The Definitive Demise of the Debunked Dodgy Dossier on The Donald?

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

In the midst of the hysteria about Russian interference in the 2016 election — 52% of Democrat voters believe it’s definitely or probably true that “Russia tampered with vote tallies”, a view for which there is no evidence whatever, and which is a depressing testimony to the power of propaganda to produce epistemic closure in liberals as well as conservatives — came Buzzfeed’s 35-page “dodgy dossier” on Donald Trump, oppo that the researcher, Christopher Steele, peddled during the election proper, but was unable to sell, not even to an easy mark like Jebbie. (There’s a useful debunking of Steele’s report in the New York Review of Books, of all places.) Remember the piss jokes? So two-weeks ago… Amazingly, or not, a two-page summary to Steele’s product had been included in a briefing given to Trump (and Obama). A weary Obama was no doubt well accustomed to the intelligence community’s little ways, but the briefing must have been quite a revelation to Trump. I mean, Trump is a man who knows shoddy when he sees it, right?

In any case, a link to the following story in Hamburg’s ridiculously sober-sided Die Zeit came over the transom: So schockiert von Trump wie alle anderen (“So shocked by Trump like everyone else”). The reporter is Alexej Kowaljow, a Russian journalist based in Moscow. Before anyone goes “ZOMG! The dude is Russian!”, everything Kowaljow writes is based on open sources or common-sense information presumably available to citizens of any nation. The bottom line for me is that if the world is coming to believe that Americans are idiots, it’s not necessarily because Americans elected Trump as President.

I’m going to lay out two claims and two questions from Kowaljow’s piece. In each case, I’ll quote the conventional, Steele and intelligence community-derived wisdom in our famously free press, and then I’ll quote Kowaljow. I think Kowaljow wins each time. Easily. I don’t think Google Translate handles irony well, but I sense that Kowaljow is deploying it freely.

(1) Trump’s Supposed Business Dealings in Russia Are Commercial Puffery

Here’s the section on Russia in Time’s article on Trump’s business dealings; it’s representative. I’m going to quote it all so you can savor it. Read it carefully.

Donald Trump’s Many, Many Business Dealings in 1 Map


“For the record, I have ZERO investments in Russia,” Trump tweeted in July, one day before he called on the country to “find” a batch of emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s private server. Nonetheless, Russia’s extraordinary meddling in the 2016 U.S. election—a declassified report released by U.S. intelligence agencies in January disclosed that intercepted conversations captured senior Russian officials celebrating Trump’s win—as well as Trump’s complimentary remarks about Russian President have stirred widespread questions about the President-elect’s pursuit of closer ties with Moscow. Several members of Trump’s inner circle have business links to Russia, including former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who consulted for pro-Russia politicians in the Ukraine. Former foreign policy adviser Carter Page worked in Russia and maintains ties there. Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s incoming national security adviser, has been a regular guest on Russia’s English-language propaganda network, RT, and even dined with Putin at a banquet. During the presidential transition, former Georgia Congressman and Trump campaign surrogate Jack Kingston told a gathering of businessmen in Moscow that the President-elect could lift U.S. sanctions. According to his own son, Trump has long relied on Russian customers as a source of income. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Donald Trump Jr. told a Manhattan real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of trade publication eTurboNews. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Back to map.

Read that again, if you can stand it. Do you see the name of an actual business, owned by Trump? Do you see the name of any businessperson who closed a deal with Trump? Do you, in fact, see any reporting at all? At most, you see commercial puffery by Trump the Younger: “Russians [in Russia?] make up a pretty [qualifier] disproportionate [whatever that means] cross-section [whatever that means] of a lot of [qualifier] our assets.”

Now Kowaljow (via Google Translate, so forgive any solecisms):

For Donald Trump, all attempts to gain a foothold in the USSR and then in Russia in 30 years of travel and negotiations failed. Moscow did not have a Trump Tower of its own, although Trump boasted every time that he had met the most important people and was just about to invest hundreds of millions in a project that would undoubtedly be successful.

Trumps’ largest business success in Russia was the presentation of a Trump Vodka at the Millionaire Fair 2007 in Moscow. This project was also a cleansing; In 2009 the sale of Trump Vodka was discontinued.

Because think about it: Trump puts his name on stuff. Towers in Manhattan, hotels, casinos, golf courses, steaks. Anything in Russia with Trump’s name on it? Besides the failed vodka venture? No? Case closed, then.

(2) Zhirinovsky Is The Very Last Person Putin Would Use For A Proxy

From The Hill’s summary of Russian “interference” in the 2016 election:

Five reasons intel community believes Russia interfered in election

The attacks dovetailed with other Russian disinformation campaigns

The report covers more than just the hacking effort. It also contains a detailed list account of information warfare against the United States from Russia through other means.

Political party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who the report lists as a “pro-Kremlin proxy,” said before the election that, if Trump won, Russia would ‘drink champagne’ to celebrate their new ability to advance in Syria and Ukraine.

