How many people do you figure are actually die hard Qanon supporters? I'm not talking about those who hate Hillary Clinton and can get behind a claim or two. I'm talking about those who actually believe she's drinking the blood of children - die hard believers. Maybe thousands? Compare that to Russia Gate which has convinced a tremendous amount of educated Democrats that Trump conspired with Russia. The impact can't even be compared - Qanon die hards believe in the unbelievable, but the Russia Gate conspiracy was pushed by the government and the media, all legitimate organizations whose impact remains well established in the minds of left. Till this day - dare I say - most of the left doesn't know that Russia Collusion was totally and completely false.

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People like to say that the difference is that QAnon actually caused real harm. But I woul ask them:

What about all the people that cut off their own friends and family because they supported a POTUS allegedly guilty of treason? This was one of the main things people fought over regarding Trump, meaning that (quite ironically) the media and gov't officials who pushed this nonsense helped "sow discord and chaos" by "spreading disinformation."

What about the escalated tensions between the US and Russia since then? They were undoubtedly bad already, but this made it worse, culminating in Trump sinking two treaties related to nuclear arms and trying to destroy a third.

What about the possible impact this had on our trust in our election security? On May 16, 2017, Nancy Pelosi Tweeted out "Our election was hijacked. There is no question. Congress has a duty to #ProtectOurDemocracy & #FollowTheFacts." The use of the word "hijacked" suggests that Russia took complete control over the election itself. This is just one example of Russiagaters questioning the integrity of our elections for four years straight. This might have contributed to the difficulty in assuring they were actually secure when doubts arose regarding Biden's victory.

What about the fact that trust in mainstream media is now at an all time low? To many, all the lies about Russiagate are what finally made them agree with Trump that much of the MSM is "fake news."

I'm sure there's more that I simply haven't thought of, but either way, it blows my mind that people are so casual about this deception and the cult-like adherence to it by millions.

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People definitely claim that Qanon caused more damage, but I can’t see how that stands up to scrutiny. There was that shooting several years back and of course there’s the capital riot. But the capital riot wasn’t a “Q” centric action. If we were to measure real impact to the lives of regular folks, I’d say legitimate media engaging in raw propaganda and ANTIFA present a far greater daily risk in the future, and have caused far more problems in the past.

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It only stands up to MOAR PROPAGANDA. Meaning, it doesn't, and is quickly buried over and over again by newer fresher "stories".

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...also that ANTIFA is sanctioned political violence.

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"We've got a Trumper! We have a Trump supporter over here!" Bang bang.

A guy walking down the street in a Patriot Prayer hat with a buddy is executed in Portland. The shooter gives an interview to left wing media, claiming that he is "100% antifa". He's later shot to death by law enforcement after firing on them during an attempt to apprehend him.

"Qanon is worse" definitely does not stand up to scrutiny.

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Indeed. And they're certainly not a "movement" that is an existential threat to the Republic or the constitutional order.

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The hacked/hijacked/interfered was the silliest thing to me. Russians for several years had been trying to penetrate any US sites. I would venture a guess that if the same amount of scrutiny was used in 2012 as 2016, you would have found foreign actors trying to penetrate municipal sites. I say that knowing how many large companies were compromised to some level from 09 to 12.

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Definitely not new. I mean, people forget we engaged in these sort of things routinely during the Cold War.

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In 2015, the Chinese hacked into the personnel database of the US federal government and stole the files, including millions of SF-86 forms the US government uses to conduct background checks in order to approve security clearances.

If an applicant is honest (and they answer the questions on pain of perjury), an SF-86 contains everything that could be used to blackmail them. Have you ever had an extramarital affair? Used illegal drugs? Engaged the services of a prostitute? Are you a member of an AA group?

This means China knows all the sordid personal details of millions of American federal employees with security clearances.

The Ashley Madison hack that same year got WAY more news coverage in Canada than the above. So much more, I was immediately aware of the AM hack, but only learned about the 2015 hack by the Chinese of US federal employee personnel files THIS YEAR.

OMG, people who want to cheat on their spouses are at risk of being outed by a group called "The Impact Team" and might be outed, but the dirty laundry of millions of individuals with security clearances in the US falling into the hands of a hostile foreign government? I didn't hear about that until last year, and it was from a YouTuber who shills collagen powder to fund his channel because YouTube has mostly demonetized him.

Granted, I wasn't particularly interested in US politics at the time, but I also wasn't that interested in websites designed to hook attached strangers up with other attached strangers.

