|AP photo via The Independent.|
This reported in The Hill is virtually insane, in the sense of a story that seems to have been melted into a kind of narrative plasma in which everything is equivalent to everything else and then extruded into a narrative of persecution, more or less, of dark forces conspiring against Chris Wallace's tribe:
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said Friday that “there is more evidence at this point of Democratic collusion with the Russians than there is of Republican collusion with the Russians” in last year’s presidential election....
“The fact that Hillary Clinton, or at least her campaign and the DNC, was doing business with a foreign national, a British spy, to get information from the Russians for this dossier certainly blunts the idea, ‘Well, it was the Trump campaign and it was outrageous the Trump campaign was having anything to do with the Russians to maybe affect at the election,'” Wallace told “America's Newsroom” anchor Sandra Smith.
“This is far more evidence than we’ve ever seen involving President Trump and his campaign that the Democrats were directly involved in trying to get information from the Russians to affect the 2016 campaign,” Wallace said.A DC law firm closely connected to the DNC, Perkins Coie, was doing business with regard to the 2016 presidential campaign, looking for scandalous information about Donald Trump, with an American research association of a bunch of old Wall Street Journal reporters, Fusion GPS, which had previously been investigating Trump for a Republican newspaper, the Free Beacon, on behalf apparently of Marco Rubio; and Fusion GPS contracted some work to a former MI6 officer, Christopher Steele, who interviewed a bunch of sources with knowledge of the activities of members of the Trump campaign in Russia, his area of expertise, and prepared the 17 memos known as the Steele Dossier on that basis.
This does not mean that the DNC "colluded" with "the Russians". It does not mean Perkins Coie colluded with "the Russians". It does not mean Fusion GPS colluded with "the Russians". It means some of the people Steele interviewed were Russian (including a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure, a former top-level Russian intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin, a senior Russian finance official, an ethnic Russian close associate of Trump who acknowledged close cooperation between Manafort, Page, and other Trumpies with Russian authorities, a female staffer at the Moscow Ritz Carlton; and another senior Kremlin official).
It most particularly doesn't mean Steele was "colluding" with the Russian state, if that's what "the Russians" is interpreted to mean. He was working against the Russian authorities; he was getting people to tell him things, whether they are right or wrong, that the Russian authorities did not want him to hear—
Stories, in point of fact, about how the Russian government was colluding with individuals in the Trump campaign: that they had in fact spent years cultivating, and assisting Donald Trump in his projects, from sourcing potential business deals for him in Russia to getting him damaging information on his rivals in the Republican primary; in particular offering to get him damaging information on Hillary Clinton gathered from her visits to Russia and "evidence of her viewpoints that contradicted her public positions on various issues" (which sounds exactly like the Wikileaks curated versions of her Goldman, Sachs speeches, stolen by Russians in the John Podesta email dump). The Russian government did not collude in getting Steele that information. That's why Steele has hidden his informants' names.
As to serious evidence that the Trump campaign may have colluded with the Russian authorities in their effort to help Trump win the presidency, as the US Intelligence Community has concluded, with "high conficence", that they did, if the Steele dossier isn't good enough for you, there's more:
A February New York Times article reported that phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Trump’s campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian officials in the year before the election. The Times article was also corroborated by CNN and Reuters independent reports. And even Russian officials have acknowledged some of these and other repeated contacts. Although Trump has denied the connections, numerous credible reports suggest that both he and Manafort have long-standing relationships with Russians, and pro-Putin groups. Last month, CNN reported on “intercepted communications that US intelligence agencies collected among suspected Russian operatives discussing their efforts to work with Manafort … to coordinate information that could damage Hillary Clinton’s election prospects” including “conversations with Manafort, encouraging help from the Russians.”
We learned that when Carter Page traveled to Moscow in July 2016, he met with close Putin ally and chairman of the Russian state oil company, Igor Sechin. A later Steele report also claimed that he met with parliamentary secretary Igor Divyekin while in Moscow. Investigative journalist Michael Isikoff reported in September 2016 that U.S. intelligence sources confirmed that Page met with both Sechin and Divyekin during his July trip to Russia. What’s more, the Justice Department obtained a wiretap in summer 2016 on Page after satisfying for a court that there was sufficient evidence to show Page was operating as a Russian agent.
While [Steele's] team had no way to know it, subsequent reports citing U.S. officials claimed that Washington-based diplomat Mikhail Kalugin was an undercover intelligence officer and was pulled out of the Embassy and sent home in summer 2016. (John Sipher/Slate)