Dick Morris: McCain's Revenge - How He Helped Set Up Trump
It all started at an elite conference on national security in Halifax, Nova Scotia, immediately after the U.S. election. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, one of the featured speakers, had traveled there with former State Department Assistant Secretary David Kramer, one of his top aides. Kramer was an unabashed Trump hater who publicly criticized Trump’s positions on the Ukraine and Russia.
At the conference, McCain and Kramer were approached by Sir Andrew Wood, a highly respected former U.K. Ambassador to Russia who was secretly affiliated with Orbis Business Intelligence, the firm founded by Dossier author Christopher Steele.
Wood told the Americans about the Steele dossier. Although he claimed that he had never seen it and that he did not have a copy, Sir Andrew knew an awful lot about the outlandish claims in the document. (Court records later showed that he worked with Steele and was fully aware of the dossier.) Woods purportedly told McCain that he was concerned that Trump might be vulnerable to blackmail.
What followed was a cloak and dagger strategy, worthy of James Bond, to get the Dossier to McCain.
Wood called Steele and asked him to arrange a meeting with Kramer. At the same time, Kramer called Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS, the co-author of the Dossier. Soon a plan was hatched.
Several weeks later, Kramer flew to Heathrow. He was instructed to go to the Baggage Claim area and look for a man reading the Financial Times. Once he approached the man, they exchanged pre-arranged code words.
The man behind the newspaper was former MI6 British spy, Christopher Steele, the dossier co-author. Together, they traveled to Steele’s home, where they reviewed the Dossier and spoke to Simpson about sending it by encrypted email.
Simpson then delivered the document to Kramer, who gave it to McCain, who subsequently handed it to then-FBI Director James Comey.
While the Dossier was a total fabrication and lie, its lineage, as it passed from hand to hand, endowed it with a credibility it did not deserve. Steele, whose record as a spy in Russia and his subsequent work for the FBI in the international soccer scandal gave him credibility. Then it went to McCain, whose prestige further enhanced the seriously flawed document. Then Comey handed it to President Barack Obama, endowing it with further credentials. And, finally, as a document that had been shown to the president by the FBI, it was sufficiently rehabilitated to be published.
And that’s how the Dossier emerged into public view.
Before McCain agreed to play the middleman, the Dossier’s authors at Fusion GPS had been gnashing their teeth in frustration at their inability to get major media in the U.S. to cover their document. It was unverifiable and filled with flaws; no U.S. outlet would touch it.
The Dossier, for example, purported to chronicle a meeting that never happened between Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and top Russian intelligence officers in Prague. But Cohen has never been to Prague. It named two Russians as the hackers who invaded the Democratic Committee’s files. But one was in the prison in the Gulag serving a 40-year sentence for pedophilia with no access to a phone or computer. The other was a millionaire in Cypress with no connection to Russia. And, finally, it discussed how Trump had watched as two hookers peed on a bed in his Moscow hotel room. That also never happened.
Why did the Dossier authors choose McCain to do their dirty work?
Sir Andrew had cultivated a relationship with McCain and Kramer as they shared the podium at several anti-Russian and pro-Ukraine conferences. He was likely aware of the highly publicized feud between McCain and Trump, and realizing that, as a Republican, McCain could draw attention to the Dossier and invest it with credibility, he decided to broach the subject to McCain. The senator responded with alacrity and agreed to be the middleman in conveying the Dossier to Comey and thence to Obama.
Why would a Republican senator turn on a Republican president and pass information that was so wrong and misleading?
Trump and McCain had been feuding ever since candidate Trump demeaned the senator’s outstanding war record.
Shockingly, he put McCain down, saying, “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Disgusting as the put down was, it has kindled massive animosity between Trump and McCain.
Now, McCain got his revenge. Coming from a man — Trump — who had never served in the military, the comment was unforgivable. But, in politics, revenge is a dish best served cold, so McCain bided his time until he could get even. The assignment to bring the Dossier into public view offered an ideal opportunity.
Even though the Dossier has been exposed as a total lie, it led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor and has haunted the Trump White House ever since.
John McCain got his revenge. Now Comey had a legitimate excuse to seriously consider the dossier and to pass it to Obama, congressional leaders, and possibly the media.
That’s how the whole Russian collusion investigation started.
NOTE: John McCain has denied leaking the Dossier to the press. David Kramer quietly left his position at the McCain Foundation and has asked a federal court to seal his testimony. MY OPINION: It was likely Kramer who leaked the dossier.
Dick Morris is a former adviser to President Bill Clinton as well as a political author, pollster and consultant. His most recent book, “Rogue Spooks,” was written with his wife, Eileen McGann.
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