I'm curious as to how much coverage the federal personnel file hack received in the US at the time.

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I agree. I started thinking about this when I was reading Sean Henry's (Crowdstrike's president) testimony. The bombshell that Russigate critics focus on (understandably) is the "no concrete evidence" part, but there's something else that I think is noteworthy.

Sean Henry testified that he was caught up to speed on the previous communications between the guy who administered the DNC network (before Crowdstrike was called in) and the FBI. It revealed an incredibly casual attitude about "the Dukes" (their name for the Russians) being in the network.

The FBI would tell them they think the Dukes are in their network, advise the DNC admin to look around for some key files (like Malware stuff, I assume), and when the admin couldn't find any, they would just kinda shrug it off and move on.

Now, if Russia hacking us is some kind of act of war, a severe threat to our democracy, a "digital 9/11," or a Pearl Harbor equivalent like so many government officials and media figures have claimed, why the hell would they be so casual about the Russians being in their network? One possible explanation would seemingly be that maybe the FBI really just dropped the ball severely and endangered our national security. But that begs the question: why is there no outrage about this? The R's in Congress already revealed how displeased they are about the FBI's "sloppy work" regarding the Trump-Putin collusion faux-investigations, and the D's at least claimed to be furious about "unfairly" losing the election; and both view Russia as a threat, yet we hear not one word about this.

To me, this says that either everyone "in the know" was knowingly exaggerating these impacts, or was never truly confident that it was Russia in the first place. Why else would they just let the FBI get away with such extreme negligence?

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To which I reply several things:

1) you can indict a sendvich s vetchinoy, but that won't make it anything more than a ham sandwich.

2) none of the indictments of Trump associates were about collusion with Russia.

3) all of the much ballyhooed Russian indictments (hackers/troll farms) were quietly dropped within a few months of two defendants showing up and court and demanding due process.

Point 3 is particularly interesting to me. If a defendant is a flight risk or is at large or in a country with no extradition agreement, it's standard practice to file sealed indictments. You know, so that the defendants won't be tipped off to flee or stay in hiding.

Mueller's Russian indictments were made publicly, and then heavily publicized. Almost as if he wanted none of the defendants to ever set foot in a US courtroom. And, as expected, the alleged hackers stayed in Russia.

The alleged troll farms? Well. They're companies. No worries about federal prisons. If they had seizable assets in the US, I'm sure they snuck them out. And the Russian government wasn't going to enforce a monetary penalty from a US court.

When they showed up in court, Mueller's team asked to delay the start of the trial. The judge, understandably, wanted to know why. Hilariously, Mueller's guys said that the defendants hadn't been properly served process. Um... process service exists to ensure a defendant or witness shows up and has no excuse for not doing so. Here the defendants were, in court for the pretrial hearing and ready to go!

Reality was, Mueller was expecting his theatrical indictments to keep all the Russian defendants away. Because he had zero evidence inculpating any of them. But hey, the gullible public can be led to believe that where there's an indictment, there's guilt, amirite?

Can anyone imagine Mueller having to explain to a judge or a jury that his ONLY evidence against the Russian hackers was a heavily redacted draft report put together by a private company in the employ of an interested third party? To explain his reliance on it was because not only had neither the FBI nor Mueller ever inspected the server itself, but that neither of them even bothered to place it under subpoena?

"Your honor, I have this heavily redacted draft ballistics report put together by a private firm hired by the widow. It indicates the bullets found in her husband do not come from her gun. It was CLEARLY the victim's mistress who shot him and then disposed of her own weapon, which we haven't yet located. Have we ever what? Examined the widow's gun ourselves? Well, we asked her politely at least twice if she'd let us, and she said no. I ask you, your honor, what were we supposed to do?"

It's hard to even muster the humor to laugh at it. Maybe if it was in a sitcom or something, and Mueller's character was played by the dude who played Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld.

Anyway, defence counsel then proceeded to ask the judge how the defendants were to get a fair jury trial, since the publication of the Mueller Report had tainted every jury pool in the entire country. The judge was not pleased, and even kicked around the idea of citing Mueller for contempt.

The next day, Mueller appeared at that surprise press conference, during which he stressed that his Report was not a conclusive comment on the factual guilt or innocence of any individual or entity listed therein. Whew!

The pretrial phase chugged along for another month or two, and then BAM! Just prior to the discovery phase, when he'd have to hand over all the "evidence" he had, Mueller dropped all the Russian indictments.

Wait, did I say "BAM!"? My mistake. It made about as much noise as a popcorn fart exiting a hamster's anus.

