Collusion

The investigation into suspected collusion between US President Donald Trump and the Russian government has claimed its first three victims: one (Paul Manafort) for completely unconnected money laundering charges, and two (George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn) for lying to investigators about things which were not themselves criminal, and which are therefore crimes which would never have happened had there never been an investigation. To date, the evidence of direct collusion between Trump and the Russians is looking a little thin, to say the least. Now, into this maelstrom steps Guardian reporter Luke Harding with his book Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russian Helped Donald Trump Win.

Collusion spends over 300 pages insinuating that Trump is a long-standing agent of the Russian secret services, and hinting, without ever providing any firm evidence, that Trump and his team acted on orders from the Kremlin to subvert American democracy. I’ll be honest, and admit that I picked this book up expecting it to be a series of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, and to be utterly unbalanced in its analysis, and in that sense I’m not an unbiased reader. At the same time, I was interested to see if Harding had come up with anything that everybody else had not, and was willing to give him a chance. I needn’t have bothered. For alas, my worst suspicions proved to be true, and then some.

collusion

The first thing to note about Collusion is that most of it is padding. That is to say, that it consists mainly of a lot of digressions in which Harding describes people and events not directly related to the main story of collusion. Whenever a new character is introduced, you tend to get pages of background information, along with descriptions of various places they’ve been to, things they’ve done in the past, and so on. At the start of the book, for instance, Harding introduces Christopher Steele, who prepared an infamous dossier purportedly based on secret sources within the Kremlin, which made all sort of extreme accusations against Trump. We learn about Steele’s parents, his childhood, his education, his career, and so on. Harding recounts how he met Steele. We learn about how they tried one café, then another, who drank what, etc, etc. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the book. There’s a lot of padding. This padding makes Collusion an easy read, and gives it colour, and the flavour of a spy novel. But none of it adds anything to our knowledge of Donald Trump and his relationship with Russia. It’s just filler, designed to cover up the fact that, when it comes to the matter of collusion, Harding doesn’t have a whole lot new to say and certainly doesn’t have enough to fill up an entire book.

The second thing to note is that Harding’s modes of argumentation and standards of evidence are not  – how can I be polite about this? – what I’m used to as an academic. Let’s take the example of Trump’s former convention manager, Paul Manafort, to whom Harding devotes an entire chapter, obviously on the basis that the Trump-Manafort connection somehow proves a Trump-Kremlin connection. The problem Harding has is that, despite pages of fluff about Manafort, he hasn’t got any evidence that Manafort is a Kremlin agent. In fact, he quotes one source – a former Ukrainian official, Oleg Voloshin – as telling him that when Manafort worked as a political advisor to Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich:

Manafort was an advocate for US interests. So much so that the joke inside the Party of Regions [in Ukraine] was that he actually worked for the USA. … He supported Ukraine’s association with NATO and with the EU. He warned Yanukovich not to lock up [former Prime Minister Iuliia] Tymoshenko. “If it weren’t for Paul, Ukraine would have gone under Russia much earlier,” Voloshin told me.

This is pretty funny behaviour for a Kremlin agent, and Harding has to admit that, “It’s unclear to what extent, if any, Manafort was involved in supplying intelligence to Russia.” This doesn’t fit with the conclusion that Harding obviously wants readers to draw – that Manafort was a Kremlin agent, and so Trump must be too. So, he comes up with something else: some of Manafort’s associates in Ukraine “were rumoured to have links with Russian intelligence.” Note the use of the word “rumoured”. It’s not exactly convincing, but it’s good enough for Luke, who uses it to tell a story about one such associate, Konstantin Kilimnik. Harding recounts that he contacted Kilimnik by email to ask him about his relationship with Manafort. Kilimnik responds by telling him that the collusion accusations are  “insane” and “gibberish”, and signs off his email with a bit of self-mockery: “Off to collect my paycheck at KGB. :))”

And here’s where it gets interesting. For Harding thinks there’s something suspicious about Kilimnik’s answer. He writes:

The thing which gave me pause was Kilimnik’s use of smiley faces. True, Russians are big emoticon fans. But I’d seen something similar before. In 2013 the Russian diplomat in charge of political influence operations in London was named Sergey Nalobin. Nalobin had close links with Russian intelligence. He was the son of a KGB general; his brother had worked for the FSB; Nalobin looked like a career foreign intelligence officer. Maybe even a deputy resident, the KGB term for station chief. On his Twitter feed Nalobin described himself thus:

A brutal agent of the Putin dictatorship : )

And that’s it. That’s Harding’s evidence. Just to make sure readers get the point, he follows the last line up with a double paragraph space. Stop and think what this means, he seems to be saying. Someone who “looked like a career foreign intelligence officer” uses smiley faces. Kilimnik uses smiley faces!!! Say no more.