Now Kowaljow:

The report of the American intelligence services on the Russian interference in the US elections, published at the beginning of January, was notoriously neglected by Russians, because the name of Vladimir Zhirinovsky was mentioned among the “propaganda activities of Russia”, which had announced that in the event of an election victory of Trump champagne to want to drink.

Such a delicate plan – to reach the election of a President of the US by means of Zhirinovsky – ensures a skeptical smile for every Russian at best. … He is already seventy and has been at the head of a party with a misleading name for nearly thirty years. The Liberal Democratic Party is neither liberal nor democratic. If their policies are somehow characterized, then as right-wing populism. Zhirinovsky is known for shrill statements; He threatened, for example, to destroy the US by means of “gravitational weapons”.

If, therefore, the Kremlin had indeed had the treacherous plan of helping Trump to power, it would scarcely have been made known about Zhirinovsky.

The American equivalent would be…. Give me a moment to think of an American politician who’s both so delusional and such a laughingstock that no American President could possibly consider using them as a proxy in a devilishly complex informational warfare campaign… Sara Palin? Anthony Weiner? Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Na ga happen.

And now to the two questions.

(3) Why Would Russian Intelligence Agencies Sources Have Talked to Steele?


But the report, published on the BuzzFeed Internet portal, is full of inconsistencies and contradictions. The problem is not even that there are a lot of false facts. Even the assumption that agents of the Russian secret services are discussing the details with a former secretary of a hostile secret service in the midst of a highly secret operation by which a future President of the US is to be discredited appears strange.

Exactly. For the intelligence community and Democrat reliance on Steele’s dossier to be plausible, you have to assume 10-foot tall Russkis (1) with incredibly sophisticated strategic, operational, and technical capabilities, who have (2) performed the greatest intelligence feat of the 21st and 20th centuries, suborning the President of the United States, and whose intelligence agencies are (3) leakly like a sieve. Does that make sense? (Of course, the devilish Russkis could have fed Steele bad data, knowing he’d then feed it to the American intelligence agencies, who would lap it up, but that’s another narrative.)

(4) How Do You Compromise the Uncompromisable?

Funny how suddenly the word kompromat was everywhere, wasn’t it? So sophisticated. Everybody loves to learn a new word! Regarding the “Golden Showers” — more sophistication! — Kowaljow writes:

But even if such a compromise should exist, what sense should it have, since the most piquant details have long been publicly discussed in public, and had no effect on the votes of the elected president? Like all the other scandals trumps, which passed through the election campaign, they also remained unresolved, including those who were concerned about sex.

This also includes what is known as a compromise, compromising material, that is, video shots of the unsightly nature, which can destroy both the political career and the life of a person. The word Kompromat shines today – as in the past Perestroika – in all headlines; It was not invented in Russia, of course. But in Russia in the Yeltsin era, when the great clans in the power gave bitter fights and intensively used the media, works of this kind have ended more than just a brilliant career. General Prosecutor Jurij Skuratov was dismissed after a video had been shown in the country-wide television channels: There, a person “who looks like the prosecutor’s office” had sex with two prostitutes.

Donald Trump went on Howard Stern for, like, decades. The stuff that’s right out there for whoever wants to roll those tapes is just as “compromising” as anything in the dodgy dossier, or the “grab her by the pussy” tape, for that matter. As Kowaljow points out, none of it was mortally wounding to Trump; after all, if you’re a volatility voter who wants to kick over the table in a rigged game, you don’t care about the niceties.


It would be nice, wouldn’t it, if our famously free press was actually covering the Trump transition, instead of acting like their newsrooms are mountain redoubts for an irrendentist Clinton campaign. It would be nice, for example, to know:

1) The content and impact of Trump’s Executive Orders.

2) Ditto, regulations.

3) Personnel decisions below the Cabinet level. Who are the Flexians?

4) Obama policies that will remain in place, because both party establishments support them. Charters, for example.

5) Republican inroads in Silicon Valley.

6) The future of the IRS, since Republicans have an axe to grind with it.

7) Mismatch between State expectations for infrastructure and Trump’s implementation

And that’s before we get to ObamaCare, financial regulation, gutting or owning the CIA (which Trump needs to do, and fast), trade policy, NATO, China, and a myriad of other stories, all rich with human interest, powerful narratives, and plenty of potential for scandal. Any one of them worthy of A1 coverage, just like the Inaugural crowd size dogpile that’s been going on for days.

Instead, the press seems to be reproducing the last gasps of the Clinton campaign, which were all about the evils of Trump, the man. That tactic failed the Clinton campaign, again because volatility voters weren’t concerned with the niceties. And the same tactic is failing the press now. Failing unless, of course, you’re the sort of sleaze merchant who downsizes the newsroom because, hey, it’s all about the clicks.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. RUKidding

    Today I read/hear that our fabulous free press is arguing with the Trump team about the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration v. the size of the crowd at the March on Saturday.

    Who the EFF gives a crapola?

    The meme seems to be (said huffily): Well IF Trump will lie about the size of the inauguration crowd, then how can he ever be credible???1?!

    I say: can the M$M ever ever ever focus on something important – like Trump’s cabinet picks, for example – rather than miring themselves in Junior High School mean grrrl gossip attacks?

