Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Buzzfeed leaked document

Buzzfeed has leaked the dossier on Trump supposedly compiled by a former British intelligence person for election opposition research purposes. This document is apparently the ur-source of all of the claims that Russians have compromising material on Trump, that he is a Russian agent, etc. -- the David Corn article, the Reid letter, the supposed FBI investigation, etc. There's just one basic problem with this dossier. Anyone who reads it, rather than summarizing its contents, has to realize that it's crazy. It's not just "unverified" or "unsubstantiated" or "contains errors" or whatever the latest weasel words are: it's kook-conspiratorial and I defy anyone to read through it without laughing, preserving their sense of its credibility to the end. If, as Buzzfeed claims, this is the document that everyone has been looking at, then the system is full of credulous fools.

Here are some of the assertions in the document:

* That the Kremlin has been feeding Trump intelligence on his opponents, including HRC, for years. (Who were his opponents for the years before he even decided to run?) And offering him deniable bribes as real estate deals. But he apparently never used any of this information or took any of these deals.

* People don't go into details of the "golden showers" thing, because they are so ridiculous. The core compromising material that the Kremlin is supposed to have on Trump is that he specifically stayed in a Presidential suite at a hotel because Obama had stayed there and because he disliked Obama, and then defiled it by hiring prostitutes to perform a golden shower show in it (which the Russians secretly videoed). In other words, it wasn't even that he just secretly liked this fetish, it was supposed to be also that he was insulting Obama.

* Trump was supposed to be actively participating in gathering intelligence for the Russians by reporting back on the activities of the families of Russian oligarchs living in the US. Just imagine this for a minute.

* Trump also participated by hiring his own hackers, in addition to the Russian hackers, and by having moles in the DNC. Trump's known associates (his lawyer, etc.) are supposed to have had multiple, personal meetings with Russian agents in Europe. One doc in the dossier is titled "Further Details of Secret Dialogue Between Trump Campaign Team, Kremlin, and Assorted Hackers in Prague".

* Trump's team is "happy to have Russia as media bogeyman to mask more extensive corrupt ties to China"

* There are various tells, within the document, that it comes from a kook right-wing source. It's anti-Semitic -- one assertion is that the FSB is approaching "US citizens of Russian (Jewish) origin" as agents, rather than just any citizen of Russian origin. It says that the Russians are also supporting Jill Stein and *Lyndon LaRouche*.

That last bit is a telling detail. Lyndon LaRouche is utterly irrelevant, and the only people who tend to mention him out of the blue are LaRouchites. LaRouchites have a core skill in making up long tracts about how various world leaders are conspiring and having lurid sex with each other, and they're fascinated with Russia. My best guess is that some LaRouchite wrote this and it's since been circulated by people who know it's BS but want it out there anyways.

The document is full of specific claims, such as that a named lawyer went to Prague for secret meetings in a specific month. The lawyer, of course, denies having ever been to Prague. It is completely not credible that our surveillance agencies, the greatest panopticon ever invented, can simply not corroborate this assertion rather than proving or disproving it.

Laughing at Trump is fine. Actually believing in this stuff isn't, not if you expect people to believe in actual scandals about Trump.


  1. I was reminded of William Safire's reporting over several years of alleged connections between the 9/11 hijackers and Saddam Hussein's operatives, including an alleged clandestine meeting in, yes, Prague.

    That was in 2002 and Safire kept up re-asserting similar claims at least thru 2004 -- he retired in 2005 to much praise. George W Bush gave him a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    I am not exactly sure what point I want to make, other than no has to be a LaRouchite to engage in this kind of nonsense. The person just has to not really care what the facts might be. It is a politics with only flimsy connections to consequences. The narrative matters, the narrative drives the politics and the devil take the hindmost I guess.

    You say, "Actually believing in this stuff isn't [fine], not if you expect people to believe in actual scandals about Trump." Yeah, maybe, but we just went thru an election campaign in which millions of people were asked to believe in pseudo-scandals about Hillary Clinton and to not-believe in actual scandals about Hillary Clinton. It is hard not see a connection.

    I just watched the PBS NewsHour, where they had a former NSA lawyer and a former CIA operative discussing the document you quite rightly deride as being incredible on its face, but they found various rationales for applying only reserved, tentative and balanced judgements. It was quite the performance. Serious people, unnamed, take this seriously, we were told. Seriously.

  2. Thanks, Bruce: i'd forgotten the Safire / Prague bit. I didn't mean that one has to be a LaRouchite to engage in this, only that the mention of LaRouche seems inexplicable otherwise. But a lot of the document is like that.

    I knew that the last sentence of the post above was the weakest one. OK, some recent poll found that something like 60% of GOP voters believe that there are millions of undocumented illegal voters, which is ridiculous, but also that 50% of Democratic voters believe that Russians hacked the voting machines to change vote totals, which is also ridiculous. So yes, people believe in all sorts of things, and truth or untruth of belief probably has little to do with whether those beliefs have actual political effect.

    1. Have you read the Dworkin Report? #connectingdots

    2. I missed this comment before and only saw it when I looked back 2 weeks later. I just looked up this Dworkin Report, and it is amazing. Here is the first piece of overlooked evidence connecting Trump to Russia from it:

      "According to a 1987 Interest Rate Observer article, President-elect Trump says he likes the people in Russia, and the people like him."

      That's Exhibit 1. I'm afraid that pressing time concerns mean that I won't have time for the other exhibits.