Skip to comments.David Corn and the Roots of the Fusion GPS Trump Frame-up
Posted on 07/24/2017 4:12:04 PM PDT by Fedora
Accounts of the phony Trump dossier debacle typically begin on January 10, 2017, when CNN and BuzzFeed publicized allegations about an alleged Russian honey trap operation against Donald Trump that dossier compiler Christopher Steele has admitted were unverified. But the story of the phony dossier actually broke over two months earlier when Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn reported Steeles allegations on October 31, 2016 under the headline, A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump: Has the bureau investigated this material?. Corn had previously helped the Democrats sink Mitt Romneys 2012 campaign with an article exposing a private fundraiser where Romney made some controversial comments about Obama voters. The evidence indicates that Corn and Fusion GPS may have already been working together to aid the Democrats at that time, adding another angle to the story that investigators should explore.
Fusion GPS was originally formed in 2009 (some sources claim 2011, but ICANN records and Internet archives show that the companys site had been launched by December 2010) by a team with experience running financial investigations for the intelligence community and the Wall Street Journal. Managing director Benjamin S. Schmidt, a former Treasury Department intelligence analyst trained in identifying illicit financial networks, has since left the firm to become the managing director of Camstoll. Prior to joining the Treasury Department, Schmidt had worked with Stephen Emersons Investigative Project on Terrorism. In 2009, he assisted Israel with disrupting Palestinian financial networks. His Camstoll biography states that, Prior to Camstoll, Mr. Schmidt was Managing Director of FUSIONGPS, a strategic intelligence consultancy in Washington, DC. There, he leveraged open source material to provide decision support and advisory services to corporations, law firms, financial institutions and non-profits. At FUSIONGPS, Mr. Schmidt coordinated complex international research projects examining illicit financial and money laundering activity, investigated and mapped international networks of front companies and organizations, and conducted due diligence on investments in emerging markets for financial institutions. Prior to that, Mr. Schmidt was a team lead and senior analyst in the U.S. Department of the Treasurys Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, where he examined foreign political, security, and illicit financial issues. His work was often included in the Presidents Daily Brief and other senior level US intelligence products. He was a Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholar, and received the National Intelligence Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2011. In 2012, Camstoll registered as a foreign agent representing Outlook Energy Investments LLC of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. In 2016, Schmidt was quoted in articles investigating the Panama Papers.
Fusion GPS cofounding partner Glenn Simpson had previously worked as a journalist for Roll Call and the Wall Street Journal. While at Roll Call, he built his reputation by publishing articles investigating Newt Gingrichs political action committee Gopac, as he and political scientist Larry Sabato worked on a book on political corruption for New York Times imprint Times Books. In 2010, Simpson was a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, a pro-Taiwan think tank. There he published an article reporting on a U.S. intelligence community report that the governments of Russia and other Eurasian states actively collaborate with organized crime groups, collaboration that Simpson alleged included an alliance between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Russian aluminum king Oleg Deripaska.
Another Fusion GPS partner is Peter Fritsch, a former Wall Street Journal senior editor and foreign bureau chief, whose reporting duties included covering the Pentagon and the intelligence community. One other Fusion GPS partner is Thomas Catan, Wall Street Journal Washington bureau staff reporter and former Financial Times investigative reporter.
Fusion GPS has frequently relied upon outside contractors to assist its research. Over the years, these have included Grant Fredericks of Forensic Video Solutions and Hollywood Scandals producer Scott Goldie.
During the 2012, Fusion GPS did opposition research on Mitt Romney, which included investigating Romney donor Frank VanderSloot. The research Fusion GPS did on VanderSloot was shared with Mother Jones reporter Stephanie Mencimer, who incorporated it into an article titled Pyramid-Like Company Ponies Up $1 Million for Mitt Romney that was published on February 6, 2012. The article resulted in objections from VanderSloot and an expensive defamation lawsuit for Mother Jones. In response to VanderSloots complaints, Mother Jones took down the article and re-reported it with corrections, Corn told BuzzFeed reporter Rosie Gray on March 15, 2012, indicating his involvement in the story.