    Trump appears to either have a pathological need to insist that everything he does is the greatest/best/ most well attended blah de blah… and that it is a bit worrying. OTOH, at this point, I’m inclined to agree with some segment of his fans who say: Trump just loves to Troll the media.

    I pay little heed to the bulk of Trump’s tweet bc I think they’re just that: trolling. I’d rather pay attention to what he does, not what he says or tweets. The press will be better advised to do the same.

    Agree. Trump likes to pwn the media and then probably laughs when they fall for it endlessly. Sure hides what’s really going on behind that curtain, don’t it?

    I think the Boris & Natash Dossier was unmitigated BS, and that the “Man of Steele” is a grifter, who pwned the media with it.

  2. WheresOurTeddy

    Another narrative goes splat! on the floor…

    Get another one, let’s see if it’ll stick to the wall this time…

  3. John Parks

    I am sure that things have changed in Moscow but about 10-12 years ago there was one golf course that could remotely be considered a championship course. One golf course does not a market make.

    I too may have had a beer on the day of the election but certainly not Champaign and certainly not to celebrate anything but being off work and out of the snow and ice. I would imagine that there were also a few million Russians imbibing vodka that were celebrating nothing more than a bottle that wasn’t empty. (Yeah, I know that is a stereotype but allow me license to try to make a joke!)

  4. Arizona Slim

    Oh, my goodness. Russians travel abroad. And stay in Trump hotels. Get me the fainting couch.

    As mentioned here before, I am acquainted with someone who used to work at a Trump hotel. Well-run establishment with a very experienced senior management team. They’d been at that hotel for years, and, in the hospitality industry, that’s very uncommon.

    Despite his other faults, Trump does know how to put heads in beds. In his hotels, of course.

    1. craazyboy

      This is scarier than one might think. Trump certainly has all his hotel rooms bugged, and mini cams in the bathrooms, of course. Now that some people have raised the spectre of “counter-espionage” as a possible strategic ploy, imagine a rooskie spy dressed up like a Russian diplomat making a phone call back to the Kremlin using a iTrumpophone in his Hotel room. He may say something like,”Heil Comrade Putin, I can confirm our dastardly anti-gravity machine under Washington DC is now operational!”

      17 US Intel agencies would self pee themselves, then shit their pants too, and immediately go public with the intel and demand that Trump surrender to the overwhelmingly superior Russian Master Race.

      Not that this would change anything in day to day life for the rest of us in the 50 states.

      1. Fiver

        ’17 US Intel agencies would self pee themselves’

        It’s a bad day when the men and women, the people who make this place, the working staff of these agencies, feel they so have so little faith in this President as to self pee and poo themselves, all, I mean, every last one of them. Rooskies never saw it that bad, not even Stalingrad. Not even then.

  5. dcblogger

    the only evidence to support the notion that Trump is Putin’s fool is his actions. If you look at the Crowdstrike Report, the dodgy dossier or the rest it is laughable. However, if you look at the way Trump acts, not sending a delegation to the Syria peace talks, his appointment of Tillerson and others, well, it don’t look good.

    If Putin really did this, then it is the greatest intelligence failure since 9/11 and evidence that both the CIA and NSA should be demolished. They aren’t protecting us, so why do we need them.

    1. RUKidding

      Excellent point about the value of CIA/NSA/whatever IF the Russians actually did this deed. What are we paying for, after all? It’s like the Keystone Cops only far far less amusing.

      1. Ruben

        You are not paying for it, it looks like you are not familiar with MMT revelations, the gov’t has limitless spending power, with this infinite resource it pays for the IC, so says MMT /sarc

    2. Yves Smith

      1. If Richard Nixon were alive and decided he needed to use Russia to counter the Chinese threat, which would be a rebalancing of his “Nixon goes to China” strategy, how would what he did be any different?

      2. Since Trump’s strategy is based heavily on trade, the US and Russia are not trade competitors, while the US is a significant importer from China and Germany (and others) which makes us having opposed interests in that view of the world.

      1. Ruben

        Exactly. All these friendly noises about Russia made by DJT are not entirely sincere, they are part of a strategy (which Dems et al. try to derail for their own petty reasons), but the Russians know that too, so they have their own counter-strategy. All of this strategyzing is quite amusing and entertaining to watch, as long as it doesn’t get real, except for their common foes, for whom it gonna get awfully real.

    3. Optimader

      Putin wants a warm water port so the Russian Navy doesn’t have to tow clapped out navy vessels through the Bosphorus Straits into the Black Sea.
      Makes sense

      What are the compelling US interests in Syria, other tgan some modest commertial trade and discounting the questionable notion that we should destabilize the country because the Russians have a strategic interest there?
      I cant think of one

      1. Binky

        Who will supply natural gas to Europe through which pipelines routed through what countries. Israel found gas off Palestine=shenanigans. Central Asia likewise. Coal gas from Poland and Ukraine could compete for the German market. Big bucks at stake.
        This is hotly contested so worthy of jaundiced consideration.

