The following is a snippet, but I highly recommend you read the entire article. The connection between Fusion GPS and the Weekly Standard is startling and explains Bill Kristol’s continued venom as he leads his NeverTrump publication in the fight against all things Trump:
On the morning that Kristol’s piece posted, the Trump-Russian election collusion story was in its embryonic stage—nearly all American voters that summer remained blissfully unaware of the details in this preposterous story—but secretly it was being peddled to the media by Fusion GPS, a political opposition research firm hired by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to dig up Russian-related dirt on Donald Trump. Talking points produced by Glenn Simpson, the head of Fusion, and contained in the Steele dossier, were making the rounds in the D.C.-NYC media claque during July 2016. (At the same time, Steele was working with the FBI and alerting the agency to his dubious findings about the Trump campaign.)
Kristol’s article hits on every single one of the Simpson-Steele talking points: Trump forced the GOP to water-down language on the Ukraine in the party’s platform (it didn’t happen); the Russians were behind Wikileaks’ release of the DNC’s hacked emails (unproven); Trump encouraged foreign powers to interfere in the election (he didn’t); and Trump would not honor U.S. commitments to NATO (an overblown assessment of Trump’s NATO criticism nearly all the Republican candidates made). He listed a handful of unknown Trump campaign associates who would soon become household names, including campaign manager Paul Manafort; national security advisor, Lt. General Michael Flynn; and foreign policy aide Carter Page. (Strzok and the FBI formally opened their investigation into the three men—and campaign aide George Papadopoulos—on July 31, 2016.)
The content of Kristol’s piece closely mirrored reporting by other news outlets at the same time. (Lee Smith wrote about how the Fusion-planted media echo chamber evolved before the election.) But despite the flimsiness of the accusations, Kristol took his advocacy a step further.
These indications provide sufficient grounds for Trump’s links to Putin to be further investigated. Politicians who are currently supporting Trump should withdraw their unconditional support. We don’t know how direct and close a financial relationship Trump and Manafort have with the Putin regime. If Trump and Manafort don’t act to allay these concerns by releasing their tax returns (or in other ways), wouldn’t it be advisable for a Republican member of Congress to lead an urgent investigation into whether Putin is interfering in the current American election? Trump and Manafort may be Putin’s chumps. Will other Republicans sit by as the whole Republican party becomes Putin’s party?
A few hours after the Standard piece went online, Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook reinforced Kristol’s message in an interview on CNN. Desperate to change the subject from DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s pending resignation, Mook also claimed the Russians were behind the DNC’s computer hack because Putin wanted Trump to win. There were other similarities to Kristol’s article. “Trump and his allies made changes to the Republican platform to make it more pro-Russian,” Mook told Jake Tapper. “And we saw him talking about how NATO shouldn’t intervene to defend our Eastern European allies if they are attacked by Russia. So, I think, when you put all this together, it’s a disturbing picture.”
The next day, Carter Page received his first text from a reporter and former Wall Street Journalcolleague of Simpson’s, asking him about his ties to Russia and mentioning dossier-sourced specifics. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest fielded his first (planted) question during the daily press briefing by an AP reporter, who oddly asked whether the DNC hack was an attempt to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump.
Coincidence? Not a chance.
Kristol would take to Twitter dozens of times before the election to promote the Trump-Russia collusion fantasy, even referring to the GOP as “the Putin Party.” Kristol’s handpicked candidate to challenge Trump, Evan McMullin, also pushed the Trump-Russia narrative. (On the other hand, despite Fusion and Glenn Simpson being covered in the conservative media for more than a year, Kristol has zero tweets about the firm.)
It might be easy to dismiss all of this as mere happenstance, the rantings of a fierce Trump foe determined to do whatever he could to stop Trump from winning. But there is an important sidebar to consider: The Washington Free Beacon admitted last year that they retained Fusion from late 2015 until April 2016 to gather opposition research on Republican primary candidates. The website is run by Kristol’s son-in-law, Matthew Continetti. The Beacon posted numerous negative stories about the Trump campaign in 2016, including hit pieces on Carter Page in March and July.