I bet if Horowitz hadn't discovered and reported the Clinesmith email thing, Mueller would have conveniently failed to detect it. I mean, it was just one altered word. Easy to overlook.

The Mueller Probe and Report were, to anyone paying close attention, little more than a meticulous laundering of Crossfire Hurricane's excesses and misconduct.

Wait, did I say "meticulous laundering"? I meant to say "desperate and clumsy cleanup job using a mouldering mop-head and water dirtier than the floor".

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Wow. Well done!

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Well said sir.

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Why not save yourself some time and simply list any true claim(s)?

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Why not save some time and just plain call ALL news outlets that toe the line "accomplices" to war crimes?

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I'd love to actually see Taibbi or Greenwald do a version of that--not list true claims, but any that have not yet been discredited. Not in the interests of saving time, but in the interests of informing us as to whether there are any.

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My favorite part is literal morons like Isikoff and Corn still hold so tightly onto their stories and have completely bought the bullshit they were sold by the intelligence apparatus. Those two and Ken Dilanian are like watching doomsday cult leaders preaching like nothing happened on the Wednesday after they promised the world would end on Tuesday.

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Wait. I thought the cult members' prayers staved off the end of the world. Which means Isikoff et al saved us all.

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I can see a future where journalists will no longer have to attend college. All they will have to do is read back issues of Mad Magazine.

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Oh, sorry... Mad Magazine was cancelled due to perceived offenses.

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It appears to me that the single most destructive outcome of the Trump administration (of note, I'm neither a Trump supporter nor am I a 'never-Trump'er'), is the term 'alternative facts' and the general acceptance, by all parties, of that term and its implications. When KellyAnne coined that term back in 2017 it feels like, in retrospect, the world basically said "oh yeah, I like the way that sounds," and ran with it. Not to say that lies haven't been a foundational 'principle' of the political landscape since day 1, but the convenience and portability of 'alternative facts' seems to have issued a new and more liberating license on manipulating truth that didn't exist before. Said license has given everyone - politicians, media outlets, corporations, consumers, the cover in which to operate without ramification. As such, the practical application of alternative facts is that nobody is even remotely beholden to the truth or embarrassed when they get caught or seemingly worried about a hit to their career/reputation/credibility.

In this specific story, the general consensus on the left was, "well, we're basically kind of somewhat sure that Hillary lost because that pesky Russia is meddling in cooperation with Trump, although nobody really knows how, to what extent, or to what effectiveness, so we're going to use 'alternative facts' because it gets us in the ballpark of this possible narrative." Now that this episode it is playing out to the effect that Matt has chronicled, none of the players in this mix have been reprimanded or punished and certainly nobody has shown much in the way of remorse.

And why should they? Many of the people who have taken advantage of alternative facts are making money and/or furthering their careers. Not a completely unique development, I know but, again there's something there that feels new.

What I'm surprised about is the few people on the receiving end of all of this BS aren't more upset about this. Rather, it feels like were almost resigned to it because, soon enough, it'll be our turn to take advantage of alternative facts. That's the part that feels new, to me. We should be just as 'outraged' about this predicament as we were at the end of the housing crisis when we realized that not only was nobody going to be punished for the crimes committed but, instead, many involved were not only going to end up getting bailed out, but rewarded.

To extend that comparison, the landscape of alternative facts, in my mind, inflicted as much damage to society as a whole as the housing crisis did back in '08. If I'm being honest, while the housing crisis is more quantifiable, I think alternative facts has even a greater negative impact. While we're generally geared to recover from a monetary collapse, how do we recover from alternative facts and the resulting collapse of trust? To be certain, our demographic, party affiliation, geographic location, etc. does not matter - were all getting manipulated by what should be our most trusted institutions.

If we're not outraged by this manipulation, when at least are we going to be fatigued by it? When will we get tired of banging our collective heads against the same wall to absolutely no result beyond a major headache? I know the cable ratings are way down since Trump left, as Matt pointed out in a previous article, and that's a great start. But I feel like that drop is more of a reaction to the massive charisma void created by literally everyone left in his wake instead of a stance by the people who are sick of being lied to (an 'Occupy MSNBC/Fox' of sorts). Is that going to be enough to start moving us back to a society where the truth matters?

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There will be no negotiating with these people, and while it won't be ME, (too old and tired,) someone will have to remove them.

They won't be gotten rid of any other way, and they will indeed bring the weight of the whole arsenal down on any sort of "resistance".