This is the level at which Harding’s logic works. Harding recounts a meeting of Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the White House, a meeting which was photographed by someone from the Russian news agency TASS. As Harding tells us:

The Times put the photo of Trump and Lavrov on its front page. At the bottom of the photo taken inside the White House was a credit. It said: “Russian Foreign Ministry.”

Yet another double paragraph break follows,  just to make sure that readers take in the implication of what this means.

Take another example. We learn (which in fact we knew already if we’d been following this story) that Trump’s short-lived National Security Advisor, and former head of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, Michael Flynn, attended a conference on the subject of intelligence at Cambridge University, where he met a Russian woman, Svetlana Lokhova. Harding admits that, “There is no suggestion she is linked to Russian intelligence.” Nevertheless, he feels it necessary to tell us that Flynn later corresponded with her by email. He writes:

In his emails, Flynn signed off in an unusual way for a US spy. He called himself “General Misha.”

Misha is the Russian equivalent of Michael.

Again, Harding then introduces a section break, leaving this ominous fact hanging in the air. Think of what it means, he is saying!

This is typical of how Harding argues. He puts in some suspicious sounding fact, or asks some question, and then just leaves it hanging. The implication is that the question doesn’t need answering, that the most damaging and extreme answer is obviously true. There’s an awful lot of this technique in Collusion. Harding spends pages on a digression about Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybovlev before telling us that Rybovlev’s private jet sometimes parks next to that of Donald Trump. Seems suspicious, huh? Except that Harding tells us that, ‘The White House … said that Trump and Rybovlev had never met. This appears to be true.” But Harding isn’t satisfied, and asks, “Had he [Rybovlev] perhaps met someone else from Trump’s entourage during his travels? Like, for example, Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen?” Later, Harding tells us that Rybovlev’s yacht was once at Dubrovnik at the same time as Ivanka Trump’s yacht. “Was this perhaps planned” he asks.

Harding’s method is to ask these questions, as if asking was itself proof of guilt. Trump borrowed money from Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank was bailed out at one point by the Russian bank VTB. “Was there a connection?” Harding asks. But Harding doesn’t answer these questions. In fact, one of the interesting things about this book is that again and again the author has to confess that the facts don’t really fit what he’s trying to say. For instance, when discussing Trump and Deutsche Bank, and trying to make it sound as if Trump was in some way connected to the Kremlin because he was borrowing from the Germans, Harding writes, “The sources insist that the answer was negative. No trail to Moscow was ever discovered, they told us.”

This isn’t a lone example. Harding spends quite a few pages discussing Carter Page, a businessman who appeared on RT and gave a talk at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and who at one point had a marginal role in the Trump election campaign. It’s clear that he wants it all to sound really damaging. And yet, he writes that Page’s “attempts to meet Trump individually failed.” So, it turns out that there’s not much of a connection there after all. Likewise, when discussing Russian computer hackers, Harding writes: “By the second decade of the twenty-first century the cyber world looked like the high seas of long ago. The hackers who sailed on it might be likened to privateers. Sometimes they acted for the ‘state’, sometimes against it.” This rather undermines his claim that the Russian state was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

In another example, Harding discusses the sudden death of Oleg Erovinkin, who worked for the oil company Rosneft. He speculates that “Erovinkin was Steele’s source deep inside Rosneft,” and was murdered because word of Steele’s document had leaked out. The murder, he implies, is proof of the dossier’s validity. Except that Harding admits that, “there was nothing suspicious about Erovinkin’s sudden death” and “Steele was adamant that Erovinkin wasn’t his source.” Yet this doesn’t stop Harding from writing that, “in the wake of the dossier the Kremlin did appear to be wiping out some kind of American or Western espionage network. … It certainly looked that way.”

I could give other examples, but I can’t make this review too long. The point is that Harding ignores his own evidence. He argues by innuendo, and on occasion he just lets his imagine run away with itself. Steele’s dossier alleged that Trump had hired prostitutes while on a trip to Moscow. Vladimir Putin’s response was to crack a joke about Russian prostitutes being the best in the world. But to Harding it wasn’t a joke. As he writes:

Putin may have been sending a second message, darkly visible beneath the choppy, translucent waters of the first. It said: we’ve got the tape, Donald!