In September 2015, Fusion GPS was hired to do opposition research on Donald Trump by an unknown party described by the New York Times as a wealthy Republican donor who strongly opposed Mr. Trump.. After Trump emerged as the Republican front-runner, Fusion GPS continued to research Trump for the Clinton campaign and for the FBI.
From June to November 2016, Fusion GPS employed Orbis Business Intelligence to research Trump. Orbis was formed in 2009 by Christopher Steele, a former MI6 officer stationed in Russia, and Christopher Burrows, a former British Foreign Office official. By July, news about Orbis research had leaked widely, with Rubio campaign operative Rick Wilson telling the New York Times that an investigative reporter for a major news network contacted him at that time asking him what he knew about the investigation. An MI6 official told the Times that Steele also passed his research on to British intelligence in late summer or early fall. In October, the FBI met Steele in Rome and offered him $50,000 to continue investigating Trump.
On October 31, Corn published his article, which alluded to Orbis research, citing Steele anonymously. Corn had begun his writing career in the late 1970s at The Nation while a junior majoring in history at Brown University. In 1994, he published his first book, a biography criticizing CIA agent Ted Shackley, a frequent target of far-left groups such as the pro-Sandinista Christic Institute. In 2003, Corn triggered an FBI investigation of Robert Novaks naming of CIA agent Valerie Plame, suggesting to Plames wife Joseph Wilson that Novaks column may have been a criminal violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Corn then published an article making the first public accusation that the Bush administration had committed a crime by blowing Plames cover. Three years later, Corn would coauthor the first book identifying the actual leaker as Richard Armitage. Corn summarized his involvement in the Plame affair in his 2006 book Hubris, a criticism of the Bush administrations Iraq policy coauthored with reporter Michael Isikoff, then with Newsweek, who has recently been covering Trump for Yahoo! News.
During the 2012 campaign, as Corns publication Mother Jones was using Fusion GPS research on the Romney campaign for articles, Corn wrote investigative reports on the Romney campaign, collaborating with Jimmy Carters grandson James Carter. While working on a story about Romneys firm Bain Capital investing in a Chinese manufacturer who used American outsourcing, Carter discovered a video of Romney speaking at an event that seemed to involve the same company. This discovery led to Corns September 2012 story about Romneys fundraising comments, which some analysts credited with tipping the scales against Romney in the election.
Evidently, on behalf of his client Fusion GPS, Steele was hoping to deliver a similar October Surprise blow to Trump by sharing his dossier research with Corn. Steele met Corn in New York in October 2016, Vanity Fair reporter Howard Blum later revealed. Corns article quoted Steele anonymously:
In June, the former Western intelligence officer--who spent almost two decades on Russian intelligence matters and who now works with a US firm that gathers information on Russia for corporate clients--was assigned the task of researching Trumps dealings in Russia and elsewhere, according to the former spy and his associates in this American firm. This was for an opposition research project originally financed by a Republican client critical of the celebrity mogul. (Before the former spy was retained, the projects financing switched to a client allied with Democrats.) It started off as a fairly general inquiry, says the former spook, who asks not to be identified. But when he dug into Trump, he notes, he came across troubling information indicating connections between Trump and the Russian government. According to his sources, he says, there was an established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit.
After BuzzFeed published Steeles dossier, individuals mentioned in the dossier suedSteele and Orbis Business Intelligence for defamation. In his defense, Steele blamed Fusion GPS for circulating his dossier among reporters without his permission. However, he admitted off-the-record briefings to a small number of journalists about the pre-election memoranda in late summer/autumn 2016. Steeles defense contended that in October 2016, Fusion GPS instructed him to brief a journalist from Mother Jones, as Daily Caller reporter Chuck Ross summarized.
Despite Steele admitting that his dossier was never verified, and despite specific allegations in the dossier being disproven, Corn has continued to promote the dossiers thesis, recently publishing an article claiming that Donald Trump Jr.s Emails Sound Like the Steele Dossier. In his recent piece, Corn argued that Donald Trump Jrs meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya vindicates Steeles dossier:
Trump and his supporters have denounced the Steele memos as unsubstantiated trash, with some Trump backers concocting various conspiracy theories about them. Indeed, key pieces of the information within the memos have been challenged. But the memos were meant to be working documents produced by Steele--full of investigative leads and tips to follow--not finished reports, vetted and confirmed.
