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20 September 2017

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JamesT

Personally, I think this investigation is patterned after the independent prosecutor's investigation of Bill Clinton. Bill was brought down by a dalliance with an intern. If they pressure Trump long enough then Trump may well make a mistake such as lying. Or they can use their investigative powers to find something embarrassing (they get to question everyone they want under oath and those questioned have to answer the questions). Otherwise the investigation can just drag on forever.

I wish more people understood that this is not about Democats vs Republicans.

turcopolier

All

I suppose that there could be a FARA violation if the person involved was involved in US foreign policy or if a false statement were made in something official and sworn. pl

Sam Peralta

Col. Lang

In light of what you wrote about the FISA wiretaps, the WSJ has an editorial requesting Congress to investigate "Comey's wiretaps".

https://www.wsj.com/articles/all-mr-comeys-wiretaps-1505862793

The warrant’s timing may also shed light on the FBI’s relationship to the infamous “ Steele dossier.” That widely discredited dossier claiming ties between Russians and the Trump campaign was commissioned by left-leaning research firm Fusion GPS and developed by former British spy Christopher Steele—who relied on Russian sources. But the Washington Post and others have reported that Mr. Steele was familiar to the FBI, had reached out to the agency about his work, and had even arranged a deal in 2016 to get paid by the FBI to continue his research.

The FISA court sets a high bar for warrants on U.S. citizens, and presumably even higher for wiretapping a presidential campaign. Did Mr. Comey’s FBI marshal the Steele dossier to persuade the court?

Russian meddling is a threat to democracy but so was the FBI if it relied on Russian disinformation to eavesdrop on a presidential campaign. The Justice Department and FBI have stonewalled Congressional requests for documents and interviews, citing the “integrity” of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But Mr. Mueller is not investigating the FBI, and in any event his ties to the bureau and Mr. Comey make him too conflicted for such a job. Congress is charged with providing oversight of law enforcement and the FISA courts, and it has an obligation to investigate their role in 2016. The intelligence committees have subpoena authority and the ability to hold those who don’t cooperate in contempt.

Mr. Comey investigated both leading presidential campaigns in an election year, playing the role of supposedly impartial legal authority. But his maneuvering to get Mr. Mueller appointed, and his leaks to the press, have shown that Mr. Comey is as political and self-serving as anyone in Washington.

No investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign will be credible or complete without the facts about all Mr. Comey’s wiretaps.

Sam Peralta

All

Have we crossed the rubicon to a totalitarian state?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-09-20/sharyl-attkisson-rages-looks-obama-spied-trump-just-he-did-me

Nobody wants our intel agencies to be used like the Stasi in East Germany; the secret police spying on its own citizens for political purposes. The prospect of our own NSA, CIA and FBI becoming politically weaponized has been shrouded by untruths, accusations and justifications.

You’ll recall DNI Clapper falsely assured Congress in 2013 that the NSA was not collecting “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”

Intel agencies secretly monitored conversations of members of Congress while the Obama administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.

In 2014, the CIA got caught spying on Senate Intelligence committee staffers, though CIA Director John Brennan had explicitly denied that.

There were also wiretaps on then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in 2011 under Obama.

The same happened under President George W. Bush to former Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.).

Journalists have been targeted, too. This internal email exposed by WikiLeaks should give everyone chills. It did me.

.....

I have spent more than two years litigating against the Department of Justice for the computer intrusions. Forensics have revealed dates, times and methods of some of the illegal activities. The software used was proprietary to a federal intel agency. The intruders deployed a keystroke monitoring program, accessed the CBS News corporate computer system, listened in on my conversations by activating the computer’s microphone and used Skype to exfiltrate files.

We survived the government’s latest attempt to dismiss my lawsuit. There’s another hearing Friday. To date, the Trump Department of Justice — like the Obama Department of Justice — is fighting me in court and working to keep hidden the identities of those who accessed a government internet protocol address found in my computers.

Lars

It is too early to say where this investigation is going, but there are indications that money laundering and shady real estate transactions are scrutinized. How far up that goes, nobody knows. If close associates of Donald Trump get indicted, he will have both legal and political problems.

Of course that is only one aspect. There may also be some serious conflict of interest problems. All of it is about to face a burst of sunshine and that will illuminate every thing, good or bad. It appears that Donald Trump is seriously bothered by all this activity and that in itself is interesting.