I wish I could say that this book was a joke. If you were going to write a parody of the collusion story, this is perhaps what it would look like. Unfortunately, Harding is deadly serious and I suspect that a lot of uncritical readers will soak it all up, not stopping to reflect on the awful methodology. So, I end on a word of warning. By all means read this book. But don’t do so in order to find out the truth about Donald Trump and Russia; do so in order to understand the methods currently being used to enflame Russian-Western relations. In that respect, Collusion is really quite revealing.

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49 thoughts on “Collusion”

  1. ” The thing which gave me pause was Kilimnik’s use of smiley faces. True, Russians are big emoticon fans. But I’d seen something similar before. In 2013 the Russian diplomat in charge of political influence operations in London was named Sergey Nalobin. Nalobin had close links with Russian intelligence. He was the son of a KGB general; his brother had worked for the FSB; Nalobin looked like a career foreign intelligence officer. Maybe even a deputy resident, the KGB term for station chief. On his Twitter feed Nalobin described himself thus:

    A brutal agent of the Putin dictatorship : )”

    ““There is no suggestion she is linked to Russian intelligence.” Nevertheless, he feels it necessary to tell us that Flynn later corresponded with her by email. “

    I think that instead of torturing itself, the US of A come out of the close and must fully embrace (i.e. legalize) it’s traditional pastime of the “Lynch Justice”, ridding itself of such “commie” things like presumption of innocence and finding real, solid, provable evidence. After all – Colonel Lynch was a hero of the War of the Independence, and the US is totally in solidarity with a plucky little country who likewise had lots of similar minded heroes. To whom is Glory.

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    1. P.S.

      ***

      Well, by and by somebody said Sherburn ought to be lynched. In about a minute everybody was saying it; so away they went, mad and yelling, and snatching down every clothes-line they come to to do the hanging with.

      […]

      They swarmed up in front of Sherburn’s palings as thick as they could jam together, and you couldn’t hear yourself think for the noise. It was a little twenty-foot yard. Some sung out “Tear down the fence! tear down the fence!” Then there was a racket of ripping and tearing and smashing, and down she goes, and the front wall of the crowd begins to roll in like a wave.

      Just then Sherburn steps out on to the roof of his little front porch, with a double-barrel gun in his hand, and takes his stand, perfectly ca’m and deliberate, not saying a word. The racket stopped, and the wave sucked back.

      Sherburn never said a word — just stood there, looking down. The stillness was awful creepy and uncomfortable. Sherburn run his eye slow along the crowd; and wherever it struck the people tried a little to out-gaze him, but they couldn’t; they dropped their eyes and looked sneaky. Then pretty soon Sherburn sort of laughed; not the pleasant kind, but the kind that makes you feel like when you are eating bread that’s got sand in it.

      Then he says, slow and scornful:
      “The idea of you lynching anybody! It’s amusing. The idea of you thinking you had pluck enough to lynch a man! Because you’re brave enough to tar and feather poor friendless cast-out women that come along here, did that make you think you had grit enough to lay your hands on a man? Why, a man’s safe in the hands of ten thousand of your kind — as long as it’s daytime and you’re not behind him.

      “Do I know you? I know you clear through was born and raised in the South, and I’ve lived in the North; so I know the average all around. The average man’s a coward. In the North he lets anybody walk over him that wants to, and goes home and prays for a humble spirit to bear it. In the South one man all by himself, has stopped a stage full of men in the daytime, and robbed the lot. Your newspapers call you a brave people so much that you think you are braver than any other people — whereas you’re just as brave, and no braver. Why don’t your juries hang murderers? Because they’re afraid the man’s friends will shoot them in the back, in the dark — and it’s just what they would do.

      “So they always acquit; and then a man goes in the night, with a hundred masked cowards at his back and lynches the rascal. Your mistake is, that you didn’t bring a man with you; that’s one mistake, and the other is that you didn’t come in the dark and fetch your masks. You brought part of a man — Buck Harkness, ther’e— and if you hadn’t had him to start you, you’d a taken it out in blowing.

      “You didn’t want to come. The average man don’t like trouble and danger. you don’t like trouble and danger. But if only half a man — like Buck Harkness, there — shouts ‘Lynch him! lynch him!’ you’re afraid to back down — afraid you’ll be found out to be what you are — cowards — and so you raise a yell, and hang yourselves on to that half-a-man’s coat-tail, and come raging up here, swearing what big things you’re going to do. The pitifulest thing out is a mob; that’s what an army is — a mob; they don’t fight with courage that’s born in them, but with courage that’s borrowed from their mass, and from their officers. But a mob without any man at the head of it is beneath pitifulness. Now the thing for you</em to do is to droop your tails and go home and crawl in a hole. If any real lynching’s going to be done it will be done in the dark, Southern fashion; and when they come they’ll bring their masks, and fetch a man along. Now leave — and take your half-a-man with you” — tossing his gun up across his left arm and cocking it when he says this.