        Russia’s navy is a bit of a joke and the former ambitions of Tsar Peter through Stalin may be mooted by climate change and its effects on ports at Okhotsk and elsewhere.

        1. andyb

          It’s all about the Cheney/Murdoch financial interest in the massive discovery off the Palestinian coast and the easiest way to sell the production to Europe is via a pipeline through Syria. It appears that one of the main CIA functions is to support the corporate oligarchs and the banking cartel through regime change and that’s why it, along with others, has supported and armed ISIS in this proxy war.

  6. oho

    yes. The FSB/Kremlin blackmailed Trump into making Trump use his Jedi mind powers to convince Hillary to avoid campaigning in the Great Lakes.

    And Trump used his Jedi skills to convince CNN to give him near limitless free airtime early in the GOP primaries.


    1. RUKidding

      snort! made me laugh, but yes, you echo some of my thoughts.

      Run fer yer lives! Trump’s got Jedi mind powers! Aiiiyeeee!

      1. Ivy

        “Those aren’t the voters you’re looking for”!
        Trump was so evil that he made the Dems self-destruct.

    2. Skip Intro

      Not quite correct. Trump used his powers to convince Hillary and the DNC to convince CNN to give him free airtime in the primaries. This is known.

      1. Yves Smith

        “This is known” doesn’t cut it. You need a link for that.

        The DNC e-mails showed the Dems preferred Trump as the Republican candidate because they deemed him to be easier to beat than the other leading contenders and promoted him versus the others.

        1. Skip Intro

          The DNC emails showed not only that they preferred Trump, but that they were planning/plotting to use their influence with the media to help him win the primary… the ‘pied piper’ strategy. I know of no proof that this actually happened, other than the actual media treatment of Trump.

          My ‘this is known’ statement was rather intended as a reference to the Daenerys Targaryen’s Dothraki servant girls, who intoned it reverently when describing various bizarre myths/facts. It was not intended to be a factual assertion of certainty regarding the application of Trump’s Jedi powers. You may have missed the reference since, as Lambert helpfully pointed out, I botched it. I should have said ‘It is known’.

  7. Andrew Watts

    “52% of Democrat voters believe it’s definitely or probably true that “Russia tampered with vote tallies””

    “Deception is a sort of seduction. In love and war, adultery and espionage, deceit can only succeed if the deceived party is willing, in some way, to be deceived.”
    -Ben Macintyre, Operation Mincemeat

    1. Arizona Slim

      I think I just read that Democratic Party registration has fallen to 25% of voters. And the Republicans are up to 28%. Yeah, I know. Those numbers don’t bode well for the much-vaunted Two Party System.

      Now, if you do the math and multiply .25 x .52, you get .13. Which may explain why the “Russians did it!” story isn’t resonating with much of the American public. When you only have 13% of registered voters believing you, there’s a problem with your narrative.

  8. scraping_by

    The propaganda of Trump the Russian Stooge is, indeed, Clintonian, but by no means the last gasp. It’s the groundwork for making the future.

    At the end of the American Civil War, the slave-holding aristocracy and their government servant class created the mythology of ‘The Noble Cause.’ A mishmash of war grief, race fears, historical revision, and literary puffery, it romanticized the rebellion as some sort of Crusade against heartless capital and arbitrary anti-traditionalism, using hero worship and selective history. It wasn’t local capitalists using the machinery of government to preserve their position, it was a cultural uprising against foreign thought and its brutal soldiers. The loss of an antebellum Utopia crushed under the boots of the blue-coated invaders.

    Rather than accept that identity politics are repellent to most Americans, just like slavery was repellent to most Americans, the elites are creating a neverland that was stolen by underhanded, criminal means. And they’ll keep that going to keep an allegiance core together.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      What I’m having a hard time understanding is how Putin can be both a Russian Stooge and a fascist. It seems that the narrative is constantly shifting to meet the needs of the moment. Odd…

      1. integer

        how Putin can be … a Russian Stooge

        Heh. Well he’s certainly Russian. I’m assuming that this inadvertent name substitution was simply a product of MSM bs fatigue, which I don’t think anyone could begrudge you or Yves for having at this point. What a tiring election. Anyways, Trump, Putin, they’re pretty much the same person if you ask CNN*.

        * For the record, I don’t advise asking CNN anything.

      2. integer

        Adding: I probably don’t say it as often as I should, but I really appreciate what you guys do here. While I know I am far from the first to say it, NC provides a much needed oasis of sanity; a place to escape the intellectually lifeless desert that is the corporate media. Thank you.

  9. ChrisPacific

    ‘Irredentist’ is a new word for me, thanks. Who knew those dentists had such an imperialist streak?

    1. Patrick

      Your post encouraged me to look up the difference between Revanchism and Irredentism. So now I learned something new too. Thanks.

  10. Oregoncharles

    It’s plausible that the Russians preferred Trump, for the same reason some NC commenters did: because they’d rather not get blown to Hell. That motive applies for EVERYONE. That doesn’t mean they “hacked the election,” in reality a claim as serious as “gravity weapons.” Even if they hacked the DNC and it wasn’t really a leak, all they did was make the electorate better informed, not an effective way to manipulate American elections.

