Russia Monitor: Time For Rascally Republicans To Stop With The Wabbit Chasing


“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.”

Martin Luther

(Quote highlighted by former-FBI Director James Comey.)


“A generation ago, Republicans sought to protect President Richard Nixon by urging the Senate Watergate committee to look at supposed wrongdoing by Democrats in previous elections. The committee chairman, Sam Ervin, a Democrat, said that would be “as foolish as the man who went bear hunting and stopped to chase rabbits.””

— Glenn Simpson, founder Fusion GPS

Op-Ed for NY Times, January 2, 2018


By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (1/4/18)

Dear Fellow Readers,

It was roughly one year ago that we became aware of the dossier written by Christopher Steele, former-MI6 agent, for Fusion GPS. This is commonly referred to as the Steele dossier. A year on, the document is at the center of the Trump-Russia collusion debate – more so for the political debate than the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The impetus for the dossier was a group of Never-Trumpster Republicans who sought political advantage against Trump during the Republican primaries. Once it was clear Trump would be the nominee the initiative was abandoned by the Never-Trump-sters but picked up by the Democratic Nationa Committee and the Clinton campaign.

It’s important to understand the intent of the dossier – what it is and what it is not. The dossier is a collection of Steele memos written between June and December of 2016. Steele acknowledges that the contents are likely 70-80% accurate; the dossier was not meant to be a definitive criminal investigation. The reason any of us have heard of the dossier is because Steele and Fusion GPS were shocked by what they learned and Steele felt the FBI needed to know about the relationship between Trump and Russia, and the impact on the U.S. election.

Many Republicans want the story to be all about the dossier and in turn, the Democrats and Clinton. In an article in Breitbart Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) — a Rep. Trey Benghazi! Benghazi! Gowdy (R-SC) wannabe — is striving to make his political mark with claims of complicity between Steele, Fusion GPS, the FBI, the Department of Justice and Democrats. 

Jordan’s message is amplified by Trump and the media. The GOP focused many hours of hearings on Deputy Director Andrew McCabe giving Jordan and others the spotlight to hammer his line of attack. Trump joins the attack with his comments and tweets, even when raising the specter yet again of Huma Abedin, former vice chair of the Clinton campaign, and her emails. 

Jordan and Trump trumpet the danger of the Deep State Department of Justice, while the left is a death-by-a-thousand cuts enabler. The New York Times likes to refer to the Steele dossier as salacious and unsubstantiated. Even subtle points can tip intent – the Jordan attack contends Steele paid Russians for their insights, forcing credible news outlets to invest space and ink to clarify Fusion GPS denies those claims. Rabbit chasers like Jordan are left free to offer their own conspiracies as ‘news’. Less credible news outlets, Trump and Sarah Huckabee Sanders then get to offer a Jordan quote from a complicit news source as validation – a malicious and complicit ‘virtuous’ circle.

The process of the Right’s Deep State and the Left’s ‘Russia focus distracts from policy’ feeds a ripe environment for FAKE NEWS! It’s easy to find media opinion dismissing Rachel Maddow (MSNBC) as obsessed with Trump and Russia, as easy as finding news that seems to normalize fake journalists like Mike Cernovich of Pizzagate infamy.

FAKE NEWS! Violence on many sides!

Do not let the Trumps and Jordans, the silence of the enabling GOP or the well-intentioned or smug dismissals distract.

We need to know what happened with our 2016 election: was there interference? Are we at risk? If we don’t define and fix the problems we risk repeating our mistakes. We are assaulted daily with reminders of just how dangerous the consequences of getting this wrong are.

Now let’s look at the recent clarity around Trump-Russia collusion while shooting down some of the lame pet dismissals of the investigation.


In the last edition of the Russia Monitor we carried news of tipsy George Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, telling the top Australian diplomat to the U.K. in May 2016 over a few drinks that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton: Russia-Trump Inquiry: ‘FBI knew of collusion allegations during campaign’.

This story deserves more credit than it’s received in our news-at-the-speed-of-light environment. The governments of Australia, Estonia, France, Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom had all tipped off U.S. intelligence agencies to concerns about contact between the Trump campaign and Russians, starting as early as 2015. The FBI began an investigation soon after the Papadopoulos-Australian diplomat meeting, before Steele had not even begun his investigation!