      The crowd washed back sudden, and then broke all apart, and went tearing off every which way, and Buck Harkness he heeled it after them, looking tolerable cheap. I could a stayed if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to.

      ***

      – Mark Twain, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, (Chapters 21-22).

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  2. A review of Collusion?
    Thanks for saving me some time and anguish. But curse you for robbing me of an excuse to go drinking.

    (Well, at least I still have Amy Knight’s Orders to Kill.)

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      1. Of course not! Not a single library in my state has a copy of Orders to Kill, and there’s no way I’m spending money on something like that 🙂

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  3. I heard Tremonte’s interview of Harding on CBC Radio – I guess she just wanted to give him some free ad time. Not a single critical reflection on her part, while Harding made his voice rise and fall and use ‘conspiracy’ at every possible interval. Despicable. Just another worthless journalist cashing in on the Russia rumours….

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    1. Harding was a guest on NPR’s “Fresh Air”. Normally the host, Terry Gross, is quite good, but I have found her to be overly credulous with regard to matters concerning Russia. In that she is rather typical of the mainstream media here in the States. I found myself yelling “Bullshit!” at the radio during her interview of Harding.

      She likes Anne Applebaum, too, FWIW.

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  4. Putin’s comment about prostitutes, in context, can be found here:

    starting at about 4:20. He did make the joke, but had a number of more serious things to say as well.

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    1. Thanks for sharing. They’re clearly in cahoots and Vova is having a good laugh about it. The reviewer seems to fundamentally misunderstand Russia or is an agent of someone who stands to benefit from the discreditation.

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  5. You might be right about the shortcomings of the book but to say “To date, the evidence of direct collusion between Trump and the Russians is looking a little thin, to say the least” is to paint a little bit rosy picture of the current situation. After the Donald Trump Jr’s emails it is very clear that at least they tried to directly collude with Russians. Their main defense is that it didn’t amount to anything, the attempt to collude failed. I guess the ongoing investigations and proceedings will find out if that’s true but there is up to date so much smoke that it is quite reasonable to assume that there is some kind of fire,

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    1. if what you state is a crime

      Is paying for the Christopher Steele dossier a crime ?

      Also stick to the facts please

      – no one so far has been charged with collusion
      – they have been charged with lying to the FBI
      – not declaring work in Ukraine

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      1. Investigations are still ongoing, possible criminal charges relating to alleged collusion, election interference or other bigg issues takes more time.The investigation is far from over, likely just in relatively early stages. Mueller has only made his first moves, mainly aimed at securing co-operation from key Trump campaign officials and sending messages. Flynn and Papadapulous are already co-operating. Trump himself is clearly investigated at least for obstruction of justice.

        Trump Jr’s conduct in the email affair may be criminal (criminal conspircy, violation of campaign finance laws) but it’s far more damning politically. Scheming with foreign adversary is not legitimate oppo-research. Steele dossier is not comparable,; something comparable would be Democrats paying or making deals with North Koreans or Iranians in exhange for helping them in their campaign by interfering in the election process at key moments, Whatever crimes commited or not commited in that process, it sure is politically very damning.

        (Imagine GOP uproar if Hillary said: “North Korea, if you are listening, release the Trump tax returns and piss tape”)

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      2. “Scheming with foreign adversary is not legitimate oppo-research. “

        1) Which binging legislation in the US defines the term “foreign adversary”?

        2) When was Russia officially, binding designated by any legitimate US governmental institution as the “foreign adversary”?

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      3. “@Lyttenburgh when we sanctioned them.”

        Please name the exact legislative act of the US, which says exactly that, i.e. that “adversarial power/foreign adversary” is the country, to which the US applies the “sactions”. Does the term “foreign adversary” have any legal basis?

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      4. “@Lyttenburgh what’s wrong with you? can you not read between the lines?”

        There is no such legal concept as “read between the lines”. The Law must be made precise. I repeat – is there such legal concept in the existing US legislation as the “foreign adversary”? If YES, then please cite the exact sources which confirm that. If NO, then it does no exist, and as such the issue must be dismissed as irrelevant.

        “see also: the Magnitsky Act”

        What about it?

