A one-time British intelligence officer named Christopher Steele produced a dossier on then-candidate Donald Trump in installments last year. It appears to have been originally intended for use by the Democratic Party, as “opposition research.”
After the election, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) obtained the resulting collection of memos from a third party (David Kramer). McCain passed them along to James Comey, then head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, during the transition period, on December 9.
This dossier contains a lot of material about Trump’s real or alleged connections with Russia, some of it salacious.
In January 2017, only a few days before inauguration, the website Buzzfeed posted the dossier in all its glory, including allegations about how Russian intelligence has exploited Trump’s “personal obsessions and sexual perversions” in order to obtain compromising material on him.
The dossier has come into and fallen out of the public spotlight several times in the months since, often pushed aside by other more pressing matters such as hurricanes or talk of war with North Korea, but then moving back in when those other matters subsided a bit.
Now, in the final third of October 2017, the dossier seems very much “in” again. The President himsef placed it there. On Saturday, October 21, the President tweeted that the dossier has been ”discredited,” but that it is time for the Justice Department or the FBI to “immediately release [names of those] who paid for it.”
Left Wing View
The opposition research firm that was paying Steele for his work is Bean LLC. It does business under the name Fusion GPS.
On Friday, October 20, Fusion filed a complaint with the federal district court in DC in response to a subpoena from Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Ca.) Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had served what Fusion described as “an exceedingly broad subpoena demanding that a bank … produce two years’ worth of … irrelevant but private financial records.” This presumably inspired the President’s renewed interest in the subject. He wants those records because Fusion doesn’t want him, via Nunes, to get them, so he is appealing to the broad public, and his base within that public, for support.
Left wing response to the Fusion complaint and Trump’s tweet focuses primarily on Nunes. As Slate said months ago, Nunes in the left wing view is “in the tank for Trump” and “needs to go.”
The newly popular phrasing, via the Daily Beast, is that Nunes “went rogue” with this subpoena. The Daily Beast says he is “unilaterally carrying out a shadow investigation of his own.” He wants to know who paid the company that in turn paid for Steele’s research.
On twitter, Kenya A’lure, a supporter of #BlackLivesMatter, writes for many when she says, “I hope this gets retweeted enough to somehow land on the eyes of Bob Mueller. Please investigate Devin Nunes, that is all … Thanks.”
Back to the dossier itself as distinct from its funding: Jim Sciutto tweets that “Trump’s claim the dossier is discredited has been discredited. In fact, US intel has corroborated portions.”
Right Wing View
Conservatives have backed Nunes, and taken the view that the “Russian connection” shoe is on the other foot. Russia was supporting Clinton, not Trump (runs the theory), and the flow of money to and through Fusion will presumably prove this if the subpoena is upheld.
The Wall Street Journal has editorialized that “Democrats and Fusion seem not to want to tell the public who requested the dossier or what ties Fusion GPS boss Glenn Simpson had with the Russians in 2016.”
Some in the Republican Party want to use the dossier as a tool in their intra-party fights. Dash Riprock, for example, tweets, “I really hope @SenJohnMcCain’s involvement with the fake ‘Trump Dossier’ gets fully exposed before it’s too late.”
Doug Lewis #MAGA fires off in both directions at once, tweeting that “John (Traitor) McCain and Hillary Clinton both had copies of the fake Dossier before Buzzfeed reported it.” [Actually, most of political Washington seems to have seen the dossier before Buzzfeed made it available to the rest of the world.] McCain’s role was to send it along to the FBI.
One can expect continued intermittent showers of news on this dossier and on its funding.