The Twisted Genius

I was also curious to see what kind of crime would be committed under US law since anything the Russians did was just normal state-to-state competition. That happens all the time and will continue to happen all the time. Seems that if anyone on the Trump team can be found soliciting help from a foreign source, it would be a violation of campaign finance laws. If anyone can be tied to the hacking and theft of data or the use of that hacked data (there was a lot of voter data taken in addition to the DNC and Podesta data), the crime would be engaging in a criminal conspiracy. Then, of course, there are the targets of opportunity associated with any cover up like witness intimidation, perjury, obstruction of justice, and the like.

Then there is the NYAG's investigation into Trump and his associates under NY RICO laws. That investigation is still very much alive.

All this makes me wonder who is concentrating on the Russian IO itself. There's no crime here, besides the hacks and theft of data, but that should be the crux of the investigation in my opinion. Perhaps Mueller is doing this. I would think he'd have to understand exactly what was done, how it was coordinated and how it was financed before he could look for any crimes related to this whole Russia thing.

MGS

Manafort should sue the Federal Gov for violation of his rights against unlawful search and seizure. FISA is unconstitutional and should challenge the entire case on the basis that anything obtained was based on a FISA warrant. Force the courts and above all else the Supreme Court to address the issue finally. Manafort is by no means an angel, but he has rights and deserves a fair shake instead of the train ride he's on.

JohnH

With the world's 7th largest economy, what sane businessman would NOT want to cultivate relationships and develop the Russian market, particularly since it is virtually untapped by Western companies?

Exxon-Mobil certainly wanted to do that. And they don't strike me as unpatriotic dummies!

JerseyJeffersonian

Sam Peralta,

Amen to that.

And beyond delving into Comey's machinations, I think it high time to get former AG, Loretta Lynch under oath in front of a Congressional Committee to inquire after the real substance of her supposedly impromptu meeting with Slick Willy on the airport tarmac. If she needs to be compelled to answer through an offer of immunity, this would be a very clarifying moment, indeed. And if she still refuses, preferring being cited for contempt of Congress, well, that might be pretty interesting in its own right. And if she left any trail of evidence behind her like, say for instance, relating this information to one of her staff, the staffer could be questioned under similar terms. I rather think no staffer would be operating under the delusion that they could survive thumbing their nose at Congress like their boss doubtless would. But then again, maybe Seth Rich's still unexplained death may serve as an incentive to them to clam up and weather whatever consequences might flow from that decision.

Also a good time to have a little chat with the guy from Crowdstrike, too. And on a related note, maybe a wee bit of inquiry with Mr. Comey on the logic of the FBI in not demanding access to the server?

Probably none of this will happen however, this being arguably what we can expect from Imperial Politics; no longer are we to recognize this as the functioning of a Constitutional Republic, sad to say.

Will.2718

According to Martha Stewart, a false statement to a federal officer need not be sworn. The best response to an FBI agent or any federal officer is "Have a good day Sir/Maam!" or Buenos Dias, I prefer to have counsel with me when answering questions.

English Outsider


Don't understand any of this. Unless Mr Steele was entirely off the leash, which is difficult to believe, there's evidence of our complicity in covert interference with the US Presidential elections. Then there's evidence of Israeli interference, and that overt. Also, although it's not directly relevant here, there's sufficient evidence that the US itself pulls strings in other countries' elections.

So whatever the Russians did or didn't do messing around with another country's elections, they're pretty far back in the queue. I'm all for the greater readiness to investigate such matters that we see in the US; but why is the spotlight directed only into this little corner?

LeaNder

TTG, I am not following this closely enough but for whatever reason Manafort popped up on my mind. Maybe due to earlier curiosity concerning the Ukraine. Were would he fit in? And how?

Checking spelling of his name, I realized it made headlines again.

Les

They're trying to manufacture an obstruction of justice charge. Without the independent prosecutor's investigation, there would be no opportunity for someone to lie, mislead, or inadvertently omit facts.

I'm getting tired of seeing the same events trumpeted by the media and the independent prosecutor as if there was something new. How many times can you disclose you were wiretapping one of the persons of interest or that you raided their home for documents?

