The Steele so-called dossier so-called red herring is neither. It’s an intelligence report of loosely related facts and rumours that Donald Trump collaborated with the Russians during and after the 2016 election, and it’s far from a red herring. If it gets anything wrong it does so unintentionally.
The Steele Dossier (as it will be forever known) was originally commissioned as opposition research written for the private investigative firm Fusion GPS which was hired by a conservative website to get dirt on Trump. Its author Christopher Steele treated the dossier as raw intelligence, not proven, verifiable fact. Thirty-five pages in length, it was never finished and it was leaked accidentally and published on January 10, 2017 by Buzzfeed, when it was far too late for it to do any good stopping Trump’s benighted candidacy.
So when Donald Trump protests without prompting that he doesn’t like women peeing on him — never mind that it’s an odd thing for a former president to say in any case — he is responding to a largely misinterpreted allegation in the Steele dossier. Most people are aware that you look guilty when you make an unprompted confession like that. For example, when someone asks you if you heard about the murder in the park this morning, the last thing you would do if you were innocent would be to blurt out, “I was nowhere near the park this morning!”
The real point isn’t whether or not Donald Trump hired some women to pee on him. The real point is that we all know Donald Trump well enough to know it’s exactly the kind of thing he would do if the mood struck him. His own sense of proportion, dignity and right and wrong wouldn’t stop him because he has none of those things. His only consideration would be whether or not it was something he’d want to do.
I think I’m like most men when I say that I find the idea of women peeing on me thoroughly repellant. But I can easily see Trump doing it because he’s an awful man who has done many other awful things I wouldn’t do. Donald Trump is a rapist and a murderer and a traitor and a thief. With a resume like that, “golden showerer” sounds almost like an afterthought.
To set the record straight, however, nowhere does the Steele Dossier say that Trump hired prostitutes to pee on him. What it does allege is that Trump hired prostitutes to pee on a bed that Barack and Michelle Obama had slept in, and that there exists a tape of that event. Christopher Steele still believes the tape exists and that it has yet to be released to the general public. It may be that forces, including Vladimir Putin, are keeping the tape hidden in order to control Trump. But this is all speculation.
There are four possibilities. The first is the peeing prostitutes allegation is entirely false. The second is that it’s true but there was no tape. The third is it’s true and there was a tape. The fourth is that it’s true and there was a tape, but the tape was later destroyed. We may never know.
Whatever the case, Christopher Steele “stand[s] by the work we did, the sources that we had, and the professionalism which we applied to it.” The dossier paints a deeply unflattering portrait of Trump — as all portraits must if they are good likenesses.
Detractors of the dossier are largely Republicans, and they promote the idea that the dossier was commissioned by Hillary Clinton. This is a blatant and provable lie, but it sounds better (to Republicans) than the truth, that it was commissioned by “The Washington Free Beacon,” an American conservative political journalism website.
Whatever the case, the Steele dossier accurately describes a man who any sane American would shudder to think became president of the United States. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.