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      5. @Lyttenburgh foreign adversary is as much a legal term as collusion — not at all. we’re talking about money laundering, blackmail and ultimately the abuse of power, upon which we in the US impeach.

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      6. @Lyttenburgh and FWIW, it is literally the job of the Court in the US to interpret legislation and read between the lines. as in look in depth, with context. strict constructionism is a fraud and an abdication of duty.

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      7. “@Lyttenburgh foreign adversary is as much a legal term as collusion — not at all.”

        It is not, is it? Then pray tell – what is the “mission statement” of the Mueller’s investigation? Does it use the term “collusion”? If the word is “meaningless”, i.e. devoid of the legal substance, then why use it at all? If it does have legal basis, how does it mean then?

        “we’re talking about money laundering, blackmail and ultimately the abuse of power, upon which we in the US impeach.”

        “Impeach”? So far you have failed to impeach anyone. At all. You wrote above:

        “This is how prosecutors build a case. The Trump family is a criminal organization, which is why they all get along.”

        And then:

        “it is literally the job of the Court in the US to interpret legislation”

        Why you say that? How can you determine whether anyone is a criminal without a court and investigation? That’s why I said in my topmost comment – just legalize lynching already! You seem to desire it soooo badly!

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    2. Quite reasonable to assume?….only if you don’t understand how psychologically powerful an unfettered campaign of gish gallop can be in molding moldable minds.

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  6. Thank you for this review.

    Despite the subject and the obvious seriousness – I had to laugh at the nonsense that passes for journalism today.

    Facts are blurred with opinion.

    And unless you have knowledge and analytical skills it will pass as fact.
    It’s very sad.

    The writer of this book is part of the current climate in the media where opinions and speculation are rife – no one just lays out the cold hard facts.

    All articles and stories should just start with the sentence

    “This is what I think …”

    So that it’s clear where they are coming from!

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  7. FREEBUFFALO,

    Luke Harding would have been Stalin’s dream journalist.

    Perhaps somewhere down in Hell, the old Georgian gangster is scratching his head, and saying: ‘What wonderful people, these British. Their journalists simply print what the “organs” tell them to, and their readers swallow it whole. That silly idiot Orwell thought you needed a “memory hole” and “Room 101.” What nonsense. You could tell these people “2 +2 = 5” one day, and “2 + 2 = -575,000” the next, and they’d print it without batting an eyelid. You wouldn’t even need to invite them to the Lubianka for a few words of advice.’

    As it happened, I e-mailed Harding and his colleagues after the ‘Guardian’ printed an extract from his Litvinenko book. It seems sensible to reproduce what I wrote when we were discussing his new volume in exchanges of comments on Colonel Lang’s ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis’ blog.

    Detailed references for the contradictory claims I referred to were provided in a subsequent comment, which also discusses material accepted into evidence at Sir Robert Owen’s ‘Inquiry’, and ignored by him, which blows his whole report to pieces..

    (See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2017/11/harper-a-reminder-of-the-obscene-power-of-the-israel-lobby.html?cid=6a00d8341c72e153ef01b8d2bf295b970c#comment-6a00d8341c72e153ef01b8d2bf295b970c .)

    The initial comment read:

    ‘The Harding book clearly marks another escalation at the British end of the campaign by corrupt elements in the leadership of the intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic to subvert the constitutional order in the United States.

    ‘Christopher Steele is a dirty disinformation peddler, and serial fabricator of evidence, who has now got into bad trouble because the more absurd claims with which he attempted to support his portrayal of Trump as a “Siberian candidate” have provoked lawsuits from Aleksej Gubarev and the Alfa oligarchs.

    ‘This makes it necessary to corrupt legal processes, which in turn requires that everyone is operating in “full McCarthy mode.” Only by fuelling hysteria so it completely distorts the capacity of people to assess evidence – and we are long way to getting there, not simply over “Russiagate” but many other matters – may it may prove possible to save both Steele himself and BuzzFeed from being torn to pieces in the courts and – hopefully – made to pay really serious damages.

    ‘And if this happened, of course, then some very awkward questions not just about the activities of MI6 but also their collaborators in your country might become much harder to avoid.

    ‘Among the most contemptible of the MSM journalists who have been happy to act as stenographers for Steele and others who orchestrated the cover-up over Litvinenko is Luke Harding. To demonstrate this, I am attaching the text of an e-mail I wrote him on 20 January 2016. This was then copied, with further comments, to the “readers’ editor” of the “Guardian”, Chris Elliot, their diplomatic correspondent, Patrick Wintour, their Moscow correspondent, Shaun Walker, and Jonathan Freedland, then executive editor of the opinion part of the paper.