    My big problem with the whole “Rooskies are coming!” meme is that they’re playing fast and loose with nuclear war. I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis, which we now know was an even closer thing than we thought at the time. Risking nuclear war is something you just don’t do; it’s a crime against humanity. The Dems should be in the dock at Nuremberg for that. The irony is, Obama may not remember that, but Clinton certainly does; she’s only 2 years younger than me. So at the least, I’m really grateful that she was humiliated. She deserved to lose, even if we didn’t deserve Donald Trump – her idea of the perfect opponent. I hope my Dem friends didn’t notice my cynical attitude on election night.

    1. Andrew Watts

      If Russian intelligence analysts were reading the same bull—- news reports and looked at the skewed polling data that most people were it’s likely they couldn’t even fathom that a Trump victory was possible. They would’ve been as blindsided as the clueless Americans who thought he didn’t even stand a chance.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I believe that the devilish Russkis were as gobsmacked as anyone else, though I’m too lazy to dig out the links.

        But imagine that the FSB had moles in both the Republican and Democrat campaigns. Both moles would have reported that Clinton was going to win. Even the Trump camp was surprised.

    2. clarky90

      What I find crazy is that people seem to equate “Russia” with “Communist”. Russia rejected Communism in 1991! That is 26 years ago. It is like imagining that New Zealand is still a colony of the UK. We are not.

      China (the wonderful pal of the Democrats), however, is still Communist.

      “Benjamin Valentino says that the Great Leap Forward was a cause of the Great Chinese Famine and that the worst effects of the famine were steered towards the regime’s enemies.[112] Those labeled as “black elements” (religious leaders, rightists, rich peasants, etc.) in any earlier campaign died in the greatest numbers, as they were given the lowest priority in the allocation of food.[112] In Mao’s Great Famine, historian Frank Dikötter writes that “coercion, terror, and systematic violence were the very foundation of the Great Leap Forward” and it “motivated one of the most deadly mass killings of human history.”[113] His research in local and provincial Chinese archives indicates the death toll was at least 45 million, and that “In most cases the party knew very well that it was starving its own people to death.”[114] In a secret meeting at Shanghai in 1959, Mao issued the order to procure one third of all grain from the countryside. He said: “When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.”[114] Dikötter estimates that at least 2.5 million people were summarily killed or tortured to death during this period.”

      Has Mao inspired the Neo Cons and Neo Libs? I believe the plan is to poison, us Deplorables, with junk food and finish us off with Oxycontin.

      With half the adult US population diabetic or pre-diabetic…… I think…… (You do not want to hear what I think!)

  11. ChrisPacific

    Before anyone goes “ZOMG! The dude is Russian!”, everything Kowaljow writes is based on open sources or common-sense information presumably available to citizens of any nation.

    That’s even worse! He should be quoting everything from protected sources and filtering it through establishment mouthpieces, like a good American.

  12. Patrick

    “Give me a moment to think of an American politician who’s both so delusional and such a laughingstock that no American President could possibly consider using them as a proxy in a devilishly complex informational warfare campaign… Sara Palin? Anthony Weiner? Debbie Wasserman Schultz? ”

    Before he got elected president, Trump would have been on this list.

  13. fresno dan

    “Remember the piss jokes?”

    I live for Trump piss jokes.
    I thought there would be a recap of the best ones :(

  14. LT

    I’m glad the bizarre Russian scare is happening.
    It’s totally clarified who the Beltway stooges are.
    They love to talk about right wingers and talking points as news.
    We see what establishment Democrats are going to do instead of “change.”
    They are only going to harden their propaganda even more…not change a damn thing.
    They have only learned that doubling down on lies can get them elected. That’s it.

    I was in my car Sat morning and heard some speakers at the DC march being broadcast. I turned it off in less than 5 min the moment a lady mentioned Trump/Putin.
    Putin doesn’t have shit to do with how the USA gotten to this point
    BS policies from BS people right here in this country are the answer.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It would be very interesting to know what percentage of the Women’s March leadership are in the 50% of Dem voters who believe that Russia hacked the vote tallies, an “alternative fact” for which there is no evidence whatever, even statistical evidence, and which would be extremely difficult to pull off, technically and operationally.

      I’d speculate that the percentage is much higher than 50%. If I had time, I’d do the research….

  15. Scott

    I believed the word that Trump sold apartments & properties to Russian Oligarchs.
    If there is anything that American Capitalism offers it is a respect for Property Rights.
    If you get money from your business you either built in China or got for a song in Russia, you have a strong incentive to put it in the US.
    Shell Companies, and all that.
    You want to keep what you got.
    My suspicion is that what Putin wants is cash and he has a desire to know who gave the Trump organization money in hopes of figuring out a way to get it.

  16. GERMO

    I’m sorry to say I don’t agree with Lambert’s thrust in this post if I understand it (also elsewhere on NC referred to as the “30,000 foot view”?)

