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Paul Hair is a national security expert and an author. He writes under his own name and as a ghostwriter. Connect with him at http://www.liberateliberty.com/. Contact him at paul@liberateliberty.com.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Did GOP & Dems. Work with Foreigners to Conduct Influence Ops against Trump?

Security and Culture Intelligencer
Did both Republicans and Democrats work with foreigners to conduct influence operations against Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election? Media accounts suggest they did. These accounts should be (but aren’t) at the top of the news cycle.

Director of National Intelligence Clapper issued a statement on Jan. 11 saying the intelligence community is not leaking information against Trump and (as far as he knows) the IC has nothing to do with the report of Trump impropriety that has been flying around the media.

The report of Trump impropriety is a sordid, rumor-filled document that the media, Republicans, and Democrats have all been hoping to be true for months now. But what is more noteworthy is that Republicans and Democrats may have been involved with working with a foreign, former intelligence officer to prepare this apparent piece of disinformation.

Reuters reported on Jan. 12 that a former British intelligence officer was the main author of the report against Trump. Republicans supposedly originally commissioned the report as opposition research during the 2016 presidential primaries. Once Trump won the GOP primary, the Democrats sponsored the report.

Christopher Steele, who wrote reports on compromising material Russian operatives allegedly had collected on U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, is a former officer in Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, according to people familiar with his career. . . .
Steele was initially hired by FusionGPS, a Washington-based political research firm, to investigate Trump on behalf of unidentified Republicans who wanted to stop Trump’s bid for the party’s nomination. The BBC said on Wednesday, “He (Steele) was compiling this report on behalf of initially Trump’s opponent Jeb Bush,” referring to one of Trump’s 16 opponents in the 2016 Republican primary.
The BBC subsequently said on Thursday that its correspondent misspoke. . . .
Steele was kept on assignment by FusionGPS after Trump won the nomination and his information was circulated to Democratic Party figures and members of the media.

As is with everything else surrounding this opposition research story, the background on it (including who did what) is hazy at best, so it’s possible that Republicans and Democrats did not work with a foreign, former intelligence officer to conduct influence operations against Trump in this particular case.

But a Jan. 11 article in Politico (“Ukrainian efforts to sabotage Trump backfire – Kiev officials are scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton.”) appears to have more solid information on the Democratic Party working with Ukrainians to conduct influence operations against Donald Trump and for Hillary Clinton during the election.

Donald Trump wasn’t the only presidential candidate whose campaign was boosted by officials of a former Soviet bloc country.
Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.
A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.
The Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race, helping to force Manafort’s resignation and advancing the narrative that Trump’s campaign was deeply connected to Ukraine’s foe to the east, Russia. But they were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails.

This should be a top headline right now, and public officials should be making as much noise (if not more) over it than Russian influence operations during the election. After all, if the Politico story is accurate, not only did Ukrainians run an influence operation against Trump and for Clinton, and not only was it effective, but the Democratic Party assisted them with it.

And that would be the biggest story yet about foreign influence operations and the presidential election.

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