The Steele dossier did not trigger the FBI investigation of Trump-Russia.

“We don’t believe the Steele dossier was the trigger for the FBI’s investigation into Russian meddling,” they wrote. “As we told the Senate judiciary committee in August, our sources said the dossier was taken so seriously because it corroborated reports the bureau had received from other sources, including one inside the Trump camp.”

While Jordan has flogged his theory for political self-promotion and grist for Trump-Russia dismissals there has always been a clear path forward that could have deflated this line of attack before it happened. If not for GOP complicity by Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Charles Grassley:

“Even as new facts emerge and key officials have been indicted, including Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, the focus of some congressional committees has been fixed on Simpson, the former investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal and co-founder of Fusion GPS.

“In his op-ed, Simpson compared Republican attacks against him, which have been led in the Senate by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, to efforts by Republicans to protect Richard Nixon during the Watergate era. Simpson has testified before three congressional committees – albeit behind closed doors – and has explained how his clients, the Washington Free Beacon and the Clinton campaign, came to hire Fusion GPS, setting off the private investigation into the Trump campaign.

“Instead of focusing on the Russia claims, Simpson said, key Republicans have instead made him the focus of their investigations.”

Remember, Grassley once responded to questions from a constituent during a town hall meeting in Iowa that he saw no reason to not release the Senate Intelligence Committee transcripts of the Glenn Simpson, Fusion GPS, hearings

“He (Simpson) wrote: “We walked investigators through our year-long effort to decipher Mr Trump’s complex business past, of which the Steele dossier is but one chapter. And we handed over our relevant bank records – while drawing the line at a fishing expedition for the records of companies we work for that have nothing to do with the Trump case.”

“Republicans have so far declined to release any of the transcripts of Simpson’s interviews. Simpson said his testimony included allegations of widespread evidence that Trump and his organisation had worked with a wide array of “dubious Russians” in arrangements that raised questions about money laundering.”

Glenn Simpson began his New York Times Op-Ed piece – The Republicans Fake Investigation – this way:

“A generation ago, Republicans sought to protect President Richard Nixon by urging the Senate Watergate committee to look at supposed wrongdoing by Democrats in previous elections. The committee chairman, Sam Ervin, a Democrat, said that would be “as foolish as the man who went bear hunting and stopped to chase rabbits.””

Fusion GPS transferred much information to the Senate committee after 21 hours of testimony with the encouragement that it defined the path for investigating Trump-Russia.

“We suggested investigators look into the bank records of Deutsche Bank and others that were funding Mr. Trump’s businesses. Congress appears uninterested in that tip: Reportedly, ours are the only bank records the House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed.

“We told Congress that from Manhattan to Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., and from Toronto to Panama, we found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering. Likewise, those deals don’t seem to interest Congress.

“We explained how, from our past journalistic work in Europe, we were deeply familiar with the political operative Paul Manafort’s coziness with Moscow and his financial ties to Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin.”

Good news, we can see where much of what Simpson references is either validated or under investigation. In spite of duplicitous self-serving GOP rabbit chasing initiatives by the likes of Jordan and Grassley.


“Treasonous” and “unpatriotic”

Meanwhile the most salacious Trump-Russia collusion news came Wednesday out of far, far right field by way of former Trump senior adviser and Breitbart News head Steve Bannon: Trump Tower Meeting With Russians ‘treasonous’, Bannon Says In Explosive Book.

Bannon’s comments are taken from a book by Michael Wolff, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”, which will show up in bookstores January 9:

“Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian.”

Donnie Jr. – treason. That sounds worse than collusion. But Bannon had more to say about the June 2016 Donnie Jr. meeting with Russians in Trump Tower:

“Bannon also speculated that Trump Jr had involved his father in the meeting. “The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.””

Donnie Jr., treason, “zero” being the chance Donnie Jr. didn’t walk the Russians to his father’s office.

Could there possibly be more?

Oh yeah: Bannon Predicts Mueller Will ‘crack Don Jr. like an egg’ Over ‘treasonous’ Russia Meeting.

“According to an except of Wolff’s upcoming book seen by The Guardian, Bannon believes that Mueller’s team is going to focus on alleged money laundering operations that are conducted at Trump properties around the world — and that’s bad news for members of the Trump family.