JerseyJeffersonian

Working my way through Gibbons' Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire. There are ominous parallels to be observed between some of the events he recounts, and events of the present day. The Praetorian Guards and the legions more generally actively manipulated events to attain self-serving outcomes. Elements of our intelligence community seem to be treading a similar path; harrassing, crippling, and if felt necessary working toward the eviction of a legitimately chosen President are rather obviously in play. Not, as in the case of the Roman military, killing him, but effectively overturning the government seems to be the tactic, and all to serve their own ends, and the Constitutional order be damned. History, as has been said, may not repeat, but it sure as hell rhymes.

Oh, and in a not entirely dissimilar development, in Philadelphia, and in PA, it has emerged that legal immigrants, despite being ineligible, have registered and voted. The hend wavers at the Philadelphia Inquirer are trying to minimize this, of course. The thought arises, if it happened in PA, what about in CA? So maybe yet again, one of President Trump's charges is true? Cue our own crew of handwavers here at SST. Over to you, ladies and gentlemen...

The Twisted Genius

LeaNder,

Manafort's name has been all over the news. Just google it. The "Get Trump" true believers are painting him as a Russian agent. I doubt that. He's a greasy political operative and PR hack who sells his skills to the highest bidder. That's just the business is. Note that Podesta was doing the same thing and that the FBI began investigating Podesta and Manafort years ago because they both looked like they were doing shady dealings with politicians and oligarchs in Ukraine. This article puts a lot of this PR business in perspective.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/03/much-ado-about-manafort/520743/

Anna

"Also a good time to have a little chat with the guy from Crowdstrike, too. "
Absolutely. Mr. Dmitri Alperovich of CrowdStrike had enough understanding of the technicalities to see that the DNC emails were leaked. Instead, he concocted a story filled to the brim with the fraudulent claims (and adorned with the mindfully invented names, like Fancy Bears) to implicate Russians. The scoundrel -- of Jewish descent, born in Moscow -- is among the "experts" of the aggressively Russophobic Atlantic Council that is also employed an obviously incompetent but sufficiently Russophobic Eliot Higgins. These people (the Atlantic Council) are not familiar with the words "honesty, dignity" and other non-profitable stuff. Alperovich must be questioned along with FBI deciders who lacked their job-required interest in the server.

Anna

The investigation should also look at Seth Rich murder and at Imran Awan's free roaming and pasturing on the Congress' classified documents. The Awan affair presents a well documented BREACH (capital letters) of national cybersecurity. Where is an outcry? Why Debbie is not in a federal prison already?
Also, is not it long overdue for AIPAC to register FARA? One cannot make waves without bringing up other interesting stuff.

David Habakkuk

EO,

I have presented evidence that Christopher Steele was never 'off the leash' in responses to 'Tidewater' on the thread provoked by the revelations of the wiretapping on Trump Tower.

As to your question as to 'why is the spotlight directed only into this little corner?'

It is not a difficult question to answer, if one looks at the more respectable elements in arguments about the relationship of 'democracy' and 'totalitarianism'. Involved here has commonly been a complex interplay between advocates of 'reactionary', 'liberal', and 'socialist' positions.

One conclusion to which a range of very diverse thinkers were pushed is that those who transferred religious expectations onto politics were charlatans.

Central here was the argument that claims to authority, and therefore power, which could be sustained if and only if the notion that a secular science could validate such claims in the way that religious beliefs had appeared to do was sustainable, were liable to end up with insoluble problems.

Because the claim to understand the true and natural course of history is always epistemologically unsustainable – and this goes for Fukuyama as much as for Lenin, if not indeed even more – those who act on it have to cope with the unintended, unexpected, and uncomprehended, consequences of their delusions.

To avoid the implications of their moralistic view being turned on them – and their being adjudged 'enemies of the people' – they have to find scapegoats.

As both French and Russian history have amply demonstrated, those who won out in the resulting arguments about who should 'carry the can' were normally not the most intelligent, and least of all those with any kind of moral scruples. Whatever else he may have been, Stalin was not a stupid man.

Those who could not cope in a world where traditional 'irrational' standards had been repudiated very often ended up either on the guillotine or with a bullet in the back of the neck.

Sometimes I am tempted to think that, irrespective of whether there is a God, the empirical evidence suggests that there must be a devil.

However, to make this hypothesis work, one needs to postulate a devil who is bored with us, and to find relief from boredom, tempted to indulge in bad jokes.