If they start some "Domestic War on Terror", it'll be like every single other "war" they've gotten into since WWII -an utter failure.

Only this time it'll be on home soil, and I wonder if even the feckless cunts in the cities will be able to keep on supporting it to the end. Probably not. Scary times, indeed.

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I will also add that this is exactly why the Justice dept never gets "reformed". If you leave it to the established twats, they'll never change ANYHTING.

Watch as the "Biden" administration forgets to bother with the people in the cities that really NEED this sort of reform. It'll never happen.

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Hi Matt. Thanks for the painstaking work to push back on the propaganda.

I realize what adding this feature may do to the length of this piece, but is there utility in going one degree further in your analysis. For instance - remember Malcolm Nance on Chris Hayes told you: in the intelligence community there are no coincidences...

For example: Shawn Henry - before he was CEO of crowdstrike he was a dept dir at the FBI. not a damning fact by itself, but certainly an interesting detail demonstrating a private company - government entanglement. Beyond that how about the fact the FBI never did a forensic analysis of the hardware/servers and exclusively relied on the words of the DNC's hired IT security firm (CrowdStrike).

Another example - while not a debunking - Aaron Mate has written and covered the senate's Intel committee's review of the 2016 election. in his writing he points out the most widely shared meme from the IRA (the "russian troll farm") was a Yosemite Sam image about cancel culture - source: https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/russiagate-elections-interference/

Finally - again while not a debunking, but a simple fact that got overpowered in the hyped up trump russia collusion conspiracy was that a facebook exec pointed out - most of the "russian ad spending" took place AFTER the election - source: https://twitter.com/robjective/status/964680123885613056

there are many other instances like these which may help provide even more context about the intense propaganda campaign waged by the MSM and intel communities over the past 5 yrs. that said, I appreciate you have to draw a line somewhere or it will be too voluminous.

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"most of the "russian ad spending" took place AFTER the election"

Hahaha, now that I didn't know. I had read that political memes involving the candidates represented a small proportion (about 10%) of "the two Concords'" output, and they were pretty much equal in terms of trashing/supporting one over the other. I seem to recall one Mate or Sperry (or maybe Andy McCarthy) mentioned that suggested Jesus could help young men with their onanism addiction.

It's no wonder when they showed up in court to demand due process as indicted defendants, Mueller ended up dropping the Russian indictments (including those against the alleged Russian hackers).

Another interesting conundrum: Assange has insisted all along that he didn't get the DNC emails from the Russians. He offered to be interviewed by Mueller's team and show them his evidence. Mueller declined. Mueller's job was to determine to what extent Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Whether or not Russia hacked the server would be directly material to his mission.

Putin publicly offered to allow Mueller's team to participate in an interrogation on Russian soil of the alleged hackers. That never happened. (Hilariously, I discovered this when a Trump-Russia truther sent me a transcript of a post election news conference in Helsinki where Putin said, 'of course we helped President Trump win. He is great guy, we like him very much. Good guy." Somehow this truther viewed the unsworn testimony of someone he himself was describing as evil as conclusive proof Russia wanted Trump to win, rather than 'oh shit, Trump won, that's no good. What can I say to undermine his position? Oh yeah! I say we help him win, then he is too busy for sanctions!').

Mueller ended up dropping the indictments against all the Russians just before the troll farm trial entered discovery. I don't believe either allegation against the Russians (hacking the DNC server, a sweeping political influence/social media campaign) have ever been substantiated.

It has been suggested that the metadata on the DNC email files uploaded by Wikileaks is more consistent with a transfer of files onto an external storage device via a wired connection than with online hacking.

In light of that, and in the broader context of well publicized conspiracy theories around a certain DNC staffer who was tragically mugged twice in the back (and for whom Assange posted a Crimestoppers style reward), Mueller's decision to not bother with Assange's purported evidence should make anyone's eyebrows go up.

The two primary allegations of Russian interference were the alleged DNC hack, and the troll farms. The troll farm allegation was so lame Mueller dropped the case before he'd have to hand over his evidence (because he didn't have any, yo). And the DNC hack? He had the opportunity to investigate an alternative theory and said, "nah..."

And anyone who watched him testify about his report (a theatrical event forced by the Democrats and aimed at "bringing life" to his lackluster findings) could tell you, Robert "Fusion who?" Mueller was no more in charge of the investigation than Joe Biden is in charge of the current administration.

One would think that if all it would take to put a "Clinton body count" rumor to rest and implicate the Russians was to talk to Assange and take DNA and fingerprints off a thumb drive, Mueller would have done it, no?

