A second Christopher Steele memo suggests that the Russians had a hand in choosing our Secretary of State

I know you probably all want to talk about former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg right now, and the epic drunken meltdown that had him calling into, and then visiting, every cable news program there is in order to rant about how Carter Page colluded with the Russians, Donald Trump definitely knew in advance about the meeting senior members of his campaign staff took with Russian agents at Trump Tower, and any number of other things, but all I can really think about right now is this article by Jane Mayer in today’s New Yorker about Christopher Steele and a second, lesser known, memo he authored in November 2016 about Donald Trump’s ties to the Kremlin. Here’s a taste.

You read that right. According to information gathered by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele from a “senior Russian official,” it was the Kremlin, and not President Trump, who kept Mitt Romney – the man who referred to Russia as our “number one geopolitical foe” during the Republican primary – from becoming U.S. Secretary of State. So I guess we may have been right after all, when, just after Rex Tillerson was announced as Trump’s nominee for the position, we theorized that the former head of Exxon, who had extensive dealings with the Kremlin, had likely been nominated for the job by Putin.

Is this a surprise? Absolutely not. The nomination of Tillerson, someone with no diplomatic experience, and a recipient of the Russian Order of Friendship, was sketchy from the start. But, now, the pieces are finally starting to fall into place. And it really makes one wonder why, under Tillerson, the State Department, as we discussed just yesterday, has yet to spend even $1 of the $120 Million they have been allotted to fight Russian election meddling… You know, now might really good time for us launch that independent bipartisan commission and get to the bottom of this.

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  1. one more article
    Posted March 5, 2018 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    “Rex Tillerson and the Unraveling of the State Department”


  2. Max
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Trump doesn’t seem like he’d be keen to hire anyone that’s been critical of him. As damning as the revelation seems, I’m inclined to think that it’s disinformation. Who knows? Maybe he did at one point try to hire people equipped for cabinet positions.

  3. Citywatch
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    I agree with Max. As much as I want to believe this, the evidence seems pretty sketchy at this point. I think Trump was advised to keep his “enemies” close, but Romney held convictions about Russia that Trump just did not support.

  4. Meta
    Posted March 6, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    The Atlantic: “Sam Nunberg’s Spectacular Stunt”

    “By the way, you know I’m the number one trending person on Twitter?”

    It was just after 8 p.m. on Monday night, and the suddenly-famous Sam Nunberg had phoned me from Dorrian’s Red Hand Restaurant, a yuppie hangout on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where he was reveling in his triumph.

    After announcing earlier that day his intention to defy a grand-jury subpoena he says he received in the Russia investigation (“Arrest me,” he’d dared prosecutors), the former Trump aide had spent the day conducting a manic media blitz—popping up on multiple cable-news programs, granting interviews to dozens of journalists, and hijacking the news cycle with a car-crash procession of blustery soundbites. Legal experts were warning that his failure to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation could put him in serious legal jeopardy—but at this moment, it seemed, Nunberg was in a celebratory mood.

    “Can you report this?” he asked me at one point during our conversation, his voice taking on a gleeful tone. “You have to report this: The champ champ does whatever the fuck he wants.”

    “The … who?” I asked.

    “The champ champ!”

    The “champ champ” turned out to be a reference to one of his favorite UFC fighters.

    As we spoke, Nunberg alternated between this unalloyed bravado and a kind of meta amusement at the media frenzy his performance had commanded. He seemed to take special pleasure in speculating about how Mueller might be reacting to the spectacle. “You know what the funny thing is?” he boasted. “He’s thinking I’m, like, playing eight-dimensional chess with Donald Trump.”

    Well, I asked, are you?

    He guffawed. “No!”

    On this count, at least, I was inclined to believe him—and yet the question remained: What exactly was Nunberg doing?

    The mystery of his motivations had hovered over the day’s astonishing events, and theories attempting to explain his bizarre behavior had proliferated quickly. Some believed he was responding to being caught in a genuine conspiracy—auditioning for immunity, perhaps, or covering up crimes committed by allies in the president’s orbit.

    CNN’s Erin Burnett told him—during a live broadcast—that she smelled alcohol on his breath. (I asked him if he’d been drinking that night. “No,” he insisted angrily.) Others worried that he might be experiencing some kind of personal breakdown. “I know it’s compelling to watch Sam’s interviews right now,” conservative commentator S.E. Cupp tweeted Monday night, “but I’m actually concerned that someone I’ve known a long time is not okay.”

    Meanwhile, Nunberg’s own explanation for his behavior was so simplistic and strange that it was hard to take at face value: After being ordered to hand over his past private correspondence with several former Trump advisers, he said, he was sorting through his inbox Monday morning and determined that complying with the subpoena would be an intolerable hassle. After all, he explained, “I have a life.”

    I won’t venture a guess as to which theory best explains his actions. But as anyone who’s known Nunberg for a while can attest, his behavior Monday doesn’t necessarily require special explanation. He’s been pulling stunts like this for years—this is just the first time he’s gotten the kind of audience he’s always craved.

    I first met Nunberg in person in 2014, when he arranged for me to interview his boss, Donald Trump, on a flight from New Hampshire to New York. Thanks to an unexpected blizzard that effectively shut down LaGuardia Airport, we ended up flying to Palm Beach instead, where I spent 36 hours marooned at Mar-a-Lago with Trump as my host and Nunberg as my sidekick.

    At the time, what most struck me about Nunberg was the way he seemed to mimic Trump’s speaking cadences (“fantastic,” “huge,” “loser”) and sartorial aesthetic (wide lapels, shiny ties, thick knots). But, as I would later learn, his true mentor was actually Roger Stone.

    As Nunberg told it, he was sitting in a law-school class one day when someone emailed him a Weekly Standard profile of the notorious Republican operative. Stone was described in the piece as a “Nixon-era dirty trickster” and “professional lord of mischief,” and he was quoted talking about politics as “performance art … sometimes for its own sake.”

    Nunberg was enthralled by the mythology surrounding Stone, and seemed determined to develop a similar reputation for himself. Soon enough, he was studying under the dark-arts master, and experimenting with his own low-stakes “dirty tricks.” The maxims of amorality espoused by his mentor—canonized as “Stone’s Rules”—included, “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack,” and, “Nothing is on the level.”

    Nunberg got his chance to put these lessons to work a couple months after our stay at Mar-a-Lago, when BuzzFeed published my profile of Trump. The story displeased the billionaire, and he promptly fired Nunberg, who then retaliated against me by helping to plant a fake story in Breitbart. (Headline: EXCLUSIVE—TRUMP: ‘SCUMBAG’ BUZZFEED BLOGGER OGLED WOMEN WHILE HE ATE BISON AT MY RESORT.) Maybe I should have taken it more personally, but I recognized it for what it was—an act of performance art, most likely for its own sake. Years later, Nunberg would tell me the whole mini-controversy was great for his career: “People actually knew who I was after that.”

    Trump eventually took Nunberg back and tasked him with laying the groundwork for his presidential bid—only to fire him again shortly after the campaign launched in 2015. (The stated reason for his dismissal this time was the discovery of racist comments in Nunberg’s old Facebook posts, though most insiders believed campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was the one responsible for muscling him out.)

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