass his rivals, to include the famous broadcast of a clandestinely-acquired sex video to shame then Prosecutor General Yuriy Skuratov.

Perhaps more intriguing, the most explosive charge in the Steele document was the claim that Trump hired prostitutes to defile a bed slept in by former President Obama.  The important factor to consider is that Trump did not engage with the prostitutes himself, but instead allegedly sought to denigrate Obama.  If there is anything consistent in what we have learned about President Trump, it seems that his policies are almost exclusively about overturning and eradicating anything related to President Obama’s tenure.  In this sense, he is akin to the ancient Pharaohs, Byzantine and Roman Emperors like Caligula, who sought to obliterate the existence of their predecessors, even destroying and defacing their images.  Is it inconceivable that he would get some satisfaction from a private shaming of the former President?

Separate Orbis reports also asserted that Trump himself engaged in unorthodox, perverted sexual behavior over the years that “has provided authorities with enough embarrassing and compromising material on the Republican presidential candidate to be able to blackmail him if they so wished.”  While it is not worth serious exploration, the notion that Trump might be involved with beautiful young women as alleged in the reports doesn’t seem to be much of a stretch.  His private life is well documented and litigated, such that it doesn’t seem wholly out-of-bounds to tie the reports about his activity in Russia with his history of undue interest in young women.

In other words, chances are Putin has a “pee-pee tape” of The Donald.

We’re going to admit that the above excerpts are admittedly a delicious – and quite telling – cherry on top of a far more rigorous look at Steele’s spot-on information concerning extensive connections and collusion between Trump’s circle and Russian agents.

The full report merits your attention. And yes, we’re not ashamed of using that alleged “pee-pee tape” to get you to take ten minutes of your time this weekend and go read the entire thing!

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dave-dr-gonzo
Dave "Doctor" Gonzo is a renegade media producer, occasional bassist, web developer, and Grammy® voter. He is editor and senior contributor to News Behaving Badly. He has written for American Politics Journal, Alan Colmes' Liberaland (Dave was also a semi-frequent Friday guest on Alan's radio show), and (in print) Audio Review. Dave lives in s fortified compound with doorman in Manhattan's not-so-trendy Yorkville neighborhood.