Arriving at year's end, it has yet to sink in that we have lived through an attempted coup against an incoming President of the United States.
There may be a better word to describe this ordeal, but I don't know what it is. Evidence already indicates that a subversive effort was mounted from inside the US government by the Deep State under Barack Obama, and from outside the US government by entities including the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and their law firm, Perkins Coie. Plotters include Obama White House, "Intelligence Community," and Justice Department officials, some of whom continue to serve in the Trump administration. This same effort has international dimensions, encompassing elements of British and Russian intelligence, coordinated through the "opposition research" firm of Fusion GPS, which almost looks like an intelligence agency itself, and whose own services include open conduits into the media, some of them paid. Doubtless, there are still unknown players in a dimly seen cast of masterminds and dupes, strategists and foot soldiers. For example, we still don't know what kind of hat Sen. John McCain wore in advancing and validating the Fusion-British-Russian-Democratic opposition research paper known as the "dossier," which may well have been "laundered," or elevated, by the FBI into an intelligence document to trigger FISA surveillance -- government spying -- on the Trump team. Who was in command -- the White House, Justice, FBI, Fusion? The Hillary campaign? Somewhere/one else? At this point, we don't know who is which, or even altogether why.
Then again, if the coup-niks had had greater, faster success, we probably wouldn't be able to make out any of it at all. Hillary Clinton would be president, and all evidence of anti-Trump plotting would be as "bleached" as her email server. Which is not to say that the anti-Trump efforts have abated. Indeed, success may be measured by the extent to which they continue to undermine his presidency. It's hard to say. Fins and teeth float to the surface, but the driving, obsessing, consuming motivations are still moving, somewhere, out of sight.
It is next to impossible to believe this was all and only about securing the presidency for Hillary Clinton; that so many career officials would risk all for her and engage in what we may one day acknowledge are potentially capital crimes of treason. Washington runs on ebb and flow and revolving doors. All that any defeated Establishment poobah had to do was wait four years or two years or even less -- a blink of the Beltway eye and an integral part of politics as usual. What we are living through, though, is not politics as usual.
Could it be that Barack Obama's many contributions to advancing socialism were sufficient cause for so many to take such high risks? That seems unlikely, too. Everyone knows the bureaucratic behemoth is more resilient and enduring than any "outsider" president. Yes, the 2016 election results were a colossal shock to the system. Yes, it was akin to discovering a massive, gushing oil spill defiling the purity of the Swamp. But pros would know the Washington eco system always cleanses itself and returns to "normal." And especially after their ridiculously easy conquest of that tiny MAGA braintrust -- what Steve Bannon called the "Original Sin" of the Trump presidency, "embracing the Establishment within 48 hours" of the Trump victory, as he confessed on "60 Minutes." Surely, in the normal course of even adverse events, there was no need for this all-Swamp defcom freak-out. Therefore, what explains the evident panic of anti-Trump plotters? What unknown self-interest, what hidden fanaticism, made this 44th transfer of presidential power different from all previous transitions of presidential power?
This is the question that bedevils this entire story. We can guess, we can play shrink. We can assume there are state crimes to cover up, state corruption to hide from the threat of discovery and punishment by an avenging outsider. To paraphrase Ben Franklin -- They have a conspiracy, if they can keep it. They will either hang together or they hang separately. It is not at all hard to imagine fear driving guilty people hit the panic button. But that takes us back to the unknown nature of their collective crimes.
We can seize on the Strzok-Page texts about the "insurance policy" -- apparently the Fusion "dossier." We can shiver over Strzok's mention of the "Espionage Machine Party" and the Stasi-like mindset it seems to reveal in senior federal officers of the law. But as far as anything really concrete goes, we hit a brick wall.
But maybe there's one thing.
On December 11, 2017, we learned from Fox News' James Rosen about a most intriguing married couple, Bruce and Nellie H. Ohr, and their respective connections to Glenn Simpson, Fusion and the "dossier." Bruce Ohr was a senior Justice Department official until his demotion one day before Rosen reported on Bruce Ohr's secret contacts with DNC/Hillary/Fusion contractor Christopher Steele and Fusion chief Glenn Simpson. Bruce's wife Nellie H. Ohr, we also learned, was working for Fusion on anti-Trump research -- perhaps on the "dossier" itself -- even as her DOJ official-husband was secretly meeting with with Fusion "dossier" principals.
There was a follow-up shocker, an item bestowed on the American people via Conservative Treehouse: around the same time retired MI6 agent Steele came aboard Fusion in 2016 to compile or supervise or endorse the so-called Trump "dossier" from Russian sources, Fusion analyst Nellie H. Ohr, a Ph.D. in Russian history and fluent in Russian herself, applied for a ham radio operator's license. As CT points out, this is a way to communicate "outside the normal risk of communication intercepts."
The whole set-up is "outside the normal risk," no?
Meanwhile, it turns out that the collaborations of Glenn Simpson and both Ohrs go back at least to their work on an Expert Working Group report on international organized crime, published in 2010.
