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Chait writes: "Trump has mixed his denials of the pee tape with obvious lies."

Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele in London. The dossier contained explosive allegations about Trump and the Kremlin. (photo: Victoria Jones/PA)
Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele in London. The dossier contained explosive allegations about Trump and the Kremlin. (photo: Victoria Jones/PA)

I'm a Peeliever and You Should Be, Too

By Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

16 April 18


ames Comey’s book describes a President Trump “obsessed” with allegations compiled in a dossier by British agent Christopher Steele that he was secretly recorded in Moscow in 2013 paying prostitutes to urinate on a bed that President Obama had slept in. I used to doubt that this episode really happened. I now believe it probably did. I am obviously far from certain, but since Steele’s dossier came out, an accumulation of evidence has tipped the balance from unlikely to likely. Let’s review what we’ve learned since the allegation first surfaced.

1. Christopher Steele is credible. Steele isn’t just some gumshoe. He’s an experienced intelligence collector whose work has been valued by the British and American governments. His sources seem to be serious, too, including “a former top-level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin,” a “member of the staff at the hotel,” a “female staffer at the hotel when Trump had stayed there,” and “a close associate of Trump who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow.”

Steele himself has said that probably not every fact compiled in his dossier is true. The dossier was not intended as solid intelligence, but as a collection of leads. Still, the fact that Russia almost certainly murdered some of the sources for his reporting in the immediate wake of the dossier’s publication further attests to their credibility.

Update: One of the firmest denials Trump’s orbit has made of the Steele dossier has been its report that Michael Cohen met with Russian agents in Prague in the summer of 2016. Cohen has produced a passport showing no Czech visit. But McClatchy reports that Robert Mueller has evidence he did go to Prague to meet with Russians then, going through Germany, which would avoid any mark on his passport. In addition to constituting important evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, this is significant corroboration of Steele’s work.

2. Trump is unhealthily obsessed with Obama. Trump’s fixation with Barack Obama has been evident since his 2011 humiliation at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. But as we have mapped out the contours of Trump’s unbalanced psyche over the course of his presidency to date, the centrality of Obama has grown even more evident. He would routinely tell guests touring the Oval Office that the previous president had ignored the room. “Obama never used the Oval, but Trump is different,” he would say, in his customary third-person.

Obama hatred is the lodestar of Trump’s often confused policy-making. “It’s his only real position,” a top European diplomat told BuzzFeed last year. “He will ask: ‘Did Obama approve this?’ And if the answer is affirmative, he will say: ‘We don’t.’” Even bizarrely self-defeating actions like sabotaging the health-care exchanges, which will cause premiums to spike right before this November’s midterm elections, seem to be motivated by a desire to defile his predecessor’s legacy. Getting prostitutes to pee on the bed Obama slept in seems to be very much in character.

3. Trump has mixed his denials of the pee tape with obvious lies. Comey’s account describes Trump denying the pee tape, and, in the same breath, denying things that happened on a tape that has been seen by the entire country:

Trump also tried to convince Comey that he had not mocked disabled New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski at a campaign rally, and then turned to the detailed allegations of sexual assault against him.
“There was no way he groped that lady sitting next to him on the airplane, he insisted,” Comey writes. “And the idea that he grabbed a porn star and offered her money to come to his room was preposterous.”
And then Trump brought up “the golden showers thing,” Comey writes. The president told him that “it bothered him if there was ‘even a one percent chance’ his wife, Melania, thought it was true.” Comey writes that Trump told him to consider having the FBI investigate the prostitutes allegation to “prove it was a lie.”

Trump definitely mocked Serge Kovaleski:

And very credible accounts from Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal confirm him offering to pay for sex. If you hear somebody deny accusations X,Y, and Z all at once, and you know that X and Y are true, that has some bearing on whether you believe Z is true, also. Trump does not place the pee-tape allegation in some different category from things we know he did.

4. Trump’s alibi is at least partly false. Also according to Comey, Trump “argued that it could not be true because he had not stayed overnight in Moscow but had only used the hotel room to change his clothes.” But reporting by David Corn and Michael Isikoff reveal that Trump did spend a night at the hotel in Moscow where the episode was alleged to have taken place. Why would Trump offer up a false alibi for something that isn’t true?