One interesting element of the Donald Trump Jr. emails now in the news is that they track with parts of the Steele memos.
In that first memo, dated June 20, Steele wrote that Trump and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals. The Trump Jr. email chain began on June 3, 2016. This was shortly after Trump had secured the Republican presidential nomination. It was that day that Rob Goldstone, a talent manager for a middling pop-star named Emin Agaralov, contacted Trump Jr. and said Emins father, Aras Agalarov, a Putin-friendly billionaire developer, had met with the crown prosecutor of Russia, who offered to provide the Trump campaign with negative information on Clinton. The Agalarovs and Goldstone had a close relationship to the Trumps, because they all had worked together in 2013 to bring the Miss Universe pageant, which Trump owned at the time, to Moscow. (Part of the deal was that Emin would get to perform two songs.) Following that event, both Trumps worked with both Agalarovs to develop a major project in Moscow. (It never happened.)
This email from Goldstone to Trump Jr. led to a meeting six days later, where a Kremlin-connected Russian attorney spoke to Trump Jr., Kushner, and Manafort about negative information on Clinton. In a statement, Trump Jr. says that what she offered was vague and meaningless, suggesting there was nothing to it. (But Trump Jr. has dissembled repeatedly about this meeting.)
Lets turn to Steeles June 20 memo. It stated:
Source A confided that the Kremlin had been feeding TRUMP and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, for several years This was confirmed by Source D, a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow, and who reported, also in June 2016, that this Russian intelligence had been very helpful.
The memo also reported that there was anti-Clinton information that Putin was sitting on:
A dossier of compromising material on Hillary CLINTON has been collated by the Russian intelligence services over many years and mainly comprises bugged conversations she had on various visits to Russia and intercepted phone calls rather than any embarrassing conduct. The dossier is controlled by Kremlin spokesman, PESKOV, directly on PUTINs orders. However it has not as yet been distributed abroad, including to TRUMP. Russian intentions for its deployment still unclear.
There has been no confirmation that Putin steadily fed information to Trumps camp or that a Kremlin-controlled anti-Clinton dossier existed. But one of Steeles overarching points in this memo was that Putins regime was funneling derogatory Clinton material to Trump. The Trump Jr. emails suggest that the Russian government was aiming to do that and that the Trump campaign was willing and eager to receive assistance from Putin. So Donald Trump Jr. has done what Steele could not: produce evidence that the Trump campaign wasor wanted to bein cahoots with a foreign adversary to win the White House.
Corns effort to implicate Trump, Jr. backfires by implicating Fusion GPS in the Veselnitskaya affair, effectively acknowledging that Steele was receiving information from a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow, clearly a reference to someone associated with the Agalarovs. This undercuts the claim of Fusion GPS had no knowledge of Veselnitskayas meeting with Trump, Jr. Fusion GPS denied foreknowledge of the meeting in a statement to the Washington Post: Fusion GPS learned about this meeting from news reports and had no prior knowledge of it. Any claim that Fusion GPS arranged or facilitated this meeting in any way is false. Following the publication of Steeles dossier, Fusion GPS distanced itself from Glenn Simpson, who has reportedly opted to plead the Fifth in response to a Senate Judiciary Committee subpoena.
What did David Corn know, and when did he know it?
Corn is probably CIA connected. Deep state is an international effort.
The Republicans will do Nothing. Well, I take that back, they will hide Fusion GPs crimes, while at the same time let the Democrats hijack the committees to attack Trump. They are worse than the Democrats.
Thanks for this post!
No flab. Every sentence is data.
McCain sent an aide to the UK to pick up the first hard copy of the bogus Dirty Dossier. McCain hand-delivered it to Comey. Then Comey requested the private meeting with Trump to discuss the Dirty Dossier on Jan 6th.
The fact of the meeting and the existence of the DD was then leaked by Comey to the NYT, putting the entire Deep State Coup Trap into motion.
And BTW, this is why Trump thought one-on-one meetings with the FBI director were SOP: the first was at Comey's request. The Trump-Comey meeting that discussed Flynn was leaked and became the pretext for Comey's firing and the appointment of Mueller.
