Talk about burying the lede. A day after the revelation by the Washington Post that Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid for the Russia dossier, the NY Times buried Clinton’s denial of any knowledge of the arrangement in the 12th paragraph of a story titled “What to Know About the Dossier of Trump Research and Who Paid for It.” The denial comes from two anonymous sources who claim Clinton first learned her campaign had funded the dossier after Buzzfeed published it in January:
Officials from the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C. have said they were unaware that Perkins Coie facilitated the research on their behalf, even though the law firm was using their money to pay for it. Even Mrs. Clinton only found about Mr. Steele’s research after Buzzfeed published the dossier, according to two associates who discussed the matter with her. They said that she was disappointed that the research — as well as the fact that the F.B.I. was looking into connections between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia — was not made public before Election Day.
Clinton’s denial isn’t even the opener of the 12th paragraph. It is actually buried within the paragraph? Why would author Kenneth Vogel do this? It’s not as if this isn’t by far the biggest news in the story. Within hours of the story going up at the NY Times, the Hill had made Clinton’s denial a headline. And early this morning CNN published a story titled, “Hillary Clinton unaware of dossier before it was published.” So why did the NY Times go for the soft splash on this?
Putting aside the question of whatever bias or incompetence led the Times to bury the lede here, there are questions to ask about the denial itself. Why didn’t Hillary just tweet this explanation herself? Why didn’t she speak for herself on the record? Why are her associates saying this anonymously? As Ed noted earlier today, this followed 24-hours of silence from Clinton world in which Hillary, Robby Mook and John Podesta all refused to say anything when asked by the Washington Post. It all looks like Clinton world circling the wagons to protect Hillary. She certainly had plenty to say about Russia and collusion prior to this week.
And that raises another point about this. As Callum Borchers pointed out yesterday, Hillary’s book “What Happened” mentions the dossier but does not state that her campaign paid for it. Why is that? If she knew her campaign was behind it since January, she had months to fit that fact into her manuscript. Why didn’t she?
The answer, of course, is that Hillary only tells the complete truth when forced to do so. At the time she wrote the book she knew who had paid for the dossier but she wasn’t going to tell readers that because she didn’t have to and it didn’t help her to do so. There was no need to be completely honest at the time because it seemed this awkward fact was going to remain buried. Now, in retrospect, we see Hillary was withholding the truth, as she so often does.
Hillary’s track record of being extremely stingy with the truth makes it hard to take any announcement she makes at face value, especially one she won’t even make with her own face. Clinton has been trying to connect Trump to Russian mischief since at least July 2016, coincidentally that’s the same month Christopher Steele was turning the first parts of what became the Russia dossier over to Fusion GPS. Presumably, Fusion GPS was sharing those results with their client Marc Elias who also happened to be the Clinton campaign’s general counsel. Steele says the findings were so explosive that he felt obligated to share them with the FBI on his own accord (again, in July 2016). But we’re now asked to believe Elias never shared these explosive findings with any of the people paying for them. Does that make any sense at all?
Fusion GPS also had Steele share his findings with reporters at several outlets in October, in an effort to get the oppo-research out to the public before election day. Most of the outlets refused to publish his claims because they couldn’t back them up, but Mother Jones did publish a story on Oct. 31, 2016. Again, does it seem plausible that Fusion GPS was doing this without the permission of their client, Marc Elias? Is it plausible that Elias told Fusion to take the dossier to the NY Times and others without even telling Clinton the dossier existed? Was the plan to surprise her with the publication of these damning accusations against Trump a week before the election?
Hillary withheld the truth about the dossier in her tell-all book so it’s not an unreasonable assumption she’s still withholding the truth now. It’s just what she does.