5. Trump is comfortable with gross sexual behavior and can be blackmailed. We know more about Trump’s sex life now than we did in November 2016. He has had a lot of affairs. He has gone to great lengths to keep them quiet — which is to say, he can be blackmailed. And he is not averse to a sexually unconventional milieu. Corn and Isikoff have added some important reporting about a Las Vegas nightclub where Trump joined some of the entourage he had met with in Moscow:

The Act was no ordinary nightclub. Since March, it had been the target of undercover surveillance by the Nevada Gaming Con­trol Board and investigators for the club’s landlord—the Palazzo, which was owned by GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson—after complaints about its obscene performances. The club featured seminude women performing simulated sex acts of bestiality and grotesque sadomasochism—skits that a few months later would prompt a Nevada state judge to issue an injunction barring any more of its “lewd” and “offensive” performances. Among the club’s regular acts cited by the judge was one called “Hot for Teacher,” in which naked college girls simulate urinating on a professor. In another act, two women disrobe and then “one female stands over the other female and simulates urinating while the other female catches the urine in two wine glasses.” (The Act shut down after the judge’s ruling. There is no public record of which skits were performed the night Trump was present.)

Again, none of this is proof. All of it is at least somewhat suggestive. your social media marketing partner


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We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

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-19 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-16 09:48
The real question about Steele is why he has not been extensively interrogated by the congressional committees and the Mueller probe. Maybe he has and it is being kept secret. One would think he'd be the first to be called by the grand jury in the Mueller probe. He could given the names of this sources.

The Senate sent a long and very detailed demand to the DOJ to open a criminal investigation of Steele. He's not a valued and experienced intelligence agent. He's gone over to the dark side and does corporate intelligence or espionage. He's quite shady.

It is still not knows exactly who wrote the Steele Dossier. Glen Simpson's wife said on a radio talk show that her husband wrote much of it. The senate criminal referral suggests that the CIA may have written some. The last three sections are dated after the Nov. election, so presumably the Clinton campaign and Fusion would no longer have been retaining his services. The FBI and DOJ say it did not pay him or then at other times say they did but stopped when he started feeding information to journalists (Corn and Isikoff). But how then did the last three sections get written after everyone stopped paying Steele.

Personally, I've read the dossier and I don't think it is credible. It reads made up. It is grandiose and hyperbolic.
+54 # goodsensecynic 2018-04-16 10:58
I do not care if Mr. Trump peed on prostitutes, or prostitutes peed on Mr. Trump, of prostitutes peed on each other. I don't even care about whether he lied about peeing.

I care about his awful policies, his worse spontaneous actions, his hideous placement of evil/incompeten t people in positions of authority, his judicial appointments and so on.

I worry about his overall cluelessness, normlessness and mental and moral unfitness for office.

If some people can be "turned off" and will stop supporting him because of his urinal habits and enthusiasms, well and good.

But, please, let's focus on what actually matters.
+10 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-16 16:59
good -- well said. I'm with you.
+12 # Caliban 2018-04-16 17:01
The pleasure that DJT seems to take in the humiliation of others in private matters would appear to carry - over into his public dealings. So perhaps we can say that "what really matters" is his contempt for those less socially and fiscally privileged than himself -- i.e. most of us.
+5 # lfeuille 2018-04-16 18:29
Considering everything else he's done, this incident by itself is not all that important unless he induce someone else to pay hush money to keep it quiet during the campaign thus again breaking campaign finance laws, there is really nothing to followup on. It does illustrate his trademark pattern of dishonesty, but there are numerous other examples of that.
-28 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-16 11:17
"Robert Mueller has evidence he did go to Prague to meet with Russians then, going through Germany, which would avoid any mark on his passport. "

When will Mueller show the evidence he says he has? I've said this many times -- until someone shows their evidence we must believe that it does not exist.
+11 # Caliban 2018-04-16 17:11
Like any investigator Robert Mueller should have the right to show his evidence when it can be presented with maximum fullness and effectiveness.

This may not be exactly when some impatient members of the press and public wish it to be, but the investigation comes first and Robert Mueller and staff are (rightfully) responsible for that decision.
+13 # BetaTheta 2018-04-16 19:25
RR: “When will Mueller show the evidence he says he has?”

It is not Mueller who is claiming evidence, but all sorts of other people.

Yes, he will present his evidence. And anyone who presumes to know what Mueller has or doesn’t have, is just blowing smoke. The whole effort to tar the FBI and DOJ as all evil, all the time is engaging in ridiculous caricature and serving a very sinister agenda. FBI and DOJ have plenty of bad history, but also triumphs at fighting true criminality. The Trump case may well turn out to be one of their shining moments.
-8 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-17 09:49
Beta -- "It is not Mueller who is claiming evidence, but all sorts of other people."

