"They're trying to take down the whole intelligence community! And they're using me as the battering ram to do it."

This New Yorker piece by Jane Mayer is a must-read: "Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier." It's long, so settle in, because it's an important piece of journalism.

There is so much information in the piece worthy of discussion, but two quick things I want to highlight:

1. The fact that Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Charles Grassley "referred Steele's name to the Department of Justice, for a possible criminal investigation, despite the fact that it was "merely a political stunt," is an absolutely appalling way to treat a person who was offering his expert assistance to the United States.

Their behavior makes it much less likely that even freelance (and/or mercenary) intelligence operatives will share information with U.S. intelligence now, which is pretty significant, especially when Donald Trump's indiscretion has made foreign governments less inclined to share intel with the U.S.

Being alone and in the dark is not the place where functional and uncompromised intelligence services want to be. It is not where a population should want any part of their government to be. To be floating in an intelligence vacuum is incredibly dangerous.

2. This passage (emphasis mine):
Steele talked at length with Mueller's investigators in September. It isn't known what they discussed, but, given the seriousness with which Steele views the subject, those who know him suspect that he shared many of his sources, and much else, with the Mueller team.

One subject that Steele is believed to have discussed with Mueller's investigators is a memo that he wrote in late November, 2016, after his contract with Fusion had ended. This memo, which did not surface publicly with the others, is shorter than the rest, and is based on one source, described as "a senior Russian official."

The official said that he was merely relaying talk circulating in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but what he'd heard was astonishing: people were saying that the Kremlin had intervened to block Trump's initial choice for Secretary of State, Mitt Romney. (During Romney's run for the White House in 2012, he was notably hawkish on Russia, calling it the single greatest threat to the U.S.) The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would cooperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria. If what the source heard was true, then a foreign power was exercising pivotal influence over U.S. foreign policy — and an incoming President.

As fantastical as the memo sounds, subsequent events could be said to support it. In a humiliating public spectacle, Trump dangled the post before Romney until early December, then rejected him.

There are plenty of domestic political reasons that Trump may have turned against Romney. Trump loyalists, for instance, noted Romney's public opposition to Trump during the campaign. Roger Stone, the longtime Trump aide, has suggested that Trump was vengefully tormenting Romney, and had never seriously considered him. (Romney declined to comment. The White House said that he was never a first choice for the role and declined to comment about any communications that the Trump team may have had with Russia on the subject.)

In any case, on December 13, 2016, Trump gave Rex Tillerson, the C.E.O. of ExxonMobil, the job. The choice was a surprise to most, and a happy one in Moscow, because Tillerson's business ties with the Kremlin were long-standing and warm. (In 2011, he brokered a historic partnership between ExxonMobil and Rosneft.) After the election, Congress imposed additional sanctions on Russia, in retaliation for its interference, but Trump and Tillerson have resisted enacting them.
That particular example of security issues of interest to Russia — "such as the conflict in Syria" — is very interesting to me, given what I've previously detailed with regard to the campaigns of every one of Hillary Clinton's general election opponents and the campaign of her major primary opponent inexplicably advocating that the U.S. ally with Russia to defeat ISIS in Syria.

Additionally: It was bad enough when it seemed as though Trump entertained Romney as a Secretary of State candidate only to then dismiss him because Trump is a petty, vengeful shit. That he may have reversed course because Putin gave Romney a thumbs-down is even worse.

By orders of magnitude.

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