UK’s former Moscow ambassador on Trump dossier

Outside of the current mess of US media and politics, where it’s difficult to know who is faking what, the dossier on Trump/Russia is getting attention also in the UK, which is also deeply involved.

And a former UK ambassador to Russia is giving some credence to the spy who put the dossier together.

The Guardian: UK’s former Moscow ambassador in spotlight over Trump dossier

Sir Andrew Wood says he rates judgment of report author Christopher Steele, who ‘would not make things up’

It could depend on whether Steele’s sources are making things up or not though.

Cool, unruffled and polite, Sir Andrew Wood is every inch the Foreign Office mandarin, and not a diplomat ordinarily associated with the kind of cold war-style alleged sex scandal currently embroiling the president-elect, Donald Trump.

Yet to his evident discomfort, Wood has found himself thrust front and centre of a story that has generated global interest and sent shudders around Washington and Whitehall on the eve of an inauguration that will be stained by the furore.

Wood, 77, knew and respected Christopher Steele, the ex-MI6 officer who wrote the 35-page dossier that contained lurid allegations about Trump. Wood also spoke to the Republican senator John McCain about the claims.

The two men had met at an “international security forum” in Canada last November – Wood addressed delegates about Ukraine, McCain about Syria. But it was their private discussion about Russia that set in train this week’s remarkable events.

Wood shared with the veteran senator what he knew about the dossier and warned that if any of its central claims were true, Trump could be blackmailed by Russia. McCain was worried enough to seek out a copy of the documents for himself – which he then passed to the FBI.

So Wood and McCain both thought it was serious enough to do something about it (but it should be noted that McCain has been a strong opponent of Trump since before this broke).

Wood, the UK ambassador to Moscow between 1995 and 2000, explained the sequence of events in various media interviews on Friday – using the kind of moderated language that no doubt helped persuade McCain, and then the heads of the US intelligence agencies, that both President Obama and the brash incumbent, needed to know what was being circulated.

At a point when the British government was hoping the story would go away, Wood lobbed the ball back into the billionaire’s court.

He told the Guardian the report’s key allegation – that Trump and Russia’s leadership were communicating via secret back channels during the presidential campaign – was eminently plausible.

“I think it has to be disproved, rather than anything else,” he said.

I don’t think it should be entirely that way, if at all. It would make a big difference to the story if some proof was produced.

Of Steele, who compiled the dossier last year at the behest of Trump’s political enemies, Wood told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday morning he knew him to be a “very competent professional operator … I do not think he would make things up. I don’t think he would necessarily always draw the correct judgment, but that’s not the same thing at all.”

Later, Wood was more generous in his assessment of Steele, telling the Guardian he “rated his judgment”.

“I take the report seriously. I don’t think it’s totally implausible. It’s conceivable he [Steele] has been duped or has exaggerated what his sources have been telling him. But I can’t really believe the dupe argument. Why would they [the Kremlin] bother?”

This is likely to help give the story some legs.

All of which suggests the debate about the dossier and its unsubstantiated claims are likely to rumble on in the US and the UK – which is likely to frustrate Downing Street as it tries to build bridges with a new, unpredictable administration.

It was GCHQ that tipped off the US about Russia hacking the Democratic Convention, and it was an MI6 officer whose work on Trump has caused the combustible businessman such embarrassment this week.

The UK is inextricably linked with the US and Russia over both the hacking and the dossier issues. And on the hacking:

Wood told the Guardian it was Trump’s own erratic behaviour on the campaign trail that had raised questions about his links with Russia. Trump originally denied that Putin had anything to do with hacking – only to say at his press conference earlier this week he thought Moscow was indeed guilty.

Confronted with serious hacking allegations, a presidential candidate would more usually call for a full inquiry, Wood said. Trump didn’t. “It colours the perception. Trump has encouraged the idea that there were meetings [between Trump aides and the Russian leadership],” Wood said, adding: “On the other hand, Trump says the first thing that comes into his head.”

If there were allegations of hacking being used by a major foreign power to try to influence a US election I would have thought that any responsible presidential candidate would have wanted it investigated properly.

Regardless of the facts or lack of facts Trump’s erratic behaviour and statements raise substantial doubts about his credibility.