That's what I get out of it, too. He definitely has sources in the Agency and has been used by them as an asset, at a minimum--he interviewed numerous people in CIA for his books and articles on Shackley and Plamegate/Iraq. The fact that he published his article the same month that the FBI took an interest in extending Steele's research is also suggestive.
Always good to see you on the case, my FRiend!
This is some valuable material....
Yes, David Corn has been a prime attack agent and oppo researcher for the left over many years. I thought immediately of his central role in the Plame affair when he surfaced with the article last October. Most interesting....
Thanks for the analysis. That makes sense for the sequence of events after McCain got involved. Prior to that, I think this was conceived as an October Surprise; after Trump won to everyone’s surprise, it was then repurposed by Hillary’s campaign in the discussions they had immediately post-election—I need to dig up the source again (think it’s a new book on the election that was just published, IIRC) but they had a conference immediately after Hillary lost and discussed blaming the loss on Russia at that time.
Comey knows he can go to prison if this is all laid bare. He needs to take out Trump to protect himself.
This is how the uber-corrupt do it. They don't take bribes in suitcases or offshore accounts. They are given multi-million dollar gigs at cooperating and colluding corporations (Lockheed, HSBC in this case) in between gigs as US Atty etc.
I suspect it’s many of the same players as the Plame affair, they just hadn’t assembled Fusion GPS yet at that time. Isikoff is another one who’s a link between the two propaganda efforts. Some of the Post and CNN reporters are also the same—all part of the same media apparatus that was used against the Republicans during the Clinton administration and continued to operate as a shadow government media team in the G.W. Bush administration.
Rice: "I don't feel like it"
Republicans: That's OK.
Republicans to Fusion GPS: We'd like some information on this phony dossier, designed to undermine our democracy.
Fusion CEO: "I plead the fifth"
Republicans: Well our investigation here is over. Now lets get back to grilling Kushner and Don Jr. endlessly for no discernable reason.
Oh, and get one of our republican staffers to give their daily leak to CNN.
And the "four corners" of my coup trap diagram all have dangerous knowledge about past misdeeds or past misdeeds "overlooked" or covered up (just as bad.) They all hold each other hostage over guilty knowledge.
It's beyond corrupt, what happened at the top echelons of the FBI, DOJ, IRS etc.
The upside of this is that Comey will throw Lynch under the bus if he has to save his own hide. He was worried about Arkanicide during the Obama administration if he talked then; now he's got to weigh that risk against the risk of prison.
Just throwing this tidbit out here. The Clinton campaign was gearing up for the dossier prior to election day.
Andrea Chalupa - OCT 31, 2016 - In intel circles, the story goes FSB filmed Trump in an orgy while in Russia. Yes,this all ends in a Trump sex tape. https://twitter.com/andreachalupa/status/793263468447236096?lang=en
Note the date.
Adrea’s sister, Alexandra, was a foreign policy advisor to Clinton’s campaign, a DNC staffer and consultant, and worked in the W. J. Clinton whitehouse.
David Corn and that other gay David are nothing but EVIL and VILE!!
re: Russia and anti-Clinton info, there has been zero to date to indicate that Team Trump ever received any shred of info from Russia or anywhere else. Any Clinton oppo research has long pre-dated the Trump campaign and I have seen nothing to indicate that Trump’s people were able to add to it.
The “Wikileaks” emails were of course nothing like whatever is alluded to as material Putin could have been “sitting on” from bugs etc.
Corn and his Deep State pals are trying to overthrow the elected President of the USA in a journalist/intel coup of historic proportions.
So many of the players hold threats of blackmail or guilty-knowledge “mutual assured destruction” (past sins committed, overlooked or covered up) that it’s very hard to get any of them to break the “omerta” code of silence.
He used to be at the Nation. He is the Leftists’ Leftist.
Lynch, Comey and the Clintons all conspired to help HSBC, all got payoffs in the forms of $$$$$ do-nothing jobs.
None can turn on the others without themselves risking being burned or worse, Seth Riched.
It’s M.A.D. that keeps their lips sealed.
Might be why Trump is floating Giuliani as AG--though I suspect special counsel or even merely investigative assistant might be more viable--he has the contacts in the NY FBI field office who don't like Comey to dig up the skeletons.
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