Smith’s article, “Did President Obama Read the ‘Steele Dossier’ in the White House Last August?”, suggests that the information compiled by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, with funding from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, could have been repackaged as genuine U.S. government intelligence and presented to President Barack Obama on that basis as his administration began investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Smith recounts how the “dossier” likely prompted the surveillance and investigation of aides to Donald Trump by the Obama administration, and efforts to delegitimize the incoming administration.
[I]f a sitting president used the instruments of state, including the intelligence community, to disseminate and legitimize a piece of paid opposition research in order to first obtain warrants to spy on the other party’s campaign, and then to de-legitimize the results of an election once the other party’s candidate won, we’re looking at a scandal that dwarfs Watergate—a story not about a bad man in the White House, but about the subversion of key security institutions that are charged with protecting core elements of our democratic process while operating largely in the shadows.
But the real news in Smith’s well-researched article is that the information compiled by Fusion GPS in the dossier might have relied heavily on earlier reporting done by the firm’s founder about Russian lobbying in the U.S.
A Tablet investigation using public sources to trace the evolution of the now-famous dossier suggests that central elements of the Russiagate scandal emerged not from the British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s top-secret “sources” in the Russian government—which are unlikely to exist separate from Russian government control—but from a series of stories that Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson and his wife Mary Jacoby co-wrote for The Wall Street Journal well before Fusion GPS existed, and Donald Trump was simply another loud-mouthed Manhattan real estate millionaire.
Simpson and Jacoby co-wrote a Journal article in April 2007, “How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington.” In it, Smith notes, they identified Paul Manafort as a key player in introducing Russians to Beltway circles.