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68 Comments

  1. Sir Andrew ran a tight ship in Moscow at a time when the Soviet dirty tricks were at their heights and does have a good reputation as being balanced in his observations. What he says is, yes it is possible that the dossier contains some facts, but be careful in how you interpret them and what weight you give the statements.
    Of some merit also is his observation that while it is possible that the Kremlin was playing funny games by introducing untruths into the material given to Steele, such actions seem to have no real purpose. Why blacken Trump’s reputation in the US when you hope to negotiate a real deal for Russia’s overall benefit with a US President who seems not to have a fixed anti-Russian viewpoint? That is a logical question that needs an answer. Is it a double bluff, or is it the truth?
    I will be watching what happens when Putin meets with Trump as President. Things to look for are where such a meeting takes place, and under what sort of ceremony? How will the two leaders relate to each other, and how will the PR people pitch the tone and atmosphere of the meeting(s)?

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  14th January 2017

      The body language will be interesting, too.

      I can’t think why it took me so long to realise how many gestures Drumpf and Hitler have in common-the two-hand point is an obvious one, as is the raised finger and the raised hand (does Trump really not realise what that means ?) It goes on. Is Drumpf channeling Hitler and Mussolini ? Even the facial expressions are the same. It’s very unnerving.I don’t remember seeing film of them applauding themselves as he does, I must admit.

      Reply
      • Please use Trump’s proper name.

        Reply
        • Joe Bloggs

           /  14th January 2017

          with all due respect PG, and just to let you know, I’ll demonstrate respect for that man when he demonstrates respect for the office he’s been appointed to, and when he demonstrates respect for women, people of colour, the differently abled, and all of the other groups that he’s campaigned against over the past 18 months, and when he releases his tax returns, and when he stops his nepotism, and when he behaves honestly and truthfully.

          Until then I’ll continue to show him the contempt he so richly deserves….

          As for Kitty’s use of the name Drumpf, I understand that is indeed his family name, and one which was changed by American immigration officials who ‘anglicised’ his paternal grandfather’s surname when he arrived at Ellis Island in 1896.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  14th January 2017

            Your understanding is wrong as I linked yesterday:
            Surname

            The immigration records list his name as Friedr. Trumpf, but sources including the genealogy organization FamilySearch, a genealogist at About.com, and the 2013 book America’s Obsessives concluded that both his father and his aunt’s surnames were Trump.[19][20][21] Gwenda Blair’s The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a Presidential Candidate (2001) said that the family name was changed from Drumpf to Trump during the Thirty Years’ War of the 1600s.[22][23][24] Journalist Kate Connolly, visiting Kallstadt, found several variations in spelling of the surname in the town archives but her article does not note “Drumpf.”[25]

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Trump

            Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  14th January 2017

          Sorry…

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  14th January 2017

            I believe that it is the German version-like Muller for Miller. It’s not like calling him Bumf or something like that.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  14th January 2017

              That’s not correct as I quote above. It has been used on Trump purely for insult purposes.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  14th January 2017

              It could be worse; it could be Dummkopf. There seems to be a reasonable case for the name having been Drumpf-if it was an invention, the inventors would surely have invented something funny.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  14th January 2017

              It doesn’t seem insulting, it’s a quite believable name, if not a very euphonious one. Trump, which is another word for a fart in some parts of England, is not a name I’d want to be called-it also has connotations of trumpeting. Look up trumpery in a thesaurus. All the synonyms for it are unpleasant attributes.I’d almost rather be called Drumpf ! If I had to have a German name, which I would never want, of course.

            • Gezza

               /  14th January 2017

              😳

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  14th January 2017

              Muller is Miller !

              In the early 1930s, a little Jewish man was walking down a street in Berlin when he was confronted with an SS officer.

              The officer clicked his heels together and shouted ‘Schweinhund !’

              The Jewish man clicked HIS heels together and said ‘Cohen.’

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  14th January 2017

    This story seems to be getting a lot more legs in the UK media than in the US. Maybe the Brits rate their spies more highly than the Yanks?

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  14th January 2017

      Traditionally, even the ones who famously went over to the other side, I think, have generally been very well-educated a cut above the hoi polloi.

      Reply
      • David

         /  14th January 2017

        Spending a lot of time at Oxbridge doesn’t make them educated. The propensity of Cambridge graduates to defect to the Soviet Union is proof of this.

