After President Trump commented on the idea of receiving “foreign dirt” on an opponent on Thursday, cable news pundits fully dedicated themselves to moving the goal posts for what constitutes colluding with a foreign adversary. On “At This Hour With Kate Bolduan,” CNN reporter Evan Perez simultaneously downplayed the significance of the Steele dossier and failed to explain which 2016 campaign had actually paid a foreign adversary for opposition research (spoiler: it was the Hillary Clinton campaign).
Perez seemed to conclude that Trump’s hypothetical comments are much worse than the actual effect the Steele dossier had on the 2016 election because the dossier was written by someone connected to U.S. ally Great Britain, and because it was obtained by the FBI.
“On one hand, you have Christopher Steele, who’s a former spy for the British intelligence services, one of the closest allies of the United States, who was — who again had a record of working with the FBI on investigations, and that information was used as part of a FISA application on Carter Page,” Perez said.
To put it bluntly, Steele was literally paid to collude with Russians in writing his infamous dossier. Yes, Clinton campaign subcontractor Steele is in fact British, but he admitted to the State Department that his sources for compiling the dossier were Kremlin officials.
“Steele identified a former Russian spy chief and a top adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin as being involved in handling potentially compromising information about President Donald Trump,” The Daily Caller reported.
Just for clarity: Steele was not dossier's source. In Steele's words, sources were: A: senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure; B: former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin; C: senior Russian financial official; and G: senior Kremlin official.
— Byron York (@ByronYork) June 13, 2019
As for Perez’s claim that the FBI’s possession of the dossier negates any concern about foul play? It has been reported that the FBI also paid for and supported the genesis of the dossier. But Perez knows this because he reported it.
In the same segment, Perez also held up the Trump Tower meeting as an example of the Trump campaign colluding with Russians, although this story has been thoroughly debunked. What Perez failed to mention, however, was the mysterious firm behind both the dossier and the Trump Tower meeting, and Perez’s personal connections to that firm.
“You know, you cannot say that just because the dossier was used that it equals what, you know, this [Trump Tower] meeting was, where clearly they were told that the Russian government is offering to support the Trump campaign,” Perez said on CNN.
In fact, the dossier and the Trump Tower meeting are equal in their association with foreign opposition research because they are both products of the masterminds at Fusion GPS, the firm the Clinton campaign hired to conduct opposition research, with whom Perez himself happens to be close friends.
As The Daily Caller reports, Perez was a colleague at the Wall Street Journal with Fusion GPS founders Glen Simpson, Peter Fritsch, and Tom Catan. On Facebook, Perez has shared pictures of him and his Fusion friends attending baseball games and fishing excursions together.
It is clearly not a coincidence that Perez excludes from his reporting the details of his friends’ dirty work on both the dossier and the Trump Tower meeting. And why would he want to? It would dismantle the fact-less narrative that CNN is still running with, nearly three years later, about President Trump’s alleged and now-debunked collusion with Russia.
Instead, journalists like Perez will continue to work their way around these inconvenient truths, moving goal posts, changing the definition of collusion, and of course choosing their friends over the American people.