    The fact is that a truly significant fraction of US mass consciousness is very much bemused by the prospect of illegitimacy, and whatever the source, or sourcelessness, of the Putin stuff, it is a misreading of the moment to belabor these points as above. Unless the argument is in favor of viewing Trump’s administration as normal in some way. I suggest it is a routine kind of cynicism and pointless equivalency to assume there is nothing happening beyond relitigating the election. This Stein voter thinks there is, especially after this weekend.

    The experience of the most mainstream protests, culminating in this past weekend, was that the Pussies and Putin vibe is much less connected to Clinton than it is a simple expression of mass openness to militancy, and that’s what matters at the moment IMO.

    1. Yves Smith

      So you are saying propaganda is just peachy and we should be content to lap it up?

      You need to read another blog. You are not at all in tune with our mission, which is to foster critical thinking.

        1. Anarcissie

          “I’m looking thru the history books trying to find the part where politeness and manners (and critical thinking?) defeated the Nazis. Anybody know what page that’s on?”

          So World War 2 was just force versus force, and had no moral or cultural content?

        2. Yves Smith

          Since when is NC polite?

          Since when is critical thinking not useful in military operations? Sun Tsu would disagree with you, big time.

          Since when is Trump a Nazi? Last checked, Correct the Record had dropped that line. I gather you haven’t gotten the memo.

      1. GERMO

        [I’m sincerely dismayed to be chided from this my favorite blog since the Crash] …no, it’s just I’m sensing that the propaganda, generalized into ‘the prez is not legit!,’ which is a big leap for a lot of the folks the Women’s Marches drew in — even though, uncritically approached, the propaganda all pointed toward the circling of Dem centrist wagons. And the lack of legitimacy is to me system-wide as NC posts illuminate so often.
        Certainly the Times/Post/etc (not to mention SNL!) are pretty full of it, but the weekend gave people a kind of hope and I guess what I was trying to say is that this ‘Manchurian Candidate’ theme will dead-end anyway, and let’s hope it takes a bunch of other status-quo support with it. Since Trump himself seems to be blowing it quite handily at the moment.

        1. Yves Smith

          I’m sorry to have come down on you and I apologize. But we are not hopeful. This is orthodox Dems doubling down on a losing strategy. The co-chair was Gloria Steinem, who declared all Sanders voters to be traitors to women. So more “keep economic issues off the table” under the veneer of identity politics. I didn’t want to go full bore after it in a post because we’d have angry orthodox Dems all over our comments section for weeks. It’s not worth the hassle. We’ve registered out point of view for the record less prominently, in Links.

          The only way protests have achieved change is when protestors became a threat to the social order. These protests were not remotely that. Are any of these women willing to go to jail, or to prison, as many Vietnam protestors did? Are any willing to take the risks that Daniel Ellsberg or Edward Snowden did? I don’t mean to make this about them being women; it’s about this being a bourgeois protest and the limits of how much risk the bourgeois are willing to take.

          One woman I know who is politically savvy and leftist was critical (unprompted) for reasons similar to mine: lack of focus; the few issues that were of concern (reproductive access) are not pet issues for Trump (he’s long been pro-choice, which given how much of a skirt-chaser he is sure to have paid for a few abortions; he took the pro-life line only after winning the nomination and only when asked). Trump defunding overseas abortions is as far as he will go. He’s given the R base their bone on this issue.

          As I said elsewhere, Nixon explained how the compromise worked: make abortions legal but don’t pay for them. So rich/middle class women are fine but poor women and teenagers are screwed (pun intended). And it is the non-coastal states, not the Feds, that have been mighty creative in making abortions hard to get. So where are these women to be found with respect to the rights of women in the flyover states now? If they were real feminists, they wouldn’t be demanding status quo, they be insisting on better. And why not single payer, which makes this not an abortion issue but a general health care rights issue?

          She (and other women, as well as some men) also hate the pink hats. Who goes out making themselves look like children? Is this a way to be taken seriously when standing up to power? And the women looked affluent, which explains many of the behaviors we described above.

          The fact that no one was arrested or roughed up tells you what you need to know. These were establishment protests that are designed not to threaten the system.

          And I hate to tell you, you are making the same mistake re Trump that led to Hillary’s loss, which is underestimating Trump. The WSJ reports (one of their lead stories) that his jawboning has car companies scared. He just cancelled the TPP, so he’s already delivered on a promise to his base. Even though Trump is fighting with the press in the stupidest way imaginable, and like his many stupid fights during his campaign, it looks like dreadful judgment, he won despite that. People voted for Trump and in-depth interviews showed they didn’t like his craziness but saw him as the only one who might take on the status quo and get somewhere. And to his supporters it still feeds the narrative of the outsider fighting with DC elites and their allies.