 “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,” Bannon reportedly told Wolff.”

And THIS, which we highlighted recently:

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon said of the meeting. “But that’s the brain trust that they had.”

Soon after Trump became the de facto Republican candidate he was briefed by the FBI and warned about likely attempts by foreign governments to penetrate his campaign, including Russia. This briefing was at the end of July 2016, Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russians at Trump Tower was in June 2016. The FBI was already investigating the Trump campaign.

As Bannon points out, “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.

Instead, in the Trump campaign – silence followed by sending complicit minions to chase the rabbits.

But Bannon still was not done: Bannon Says Mueller Will Use Jared Kushner’s ‘greasy’ Money Laundering Deals To ‘f*ck Trump’.

RawStory also reported this from Wolff’s book:

“In addition to slamming Donald Trump Jr. for having a “treasonous” meeting with Russian officials in 2016, former Trump political strategist Steve Bannon also reportedly believes that special counsel Robert Mueller will use alleged criminal activities by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to get to the president.”

“…This is all about money laundering,” Bannon reportedly said, according to The Guardian. “Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to f*cking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner… It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”

But no one can turn a pithy image like Bannon:

“It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner sh*t,” he said. “The Kushner sh*t is greasy. They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me.”

As the news breaks, Trump has found time to blast BannonTrump Slams Bannon: ‘When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind’.

It’s easy to predict we’ll be hearing a lot more about the comments and comments about the comments as Bannon and Trump volley back and forth about who has most lost their mind.


In a matter of weeks we’ve had a handful of ground-breaking stories that deserve more attention, maybe with Bannon’s comments as the coup-de- grâce. Collectively they paint a conclusive picture of Trump-Russia collusion.

Retired Director of National Intelligence broke form and spoke out against Trump in an unusually manner back in mid-December: Jim Clapper Just Nuked The Trump Presidency.

“That changed yesterday [12/17], when Clapper went on CNN to drop an unimaginably large bombshell on President Donald Trump. Since the inauguration in January, Clapper has made a few critical comments regarding the president and his strange ties to Moscow, but these have been largely anodyne. Clapper began showing his hand in September, with a comment that the IC assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election raised questions about why Trump was in the White House: it “cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory in the election,” he stated.”

What Clapper said specifically was:

“I think this past weekend is illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. He knows how to handle an asset, and that’s what he’s doing with the president … You have to remember Putin’s background. He’s a KGB officer. That’s what they do. They recruit assets. And I think some of that experience and instincts of Putin has come into play here in his managing of a pretty important account for him, if I could use that term, with our president.”

We have Clapper questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election.

We know the intelligence services of a number of U.S. allies were reaching out to their peers as early as 2015.

We know that Papadopoulus confirmed Trump campaign contact with Russia about Hillary dirt as early as May 2016, before Donnie Jr.’s June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians to discuss Hillary ‘dirt’. Maybe before Trump touted improved relations with Russia during his April 27, 2016 foreign policy speech at the Mayflower hotel with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak seated in the front row.

We know Trump consistently denied any campaign contact with Russians but even Bannon offers this:

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.

We know that Trump remained silent while demanding loyalty and protection from those around him while sending the hounds to chase rabbits. Jordan and Grassley are just two examples of many.

But we also have Bannon’s assurances that rabbit chasing won’t protect Trump from the inevitable:

“They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,” Bannon reportedly told Wolff.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately,” Bannon said of the meeting. “But that’s the brain trust that they had.”

There were three Trump associates in the June 2016 Donnie Jr. meeting with the Russians. Mueller has already indicted Mannafort (Trump’s former campaign manager). Bannon predicts Donnie Jr. can gets cracked like an egg on national TV.

And Bannon predicts Kushner will get rolled for money laundering.

Manafort, Donnie Jr. and Kushner all go down as the path to Trump.


Message to the Republicans:

“It is time to stop chasing rabbits. The public still has much to learn about a man with the most troubling business past of any United States president. Congress should release transcripts of our firm’s testimony, so that the American people can learn the truth about our work and most important, what happened to our democracy.”

(Glenn Simpson, founder of Fusion GPS; from the New York Times Op-Ed referenced above.)

(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free to use with link to )