The saga of the dossier won't quit
With the salacious, unverified details out of the bag, and with Trump having dispensed his usual form of revenge-by-insult against his perceived journalistic foes, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal slow things down with a pair of articles offering enlightening bits of backstory to the scandal.
At the Times, Scott Shane, Nicholas Confessore, and Matthew Rosenberg explore "How a lurid, unverified dossier became a crisis for Donald Trump." Or, as Confessore puts it on Twitter, "How a mystery Republican donor's ask led to an intel report on President Obama's desk."
Matt Ford of the Atlantic calls it a "fun NYT origin story."
To some, however, the story was hardly perfect. "How [does] this @NYTimes story fail to mention that @DavidCornDC wrote about the dossier in Oct?" asks Clara Jeffery, editor-in-chief of Mother Jones where David Corn works. (The New York Times later updated its story to include Corn's reporting).
Meanwhile, The Toronto Star's Daniel Dale (who once spent 33 straight days fact-checking Trump) adds, "Why Trump dossier exists: rich Republican and then Democrats put up cash to hire ex-journalist, who hired ex-spy."
As for that ex-spy who prepared the dossier, The Wall Street Journal's Bradley Hope, Michael Rothfeld, and Alan Cullison say they've identified him as ex-British Intelligence agent Christopher Steele.
"Wait, I thought it was a kid on 4chan with an anime vendetta against Rick Wilson," jokes Ben Collins of The Daily Beast.
"WSJ answers the question of the day," tweets Politico'a Josh Dawsey.
"'We have no political ax to grind,' says director of [Steele's] firm," says WSJ's Gráinne McCarthy, highlighting an important detail about the story.
A number of intelligence experts have also vouched for Steele's credibility, according to The Guardian's Nick Hopkins an Luke Harding. Linking to their article on the matter, Liam Stack of the New York Times adds, "UK officials and intel agents said the argument that the Trump/Russia dossier is fake is 'completely untrue.'"
And finally, WSJ's Alex Martin couldn't resist: "Steele, Christopher Steele..."
In other news:
"Senate Republicans have a bridge they’d like to sell you," tweets Matthew Yglesias of Vox in response to the GOP's claim to "build new bridges to better health care." That quote comes from the New York Times' report that the Senate has taken a major step toward repealing President Obama's health care law.
In the wake of allegations that Trump appointee Monica Crowley—in addition to plagiarizing parts of her book—plagiarized parts of her PhD dissertation, CNN's Andrew Kaczynski, Chris Massie, and Tal Yellin analyzed the dissertation and found that Crowley lifted "thousands" of words. "Please consider revoking Monica Crowley's PhD," advises NBC's Charles Jaco, tweeting at Crowley's alma mater, Columbia University. "This is enough to get anyone else's doctorate cancelled."
The New York Times reports that the U.S. Department of Justice plans to open an investigation into the letter FBI director James Comey's sent to Congress 11 days before the election about the possibility of newly relevant information in Hillary Clinton's email server investigation—specifically, whether the letter was "politically-motivated." The Guardian's Paul Lewis asks, "When was there last a transition a tumultuous as this?"
"Whoa, this is a doozy of a midnight decision," tweets CNN's Tal Kopan in response to Charlie Savage's report in the New York Times revealing that the NSA has given itself far more latitude to share intercepted communications with other agencies.
Guess who now owns the biggest house in Washington, DC? Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, according to his own newspaper's reporting. "WaPo reports Bezos is buying a $23 mlllion DC house 'to avoid hotel bills,'" tweets Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner. "How much room service does he typically order?"
Bloomberg reports that a number of peso traders are floating an idea for Mexico's future that's either totally nuts or totally brilliant (or both): "Instead of spending its precious reserves to defend the peso," write Brendan Walsh and Isabella Cota, "Mexico should just buy Twitter Inc." Cota later added in a tweet, "‘Shut Down Twitter’ Cry Goes Out Among Exasperated Peso Traders. No more Trump tweets!"