Note (above) that in 2010 Bruce was already at the Justice Department, Glenn was at a think tank, the International Assessment and Strategy Center, and Nellie was a researcher at Open Source Works.
What's Open Source Works? It is described as "the CIA's in-house open source analysis component."
Nice to bring a CIA analyst into the mix.
Simpson would found Fusion GPS the following year (2011).
Isn't this fun?
But where does it go? Aside from biographical scraps, Simpson and both Ohrs remain ciphers.
Writing at Tablet, Lee Smith reports on what appears to be a fascinatingly indiscreet posting on Facebook by Glenn Simpson's wife, writer Mary Jacoby. On June 24, 2017, Jacoby took to Facebook and wrote:
“It’s come to my attention that some people still don’t realize what Glenn’s role was in exposing Putin’s control of Donald Trump. Let’s be clear. Glenn conducted the investigation. Glenn hired Chris Steele. Chris Steele worked for Glenn.”
Smith seizes on Jacoby's comment as evidence of Simpson's greater role in the authorship of the "dossier," which is usually attributed to Fusion's contractor, retired MI6 agent Christopher Steele. Then again, it could be a bit of deflection, too. Who knows with these people playing in the shadows of our presidential politics? We have still to wonder what, if anything -- besides, presumably, money, mortgage, status, etc. -- animates "Glenn's role." We have still to wonder what Mary Jacoby did during a visit to the White House in April 2016, around the time the DNC/Hillary/Fusion/Steele/Ohr/DOJ team was starting to reach critical mass (timeline here).
Lee Smith posits that the origins of the anti-Trump "dossier" go back a decade to when Simpson and Jacoby both, co-writers at the Wall Street Journal, discovered what a "world-class sleazeball" lobbyist Paul Manafort was (Smith further diagnoses Manafort as "sociopathic") for hiring himself out to guide processions of Russian/Ukrainian "oligarchs" through Washington political and media circles. Manafort, of course, would serve briefly as Trump's campaign manager in the summer of 2016. (What a difference a year makes.)
Note that Smith sees nothing world-class, sleaze-bally or sociopathic about hiring onesself out to the Hillary Machine to package what has to be (duh) a steady stream of disinformation from what the dossier itself bills as "a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure," "a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin" and the like (all of whom must be hospitalized by now, suffering from chronic paroxysms of laughter), and which has become Exhibit A in what still could be exposed as a historic conspiracy against an American president.
Smith believes Simpson originally envisioned the "dossier" simply as "a way to nail Paul Manafort, who was clearly and openly a very bad guy." He maintains that everyone, "especially Trump supporters" owe Simpson and Jacoby their gratitude for "ridding American politics of Paul Manafort."
Yes, it's so much cleaner now.
The reason I am sticking with Smith's theorizing is to show just how hard it is to resolve the tightest knots of the story so far, which certainly include Fusion's simultaneous lobbying efforts against Magnitsky Act sanctions on individual mainly Russian oligarchs (partly unravelled here). Lobbying against the Magnitsy Act, according to all known and conscientiously repeated conventional wisdom, is a very, very bad thing because doing so supports Putin's regime. How could someone "involved" in the anti-Trump and, therefore, supposedly, anti-Putin "dossier" possibly be involved in lobbying against the Magnitsky Act, widely touted as the Western world's greatest anti-Putin weapon? Say it ain't so, Glenn.
Smith puts the contradiction down to what he has decided is Simpson's and Fusion's patent ignorance of all things Russian. "None of Fusion GPS's principals knew very much about Russia," he writes. "Otherwise, it is inconceivable that Fusion GPS would have taken on a project from pro-Kremlin elements to undermine an American law, the Magnitsky Act, at the same time it was being paid by the Clinton campaign and DNC to tie the Trump campaign to pro-Kremlin elements."
One thing I have learned is that there is very little that is or should be considered "inconceivable" in this sphere of deception. Now, maybe Fusion is just one big hustle, come who may. But maybe, since we are, after all, studying active measure of the Kremlin, we should dust off for consideration the patently Soviet/Russian/communist strategic technique of attempting to control all sides at once -- the "scissors strategy," as Golitsyn later called it. No double-dealings, then, are inconceivable -- nor should they be, not when the 20th century is replete with them.
I am not offering a full explanation for Fusion's pro-Putin and anti-Putin lobbying; I don't have one yet. I am suggesting, however, that there are games going on in Washington and elsewhere that we do not understand. I feel this particularly acutely when contemplating the globally expanding Magnitsky Act sanctions on mainly individual wealthy Russians, which, contrary to all the self-congratulating bombast, are actually functioning as the most effective means yet devised to compel these oligarchs and their wealth to return from the West to Russia, in the process bonding them more closely to the regime of Comrade Putin. (NB: I didn't think of that brilliant idea, Jeff Nyquist did.)
We need more clues.
To be cont'd...