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Member since: Tue May 17, 2016, 10:19 PM
Number of posts: 67

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Trump's campaign czar named as "Watersportsgate" leaker

The following was originally published on my political blog. I'm not looking for click-throughs or agreement or attribution. I'm looking for people willing to do dispassionate research into a lead which I was given by one of my readers. The more I look into this claim, the likelier it seems.

In fact, I think this could be a bombshell.

As everyone now knows, the 36 page report containing the "golden shower" allegation originated with a private intelligence-gathering firm called Orbis, run by a respected former MI6 agent named Christopher Steele. Orbis caters to high-powered corporate clients. In that world, a private intelligence firm simply cannot stay in business if the product is sloppy or mendacious.

No-one can fairly claim that the dossier was put together for purposes of propaganda, for the simple reason that the text was never meant for public consumption. Buzzfeed put the dossier online only after learning that the American intelligence community was taking these claims very seriously -- seriously enough to brief both Obama and Trump.

Everyone is talking about those 36 pages, but few have actually read them. Those who have bothered to do so know that the true source for the "golden shower" story is not Orbis. Orbis got the story from three separate sources, labeled Source D, Source E and Source F.

Source D appears to be someone who works for Trump. Source F is someone who works for the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow.

The "big fish" in this barrel is Source E: He not only confirmed the watersports "kompromat" claim, he also spilled many another bean. In fact, I would say that those other beans are the truly important ones.

Writers for the Washington Post -- who have apparently seen an unredacted version of the dossier -- identified Source E as a Russian emigre who is very close to Donald Trump. But so far, no-one has given you a name.

Until now.

An anonymous informant tells me that Source E is Boris Epshteyn, the man who is running Trump's inauguration. As you may have heard, his job has not been an easy one.

During the campaign, Epshteyn -- an investment banker born in the former USSR -- was often seen on cable television, defending Trump at every turn.

You are probably wondering: How can I be sure of this identification, since I have only one anonymous informant? In truth, I'm not certain -- not 100%. But the claim certainly seemed very plausible after I checked out Epshteyn's Wikipedia page and looked up a biographical sketch published by the New York Times.

Everything fits. EVERYTHING.

He's a Russian emigre. He knows Moscow very well. (Source E knew Source F, who works at the Moscow Ritz-Carlton.) He's extremely close to Trump. He got "in" with the campaign via a relationship with Trump's son.

In October 2013, Epshteyn helped moderate an investment event "Invest in Moscow!" In the Orbis dossier, Source E's special area of knowledge seems to be investment in Russia.

Epshteyn got his start in Republican politics as part of the 2008 John McCain campaign. McCain has played an intriguing role in the saga of the Orbis dossier. From a recent Arizona Republic story:

Published reports conflict about how, when and from whom McCain learned about and obtained the memos.

In a story published late Wednesday on its website, the New York Times reported, without attribution, that McCain caught wind of the anti-Trump memos and got copies last month from David J. Kramer of Arizona State University's McCain Institute for International Leadership.

That would contradict other published accounts, including one Tuesday in the Guardian, which reported McCain "was informed about the existence of the documents separately by an intermediary from a western allied state" and "dispatched an emissary overseas to meet the source."

CNN reported Tuesday that McCain learned about the dossier from "a former British diplomat who had been posted in Moscow."

The Guardian now identifies the intermediary as Sir Andrew Wood.

Think about it: Why would a high-level British official contact McCain? I believe that the UK wanted background information on the man we know as Source E. Perhaps they knew that McCain was in a position to divulge that kind of information.

Ephsteyn's Twitter feed has been very sparse of late, and contains no reference to the controversy generated by the Orbis dossier.

If Ephsteyn is Source E, then we may fairly presume that the joint intelligence task force investigating these claims went to the FISA court specifically to get permission to eavesdrop electronically on Boris Ephsteyn. Remember: Permission is needed only if the target is an American.

Permission was finally granted in October. I have no idea what the intelligence "haul" might have been.

I invite everyone to check out Ephsteyn's background carefully, and then re-read all the passages about Source E in the Orbis dossier.

A final note: Although I am increasingly persuaded that Ephsteyn is Source E, I am NOT convinced that Source E always spoke truthfully to the Orbis agent.
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