Wait a minute. What?
So…Steele wasn’t just hired to help fabricate a brief against the Trump campaign (or, as some still prefer, to “dig up dirt” on Trump) — i.e., something the Hillary Clinton campaign could use as opposition research?
The purpose of his contract went beyond that, according to a court filing by Christopher Steele in the defamation lawsuit brought against Steele’s intelligence firm by the owners of Alfa Bank, a Russian bank named in the Steele “dossier.” Steele wasn’t just hired for general oppo research. He was hired to lay a basis for challenging the outcome of the 2016 election.
Rowan Scarborough of the Washington Times picked up on that from a set of responses made by Steele to the plaintiffs’ questions in August 2018. The document is from the British High Court and was furnished to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, where a separate case on the matter was being heard. (The U.S. judge dismissed the lawsuit later in August, but the plaintiffs intended to appeal at that time.) In his filing, Steele attests that he was hired by Fusion GPS in June 2016 for the following purpose:
Fusion’s immediate client was law firm Perkins Coie LIP. It engaged Fusion to obtain information necessary for Perkins Coie LLP to provide legal advice on the potential impact of Russian involvement on the legal validity of the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential election. Based on that advice, parties such as the Democratic National Committee and HFACC Inc. (also known as “Hillary for America”) could consider steps they would be legally entitled to take to challenge the validity of the outcome of that election.
A couple of screen caps of the document show the language establishing that the hire occurred in June 2016, and the purpose was to support a potential challenge to the outcome of the 2016 election.
In case it’s not crystal clear, the import of this is that, as early as June 2016, the ultimate clients of Perkins Coie — the Hillary campaign and the Democratic National Committee — were contemplating a challenge to the 2016 election outcome. That’s five months before the election.
The first memo in Steele’s dossier is dated 20 June 2016. So the time hack on the DNC/Hillary motive to challenge the 2016 election predates that memo. That puts the “challenge the election” thought in their minds more than a month prior to the Republican National Convention in July 2016. At the time Steele was hired by Fusion, the Republican Party itself was still in turmoil, with a significant faction looking for a way to force a brokered convention instead of accepting Trump as the party nominee based on the primaries.
Twitchy has assembled a series of tweets reacting predictably to this new revelation, including a reminder that Hillary rebuked Trump for any shade he might throw on the election’s outcome.
Lest we ever forget… pic.twitter.com/oXuz9HbU24
— IT Guy (@ITGuy1959) December 17, 2018
There are some other nuggets from the Steele filing, such as hints about where Steele’s dossier was shared in the UK government. The Steele testament refers to Steele sharing the dossier with Strobe Talbott at the State Department (noted late last week), as well as with the FBI, John McCain, and one-time McCain aide David Kramer.
But the most significant disclosure from it is the purpose of the original contract: to prepare for challenging the electoral outcome in 2016.
Note that Steele says the purpose was conveyed to him orally by Fusion GPS. He doesn’t have a written agreement to refer to. Some critics will no doubt suggest there’s a reason for Steele to simply lie about that, or at least that he may have been mistaken about what he was being hired for.
But they can’t have it both ways. If Steele got that point materially wrong, his whole dossier goes out the window for lack of credibility. Either he transcribes and communicates the verbal expressions of others accurately, or the dossier goes on the ash heap of history.