And certainly, when I see people I thought were 'liberals', in a more traditional, old-fashioned sense, resorting to the same kind of strategies pursued by Stalin, I begin to wonder whether Satan, as it were, has been getting bored, and is producing some really bad jokes, preparatory to bringing the party to an end.

AshTheLightningFan

Mr. Lang,

Looks like things will get really difficult for Mr. Giraldi. Valerie Plame re-tweeted his latest and is being dragged for it. The left is using it as an opportunity to enforce loyalty to Israel. The right is using it as an opportunity to virtue-signal their support for Jews. This is trending worldwide right now.

Good luck Phil!

Thirdeye

Russian meddling is a threat to democracy but so was the FBI if it relied on Russian disinformation to eavesdrop on a presidential campaign.

What's the theory behind that statement? That Russians planted the patently ridiculous assertions and that Steele fell for them? Didn't know the Kremlin boys had that sense of humor.

Thirdeye

IMO the investigation has already served its main purpose, to create the atmosphere where anyone who could oppose the Borgists gets hounded out of the administration. Embarrassments to keep Trump out of a second term, with or without indictments, are the gravy.

steve

Doubt they will catch Trump in anything. Would not be surprised if they caught another Trump campaign person, like Manafort doing something shady. Still, the real purpose her is to replicate what Benghazi did. Keep an investigation going until the next election. Once Mueller is done they will find a reason to start another one. Worked of the GOP, so expect an attempt to duplicate it.


Steve

johnf

To look on the positive side, the more people who hear about this article the more people are likely to read it. Indeed, I suspect that many, many people of independent mind who have bothered to inform themselves about the Middle East free of the propaganda in the MSM will already privately have drawn similar conclusions.

In my opinion he should have used the word "Zionist" instead of "jew." Many jewish people, outside and inside Israel, are completely opposed Israeli fascism and to The West's wars on behalf of Israel

English Outsider


1. I re-read the thread containing the discussion with "Tidewater". This is material familiar to you but not to me but I don't believe that an intelligence service, ours or any other, says to its officers when they leave "Take the contacts you've made here and the knowledge you've gained and use them for business purposes as you see fit." I don't believe that Mr Steele conducted his American business activities without the knowledge of his former superiors. The question of who gave authorisation has not yet been answered.

2. On Trump the questions are: did Trump 2016 mean it and does he still mean it? If he does mean it, does he have any chance of getting it through, given that the US Constitution is liberally provided with road blocks. Given also that the Beltway and the media see him as a danger and that the scale and nature of their attack exceeds anything seen when Nixon or Clinton were put through the mill.

Those unanswered questions - does he mean it and if so can he do it - obtrude even when hearing of such events as the reported flooding of the Euphrates as SAA units were crossing to the far side to engage with ISIS units. Was that down to the Kurds, or to their advisers, was it in accordance with US policy, or was it a local commander chancing his arm? When to the fog of war we add the fog of uncertainty about who's pulling the levers or controlling the information flow in the White House it is not possible to arrive at any assessment of such events or, indeed, of any assessment of the present direction of US foreign policy.

Which may be, taking the most favourable interpretation possible, just how Trump likes it. He's said often enough that he doesn't telegraph his intentions in advance. What he can't like, on any interpretation, is the muddle surrounding the alleged Russian interference in US politics. However that comes out it will surely be turned to his discredit.

It is a muddle that could be limited, or at least put in perspective, by a more general investigation into interference or attempted interference in the US political process. I mentioned Mr Steele's frolics. Plenty of questions to be asked there, for example. I'd imagine quite a few elsewhere. Surely a US President, however few levers he might have at his command, has enough levers to ensure a more balanced investigation than the one currently in progress?

That's what puzzles me. Why is Mr Trump just sitting there and taking it?

David Habakkuk

Thirdeye, Sam, Anna, JerseyJeffersonian,

While I think there is every reason to treat the suggestion that 'Russians planted the patently ridiculous assertions' in the Steele dossier with acute scepticism, it is not beyond the possibility that it contains a grain of truth.

A conversation between a noted writer of studies of some of the more gripping episodes in British intelligence history, Ben Macintyre, and John Le Carré, which was published in the 'New York Times' on 25 August, makes clear that this is a line which is being peddled by at least some of Steele's erstwhile colleagues.