Instead, his report was nothing but allegations against Russians he knew he'd never be able to convict, based on lame internet memes and a heavily redacted report by a private firm in the employ of Hillary Clinton and the DNC. And a justification of the unjustifiable Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

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The finger pointing is INTENSE, but they forget: When they point the finger, they have THREE pointing back at them.

In this case, it's not inconceivable that the Us intelligence agencies are responsible for even more than three time the "misinformation" and outright lies, thereby molesting the electoral process from beginning to end.

Only the most deluded can pretend that these "good guys" won't one day use the same immense apparatus on them and to devastating ends.

I'm sure that actual Nazis were nervous as well... because they knew that the same grease wizards could, at the whim of some bureaucrat, make them disappear as well.

We've already taken the plunge as a nation, and we're under water here.

Next stop: rounding up dissidents and forcing them into re-education camps.

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I have been waiting for this for a while. I was hoping you or Aaron write a book about it.

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Here's an article from today.


This seems like the height of irresponsibility in journalism. The New York Times attempts to inoculate itself against the charge of being fake news by mentioning about five paragraphs into the story that the Biden administration provided no evidence. You can probably add this story to your list. Sad that the list continues to grow even four years after the initial, faked accusations.

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So, let me get this straight:

According to the Mueller report, in the spring of 2016, George Papadopoulos (Trump campaign volunteer) happens to bump into Joseph Mifsud (a professor from Malta) who supposedly has Kremlin connections. He tells Papadopoulos that he has dirt on HRC in the form of emails, and Papadopoulos says he's interested. A couple months later, in June, the DNC "hack" is announced. Alexander Downer, an Australian diplomat who happened to witness this meeting and overheard the conversation between GP and JM, sees the news coverage and decides that maybe what he heard has something to do with this story. He reports it to the FBI, which then starts to surveil Papadopoulos.

At some point, it becomes clear that Papadopoulos is a dead end, completely invalidating the predicate upon which this whole investigation was launched. After all, how could GP be a dead end if he has this link to the Kremlin (Mifsud)? Clearly, something is off. Mifsud was never capable or willing to be this Russian connection. If he was, they would have gotten their smoking gun by surveilling GP (and by extension, Mifsud).

So they leave GP alone, and start surveilling Carter Page based on a fraudulent FISA warrant that conveniently leaves out the fact that Page was dutifully informing the CIA anytime some shady, big-shot Russian official inappropriately approached him. In other words, Page was basically a CIA informant, not a Russian asset. The CIA informed the FBI, but someone doctored the email to make it appear as if they were giving the FBI the "all clear."

At some point, the FBI decides to hire a British spy named Christopher Steele. Steele had formerly been paid by Trump's opponents to dig up dirt on him, and was sourcing some of his material (if I recall correctly) to various Russians, including one with actual Kremlin connections. The FBI finds out this guy is a complete joke, but that doesn't stop them from telling the press how amazing and credible he is. As confirmed by the IG's report, the entire Steele Dossier is finally exposed to be complete bullshit, even revealing that the infamous "pee tape" to which Maddow devoted so much airtime was based on nothing more than a random comment made "in jest."

Then there's the 2016 ICA (Intelligence Community Assessment) alleging that it certainly was Russia that hacked the DNC, that it was ordered directly by Putin, and that it was specifically meant to help Trump and hurt HRC's chances. First, we're told it's 17 agencies that all unanimously agree. Then we find out it's 4 (DNI, CIA, FBI, NSA), but actually just a few handpicked individuals from each, mostly directed by CIA director John Brennan and supervised by DNI Clapper. Then we find out that not even the handpicked individuals all agreed, and that Brennan overrode the dissenters in favor of a (still unidentified, possibly nonexistent) source inside the Kremlin. (Google the shady history of John Brennan and James Clapper. The fact these two had their hands on it should immediately call all of this into question.)

Still, for years, we are told that it is an indisputable fact that Russia is behind the hack. As it turns out, Crowdstrike President Sean Henry's testimony revealed that he didn't even have "direct evidence" of data leaving the server, which begs the question: How can one know who stole a thing if they can't even tell that thing was stolen? Additionally, Crowdstrike never even turned over the servers (you know, the scene of the crime) to the FBI. That's especially troubling considering the myriad conflicts of interest represented by Crowdstrike including, but not limited to, the fact that they were hired by the DNC.