          1. GERMO

            Thanks. Just one last point then, re the protests — they weren’t what they started out to be, in a lot of places: where I was, amid 100k people (30k expected) almost nobody could hear what was said on the stage. It truly wasn’t confined to what was planned; in fact, it spiraled well away from what the originators assumed, and solidly into smash patriarchy territory and, more importantly, a shared mass experience of collective dissent. And much was discussed about these protests being “allowed” (pink hat on cop picture NOT attached) and all, but the city was crippled the whole time, and if it happens more than just the once, there will be the usual concerned crackdown…

            1. anonymous

              “usual concerned crackdown”. It was not occupy type demonstration Saturday, it was twice to three times what some expected. If a new born populist can take advantage of that energy … People can personally fear Trump the lying narcissist and fear what he will do. Good question whether that will even turn into as much civil disobedience as occupy. People did not attend to listen to the speeches or follow anyone’s organization, these were self empowered demonstrators.
              Not sure if anyone is following this. Haters have been sending death threats to people identified from social media. Commenters on social media are seeing spam attacks or unusual monitoring within minutes of posting. Twitter is ghosting tweets. Are non US commenters being hassled by the US propaganda troops under the latest fakenews law?

            2. aab

              Crackdown over what? Soros funded and essentially fueled and provided major logistical elements to the “Womens March.” I realize that attendance mushroomed beyond that, but that’s how astroturfed movement creation is supposed to work. Nothing was at risk. A lot of time was spent complaining about the Donald Trump of Hillary Clinton’s fever dream, rather than the real guy who just became incredibly powerful. No particular policy or concrete change was advocated that I heard bout. “Supporting Roe v. Wade” at this point is about as use as “breast cancer awareness” campaigns — meaning, it is not. Most women in American have no functional access to safe abortion. What does it matter that the outer husk of reproductive justice survives? All those women could have pushed for universal health care or $15/hour minimum wage. Both those polices would help women more than men and could save millions of lives. But there was nothing like that.

              I’m with Yves’ friend — those pink knit caps are horrendous. Pink is forced on women in our culture, but these bourgies just embrace it, because of course they do. They did not expect any trouble, and they did not get it. There are stories pouring out from the march of marginalized women getting mistreated by the rich white limousine liberals who were Hillary Clinton’s true base, and sure seem to have come out in force to the main (Soros organized) marches.

              If they were protesting anything serious, there would have been violence. There wouldn’t have been wall-to-wall positive TV coverage. Go check out how much fawning TV coverage Standing Rock has gotten. Or any Bernie rally during the primary campaign.

              If these smaller gatherings that sprang up used this an opportunity to start doing real organizing, GREAT. But to act as if the foundation of this was NOT performative and artificial is either uninformed or dishonest. And if some significant chuck of these comfortable, bourgeois women really could be serious allies in the difficult struggle ahead (which I do hope, because we need them) teaching them that protest is chilling with your friends and movie stars while MSNBC smiles on you and you get to display your arts and craft skills like it’s summer camp seems extremely counter-productive.

              I’m in favor of gathering. We need more community in this country, and I’m glad people had a nice time. But that wasn’t protest; it was, at best, affirmation of identity. That could help the Democratic Party hold onto its restive base (although I don’t think it will) but I don’t see how it helps in any other concrete way.

              1. anonymous

                I think it is excellent to bring breitbart’s and friends’ propaganda to the attention of the readers. Not to label it as such is too subtle a sarcasm. The crackdowns Germo refers to is in regard to the less publicized, and only slightly less peaceful protests, with the exception of DC, of Friday, inauguration day. So there are more protests that are flying under the radar for what it’s worth.
                I think you are dead wrong following the Trump party line that it is all about Soros and movie stars and haters. That party line has successfully pushed a lot of hot buttons.
                To get the corporate owners off of the back of the Democratic party is going to take some doing. People spent a lot of energy getting to DC and going to local rallies. Women’s march was more like discovery of identity, not affirmation of the identity of the Democratic party.

                1. aab

                  The inauguration crack-down, of which I am well aware, has nothing to do with the “Womens March” (TM). In fact, it is another illustration of how performative and astroturfed the “Womens March” (TM) was. Even thin-skinned Trump knew better than to fuss about it.

                  I am not following the Trump party line, and nice slur pretending the left’s concerns about Soros are the same as being aligned with Breitbart. The New York Times covered how much Soros instigated and funded the “Womens March” (TM). I used to be pretty agnostic about fretting over Soros, but there’s no question he and his money are deeply embedded in the corrupt Democratic Party, part of the problem, and had a direct hand in the celebrity-infused, pink-knit capped, branded-scarf available, Comcast-approved “Womens March” (TM).

                  Nothing that happened at the main “marches” Saturday did anything to get corporate control out of the Democratic Party. It, in fact, solidified it, or tried to. Corporate-owned Cory Booker and Kamala Harris were highlighted. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz smiled brightly.

                  What identity were they discovering, exactly? That they are female? It took a march for that? What policy positions are these people coalescing around? What strategies to gain control of the levers of power? The notion that “the next Hitler” can be defeated by wearing pink knit caps is absurd. Clearly, they don’t think he’s the next Hitler, or they feel safe that despite all their performative angst, he won’t come after them.

                  Why didn’t they at least bring their knitting needles to the march, like in the old Oz book? Oh, that’s right. Most of those women probably bought their hats. They can’t even knit for themselves.

