Republicans are now pushing to tie Hillary Clinton to the “Steele Dossier,” the private intelligence report that spells out numerous ties between Donald Trump and Russia. But that Republican effort only proves that the Trump administration fears that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is closing in on the White House in his investigation of possible collusion between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and Russia, according to a prominent national security expert. In fact, Mueller will reveal significant news in the investigation prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, national security analyst Juliette Kayyem said on Wednesday.
“I think it is safe to say that before Thanksgiving… something’s going to drop with Mueller,” Kayyem said in a Boston radio interview. “The pace is too much right now. Every 12 hours we’re now dealing with a piece of this story at a pace we haven’t seen.”
Kayyem cited the fact that Mueller and his team, within the last two weeks, have grilled two former White House insiders, ex-Press Secretary Sean Spicer, and former Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, indicating that the Mueller investigation has now moved past probing the Trump presidential campaign and into the Oval Office itself in its inquiry into whether Trump aided or knew about the Russian intelligence operation to sway the 2016 election in his favor.
“This is so close to the Oval Office now, if not in the Oval Office, that all of this [dossier news] to me is just background noise to what Mueller is going to deliver,” Kayyem, a former Homeland Security official during the Obama administration, told WGBH Boston. “This is more than an obstruction charge. There is something big underlying the obstruction.”
Many experts believe that Mueller is primarily pursuing a charge of obstruction of justice against Trump, connected to his firing of FBI Director James Comey over what Trump admitted in a televised interview was “the Russia thing.”
The dossier was compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, and contains numerous serious allegations of Russia’s influence over Trump — including the now-notorious “pee tape” story alleging that Trump hired Russian prostitutes to urinate on a bed once slept in by President Barack Obama while Trump watched. That incident was allegedly recorded by the Russians to use as blackmail material. The dossier was originally commissioned by a Republican opponent of Trump in early 2016.
But once Trump secured the Republican nomination, according to a CNN report, the Democratic National Committee took up the funding for Steele to continue his work. But according to CNN, Clinton was unaware that the dossier existed until it was published online by BuzzFeed in January.
The fact that both Republicans and Democrats had contributed to funding Steele’s intelligence-gathering operation was reported as early as January, almost immediately after the dossier became public knowledge.
But the fact that Republicans are emphasizing the Democratic funding of Steele at this time, according to Kayemm, is a giveaway that there is now “recognition by the White House team” that Mueller’s investigation is closing in on the Oval Office and possibly Trump himself, Kayemm said in the WGBH interview.
Political journalist Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine on Thursday described the Republican attempts to connect the Steele dossier to Clinton as the “alt-collusion” theory, and represents the Trump forces “going on offense” after realizing that “defending the Trump campaign against charges of collusion with Russian cyberattacks is an impossible task.”
Chait noted that the Republican method of creating “an offsetting accusation against the accuser” is a common tactic used by the Russian government itself. In one recent example, crusading businessman Bill Browder had spent the last five years publicizing the murder in prison, allegedly by Russian authorities, of his friend Sergei Magnitsky. The Russian government has now responded by demanding that Browder be arrested by the international police agency Interpol, and accusing Brower himself of actually ordering the murder of Magnitsky.
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