When the paper's correspondent, Sarah Lyall, asked, ‘Do you think the Russians really have something on Trump?’, Macintyre replied:

'I can tell you what the veterans of the S.I.S. [the British Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6] think, which is yes, kompromat was done on him. Of course, kompromat is done on everyone. So they end up, the theory goes, with this compromising bit of material and then they begin to release parts of it. They set up an ex-MI6 guy, Chris Steele, who is a patsy, effectively, and they feed him some stuff that’s true, and some stuff that isn’t true, and some stuff that is demonstrably wrong. Which means that Trump can then stand up and deny it, while knowing that the essence of it is true. And then he has a stone in his shoe for the rest of his administration.'

(See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/books/review/john-le-carre-ben-macintyre-british-spy-thrillers.html?mcubz=0 .)

This looks like a desperate attempt to rescue as much as possible of the 'Siberian candidate' narrative from the problems caused by some of the more ludicrous claims in the dossier – which have now produced lawsuits from Aleksej Gubarev, the principals in the Alfa Group (which apparently Steele couldn't spell), and, most recently, Carter Page.

However, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that some of MI6's 'useful idiots' are being fed, along with 'some stuff that isn't true', a certain admixture of 'some stuff that's true' by former or current employees of that organisation.

It is quite clear that, from the outset, there have been divisions among the elements in both American and British intelligence agencies which have been most closely involved in the campaign against Trump about how to handle the dossier: whether to defend its author or, as it were, 'hang him out to dry.'

In some early reports, the leadership of MI6 appeared to be committing themselves to the former strategy. The claims made by Macintyre's 'veterans of the S.I.S' are in tension with those by similar sources reported in a piece entitled 'Head of MI6 used information from Trump dossier in first public speech' produced in January by the Defence Correspondent of the 'Independent', Kim Sengupta. This opened:

'The head of MI6 used information obtained by former officer Christopher Steele in his Trump investigation, in a warning against Russian cyberattacks and attempts to subvert Western democracies, The Independent has learned.

'Sir Alex Younger’s briefing notes for his first public speech as head of the Secret Intelligence Service contained some of the material supplied by Mr Steele, according to security sources. Drawing on the alleged hacking carried out by Moscow in the US presidential campaign, he warned of the danger facing Britain and Western European allies, and especially to elections due to be held next year.

'Security sources stress that MI6 had extensive information, British and international, on the Russian threat apart from that of Mr Steele. But they pointed out that he is held in high regard and the contribution he provided was valuable.'

(See http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-dossier-mi6-christopher-steele-russia-documents-alex-younger-a7528681.html .)

As I have stressed in earlier comments, it is imperative to see what is happening now against the background of Steele's involvement in the 'information operations' in which Alexander Litvinenko and other members of the circle round Boris Berezovsky played central roles.

When, following the death of Litvinenko, Steele and his collaborators were able to inveigle the Crown Prosecution Service into requesting the extradition of Andrei Lugovoi on patently bogus charges of having poured polonium into the dead man's tea, the figure they had framed also suggested they might be 'patsies' – but of Berezovsky.

So in the statement he read out at the 31 May 2007 press conference where he responded to the extradition request, Lugovoi claimed that:

'Litvinenko used to say: They are total retards in the UK, they believe everything we are telling them about Russia.'

He returned to the theme in the Q &A:

'I want to stress this thought, the one I mentioned in my statement. I quote – Litvinenko used to say: You can’t imagine what idiots they are and they believe everything we are telling them. I stress that.'

(See http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160613090333/https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/evidence">https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/evidence">http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160613090333/https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/evidence .)

Whether or not Litvinenko did express this total contempt for Steele and his associates – and I think it quite likely that it did – the notion of them as the 'useful idiots' of the circle around Berezovsky is clearly absolutely accurate.

In the Q&A, Lugovoi also described that figure – aptly – as a 'master of political intrigue.' While people like Steele are quite out of their depth in dealing with the kind of Machiavellian strategies not uncommon in political shenanigans in the post-Soviet space or the Middle East, manipulating their fellow 'useful idiots' in Britain and the United States has been a lot easier.

In the case of the Litvinenko mystery, a key reason for this is that, after it became clear that there had been a leakage of polonium in the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel in 'Happy Hour', the Russian security service were no more enthusiastic about seeing the truth about how this had happened exposed than their Western counterparts.

