NY Times Continues The Hit Piece On Clinton, Democrats As “Clinton Rules” Rule

Ken Vogel of the NY Times continues with the hit piece on Clinton and the Democrats today, following up on his previous hit piece, with assistance from Maggie Haberman, yesterday. And once again, the piece is notable for the facts that it chooses to leave out.

The article is laid out as a kind of Q and A primer titled “What to Know About the Dossier of Trump Research and Who Paid for It”. The third question in the piece is “Does it matter who paid for it” and here is the first sentence of the response, “That depends on your politics”. Actually no. It would matter if the creators of the document were pressured to come to some sort of conclusion and there is no evidence to indicate they were.

Then, Vogel backs away from accusation that Marc Elias, the Democratic operative working for the law firm Perkins Coie who actually was contracting the work on the dossier on behalf of the DNC and the Clinton campaign, had continually lied about his connection to the dossier. Today, Vogel writes, “some of the Democrats who funded the dossier have been leery about being associated with it. The lead Perkins Coie lawyer representing both the campaign and the D.N.C., Marc Elias, pushed back earlier this year when asked whether his firm was the client for the dossier, whether he possessed it before the election and whether he was involved in efforts to encourage media outlets to write about its contents.”

Of course, yesterday, Haberman tweeted “Folks involved in this funding lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year”. In fact, Elias specifically denied having seen the document, having possession of the document, or even pitching the document to reporters. The Times has produced no evidence to contradict those denials. What Elias did mislead the reporters on was whether Perkins Coie was the client for the dossier. That was clearly misleading the reporters but was a typical slimy, lawyerly response since the actual client was the DNC and/or the Clinton campaign.

But we have to remember to put this in context to the question supposedly being asked. In response to whether it mattered who paid for the dossier, Vogel manages to imply that Elias and the Democrats had something to hide. That is not an answer to the question. Moreover, although earlier in the piece Vogel does make clear that a Republican opponent initially paid for the research until Trump became the nominee, there is a notable lack of interest in exploring whether that “mattered”.

The next question up is “Is this sort of research common or legal?” The Times gives the proper answer here, saying, “Campaigns and party committees frequently pay companies to assemble what’s known in politics as opposition research — essentially damaging information about their opponents — and nothing is illegal about the practice.”

But then it continues, implying once again that what the Democrats did was illegal, citing the fact that the DNC and Clinton FEC disclosure forms do not list any payments to Fusion GPS or line items in the payments to Perkins Coie for “opposition research”. Of course, the DNC and the Clinton campaign were not paying Fusion GPS directly so it is hardly surprising there would be no disclosure. Regarding Perkins Coie payments, a campaign watchdog group has filed a complaint over this lack of detail, saying that not providing the line item detail for the opposition research “undermined the vital public information role that reporting is intended to serve.” Note that they cite no specific legal wrongdoing. Perkins Coie responded to the complaint, saying it was “patently baseless” and that the research was done “to support the provision of legal services, and payments made by vendors to sub-vendors are not required to be disclosed in circumstances like this.”

Once again, in answering the question of whether this kind of research is legal, Vogel manages to imply wrongdoing on the part of the DNC and the Clinton campaign without producing a shred of evidence to support any kind illegal activity. It is more than reminiscent of the Times numerous breathless stories about the Clinton Foundation that would end with a paragraph stating that none of what had just been reported was illegal or unethical, after spending the entire article implying that it was.

But Vogel save the best for last, with his answer to the question, “How much of the dossier has been substantiated?” This is his entire answer, “There has been no public corroboration of the salacious allegations against Mr. Trump, nor of the specific claims about coordination between his associates and the Russians. In fact, some of those claims have been challenged with supporting evidence. For instance, Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, produced his passport to rebut the dossier’s claim that he had secret meetings in Prague with a Russian official last year.”

Of course, Vogel’s response does not answer the question. More egregiously, it’s pretty hard not to notice what is missing from his answer. Perhaps the fact that certain portions of the dossier HAVE actually been corroborated. For instance, Vogel might want to take a look at this CNN report from way back in February that “intercepts do confirm that some of the conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier.” The dossier revealed a meeting between Carter Page and Igor Divyekin in Moscow in July, 2016, That meeting has been confirmed. The dossier claims that the very same Michael Cohen was telling the Russians that sanctions could be lifted if Donald Trump won and we know that Flynn was working on exactly that. The dossier claims that the Russians had compromising material on Hillary Clinton and were willing to give it to the Trump campaign. That was specifically the point of the June, 2016 meeting between the Russians and Don Jr, Manafort, and Kushner. I could go on and please read this detailed analysis in Slate that details all the corroborating evidence we already have.

You get the point. If you had just read Vogel’s answer to the question, you would be under the impression that the dossier contains some salacious gossip about Trump and the rest has been refuted. In fact, the whole article is almost a gift to the right-wing propaganda machine that is intent on turning simple opposition research, which has been proven to have some elements of truth, into another Clinton scandal.

Will the Times obsession with the Clintons ever end? Will “Clinton Rules” always be the norm? Apparently so.

Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on October 26, 2017.