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Thursday, January 11, 2018


"A monument to Republican complicity in Trump’s jaw-dropping misconduct"

by digby

Brian Beutler at Crooked did something very useful. He reordered the Glenn Simpson testimony to read the Democratic questioning all by itself and the Republican questioning all by itself instead of alternating as it was done in real time. It makes it much clearer and shows the difference in how the two sides are approaching the issue.

The Democratic side showed this:

The transcript reads in chapters, which alternate hour by hour from questioning by Grassley’s counsel to questions by Feinstein’s and back. It is somewhat tedious, but extremely revealing, to reorder the transcript after first reading, and consume the Grassley half and the Feinstein half as separate, continuous wholes.

From the latter, we learn that by the time Steele reached out to law enforcement, independent sources had already tipped the FBI off to the cooperative relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia. We learn that, using decades of combined experience detecting disinformation, Simpson and Steele scrubbed the raw intel Steele collected, and were convinced that none of it was intentionally planted by Russian counterintelligence. We learn that Steele, with Simpson’s blessing, turned over his information to the FBI as a departure from their political intelligence gathering, expecting no political dividend because, Simpson said, “from my decades of dealing with U.S. elections [as a newspaper reporter] that you can’t expect the government or the FBI to be of any use in a campaign because the DOJ has rules against law enforcement getting involved in investigations in the middle of a campaign.”

We also learn that in shopping the information around (first to the FBI, and later the the press), Simpson and Steele did not cherry pick details, the way opposition researchers do, to depict Trump in maximally unflattering light.

This latter point is crucial, because there has been speculation, based on the way the memos are numbered and on reporting about Steele’s involvement in the operation, that the Steele dossier Buzzfeed published a year ago wasn’t Steele’s complete work product—that it may have been selectively edited for partisan reasons, or to make it seem more incriminating.

We learn, in other words, that Simpson and Steele were doing their civic-minded best to alert authorities, and failing that, the public, to what they believed to be the alarming and dangerous truth.

As humans they were not impervious to bias. Steele believed his sources, who were themselves human, and Simpson by his own admission came to believe Trump was a national security threat, unfit to be president. They also appear to have undermined their own efforts to blow the whistle. Simpson testified that Steele temporarily severed his relationship with the FBI after the New York Times published an infamous story on October 31, 2016 reporting that the bureau had investigated Trump and found no “clear link” to Russia. Between this obvious misinformation, and FBI Director James Comey’s late October intrusion into the campaign, Steele and Simpson, wondered whether or not Trump and his sympathizers had compromised the FBI.

There was likely some merit to their suspicions, but it now seems just as likely that the FBI waved the New York Times off the story because Simpson and Steele were drawing too much reportorial heat in their direction. Late in the campaign, they began briefing reporters from multiple outlets on the contents of the memos. Perhaps for that reason, after Comey wrote his fateful letter to Congress about Hillary Clinton’s emails, Simpson says, “we began getting questions from the press about, you know, whether they were also investigating Trump and, you know, we encouraged them to ask the FBI that question.” At about the same time, Democrats in Congress revealed they too were aware of Steele’s work. Faced with this partisan pressure, and specific inquiries from multiple reporters about the very leads Steele had given its agents to pursue, the FBI would have had decent reasons for trying to throw reporters off the scent.

In that telling, Trump may well have won the election thanks to a comedy of errors starring multiple actors (in law enforcement, in the media, in the Democratic Party, at Fusion GPS) each doing the best they could, with incomplete and unverified information, to find and reveal the truth.

Interesting, no? Simpson and Steele were not trying to smear Trump. Things got a little crazy toward the end with nobody trusting anyone else, but they did the right thing. The Trump people --- and the GOP leadership did not.

Beutler continues:

That’s what we learned from the half of Simpson’s testimony driven by Feinstein’s staff.

The other half is a monument to Republican complicity in Trump’s jaw-dropping misconduct.

Click over to read it. It's even worse than I thought. The years of conservative movement extremism, tea party hypocrisy and late stage political dissipation have taken their toll. The party is lost, unpatriotic, decadent, broken.

This is about Donald Trump and the Russian government interfering in the election. And they are all in on the cover-up.