(Note: I can only speculate, but I assume the DNC really needed this to be a hack, not a leak. If it's a hack by Russia, then it can be framed as an assault on our democracy by an external enemy. To talk about what the "hack" exposed then is to aid and abet that enemy on their attack on America. How convenient. A leak, on the other hand, would possibly indicate that someone in their own organization was so disgusted by the corruption or whatever they saw that their conscience demanded them to tell the world about it. That's a bad look.)

Then finally, Assange, one of the main suspects in this whole alleged conspiracy to swing the election, to undermine our very Democracy itself (according to the fearmongers), is never interrogated. Not once. In the investigation of the century - supposedly meant to to find out if the POTUS conspired with a foreign adversary - not a single person bothered interviewing the #1 suspect that allegedly linked the Trump campaign to the Kremlin. On what planet to investigators decline to question lead suspects?

Is there any part of this that wasn't a complete scam? It seems like the only thing they have is the "if it is what you say it is" email, which we later found out was sent to some nobody-grifter posing as a Russian gov't big-shot. I'd say that pales in comparison to Hillary and the DNC hiring a foreign agent (Steele) to dig up dirt which was sourced to other foreigners in an adversarial country.

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"At some point, the FBI decides to hire a British spy named Christopher Steele. Steele had formerly been paid by Trump's opponents to dig up dirt on him,"

No. Steele had been an FBI/CIA asset prior to being hired by Fusion GPS on behalf of Hillary and the DNC, and had a cozy relationship with mid level officials in the Obama Administration. He was let go by British Intelligence, and was already considered less reliable than desired before he put together the dossier.

The FBI looked at the dossier (yikes, that's unlikely) and considered the source (Steele) but because they were just that desperate, they gave corroborating the information the old college try.

Then the intel community found out that (election season getting down to the wire, and Steele being rabidly anti-Trump), Steele was shopping the dossier to media outlets. They dropped him as a source. I don't blame them. He was totally unreliable.

But every cloud has a silver lining. They used the very fact that the dossier was published in the media as a justification to keep the investigation open. "There must be something to it! After all, Buzzfeed wrote about it!"

I'm not certain exactly where in the timeline they discovered the dossier was oppo research commissioned by the DNC. Certainly before the first FISA warrant against Page.

The brilliance of that warrant was that Page had already quit the Trump campaign. A Sep 23, 2016 Yahoo News article suggesting the FBI had confirmed it was looking into him as a possible Russian asset caught his attention. He immediately quit the campaign, and on Sep 25 wrote directly to FBI Director Comey to deny the allegations and ask for an interview, and mentioned he had a decades long history if interactions with US intelligence, including the FBI and the CIA.

And here's the thing. The Crossfire Hurricane team already knew that. What's the first thing you do when someone's name comes up? "Who is this guy? Look through our files and see if we already have something on him."

Those files would have shown multiple times he assisted the FBI in (wait for it) investigating suspected Russian spies, and at least one time he acted as a witness in the prosecution of (wait for it) a suspected Russian spy. They would have known this before he even wrote his letter. Page has said the FBI didn't bother to contact him for more than 5 months after he wrote to Comey.

The first FISA warrant was issued in late October (I want to say the 23rd, I can't be arsed to look it up). A month after the Yahoo News article and Page's letter.

So why was Page so perfect? Why was he perfect because he had left the campaign?

"We didn't spy on on Trump or his campaign. We spied on a low level advisor to his campaign who wasn't even with the campaign anymore. Our interest is completely focussed on Page. It had nothing to do with Trump. In fact, we were protecting Trump's campaign from possible foreign bad actors. See? Totally innocent."

But here's the thing. A FISA warrant authorizes the FBI to pick through the last 6 months of communications. 5 months of which, Carter HAD been with the campaign. And it authorizes "two hop" surveillance. Page, Page's contacts, and Page's contacts' contacts. Going back to May of 2016, and moving forward until the warrant expired.

Anyone who talked to someone who talked to Page from May 2016 onward was fair game until the final warrant re-up expired in September 2017. That means pretty much everyone in the Trump campaign, and tons of people in the Trump transition and the Trump administration.

Page was perfect, because he wasn't part of the Trump team anymore, but 95% of people don't know how FISA warrants work, and 95% of the media wasn't particularly interested in telling them.

The media was too busy "fact checking false" Trump's claim that the Obama administration wiretapped him. "Um.... aaaakshully, no intelligence agency even uses wiretaps anymore. Like, who needs to peel the sheath off a wire and attach a listening device when you've got, like, the internet and shit? What did we do to deserve a president who constantly lies about stupid shit?" Verdict: Pants on fire.

