Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, is a new book by UK Guardian reporter Luke Harding. The title misleads: the book fails to prove any collusion between Trump and Russia and does nothing more than rehash discredited charges and highlight Russian activity unrelated to the Trump campaign.
The main purpose of the book seems to be to rehabilitate the discredited author of the dossier, Christopher Steele, and his unreliable information. But even Harding’s fawning tales of Steele as James Bond incarnate cannot breathe truth into the unverifiable, unproven document.
And Steele knows it. The star-struck Harding, who actually met with Steele, even quotes the ex-British spook as claiming that the dossier is “70-90% accurate.”
That’s a pretty hefty margin of error. And it’s one that wasn’t revealed.
Steele and his secret paymasters — Fusion GPS and the Hillary Clinton campaign — never mentioned that there might be some serious problems with the data when they frantically hawked it to U.S. media outlets before the election in an effort to destroy the Trump candidacy.
Undoubtedly, Steele left that “70-90%” figure out in his briefings to the FBI, too.
It is hard to imagine where Steele came up with the formulation of his errors. Apparently, he has a serious math problem because he was way off.
We would put the errors at more than 70%.
Because we now know that he filed sworn statements with a London Court that indicated that much of his “intelligence” came from “unsolicited sources” and needed verification and “further investigation.”
He did not bother to do that.
So much of the dossier consists of raw gossip that somehow landed in Steele’s lap.
Question: Who would know to send it to him? Who knew what he was doing? Was it the Clinton campaign?
That’s another thing that the Clinton-funded scandalmongers Steele and Fusion GPS omitted in their repeated attempts to publish Steele’s tales.
Harding does not try to explain the obvious fake statements in the dossier. Perhaps the most obvious was the easily-disproven claim that Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, flew to Prague for a “clandestine meeting” with three associates to sit down with a Kremlin representative.
According to the dossier a “Kremlin insider clearly indicated that the reported contact took place in Prague, Czech.” But there was one big problem with the tall story in the dossier: Michael Cohen has never been to Prague or the Czech Republic in his life.
Unlike Harding, we spoke to Cohen several months ago. He told us, as the president told the media, that his passport showed that he had never been to Prague and that he, in fact, was in California with his son at the time. They were visiting colleges. That was confirmed by The Atlantic.
Even CNN’s Jake Tapper reported that a government source indicated that it was a “different” Michael Cohen.
If Cohen wasn’t in Prague, then his three associates didn’t go there either. And his supposed purpose for the trip — to pay off the hackers — also didn’t happen.
But Harding does not accept the uncontroverted evidence that the Prague story is not true. Instead, he actually wonders whether it might have been in another city.
Where did that come from? One of his anonymous sources?
Harding barely covers the defamation lawsuit against Steele by Alexsej Gubarev, who was, he claims, falsely named as one of the hackers in the dossier.
Nor does he mention a similar suit by Alfa Bank, the largest private bank in Russia. The dossier refers to the bank as Alpha Bank, and claims that it was operating a secret server with Trump Tower. The spelling mistake in the Russian dossier is akin to an American investigator referring to Citibank as CityBank.
But Harding doesn’t go anywhere near there.
He also perpetuates the salacious and false story about the Trump meeting with prostitutes who defiled a Moscow hotel room for him. Obviously, Harding didn’t get the memo about Trump’s bodyguard flatly denying that any Russian women came to Trump’s Moscow hotel — although a number were offered.
And he must have missed reports that Source D, who told the hotel room story, has admitted that he only met Trump for a photo-op years earlier and has nothing negative to say about Trump.
Harding describes the Kremlin proclivity for secretly filming people in hotel rooms and elsewhere for blackmail purposes. But does anyone really doubt that if there were films, they would have been circulated?
Harding ignores the news reports that that after more than 16 months since Steele handed them the first installment of the dossier, they still can’t verify collusion.
But Harding pursues conspiracy theories and relies on anonymous sources.
Another attempt to rescue the discredited story — but the math contradicts it.
It just does not add up.