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How credible is the Trump Dossier?

First, let’s start with what it’s not:

(1)  It’s not an internet rumor started by some anonymous Joe Blow. The Trump Dossier was compiled by a respected retired British spy working privately at the behest of Trump’s Republican primary opponents.

(2)  It’s not verified, but it hasn’t been debunked, either.  Snopes.com rates its contents as “Unproven.” It might be true, or not (see below). It could be Russian disinformation, but why would Putin want to discredit Trump?

(3)  It’s not fresh information.  It’s been circulating for months among journalists, politicians, and intelligence agencies. But the media didn’t run the story because of its unconfirmed status. What has changed is it has entered the public domain.

So, who is this British spy?

“Having known Chris Steele professionally for more than 20 years, we know that one should not question his integrity, excellence and diligence in intelligence work. He knows Russia exceptionally well and has relationships and experience in the country to support this type of analysis. For obvious reasons we assume that he cannot name his sources, but we do not doubt that he will have brought the same professional rigor to this study as he did to his work in the intelligence service.”

Does this mean the contents of the Trump Dossier are probably true?

“No. Intelligence collection and analysis are always subject to error and a range of opinion, including among seasoned colleagues. Aspects of the report may prove to be wrong upon further investigation.”

Then what should we make of it?

” … [T]he only conclusion we should draw at this point is that the dossier contains serious allegations, was made by a serious and credible intelligence professional, and that the US intelligence community reviewed the material and deemed it worthy of further investigation and chose to include it in the information submitted to President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump.”

What should we be concerned about?

“The first [cause for concern] is that the allegations in the dossier are quite serious. … Second …, the … reaction of the Trump team has been to attack the news organization that broke the story …. [Third], Trump has … said if the president does not agree with the intelligence, intelligence heads will roll. That is a recipe for disaster ….”

Read the story here.

To the foregoing, I’d add that Trump’s policies toward Russia matter more than his motivations for them. Putin is an aggressive dictator who’s seeking to recreate the Soviet empire. Trump’s policy would throw Ukraine (and maybe the rest of Eastern Europe) under the bus by weakening NATO. Trump’s supporters voted for trade policies that will return blue-collar factory jobs to America, and perhaps they also voted against Democrats for paying too much attention to social issues and not enough to their bread-and-butter concerns. But I’m pretty sure they didn’t intend to elect a president who will kowtow to Moscow.

 

 


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