In late January 2017, the FBI discovered the identity of the "primary sub-source" of the Steele Dossier. His name was (wait for it) Igor Danchenko.

Now you'd think that when someone's name comes up, the FBI would say, "Who is this guy? Let's look through our files and see if we already have anything on him."

What they already had was a 2 year long counterintelligence investigation (2009-2011) into Danchenko on suspicion that he was a Russian spy. Danchenko had been working as a researcher at the Brookings Institution at the time, alongside Fiona Hill and Eric Ciaravoldemort. Two junior researchers told the FBI in late 2008 that at a company party Danchenko had offered to hook them up with some people who could provide them a side income should they ever go to work in government and were in a position to have access to classified information.

I am not kidding. The investigation was closed not because Danchenko had been cleared, but because he'd moved back to Russia.

So the FBI tracks him down and interviews him. He tells them he can't substantiate any of the claims in the dossier--they are rumor, speculation and things said in jest over beers. Additionally, Steele had apparently taken poetic license with Danchenko's information, exaggerating and embellishing it. Translation? It was all a load of hooey.

What does the FBI do? They tack a note onto the dossier for the next FISA re-up, saying, "we interviewed the primary sub-source of the document and found him to be cooperative and credible." About what, you ask? The FBI didn't tell the court. But they get their warrant renewal on the back of that note.

"A leak, on the other hand, would possibly indicate that someone in their own organization was so disgusted by the corruption or whatever they saw that their conscience demanded them to tell the world about it. That's a bad look."

A bad look?

Assange said he didn't get the DNC emails from the Russians. He said he had proof. He offered to be interviewed by Mueller's team and show them his evidence, and to testify before congress.

When Seth Voldemort was mugged twice in the back, Assange posted a $20k reward for any information that would lead to the identification and conviction of the killer. Maybe it's a psy-op on Assange's part, maybe not.

But the fact that Mueller was 100% totally, completely not interested in even talking to Assange? Or looking at the purported evidence Assange claimed to have?

That's not sloppiness. That's avoidance.

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Awesome write up, but just FYI, my point with Steele was that at some point after working with Fusion GPS, the FBI was using him on this specific issue; not that the FBI had never heard of him prior to this.

Where did you learn Page had been assisting the FBI on identifying Russian spies? I don't doubt it, but this is the first time I've heard that. I was under the impression it was the CIA he'd been assisting, who emailed the FBI to alert them, who then pinned the doctoring of that email completely on Clinesmith.

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Matt, I guess I can keep posting this about #7, but it seems high time that you include it. The Dutch intelligence services WATCHED the Russians hack the DNC. They saw Russian military/intel senior leaders enter the facility and giving direction. The American Intel agencies had this info. It was reported on by trustworthy third parties. It was even reported that the Dutch were pissed off that the Dem-leaning Intel folks used this info for political advantage in the single-purpose reports.

(Those reports also left out that they also tried and failed to hack the RNC and successfully hacked Colin POwell and released negative info from his comments about Trump, but when data don't fit a narrative, the memory hole gets a little wider).


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Matt, I think the point here is that you cite the weakest evidence for #7 and you cite it specifically because it can be debunked. But you don't cite the strongest evidence, which is what was reported from Dutch intelligence, and there is no contrary evidence at all to that. In fact, the Republican majority Intelligence Committee report, from GOP Congressmen who can see all the data agreed completely with the conclusion made in #7, though I think they also publicly disagreed with Crowdstrike. The writeup of #7 needs an update.

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Is there anything more to that, though, than “friendly” intelligence agency claims? And weren’t those claims supposedly buttressed by Crowdstrike’s analysis, which was later undercut by Henry’s testimony to congress? I don’t see much there.

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By that logic you wouldn't believe Tony Bobulinski's claims validate Hunter Biden's emails were real because some guy from Peoria claimed they were real and his claim was invalidated.

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If credible source A says something happened (Dutch intelligence), it doesn't matter that non-credible source B (Crowdstrike) made a claim as well based on non-direct evidence that was shown to be non-direct or shown to be based on assumptions. It's simply not relevant, except as a cause of confusion to some people.

The Dutch intelligence claims weren't buttressed by Crowdstrike. No one even knows about the Dutch claims, they were reported on but not noticed by enough people, which is my point. Everyone thought that the only evidence Brennan et al had was Crowdstrike, but that was wrong. That's why the Dutch intelligence also got mad at CIA for using their hard-won and important info and methods (and methods WERE disclosed) for domestic partisan political gain, which is disgusting and puts us at risk. The last thing we want as a country is allied intelligence services contemplating whether they need to hold back information because it might be used politically.

