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I Beg Your Pardon, Mr. Christopher Steele

DC DISPATCH- Dear Mr. Christopher Steele. . .Please forgive us for being boorish, ungrateful Americans.

On the eve of our American Revolution, the patriot Paul Revere shouted a warning that “the British are coming!” Two centuries and more later, things have changed, and you are a British Paul Revere of sorts, except that you were shouting (like the title of the 1960s movie) that “The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!” 

Indeed, you were trying to warn us that the Russians had already come for us and that our Commander in Chief could be a Russian asset. We were aware that you were alarmed by the enormous number of contacts candidate Donald Trump and some of his staff had with Russians. The potential skeletons you found in his cupboard merited a full counter-intelligence investigation. 

We should be ashamed of ourselves. So please forgive us for putting you in the eye of a Crossfire Hurricane. We ruined your life, compromised your safety, your family’s safety, and your livelihood. We are sorry -- a few of us anyway -- that you had to go into hiding for three months, had to be hounded by the press, lost your status as a source to the U.S. intelligence community, and had to submit to vicious Trumpian tweets for the past two years. You must have thought we were awfully obtuse when the FBI kept ignoring your early warning danger signals: multiple visits of Trump cutouts to Moscow; unusual investments by Russian nationals in U.S. real estate properties owned by the Trump Organization; Trump’s  business dealings with former felon Felix Sater; probable use of laundered Russian money to underwrite Trump’s casino investments; and hidden projects like Trump Tower Moscow to name a few. 

Once you started checking with your Russian contacts, it must have been alarming to find that they thought the Russian government had “owned” Trump for at least two decades. You were hired by Fusion GPS to provide a background report on Donald Trump without knowing the identity of the client. You submitted your report, a private and confidential body of work never meant to be fully distributed to members of the American press. The report was unverified and included sub-sources who never thought their names would become public. You never made any representations about the report being 100% accurate and above suspicion or scrutiny. You did your work without bias. It was comforting to learn from the Department of Justice IG’s report finally issued earlier this week that you and Ivanka Trump had been long  time friends and you had no preexisting animus toward her father. 

As a former head of MI6’s Russia Desk in London, you were concerned about the national security implications of the intelligence you uncovered and came to believe that you had a patriotic duty to report your findings to the FBI. How disappointing it must have been when you came to believe that the FBI was ignoring your handful of outreach attempts to notify them of your reports, particularly about the trove of Hillary Clinton emails that the Russians were going to distribute in strategic fashion for maximum harm. There would have been no indication that a counterintelligence investigation had already been opened and the FBI’s apparent indifference was nothing more than traditional nondisclosure of an ongoing inquiry -- a practice that Connecticut-based U..S Attorney John Durham would have done well to follow instead of rebuking the Inspector General’s Report on the FISA Investigations issued December 9, 2019. 

Unfortunately for you, in short order, your “dossier” caught the attention of a leader intent on vindictive retribution and your report became a viral sensation in the FISA courts, with the FBI, and the press. Unfortunately, when these surveillance warrants faced further scrutiny at Trump’s insistence, a scapegoat needed to be found and you were it. When you thought your findings weren’t getting the attention they merited, you tried the press. Unfortunately, they betrayed you as well. While you thought your outreach efforts to the FBI were in vain, they were not. You provided a critical piece of human intelligence. Mind you a HUMINT or Field Intelligence Report is not a sworn deposition or declaration made under penalty of perjury. You never represented that it was more than client work product, very well-sourced, but needing further investigation. 

In retrospect, it might have been a good idea to omit references to Trump’s salacious night at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow in 2013. That scandalous nugget seems to have particularly infuriated the President and prompted him to rain the full force of the U.S. government against you. How odd it must be for you to see a tyrannical monarchy developing in the United States. You must be confused about what you were taught in primary school about your American cousins -- our contempt for a government by a sovereign. 

While we like to fawn over your pomp and circumstance and love Netflix’s The Crown, you admired our system of government that treats its citizens as equals. Maybe you thought of what life would have been like for your coal miner father who pledged his allegiance to the crown, not a constitution. 

So maybe you can retain Lisa Page’s lawyer (not to be confused with Carter Page’s—he has zero chance of prevailing in any litigation against the FBI or DOJ) to seek damages against Trump for intentional infliction of emotional distress. While you are at it, you might file a claim against Senators Grassley and Graham who had the audacity to file a criminal referral against you at the Justice Department for making false statements to FBI investigators. They may be able to protect themselves in the cloaks of immunity, but they certainly caused you grievous harm. Graham was the one who urged Senator McCain to take the “dossier” to the FBI in the first place, so his hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Most importantly, while focusing on our shortcomings in the United States, you should not ignore the very real Russian meddling with Brexit, your election and NATO. We have concerns about your fellow countryman Boris Johnson and his ties to Russia. Why do you think he is purpose delaying the release of the Intelligence and Security Committee report on Russian interference? And while America may be a lost cause, your country still has hope. I am confident that Johnson, with his resounding victory, would never refer to M15 as “scum” and your loyal network of foreign intelligence contacts can alert you to Russians coming in on private jets and taking day tours to areas near your residence.

It is the Russians who are coming for democracy and you tried to sound the alarm. Like Jumpin’ Jack Flash -- the iconic British Agent in the eponymous 80s movie who was trapped behind enemy lines trying to avoid detection by the KGB -- you were “crowned with a spike right through your head and left for dead,” but like the hero in the story and the song, with time and distance, it will be alright. . . eventually.

 

(Sara Corcoran writes DC Dispatch and covers the nation’s capital from Washington for CityWatch. She is the Publisher of the California and National Courts Monitor and contributes to Daily Kos and other important news publications.) Photo: AP/Alex Brandon. Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.