There’s an unoffical mantra in the investigation biz. It applies to everybody who does detective work; it doesn’t matter who you work for, it doesn’t matter if you’re a police detective or a private investigator. Call it the ABC of investigation.
This mantra especially applies when it comes to information you WANT to believe. And that brings me to this article in The Guardian:
Essentially, the article states The Guardian has come into possession of a reputed Kremlin report of a meeting between Vlad Putin, his spy chiefs, and his senior ministers in January of 2016. At that meeting, they decided to initiate an intelligence operation to help Comrade Trump become POTUS. According to the article, they felt the election ofTrump (who is described in the report as an “impulsive, mentally unstable and unbalanced individual who suffers from an inferiority complex”) would “definitely lead to the destabilisation of the US’s sociopolitical system.” And basically, that’s what’s happened.
The Guardian article also indicates the leaked Kremlin report suggests Russia has some form of kompromat on Trump. I’ve written about all this stuff before, so I won’t repeat it here. I mention it primarily because The Guardian’s article has resurrected the debate of the so-called Steele Dossier.
It’s important to understand that the Steele Dossier is actually a collection of seventeen memoranda containing raw human intelligence prepared by Christopher Steele, a former MI6 expert on Russian security and counterintelligence issues. Steele had been hired by a research firm called GPS Fusion, which had originally been contracted by the Jeb Bush presidential campaign to do opposition research on Trump. After Bush left the presidential primary race, the Hillary Clinton campaign continued the GPS Fusion investigation. Steele’s assignment was to explore Trump’s business concerns in Russia and the former Soviet republics, some of which involved former Russian intelligence agents and/or members of Russian organized crime.
Essentially, the document reported in The Guardian substantiates the main allegations in the Steele dossier: 1) that there was a concerted, coordinated Russian intelligence operation to promote the Trump campaign and damage the Clinton campaign, 2) that members of the Trump campaign were eager (though probable unwitting) conspirators with the Russians, and 3) Russian intelligence services likely has kompromat on Trump.
I believe that to be true. This is where that ABC of investigation comes into it. Because I want it to be true, I have to be doubly skeptical about it. I have to ask how and why this document came into the hands of the Guardian. I mean, Russian intelligence services just don’t leak documents by accident. IF the document is genuine (and apparently both UK and US intelligence agencies have known about it for months), why would Russia ‘leak’ it now?
Assuming it’s true (remember, assume nothing), it would be leaked to serve Russian state interests–which includes increasing US political and social instability while protecting her own international political priorities. I believe (believe nothing) it’s POSSIBLE that Russia MIGHT be deliberately burning Trump as an intelligence asset. His legal vulnerability and age put him near the ‘sell-by’ date as a useful asset. Burning him COULD be a warning to other still useful assets in the Republican party–MAYBE to cut Trump loose and bury themselves deeper into the body politic where they could still help shape US policy toward Russia. Burning him COULD also make Trump valuable as a flashpoint for insurrection and ongoing social instability. The more precarious Trump’s legal situation becomes, the more desperate he is, the more likely he is to actively encourage his supporters to resort to greater political violence. Even as a burned asset, Trump could prove useful to Russian interests.
Assume nothing. Believe nothing. Check everything. There’s relatively little we can check about this. The checking will have to be done by others–reporters, investigators, agencies, authorities. We’ll have to assess the value of their checking based on their credibility.
This is how investigation is done. Always mistrust what you want to believe.