While I was away for the birth of our grandchild, I could only follow the news in a cursory manner but what I could catch dealt primarily with two things: the confirmation hearings of the Trump administration nominees and the story of a dossier that detailed some bizarre activities by Trump while visiting Russia as well as claiming that Trump associates were working with the Russian government and intelligence agencies. While we now should not be surprised by bizarre and even repulsive behavior by Trump, the more explosive element of this story was that this dossier had been prepared as part of an ongoing attempt by Russian intelligence agencies to co-opt and assist Trump. That raised the seriousness of the issue to a far higher level.
On my return, I found this article by Matt Taibbi that gives a useful timeline and background of the dossier, and he writes that the existence of the document had been known for some time, even before the election, but the details were hard to verify and so journalists had held back from revealing its contents.
Three days into the “Russian dossier” scandal, which history will remember by a far more colorful name, we still have no clue what we’re dealing with. We’re either learning the outlines of the most extraordinary compromise to date of an incoming American president by a foreign power, or we’re watching an unparalleled libel and media overreach.
The tale was first made public by David Corn at Mother Jones a week before the presidential election. Corn’s October 31st article was entitled, “A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.”
Corn, with whom I spoke Wednesday, had documents back in October containing explosive accusations of Trump sex romps and other serious blackmailable behavior. But he chose not to publish them, because he couldn’t confirm those details.
Corn says now he was also concerned that running the documents might lead to damage to/outing of some sources. (Hang on to that thought.)
Corn ultimately focused on the elements he could confirm: that a dossier asserting that Russians had a file of compromising information on Trump had been prepared by a veteran intelligence source, one with enough standing in Washington that the FBI chose to investigate the claims.
After going through all the twists and turns that this story has taken and all the players involved, Taibbi concludes:
Meanwhile, Ynet in Israel is reporting that Israeli intelligence officials are deciding not to share intelligence with the incoming Trump administration. The report indicates they came to this conclusion after a recent meeting with American intelligence officials, who told them the Russians have “leverages of pressure” to use against Trump.
This is an extraordinary story. If our intelligence community really believes this, then playtime is over.
No more Clapper-style hedging or waffling. If Israel gets to hear why they think Trump is compromised, how is the American public not also so entitled?
But if all they have are unverifiable rumors, they can’t do this, not even to Donald Trump.
The only solution is an immediate unveiling of all the facts and an urgent public investigation. A half-assed whispering campaign a week and a half from a Trump presidency, with BuzzFeed at the center of the action, isn’t going to cut it. We need to know what the likes of Clapper and Comey know, and we need it all now, before it’s too late.
It sure feels like we are in for one hell of a ride with the Trump presidency.