The UK Daily Mail on Wednesday reported that Senator John McCain (R-AZ) pushed the dossier full of unverified claims about Donald Trump to the FBI:
Sworn Donald Trump enemy John McCain admitted Wednesday that he passed the dossier of claims of a Russian blackmail plot against the president-elect.
The Arizona senator issued a public statement amid mounting questions of his exact role in the affair – and how a document riddled with errors and unverifiable claims came to be published.
‘Late last year, I received sensitive information that has since been made public,’ he said.
‘Upon examination of the contents, and unable to make a judgment about their accuracy, I delivered the information to the Director of the FBI.
‘That has been the extent of my contact with the FBI or any other government agency regarding this issue.’
But the Daily Mail – which, it should be noted, seems to like McCain about as much as McCain likes Trump – argues that the “2008 Republican loser” might have been “far more intimately involved than that.”
Watergate legend Carl Bernstein is quoted telling CNN that McCain got the dossier from the former British ambassador to Moscow, who in turn got it from that mysterious “former British MI6 agent who was hired from a political opposition research firm in Washington” that we’ve been hearing so much about lately.
Isn’t this precisely the kind of political influence operation our media spent the past few weeks freaking out about, when they thought Russia ran one against Hillary Clinton?
It’s also a perfect example of what the establishment media really means when it complains about “fake news.” They’re very protective of their ability to shut down stories. They hate it when people who aren’t credentialed journalists use the Internet and talk radio to generate interest in something the media earlier deemed a non-story. If that interest grows intense enough, establishment media can find itself dragged back into covering something it didn’t want to cover. That’s what happened here: against its political interests, the establishment media didn’t think this bundle of opposition research was solid enough to merit coverage, but now it’s been pushed into the spotlight and they’re all talking about it.
The new White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, denigrated the source of what he called “phony-baloney garbage” perfectly on Wednesday morning: “I’ve read most of it. But what I can tell you is that even the New York Times last night refused to publish this document, which is not an intelligence document. Keep in mind, this is some retired guy somewhere out in the world acting like Ian Fleming, apparently trying to maybe write a fiction novel.”
On Wednesday morning, we learned that a key figure in the dirty dossier, Trump counsel Michael Cohen, has produced convincing documentary evidence that he did not travel to Prague to meet with Kremlin officials, as the anti-Trump oppo dump alleges. We’re now told that it was some other Michael Cohen in Prague. It’s all starting to sound like a script written by the Coen Brothers.
Also on Wednesday, NBC News revealed that the dossier, which contains “obvious errors,” was not actually presented to Trump by the intelligence community, as early reporting breathlessly asserted. Instead, Trump was given an oral briefing based on a two-page summary… as an example of what “disinformation” looks like.
“Intel and law enforcement officials agree that none of the investigations have found any conclusive or direct link between Trump and the Russian government period,” the senior official said.
According to the official, the two-page summary about the unsubstantiated material made available to the briefers was to provide context, should they need it, to draw the distinction for Trump between analyzed intelligence and unvetted “disinformation.”
The briefers also had available to them unvetted “disinformation” about the Clinton Foundation, although that was not shared with Trump.
(Emphasis mine, but NBC really should have emphasized it, or made it the lede for their story.)
But Buzzfeed threw the full contents of that dossier out the public and said, Top media organizations and intelligence agencies couldn’t verify any of this stuff after months of hard work, but you folks can decide for yourselves! No doubt local Rotary clubs are putting together top-shelf intelligence bureaus and developing contacts in Moscow at this very moment.
In his press conference on Wednesday morning, Trump thanked news organizations which refused to publish the salacious material when it was shopped to them during the campaign.
“I do have to say that, and I must say that I want to thank a lot of the news organizations here today because they looked at that nonsense that was released by maybe the intelligence agencies, who knows, but maybe the intelligence agencies, which would be a tremendous blot on their record if they in fact did that, a tremendous blot. Because a thing like that should have never been written, and it should certainly never have been released,” he said.
Senator McCain has absolutely no excuse for pushing this tripe to the FBI. He’s a senior senator with intelligence experience. He knew the sources for the most explosive “revelations” were extremely dodgy. He has always been very chummy with the press, so he would have known they didn’t think this material was solid enough to even allude to it during the election, no matter how badly they wanted Hillary Clinton to win – not even when they believed the FBI investigation of Clinton was severely damaging her image.
To borrow a phrase from President-elect Trump, there are plenty of tremendous blots to go around today.