    ‘The only response I received was from Wintour. As I had reminded him that the disgraced former LibDem Cabinet Minister Minister Chris Huhne was once a mutual friend, he clearly felt he had to produce some kind of reply. It was: “I think this is for Luke.”

    ‘Given that I had produced evidence suggesting that the investigation by Counter Terrorism Command into the death of Litvinenko, and Sir Robert Owen’s “inquiry”, were both completely corrupt, this was a somewhat remarkable abnegation of responsibility: a bit like the FBI leaving the investigation of the DNC servers to “CrowdStrike”, perhaps.

    ‘As it now seems clear that Steele must have involved up to the hilt in this corruption of the processes of British justice, and he has been trying to corrupt democratic processes in your country, and seemingly still is, these matters seem rather relevant to Americans.

    ‘Particularly given that it appears that leading figures in your ‘intelligence community’ have treated the ludicrous dossier Steele produced seriously, it is important that people on your side of the Atlantic realise how quite how squalid and contemptible he is.

    ‘If anyone wants the links to the articles and books mentioned in it, I am happy to post them. And if, having looked at them, someone – TTG perhaps – can refute my argument that the contradictions involved point to systematic corruption, I am happy to “eat humble pie.”

    ‘The original e-mail read:

    ‘Dear Luke Harding,

    ‘In the Guardian report published yesterday under the title “Alexander Litvinenko: the man who solved his own murder” you wrote:

    ‘“Scotland Yard would later precisely fix Litvinenko’s movements on the afternoon of 1 November: a bus from his home in Muswell Hill in north London; the tube to Piccadilly Circus;”

    ‘Actually, according to the version presented to the inquiry, he arrived at Oxford Circus, not Piccadilly Circus. The more salient point is that this account of Litvinenko’s journey into central London on the day he was supposedly deliberately poisoned with polonium, and how it was established that he was clear of contamination when he arrived there, appears to be quite new.

    ‘I had never seen it presented in public prior to the inquiry, and it contracts all the versions I can trace which had been provided previously, most of which in turn contradict each other.

    ‘First, Litvinenko was supposed to have travelled by car, then a number 134 bus identified by a £1.50 ticket, then a 134 bus identified by an Oyster Card, then a 134 bus and an unspecified tube. The combination of the 234 bus and tube which has been presented to the inquiry is, as far as I can see, wholly original.

    ‘At the outset, the journey was supposed to have been completed by midday. According to the – vivid – description provided by the former BBC Moscow Correspondent Martin Sixsmith in his April 2007 study “The Litvinenko File”, the 134 bus brought Litvinenko in to Tottenham Court Road at 11.30am.

    ‘Now we are told that, right at the outset of their investigation, Scotland Yard had established, from an Oyster Card – of which there appears to be no mention prior to the Sixsmith study – that he did not board the 234 bus until 12.29 pm, and left the tube at Oxford Circus at 13.34 pm.

    ‘I am forwarding an e-mail I sent on this subject in August last year to David Leppard, who with his colleagues at the “Sunday Times” produced the first of these many contradictory versions, that according to which Litvinenko travelled into central London by car.

    ‘Attached to this is e-mail is a PDF which goes through the various versions in detail, and speculates on the implications of the positively Orwellian transformations in the claims made about the nature of the evidence which is supposed decisively to refute claims that Litvinenko had been contaminated prior to the morning of 1 November 2006.

    ‘This PDF was also sent to other individuals and organisations who had been involved in disseminating the various mutually contradictory reports discussed. In all cases, as with Leppard, I was concerned to give them the opportunity to clarify matters, if in fact they had misreported what their SO15 sources had told them. In no case have they done so.

    ‘Most of the information in this PDF has been repeatedly presented by me to the team in charge of the inquiry, starting with an initial memorandum sent in September 2012. They have chosen to ignore the flagrant contradictions I have identified in the accounts given of how and why Litvinenko travelled into central London on 1 November 2006, and simply proceed on the basis that the integrity of the police investigation can be taken for granted.

    ‘I am happy to forward to you copies of the relevant memoranda, which were sent to, and acknowledged by, the Solicitor to the Inquest/Inquiry, Martin Smith.

    ‘Unless the contradictions I have identified can be explained away in a convincing fashion, a strong prima facie case exists that the account of how and when Litvinenko travelled into central London presented to the inquiry is a fabrication. Anyone seeking to discount this possibility, I submit, needs to provide a cogent explanation as to why the current version was not presented at the outset, and of the various changes in the versions that were presented.

