We all know what money laundering is. When you need to hide the fact that the money in your possession comes by way of nefarious sources, you transfer it through legitimate sources and it appears clean on the other end. It’s standard practice among thieves, extortionists, drug dealers, and the like.
The same practice can even be used to “clean” intelligence that comes by dubious sources, and sometimes even US Senators may involve themselves in such dark activities. Case in point US Senator John McCain (R-AZ), whose virulent opposition to Donald Trump is outmatched only by his total dedication to fomenting a new cold (or hot?) war with Russia.
While the world was caught up in the more salacious passages from a purported opposition research report on Donald Trump showing all manner of collusion with Putin’s Russia — and Russia’s possession of blackmail-able kompromat on Trump — something very interesting was revealed about the custody of the information. The “dossier” on Trump seemed to follow two chains of custody. One involved the media, which in October were given and encouraged to publish the “report” by the authors of the report (or their sponsors), purportedly a former British intelligence officer working for a private intelligence company. Only David Corn of Mother Jones bit, and his resulting story picked over the report to construct a mess of innuendo on Trump’s relation to Russia that was short on any evidence.
The other chain of custody is what interests us. Remember, we have a dubious report constructed for the purpose of discrediting Donald Trump, which was first commissioned by one of his Republican primary rivals and later completed under the patronage of someone in Hillary’s camp. It was created for a specific political purpose, which may have tainted its reception among more objective governmental sources had that been known. Enter John McCain. According to media reports, the dossier was handed to Sen. McCain — again, a strong Trump opponent and proponent of conflict with Russia — by a former UK ambassador (who presumably received it from the source, a former British intelligence officer).
Senator McCain then felt duty-bound to bring this “intelligence report” directly (and privately) to the personal attention of FBI Director James Comey. From this hand-off to Comey, the report then became part of the Intelligence Community’s assessment of Russian interference in the US presidential election.
Senator McCain is the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, one of the most powerful members of the US Senate. Consider the impact of being handed a strange report by some private intelligence-firm-for-hire or a media outlet versus being handed a report by one of the most powerful men in the US government. McCain’s involving himself in the case gave the report a sense of legitimacy that it would not otherwise have had. Was this “laundering” intentional on his part? We do not know, but given his position on Trump and Russia that possibility must be considered.
So great was the pressure on McCain to come clean on his decision to meet privately with the FBI Director to hand over this report that he released a statement earlier today portraying himself as nothing more than a good citizen, passing information to the proper authorities for them to act on if they see fit.
Do you believe the Senator from Arizona?