The Steele Dossier was a HUGE Mistake

Independent journalist Aaron Maté talks about Russiagate—and how a new indictment demonstrates that the Steele Dossier was even more flawed and corrupt than previously known.

I still have serious concerns about Donald Trump’s admiration for Vladimir Putin—and the Trump campaigns’ willingness to accept dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russia (see the Trump Tower meeting). But it has become clear that the Steele Dossier had major MAJOR problems. Earlier this week, I talked with independent investigative journalist Aaron Maté about why the obsession with “Russiagate” probably helped Trump.

What follows is a lightly edited transcript from part of our discussion:

MATT: So the Clintons hire an oppo firm to dig up dirt on Trump, but not just domestically—to dig up dirt from him internationally—including from Russia. Do you think that they then knew that it was bogus, but tried to push that intel into the media even after the election was over?

AARON: Well, it's hard to go inside someone's mind, because I don't know what they told themselves and believed themselves. It's very easy to convince yourself of anything, especially if you're trying to win a political race. You can justify anything to yourself. I mean, that's politics, right? What we know is that their money paid for Christopher Steele, and Christopher Steele produced the Steele Dossier, and then Clinton operatives like Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS, and other people in the Clinton campaign worked hard to push their farcical claims. It recently came out where Michael Sussmann, a Clinton campaign lawyer, was indicted for lying to the FBI. Well, he was involved in a scheme before the election, to push this claim that there was a secret covert communications channel between the Trump campaign and Russia’s Alpha Bank. And they used journalists to get that out there and it was very cynical. So that to me is a lot worse than Don Jr. taking the meeting with someone was telling them he has dirt on Hillary Clinton. And instead of taking a meeting where you might get dirt, here you are paying for and disseminating the dirt, and you're trying just to like put it in the media you're trying to plant in the FBI, to get them to investigate your opponent.

Matt: I will concede this like it is an interesting debate, and I think a lot of us who have been very critical of Trump haven't gone through like the intellectual exercise of like, what about what Hillary did right? I definitely can see that part of it.

Aaron: Look this is the problem, I get it. Trump is a loathsome character from what I can tell. I did not want him to win. I was happy when he lost. I get it. But the thing is, we have to separate our feelings about people from the facts. I mean, the facts don't care about our feelings. And really, ironically, by the way, I thought all this was a huge gift to Trump. Because first of all, the stereotype of the Fox News viewer is that there's a deep state plot to undermine our democracy, and there's always a conspiracy out to get out to get the conservatives. In this case, it was right. In this case, there was really a conspiracy to subvert the vote, and to falsely portray their hero, Trump, as this Russian agent. He was able to use that to say, “look at the swamp coming after me”. And it was a good excuse for him, by the way, to not drain the swamp, as he promised, because of course, he was never going to drain the swamp. That was a con. He expanded the swamp with his billionaire cabinet. But things like Russiagate, he can use that to deflect any responsibility. He could blame his opponents for locking him down. And there was a certain truth that… Russiagate gave him the gift of really there was a conspiracy against them. And also, it turned the resistance to him into a bunch of conspiracy theory maniacs, where instead of looking at his actual policies, coming up with alternatives organizing around it, [being part of] Trump's opposition meant being glued to MSNBC and CNN and waiting for Robert Mueller to deliver the smoking gun of collusion. Like, what bigger gift to Trump could there be? And then, of course, when it all collapsed, that gave him the gift of being vindicated, and it was a huge gift to him. I mean, among many others.

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