They are all suggesting in one oblique way or another that Mueller is leaking this to them. But I agree with you -- if this is what you are saying -- many people in the media are just making things up. They always do this.

Yes, Mueller will present his evidence in court. But right now, it does not seem that he has any or much interest in going to court. He's in the phase of trying to intimidate his targets in order to get them to take a plea and avoid court.
-4 # librarian1984 2018-04-16 11:58
"it probably did"

I am "far from certain"

Steele himself said "probably not every fact .. is true"

"none of this is proof"

Some of the reasoning in this article is extremely tortured and the quotes above render the entire thing meaningless, but all of that is rendered moot by asking: why is this here? Why is Jonathan Chait writing about it, why is New York Magazine publishing it, and most especially, why is it at rsn?

Corn and Isikoff are doing "important reporting"? Really? I can name a dozen articles that would be more interesting and more appropriate for this site. I feel like the world has gone crazy, and frankly I'm surprised *I* am being the sane, mature one.

I didn't care about Bill Clinton's sex life, or Hillary's, and I don't care about this. Why does Chait care THIS much? I had a cat who never outgrew his fascination with poop and the litter box. That's what Chait reminds me of.
-2 # lfeuille 2018-04-16 18:31
I think the reasoning is straightforward and logical, I just think this particular incident really isn't worth the effort to analyse it given everything else he's done.
-2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-17 09:51
ife -- yes, getting pee'd on is not even a crime, or at least a crime that anyone knows about. Comey thinks it is a crime.

Chait is a "peeliever." Maybe he believes it is a crime, too.
+10 # Farafalla 2018-04-16 15:07
The trolls are here first every time.
Yes, it was Diane Feinstein who said “nothing in the Stelle dossier has been disproved yet”
Are the trolls really weighing in that Trump is a decent and fit president elected in a fair and transparent election?
Of course the peepee tapes seems way too salacious to merit serious discussion but when you remove the veneer of wealth and class, Trump is a vulgar carnival barker with the morals of a mafia boss and the politics of a fascist. The trolls should just come out and say that’s what they are for.
-1 # mashiguo 2018-04-17 08:41
Quoting Farafalla:
The trolls are here first every time.
Yes, it was Diane Feinstein who said “nothing in the Stelle dossier has been disproved yet”

The invisible pink unicorn that lives under your bed disproved it.
Now you prove that didn't happen.
0 # librarian1984 2018-04-17 16:36
mashiguo, it is very nice to see you again. I hope you're well. Regards.
-1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-17 09:56
OK. It was Feinstein. I found it here --

It was in her attempt to refute the call by the Senate committee for a criminal investigation of Steele.

Unfortunately, no one needs to refute the allegations in the Steele Dossier. They have to be proven true. Mashinguo has it right about the pink unicorn under your bed. Prove it was not there. An ex-MI-6 agent paid by the Clinton campaign says it was.
-2 # librarian1984 2018-04-17 16:34
RR, It's very nice of you to provide the links lazy trolls neglect!
+4 # DongiC 2018-04-17 10:07
Far, I am with you all the way. The trolls of RSN are pretty depressing and isn't it amazing how often RR is first to comment!
-4 # librarian1984 2018-04-17 13:07
Farfallen, hahahahaha -- exactly what I predicted you'd say!

The problem is not that we don't see what you see. It's that we see farther and deeper. You seem like a gullible babe in the woods, believing whatever Feinstein (or Comey or Clapper) tells you, without the benefit of any analytical skills or healthy skepticism. And then the conclusions you come to! It's like watching a toddler tackle algebra!

Would you be interested in some waterfront property in Nevada?

Is someone paying you or do you do this little act for free?

F, mix it up a bit, won't you? You're FAR too predictable to be entertaining.
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-17 15:11
I wish I were not first in line. I feel very terrible about making others feel so victimized when they have to stand way back in the line. Honestly, I did not do this on purpose. Maybe I should give FF all the money I'm getting from Putin. Or maybe we should all just wait until FF has his/her say before we comment. DongiC, too. He/she seems like a victim.
-1 # librarian1984 2018-04-17 20:18
And HarryP. They all seem terribly upset that you're first. Funnily, people used to give mashiguo a hard time for the same thing. When he was here every day he was often first -- but in those days you'd know it because comments posted immediately.

I'd be all for letting them have their petty victories if it would stop the sniping, but have you noticed they never say anything EXCEPT sniping? 99% of the time they're just ragging on people. I'm becoming suspicious they really are paid trolls. Basically they get on here to get people arguing and derail the discussion -- but they rarely talk about the articles. hmmmm.