                  My first pair of glasses were aviators, in honor of Gloria Steinem, who I revered. But now I know her to be a CIA asset and a corporate shill, who demonstrably has no interest in non-elite women. That’s not a Breitbart critique. That’s a left critique. “Haters” is a juvenile concept that should stay on Tumblr and ONTD. Knowing your enemies is the first step to political change. Knowing that the corporate Democratic Party and the clueless, entitled celebrities it uses for distraction and cover are my enemies makes me both correct and stronger for it. Barack Obama conned me. I won’t get fooled again.

                  That march has “Hope And Change” (TM) all over it. Funny how none of them apparently stayed in DC long enough to storm their Congresscritters’ offices on Monday. Has the Democratic caucus in the Senate held together to oppose even ONE Cabinet nomination?

                  Get back to me when the pink cap brigade gets on that.

                  1. PhilM

                    That was a world-class smackdown. Anecdotally, women I know agree with most of what you wrote; in essence, nice march, but doesn’t mean much, does it?

                    They could have at least carried signs calling for passage of the ERA. Wait–does that date me terribly?

                    1. aab

                      You and me both then.

                      I think you could certainly make the argument that focusing on female-specific problems and remedies when the entire lower 80-90% is suffering is unwise. But if you’re going to do a “Womens March” in the face of supposedly a world-ending fascist/dictator/Supervillain, you could at least pick something, ANYTHING specific to demand, and not act like its Burning Man for the suburban set.

                      I do hope something good comes out of it anyway. But to act like it was authentic or effective as political protest is silly.

        2. Skip Intro

          Those holding that the president is illegitimate have swapped places, before it was the birthers and teabaggers, now it is the bicoastal bourgeoisie. Probably the numbers are about the same, now the NYT and MSNBC are on board instead of WSJ and Fox.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          If Trump is “illegitimate,” it’s because he’s an oligarch, and oligarchy is illegitimate.

          The Democrat establishment can’t say that, of course, since they have their own oligarchs to service.

          Hence their talking points on illegitimacy reduce to the flaming pile of intellectually dishonest garbage that we have come to expect from them.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Unless the argument is in favor of viewing Trump’s administration as normal in some way.

      I don’t even know what this means; “normalization” is another one of those vague liberal talking points. “This is not normal!” they yammer, while ignoring what has been normal. Why, I’m so old I remember when Bush was a fascist, too, a talking point that immediately vanished when the Dems took the House and Senate in 2006, and Pelosi immediately took impeachment “off the table.”

      Trump collected the necessary number of electoral votes. He was appointed by the Electoral College. He took the Oath of Office, and gave an inaugural speech. Many Democrats atttended. He’s appointing a Cabinet. Many Democrats are voting in favor of his cabinet officers. All this, surely, is “normal” “in some way.”

      If you want me to set my hair on fire, I don’t have enough hair, and I’ve already got enough problems.

      NOTE In terms of political power, the Berniecrats taking over the California Democrat Party — assuming that’s what really happened — is infinitely more important than the woman’s march on Washington (given California’s dominant position in the few states where the Democrats retain power, and that California is the sixth largest economy in the world). That’s why there’s a lot of coverage of the women’s march, and none of the Berniecrats.

  17. Anarcissie

    When I read of McCain giving the FBI the report on Trump, I thought that some kind of unusual post-election, post-inauguration transfer of power might be in the works. The continued, resolute slagging of Trump in the boss media reinforces this feeling. There is at least an important factional struggle going on among the ruling class, and Trump must not have submitted properly to what we might call the Deep Swamp. I am not talking about ‘relitigation’ here, but rather the possible disquiet of anyone who might have sold Mr. Trump a lot of life insurance. What do you think?

  18. TheCatSaid

    See also the excellent coverage of the Zhiranovsky matter on with Prof. Filip Kovacevic. It’s on this segment of the Russian Newspapers Monitor, starting at 28:48. He provides background to the incident I’ve not seen elsewhere.

    The entire episode is worth seeing if you’re interested in learning more about various political viewpoints within Russia, followed by Kovacevic’s observations.

  19. Justicia

    “Because think about it: Trump puts his name on stuff. Towers in Manhattan, hotels, casinos, golf courses, steaks. Anything in Russia with Trump’s name on it? Besides the failed vodka venture? No? Case closed, then.”

    Not so fast, Lambie. Just because there’s no edifice with Trump’s name on it in Moscow, doesn’t mean that he has no business dealings with the Russians. He could have borrowed money from them — and his refusal to release his tax returns just fans the flames of suspicion.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It is, of course, true that the set of things that are true has more members than the set of things for which there is evidence. If you find it satisfying to repeat that truisim, by all means do. The Time quote shows the puffery.

      The sort of deal Trump does hasn’t happened, though he’s been trying to make one for years.

      Oh, I have a name. Do consider using it.

  20. Stephen P Ruis

    Would a savvy Putin ever … ever trust someone as unstable as Donald Trump … to do anything? Even trying to blackmail Trump could blow up in your face. There is an axiom: whenever an opponent is exercising a self-destructive impulse, do not interfere.

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