        Reply
    • Klik Bate

       /  14th January 2017

      I wonder if at 77, Sir Andrew may be a little past his ‘use by date’ ❓

      Just sayin’…….

      Reply
      • Joe Bloggs

         /  14th January 2017

        That’s simply age-ist crap.

        Reply
      • Trump isn’t a lot younger and sounds somewhat less coherent.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  14th January 2017

          SOMEWHAT less ? What an understatement.

          Bertrand Russell was still very much with it at 98. It’s odd to think of someone knowing Gladstone, and living until 1970, having also been in the Ban the Bomb movement.

          Reply
  3. Boohoo KB thinks I am nearly at my “use by” date – if 77 is the time. Nah, you can’t get rid of me that easily. My body is stuffed but my brain is still functioning, and I regard that as a work in progress still.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  14th January 2017

      So long as you can annoy someone every day you’re doing ok I reckon, BJ. We’re lucky to have Gezza here for that.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  14th January 2017

        😳❗️ 💔

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  14th January 2017

          That’s got everyone’s day off to a good start, G. Even Lurch. Except, perhaps, the possum’s.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  14th January 2017

            For the benefit of readers I am sure this is a reference to the imported australian opossums which have been causing distress to trees on his extensive estates, and not to the wonderful kiwi one who sometimes graces this forum with her music & thoughts.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  14th January 2017

              @ PDT 😡

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  14th January 2017

              Never mind the trees. Those darn Aussies have been crapping all over my cabins. I’m sure Pickled has better manners.

            • Gezza

               /  14th January 2017

              “No surprises there”.

    • Klik Bate

       /  14th January 2017

      Present company excepted, BJ !

      RESPECT.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  14th January 2017

        My stepfather was still instrumental in running his businesses when he was older than 77.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  14th January 2017

          Bloody possums have been breaking branches on my trees. They have no idea of what will be a strong enough one to hold them. ‘This looks like a good strong one….’ THUMP !

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  14th January 2017

            I have yet to get it on cellcam but when I do I’ll post it here. You wouldn’t believe it otherwise but Pooky can fly up from the stream when he’s of a mind to and perch on a spindly branch a tui would consider a dicey proposition.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  14th January 2017

              The possums must think that if a pook can do it, so can they. They forget that if the branch did break under a pook, the pook could fly away….

  4. Pete Kane

     /  14th January 2017

    “Trump slides in poll, even among Trump voters”
    Never a chance of a truly smooth transition given the personalities. in my view.
    http://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/watch/trump-slides-in-poll-even-among-trump-voters-853932099652

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  14th January 2017

      Suppose I should really have a read of PG’s post before commenting, but just want to say from the msm coverage – including Aljaz’s – of the doings in the US ever since Donald J got on the hustings, it’s like de hol’ dam country has been experiencing collective psychosis, Mr K. Everything there seems to be totally crazy.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  14th January 2017

        Thank God I don’t live there !!!

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  14th January 2017

          Thanks God.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  14th January 2017

            Another lovely day and we’re all…..I just turned the computer on to look one thing up and……

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  14th January 2017

              .. having lunch?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  14th January 2017

              Er, yes. Not inside with nothing better to do than be on the computer :-/

              I have been painting two rocks with the names and dates of my old man and a dear friend who died a month later, and little symbols of each. Very simple, as I am not an artist and even smooth rock is hard to paint on.

            • Gezza

               /  14th January 2017

              I would be outside with the scythe shaving the back lawn except I don’t have a pair of diver’s boots heavy enuf to keep me on the ground in the norwesterly zephyr howling thru the backyard.

            • Joe Bloggs

               /  14th January 2017

              @Kitty – such a thoughtful and loving thing to do, painting two rocks to commemorate your old man and dear friend… all power to you.

            • Gezza

               /  14th January 2017

              @ Al. 😂

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  14th January 2017

              I can’t think why it took so long to think of it. They are not great art, but I don’t care.

              How maddening-the man across the road has mowed his lawn. which, like mine, was a dandelion plantation. Blast him, now I’ll have to do mine, which didn’t look so bad when the one opposite was like it.