Some crucial background here has to do with the extraordinary manipulations of the record to which Steele and his associates had to resort, to sustain the patently false claim that the contamination in Berezovsky's offices – and in particular on a photocopier – dated from a visit by Litvinenko after the Pine Bar meeting.

Unless this could be done, the whole ludicrous story according to which the leakage of polonium in the Pine Bar was naturally to be explained by Lugovoi and/or his associate Dmitri Kovtun pouring the substance into a teapot might just have become too incredible even for 'useful idiots' like Ben Macintyre and Kim Sengupta to swallow.

However, the incompetence of Steele and his associates, even at 'information operations', is evident in the fact that the 'Chronology' provided by the corrupt judge they appointed to run the Inquiry, Sir Robert Owen, in Appendix 4, is directly contradicted by one of the 'Key documents' he lists in Appendix 8.

So on page 280 of the report, as in the body of the text, the visit to Berezovsky's office and use of the photocopier are placed after the Pine Bar meeting, which is timed at 4-4.30pm. (See page 280.)

Listed among the 'Key documents', on page 315, however, one finds 'Maps showing the movements of Alexander Litvinenko on 1 November 2006' – numbered as INQ018243.

At several points, this contradicts the 'Chronology'. In particular, it contains an entry: ‘SECURITY GUARD AT 7 DOWN STREET OFFICES OF BORIS BEREZOVSKY STATES LITVINENKO VISITED BETWEEN 1PM AND 2.30PM.’ The evidence credited is ‘Statement S82 Stephen Brown’, and the estimated date/time given is ‘13.40 approximate.’

(See http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160613090324/https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/report">https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/report">http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160613090324/https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/report for the report. The maps are at http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160613094726/https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/files/2015/04/INQ018243wb.pdf">https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/files/2015/04/INQ018243wb.pdf">http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20160613094726/https://www.litvinenkoinquiry.org/files/2015/04/INQ018243wb.pdf .)

That Litvinenko visited Berezovsky's office at the start of his journeys round London on the day he was supposedly murdered had been central to the 'chronology' which had been leaked by the Russian security services to 'Izvestiya'. However, this was before it became clear that the scale of contamination in the Pine Bar meeting – an event which, up until then, both British and Russian intelligence were colluding in suppressing – could not be concealed.

However, challenging the bogus 'Chronology' cooked up by Steele and his associates, and disseminated by Owen, would have been impossible, without raising awkward questions about how the polonium had come to be in London in the first place.

So, in essence, the Russian security services found themselves snookered, and Western intelligence agencies were able to add the – actually ludicrous – charge of having instigated the assassination of Litvinenko, in a pioneering act of nuclear terrorism, to the 'charge sheet' against Putin.

One crucial lesson is that it is clear that Steele is eminently capable of simply fabricating evidence. However, it is equally important to recall what is likely to have been Lugovoi's real crime. It is quite clear that he, in conjunction with Berezovsky's partner Arkadi 'Badri' Patarkatsishvili, was playing a double game, and that he was under suspicion of h having, in essence, defected to the enemy.

The criticism which has been made that Steele could not have accessed sources in Moscow is not in itself cogent. More relevant is the fact that, if he was doing so, they would almost certainly have been MI6's sources, and would have included people who had been part of the 'networks' run by Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky. It is likely that a significant number of such people have followed the same path as Lugovoi.

So, suppose that your are in the FSB. You know from some of these figures that your old adversary Steele is engaged in looking for evidence to sustain the – actually fraudulent – case that the material obtained by Assange came from Russian hacking. So, why not exploit former collaborators with Berezovsky who have wanted to make their peace with you to feed Steele and the other 'retards' in MI6 'some stuff that’s true, and some stuff that isn’t true, and some stuff that is demonstrably wrong'?

By doing that, it might be possible to counter the portrayal of Trump – with whom Putin hoped to be able to do business – as the 'Siberian candidate.' In addition, Steele, who had snookered them, could be, as it were, landed in it. With luck and a fair wind, the resulting lawsuits might even leave him a ruined and broken man.

What I am doing is simply putting forward a possible hypothesis. But it is not easy to explain how such outlandish claims ended up in the dossier, so one needs to consider the possibility that the explanation for this is actually somewhat outlandish.

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