    ‘If in fact the current version is a fabrication, then it follows that all the evidence that has been adduced to support it has to be under suspicion of being unreliable. It also follows that the crucial contention that Litvinenko had not knowingly had contact with polonium prior to his poisoning by Lugovoi and Kovtun in the Pine Bar of the Millennium has not been validated by credible evidence.

    ‘And if repeated attempts are made to validate an argument by evidence which will not withstand serious examination, then a question has to arise as to whether that argument is false.’

    ‘Kind regards,

    ‘David Habakkuk’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry, but with all due respect, you seem to lack fundamental understanding of Russia, its people and the former Soviet Union. This plagues academia across disciplines — a lack of real world contact and authority of personal experience. Russia exists beyond the limits of imagination.

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      1. “I’m sorry, but with all due respect, you seem to lack fundamental understanding of Russia, its people and the former Soviet Union. “

        Please – enLYTTEN us! Tell is the burning truth!

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      1. “@Lyttenburgh the quote you should have pulled is “Russia exists beyond the limits of imagination.””

        Why? How about answering my question instead?

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      2. @Lyttenburgh how about thinking before you speak?

        it does answer your question. if you have never lived in russia or the former soviet union, and never spent a lot of time outside a professional context with people of the former soviet union, then you don’t have the authority to mount such a critique. you haven’t got the imagination for it. you can go to all the lectures and read all the text books you want but that will never compare with observing the bribing of a cop on a quotidian basis.

        furthermore, you may have an issue with you own domestic agencies, but to equate western spooks with an organization so demonstrably evil and murderous against its own people as the FSB and its organs is absurd. he defames the man and and degrades decades of work over something rather inconsequential. admittedly the publisher pushed it out in haste. but why spill so much ink and whataboutism. as this book was written contemporaneously with the judicial investigation, it is not history, but journalism. it’s the first draft of history.

        Like

      3. ” if you have never lived in russia or the former soviet union, and never spent a lot of time outside a professional context with people of the former soviet union, then you don’t have the authority to mount such a critique”

        🙂

        Please – don’t stop! I want to hear more! Like – are you from Russia/Former SU?

        “…that will never compare with observing the bribing of a cop on a quotidian basis. “

        And the sacral symbolism of the bribe takig cop is?..

        “but to equate western spooks with an organization so demonstrably evil and murderous against its own people as the FSB”

        How is FSB “demonstrably evil and murderous against its own people”?

        “admittedly the publisher pushed it out in haste. but why spill so much ink and whataboutism. as this book was written contemporaneously with the judicial investigation”

        tl;dr – cheap hype.

        “it is not history, but journalism. it’s the first draft of history”

        Journalism has little to do with history and a lot to do with spin.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. @Lyttenburgh

        _”It is not, is it? Then pray tell – what is the “mission statement” of the Mueller’s investigation?”_

        Oh, for the love of God, read the appointment document: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/17/us/politics/document-Robert-Mueller-Special-Counsel-Russia.html

        “Collusion” is a COLLOQUIAL term for sections b.i – b.iii. Harding isn’t a judge and neither are his readers.

        _”“Impeach”? So far you have failed to impeach anyone. At all.”_

        Both presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached by the US House of Representatives. They were both acquitted of the terms of impeachment by the Senate. Nixon resigned before he could be. In other words, impeachment is an indictment for federal officials. Four non-federal or formerly federal officials have already been indicted by the special council. Two men have already pleaded guilty. and we’re just getting started.

        If you can’t do a simple google search, or visit a library, you have some nerve arguing about the US justice system. And given your sloppy syntax, I suspect you are not an American, or a Brit for that matter.

        _”Please – don’t stop! I want to hear more! Like – are you from Russia/Former SU?”_

        this isn’t about me, but yes, i fit the qualifiers i listed in ways the reviewer doesn’t. i wouldn’t be debating this if i didn’t. that’s my point.

        _”And the sacral symbolism of the bribe takig cop is?..”_

        That is a trope and a microcosm of how the world goes round in the eastern block. don’t play dumb, boris.