              I have pruned the dog, and he looks like a different animal-all his lovely curls gone (snf) I can think of few nicer ways to spend a hot afternoon than giving a long-haired dog a haircut with scissors. NB, if anyone does DIY dog haircuts, a pair of proper haircutting scissors is an investment. Mine are Revlon, cost $10 in a sale and as it costs $60 to have a dog groomed, they were money well spent. . He was starting to look like Bob Marley.

            • Gezza

               /  14th January 2017

              How do the legs look (his, I mean)? Tell the truth.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  14th January 2017

              All right, as it happens-I have done it before. 😀 He doesn’t look like a Crufts’ winner, but he looks respectable enough. Standing him on the washing machine was an inspiration, it’s only taken 6 years to think of it.

            • Gezza

               /  14th January 2017

              Tell the little Fulla, “doan worry mon, dreads or not, he can still boogi to de reggae if he wantsa.”

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  15th January 2017

              He’s more of a spinning top when it comes to dancing, although he can bop about on his hind feet for a (very) short time. I keep hoping to see again the local dog who can not only walk on his back feet as easily as a person, he can hop down the street like that, front paws neatly placed on his chest. I have never seen a dog do this in real life. He wasn’t taught, he just does it.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  15th January 2017

              Look up Trip Hazard, the dog in Britain’s Got Talent. His mother is a dog trainer, he is naturally gifted, and the result is marvellous.

            • Gezza

               /  15th January 2017

              “I keep hoping to see again the local dog who can not only walk on his back feet as easily as a person, he can hop down the street like that, front paws neatly placed on his chest. I have never seen a dog do this in real life. He wasn’t taught, he just does it.”

              Reminds me a bit of a clever chap up in Northland who goes on holiday next door.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  15th January 2017

              Alan ?

            • Gezza

               /  15th January 2017

              (No names no law suits)

  5. And the smear by elements in the media continue…… This is just getting funnier by the minute…

    Bremain will WIN!!!…. Yeah, nah. Pollsters, Liberal media and a whole slew of self righteous middle class fools NIL, The People ONE….

    Hillary is the dawning of the NEW AGE and RESPECT FOR WIMMIN and will be the First POTUS to be a Woman…. Yeah, nah. Pollsters, Liberal media and a whole slew of self righteous middle class fools NIL, The People TWO….

    Pollsters, Liberal media and a whole slew of self righteous middle class fools – we are taking our ball and going home and we will throw some merde around while we do it.

    And boy are the applying crap to the fan as quick as they can…

    This story will die. And then there will be another, and another, and another. And just when the Democratic Primaries kick off for the next POTUS election it will crank up even more. Unless Donald delivers some wins for the general populace and the Media have to eat crow.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  14th January 2017

      He doesn’t need to deliver wins now.

      Reply
    • Mefrostate

       /  15th January 2017

      Ok, so you’ve had your little rant about the media. Any actual comments on the likely validity of these allegations of Russian ties? Or the implications they could have on Trump’s behaviour?

      Reply
      • Oh look a little concern troll… “your little rant”

        Validity is tending to zero. And even if its not – what does it matter?

        This is just typical smear – allegations, rumours. Oh look you use the allegations line yourself.

        I will form an opinion about Donald once he has been in office for awhile – like a year when he and the GOP have had a chance to establish and execute a policy platform.

        Everything else at the moment is bunch of pissed of Producers who didn’t get there way and called a major event completely wrong trying make a fire where there is probably not one.

        The rhetoric being used is OTT – even someone like you must recognise that if you actually step back and have a good look at it.

        Reply
        • Mefrostate

           /  15th January 2017

          I know it’s easy to write everything off as just a smear, but please answer my questions above and below.

          Do you think might be some substance to the allegations, given their source, and the circumstantial evidence which has emerged around them?

          Do you think the documented and alleged ties to Russia within the Trump campaign and incoming administration may undermine their ability to work in the best interests of America and its allies when dealing with Russia?

          Reply
          • Does Trump have business links to Russia – more than probable.

            Does Russia and the US having a better relationship a good thing for world stability – yes.

            Will Donald be able to jeopardize US security and national interests because of alleged links to Russian interests? No.

            Because the state apparatus of the US is set up to ensure a balance of power between the President and Congress – and Congress is in no way pro-Russia.