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Okay. I see what you are trying to say. Disagree completely. First off, I really can't say "Dutch intelligence" is a "credible source." Intelligence agencies lie. It's what they do. I am mistrustful of US intelligence agencies, why would I trust Dutch intelligence? You mentioned Hunter Biden. US Intelligence was telling us the laptop story was "Russian interference." Was that credible to you? How many times has US intelligence lied?

On Crowdstrike: Dutch intelligence wasn't "just" buttressed by Crowdstrike. Crowdstrike was seminal in the whole theory of the case. We were told over and over that Crowdstrike's forensic analysis showed that Russians hacked the DNC server and took the information. The US government relied largely on a (redacted) Crowdstrike analysis. It was a fundamental building block to all of it. So it certainly was more than some anonymous guy in Peoria saying something that was later "debunked." So, yeah, when we learned that Henry testified before congress that there was no actual evidence of exfiltration of documents (which lines up with VIPS claims that exfiltration could not have happened) . . . that largely undercuts the theory that the Russians stole the information.

I don't know what you are going on about with "nobody knows about the Dutch intelligence." I remember when that was reported. Lots of people I know read about it. It was a hot topic, . . until the next "bombshell." Anonymous Dutch intelligence personnel were allegedly watching the Cozy Bear guys, and allegedly could tell that they "infiltrated" the DNC server (though I don't think they claimed any evidence of exfiltration), and allegedly could identify FSB interacting . . . etc., etc. Regardless, it is still just intelligence source claims. You can believe them if you want. Knock yourself out. It isn't terribly persuasive to me, especially against the backdrop of all the other shit that has proven to be overblown or knocked down completely -- as partly catalogued by Matt.

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One can apply more tools to judge a source than "is it info from an intelligence service"?

-is there evidence of bias? Steele - yes, US intel folks - yes. Dutch intel folks - what's your claim to them having a bias

-does the story make sense - why were the Dutch there - because their civilians were shot down over the Ukraine. Credible that they would undertake a program

-is it reported by biased media? Reported by Dutch media, not US MSM.

-(not relevant to the Dutch but often useful since you mention the Hunter Laptop was disinfo) - is the position a public position from a sitting official or agency, like a public statement or Congressional testimony (strong), is it a leaked claim from behind the scenes (weak sauce), or is it a letter signed by a bunch of retired idiots wearing their bias openly like you cite as somehow representing a "US Intelligence" position (absolute bunk)?

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"US Intelligence was telling us the laptop story was "Russian interference.""

That's completely false. You are confusing a bunch of retired guys who are now civilians with "US INtelligence". The Director of National Intelligence came out and said they were wrong and that it categorically NOT Russian disinformation.

"The US government relied largely on a (redacted) Crowdstrike analysis."

Also completely false - you have been TOLD that they did, but it has been reported that they also had the Dutch info. You have zero information to counter that, and my entire point is that they did NOT rely solely on Crowdstrike. I'm not sure how the Dutch intel services get mad at them for leaking this info to help their political stance if they didn't have this info in their possession.

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"I saw it on the nightly news, so it must be true!" has become the same as "well, I read it on the internet," from my high school days.

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In other words, the MSM is garbage.

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I think the media and the FBI's scurrilous efforts to misdescribe information from a bunch of freelancers as official foreign intelligence also merits mention. Christopher Steel was not then a member of MI6 but his information was frequently mischaracterized by people who knew better as U.K. intelligence. The FBI referred to Steele information as Crown material, misleadingly suggesting it was an official foreign government product. But the actual MI6 assessed Steele's information as incorrect and told the U.S. government as much. That assessment is almost nowhere mentioned in mainstream U.S. media. The same thing is true of the Downer (or more likely Erika Thompson) information. Downer's report to the U.S. state department was consistently mischaracterized as a warning or notice from a 5 Eyes member. In fact, it was a completely unofficial communication and just like with Steele, the actual Australian intelligence services when notified first by Downer assessed the information as little more than speculative internet gossip. But even as late as Mueller's congressional testimony you still had media and Mueller himself describing the information as FFG (friendly foreign government) information. It was transparently an attempt to give official credence to unofficial claims and media rarely if ever reported the actual views of these foreign intelligence services despite being obviously more newsworthy.

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