        _”How is FSB “demonstrably evil and murderous against its own people”?”_

        the apartment bombings of the 1990s
        the second Chechen war
        anna politkovskaya
        alexander litvinenko
        sergei magnitsky
        boris nemstzov

        i needn’t go on, I suggest you learn how to use google, if it’s available where you are. and please, не вешай лапшу на уши

        _”How can you determine whether anyone is a criminal without a court and investigation?”_

        Hello! That’s the special council’s and the US justice department’s job. my comment about the criminal trump organization comes from decades of observing financial filings and associations. they have just never faced such prosecutorial scrutiny. my comment wont put them in prison but mueller will, as he has the power of subpoena. We actually abide by the rule of law here. Your lynching comment is odd and telling.

        “Journalism has little to do with history and a lot to do with spin.”

        Where did you get your journalism degree?

        If you’re not already on the Kremlin payroll, you should be, as you’ve revealed yourself to be quite the useful idiot. as far as i’m concerned, this conversation is over.

        Like

      5. “Oh, for the love of God, read the appointment document”

        First of all – don’t blaspheme in vain (but something tells me you are not religious anyway). Second, thanks for proving with your own source that:

        A) “Collusion” is not a judicial term. Those who use it put some other arcane (and profane) meaning, which is of no relevance.

        B) There is no such thing as “foreign adversary/hostile foreign power” in the legal sense of the US legislation. Therefore all appeals to this term are also totally meaningless. Yet immediately you wrote:

        ““Collusion” is a COLLOQUIAL term for sections b.i – b.iii.”

        Says who? No, really – says *who*?

        “Both presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached by the US House of Representatives…. [snip]

        You can’t be “a little bit pregnant”, you know? The same with the impeachment – either you pursue it to the “fruitful” conclusion… or you have to “abort” it due to various reasons, and in that case you can’t really call it an “impeachment”.

        “this isn’t about me, but yes, i fit the qualifiers i listed in ways the reviewer doesn’t. i wouldn’t be debating this if i didn’t. that’s my point.”

        Hey – me too! The difference, I think, is that I’m still a Russian residing in Russia. That’s why I’m saying – please, go on! Tell us more!

        Also – are you Jewish to boot?

        “That is a trope and a microcosm of how the world goes round in the eastern block. don’t play dumb, boris.”

        I assure you, my name is not “boris” (neither is “Boris” while we are at it). Should I also join this fun activity and try to guess *your* name?

        As for the claim “[t]hat is a trope and a microcosm of how the world goes round in the eastern block” – it’s totally retarded. Like – absolutely. But, as you know, ballsy claims made without any substantial evidence in the “revelatory” fashion should be, likewise, dismissed without evidence.

        “the apartment bombings of the 1990s
        the second Chechen war
        anna politkovskaya
        alexander litvinenko
        sergei magnitsky
        boris nemstzov

        I really hoped and sure enough – you didn’t disappoint me!

        – There is no proof to the ages old discredited meme of “FSB is blowing Russia”. Yet autistic Russophobes like to repeat it. Note – autistic Russophobes. Smart Russophobes have abandoned it long time ago.

        – Second Chechen war began with the invasion of the internationally sponsored islamists into Dagestan – i.e. into RF proper.

        – There is absolutely no proof that FSB is behind the assassination of Politkovskaya, Litvinenko and Nemtzov. Like – no whatsoever. I’m not surprised though that you, being an emigrant to the Blessed West from the (former) SU strangely enough double down in ignoring such things as finding evidence and proving the case, resorting immediately to the calls of lynching. Cuz “everybody knows they are guilty, m’kay”.

        – Magnitsky died while in prison from the natural causes exacerbated by the inadequate medical attention. There is no proof it was done deliberately.

        Saying this, I as Russian, think that none of what you alleged makes FSB “demonstrably evil and murderous against its own people” (c). Try again.

        “i needn’t go on, I suggest you learn how to use google, if it’s available where you are. and please, не вешай лапшу на уши”

        Yes, Google is freely available here. One must be a complete idiot to think otherwise. So far it was you, who have been making pointless allegations and забивал баки, втирал в очки, or, to be incredibly blunt в конец запизделся.

        “my comment about the criminal trump organization comes from decades of observing financial filings and associations.”

        I.e. – it was an allegation, which you were not qualified to make, really. In fact – no one can from the legal and moral standpoint, until the Court passes the ruling.

        “Where did you get your journalism degree?”

        Bonner protect me! 🙂 I’m not a journalist, oh no! Neither am I willing to ever become one.

        I’m a historian.

        “If you’re not already on the Kremlin payroll, you should be”

        As relevant as ever:

        “you’ve revealed yourself to be quite the useful idiot. as far as i’m concerned, this conversation is over.”

        Like

  8. Professor! I think you’ve finally got recognition from the High and Mighty! 🙂

    It was YOUR review!

    Like

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