Politico reported today that two Republican House Intelligence Committee staffers went in person to London sometime this summer with the hopes of tracking down Christopher Steele, the British MI6 intelligence operative who compiled the now famous Steele Dossier.
These House Republicans didn’t bother to tell the Democrats in the House investigation, the Senate investigation, or Mueller that they were going to do so. They just went on their merry way and showed up at Steele’s lawyer’s office. Surely this trip illustrates how clearly afraid the Republicans are that Steele’s dossier is accurate. It also shows that they are willing to risk sneaking around to confront Steele by surprise.
It’s not as if they don’t know Steele’s life is in jeopardy for providing the evidence contained in the dossier, so you would expect some communication on their intention to show up. Anything less appears to be an ambush.
As Seth Abramson, attorney, and professor points out in a thread on Twitter, the GOP is terrified of what Steele found out. So much so that they may have hidden the cost of their trip to London:
“2) To secretly fly GOP Committee staffers overseas would require a funding stream hidden from the Democrats. The GOP is TERRIFIED of Steele.”
2) To secretly fly GOP Committee staffers overseas would require a funding stream hidden from the Democrats. The GOP is TERRIFIED of Steele.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) August 4, 2017
Abramson points out that it’s not just the GOP that fears the dossier bearing out as correct, but also Fox News, Vladimir Putin, and Donald Trump himself. That can be surmised judging by the disinformation they have spread on the matter and Trump’s obsession with the dossier. Then, of course, Putin has reportedly murdered those suspected of providing the evidence for the dossier:
3) House Republicans and Fox News have spread domestic disinformation about both Steele and his dossier. THAT is how we know they're scared.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) August 4, 2017
“3) House Republicans and Fox News have spread domestic disinformation about both Steele and his dossier. THAT is how we know they’re scared.”
“15) FACT #12: Media reports indicate that Trump is OBSESSED with the dossier. Trump’s M.O. has been to obsess over what could most hurt him.”
“18) So please put House or Senate GOP efforts to discredit Steele and his dossier—silly as they are—into this context: they’re SCARED OF IT.”
“19) And please put Trump’s ongoing, widely reported obsession with Steele and his dossier into its transparent context: he’s SCARED OF IT.”
The aggressive move by House Republicans to show up unannounced on Steele could potentially spook him, even as NBC was attempting to get an interview at the same time. It is not clear that was the intent of the two House Republicans:
“Senate officials—whom NBC News has reported were negotiating their own interview with Steele—fear the aggressive move could spook Steele and derail his potential cooperation with their own probe,” reported Politico.
There have been many stories about Fusion GPS, the firm that outsourced work to Steele, implying that they work for Russia which seems to have been meant to discredit the dossier. The stories have been denied by Fusion. Abramson points out that it was actually powerful Republicans who hired Fusion GPS to get dirt on Trump. The opposition research firm then outsourced the job to a team associated with Steele and the MI6. Abramson downplays that, saying Fusion had only a single Russian client.
In Bill Browder’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he made it clear that Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump’s son at Trump Tower after offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, was connected to Fusion GPS. He elaborated on why Russia appeared to be playing both sides in the matter: Setting up the meeting offering dirt on Clinton, and also having a possible connection to Fusion GPS. That didn’t suprise Browder, who suggested that the unscrupulous Russians will do anything they can as long as they can collect “kompromat.”
The Russian’s main goal, and that of the KGB and its successor agencies is to find anything incriminating to use in order to blackmail and extort people, regardless of U.S. political affiliation. Therefore, even if Russia were involved somehow with the dossier, the facts still point to a White House compromised by the Russians in ways that aren’t yet clear. Browder also made it clear that the Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was a direct link likely to Putin himself. In effect, Trump’s son, Manafort, and Kushner, were meeting with Putin when they chose to meet with Veselnitskaya. This is something that at least Manafort, known to be compromised with Russian interests, likely would have been aware of, according to Browder.
Though we don’t yet know exactly who was behind the dossier, it is still bearing out as credible.
Abramson elaborates in his thread on how the dossier has done nothing but gain credibility, even the parts about the “untoward behavior in Moscow in 2013”:
“16) FACT #13: The boldest claim in the dossier, regarding Trump’s untoward behavior in Moscow in 2013, is SUPPORTED by all the info we have.”
We can expect, given that Mueller has convened his Grand Jury for the investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, that we will finally know without a doubt how accurate the Steele dossier is or is not. Then, at long last, may America finally be able to move forward, confident in democracy, and the top levels of our government.
As for the House Republicans, what are we to do in that case? They certainly continue to appear biased, partisan, and willing to be complicit –no matter what. And this sneaking around certainly didn’t help that appearance, not one bit.
Featured image: Christopher Steele screenshot via YouTube