Yea, give them all MY Putin money too. See what it buys them.

I'm sure they're not progressives. May not even be Democrats.

Plenty of us appreciate your posts, RR.
0 # librarian1984 2018-04-17 20:20
That's what gets me -- WW3 is percolating and they still can't see past the shiny objects. Pitiful.
+7 # moreover 2018-04-16 15:14
re Michael Cohen possible meet with Russian agents in Prague: there are direct trains every two hours from Berlin to Prague which take 4:16 mins. It takes a six hours from Frankfurt Airport (via Nürnberg where you board a bus run by Deutsche Bahn).
And yes: no passports stamped, only occasionally will border guards check them at all.
He could not have flown, though, because his passport would have been stamped even though there is no visa required for US tourists.
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-18 06:33
moreover -- good points. There should be a record of a train ticket. And if it was paid for by credit care, the FBI already has that record. It sucks up all credit card usages all over the world and stores them in a massive data farm in West Virginia. It should be no problem to find it.

Cohen also said he was in LA at that time visiting his son. Well, are there plane tickets to California.

All this is very easy to prove or disprove. Why are news organizations not doing any investigation. They are just reporting what "sources close to the Mueller probe" say. Maybe these sources are spinning the news.

As things stand, Cohen has offered three proofs. The Steele Dossier supporters have offered none. Steele's proofs are:

1. photos of passport pages with no stamp for Czech Rep.
2. his testimony that he was in LA at the time -- alibi.
3. his testimony that he's never met with a Russian in Prague.

OK, maybe he is lying, but you've pointed out a good way to prove that. The burden of proof is on the accusers.
+4 # mashiguo 2018-04-16 19:10
We are on the brink of WW III and you care about Trump's piss?

Beyond any finding of fact (which is far from accomplished by you or anyone else) that speaks for itself.

It seems the fascination with vital bodily fluids on the author's part exceeds his grasp of reality.
+1 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-04-18 06:40
mash -- "We are on the brink of WW III and you care about Trump's piss?"

Yes, they do care. Many wars are started over very minor incidents. And the first thing to do in getting a war started is to rile up the people, make them filled with hatred for the dirty pissing Russians and their traitor Trump, and confuse them with voyeuristic stories of seeming perversity.

Americans are being played. Peelievers like Chait are just joining the bandwagon. It is a good time for all. Rachel Maddow is now the #1 talk show host and she's paid $30,000 a day -- what most people make in a whole year.

The Steele Dossier was a brilliant psy-ops against the American people. Russians don't care anything about it. Americans are obsessed with it. Soon it will be added to our bill of rights. It is making Monkees out of all of us -- Chait is singing, "I'm a peeliever, yes I am, not a trace of doubt in my mind. oh, oh, oh, oh."
+4 # mashiguo 2018-04-18 16:19
Either the Russians released the DNC documents or the didn't.

Either way the DNC loses:
...if yes, then the Russians are the only honest actors to whom we can look to find out the truth about our own government.
...if no, then the DNC is full of crap

more likely, both of the above....

But wait! Trump took a Piss! Believe and you too shall see the pee!!!!!!

The species is to stupid to survive.
+3 # Ralph 2018-04-17 10:37
I'm certain this dirt bag president is guilty of things far worse than romping with whores in Russia and doing the "golden shower" thing. He's a filthy animal.

Trump being elected? As Abby Hoffman once said, "Urination of foolish individuals."
+8 # PABLO DIABLO 2018-04-17 13:36
More bullshit to distract us from the Republicans deregulating Wall Street, the environment, cutting taxes on the Rich, privatizing education, etc. etc. Time for a wake-up call folks.
Bring back the REAL IMPORTANT issue of football players kneeling.
What a disgrace the media is.
0 # DongiC 2018-04-19 05:14
A wolf in sheep's clothing is still a wolf. You claim to be concerned, RR, about the possibility of WWIII and write favorably of Donald Trump who has most of the world upset with his temperament and lack of control around many issues including the use of nuclear weapons. And lib84 you don't speak for all progressives nor do you have the right to say who is and isn't a progressive. Too often your hatred of Hillary Clinton has blinded your judgement on this and other matters.

RSN is quite a forum for the expression and evaluation of all kinds of ideas. Let everyone keep to the issues and reduce the personal invective. By the way, RR, no one in my long life has ever implied I was a victim. Labor organizer, grievance chair, negotiation chair for an AFT union. editor of union newsletter and fiscal expert I wore many progressive hats. It has been exciting and very fulfilling.

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