            Trump can do little by Presidential fiat – he needs the majority of the 500 plus members of the joint houses to do anything. The GOP controls the combined house and they are by no way under Trumps thumb.

            I’ll say it again its over wrought low quality “journalism” on display feed by embittered political appointed officials who are about to lose their cushy jobs in the administration change over and they need their democratic party credentials all nicely shiny to ensure a job with a democratic party aligned think tank or business so they can continue their lifestyles…. That’s how American politics works.

            Reply
            • Mefrostate

               /  15th January 2017

              “I’ll say it again its over wrought low quality “journalism” on display feed by embittered political appointed officials who are about to lose their cushy jobs in the administration change over and they need their democratic party credentials all nicely shiny to ensure a job with a democratic party aligned think tank or business so they can continue their lifestyles…. That’s how American politics works.”

              This bit is more echoing of Trump’s “FAKE NEWS” crap. You can’t write the entire issue off as false just because you don’t like some media outlets.

            • And you can’t claim its all gospel truth because CNN, WaPO, NYT say so. There track record is pretty crap last 6 months plus dont you think.

              Trumps not my flavour. But this is all just verging on hysteria and toys out of the cot behaviour… you enjoy believing otherwise Mefro..

            • Mefrostate

               /  15th January 2017

              Andrew Wood and Christopher Steele are well-respected. AP, one of the world’s most highly-regarded sources of journalism, reported on communications between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

              So I think it’s certainly worth considering. And shouldn’t be written off as smear.

            • Yeah sure – pure respected professionals with no axe to grind or money to earn pushing an angle and embellishing or inventing the truth.

              Trump is POTUS. Its done – move on for gods sake. And see how it pans out over the next 12-18 months…

            • Mefrostate

               /  15th January 2017

              “Yeah sure – pure respected professionals with no axe to grind or money to earn pushing an angle and embellishing or inventing the truth.”

              If that is your perspective, then you essentially have to ignore anything anybody ever says. On a sliding-scale of trustworthiness, these are pretty dang close to the reliable end.

              “Drumpf is POTUS. Its done – move on for gods sake. And see how it pans out over the next 12-18 months…”

              You’re right, lets not report on or discuss the possibility that he’s got compromising ties to another world power. Let’s just hush hush.

            • Mefro – Misquote me – as you do in your response by changing the mans name to one that is not his and not his families for some time – demonstrates the weakness of your argument, the angle you are pushing and is a stellar example of the whining, tantrum throwing, weak arsed and lame response from the Democrats, their running mates in the Press and their supporters on the Left of politics worldwide.

              Hillary Clinton lost. invented smear dossiers from washed up former spies who won’t stand in front of the media to explain the garbage they are spreading are not and never will be in anyway reliable.

              “I don’t like something – so I will just misquote someone to what I want it to say.” seems to be what you support both by huzzahs from the sidelines and you own feeble attempts.

              Stellar work Mefro, stellar.

          • Mefrostate

             /  15th January 2017

            “Does Russia and the US having a better relationship a good thing for world stability – yes.”

            No. In my view it’s highly likely that Trump’s undermining of NATO and laxity towards Russia could pose a massive threat for the Baltics, Ukraine, and other post-Soviet states. Syria might become more stable, but it’ll be hell for Sunnis living there and continued migrant waves.

            “Will Donald be able to jeopardize US security and national interests because of alleged links to Russian interests? No.”

            I hope you’re right, but surely the mere possibility that he’ll not be acting purely in American interests in his dealings with Russia are cause for investigation?

            Reply
            • Really – Russia and the US having a good relationship is bad for world peace?? That is the best one from you yet.

              Nato’s stupid move in to traditional Russian border buffer areas was an over reach by the State Department and the Intelligence services. It created the exact external threat condition to rally the Russian people behind Putin exactly when he needed it as oil prices collapsed and his leadership was under threat…..

              Its almost like the State Department WANTED A Russian bogeyman to bolster there ongoing desire for constant friction with Russia – protecting their jobs and distracting from the real problem they have no idea of how to address. And that problem? Fundamentalist Islam promoted by the US’s erstwhile Ally Saudia Arabia…

    • Blazer

       /  15th January 2017

      Dave I say Dave,both the events you mention were anti conformist ,anti establishment….Cameron the TORY resigned over one,and the Dems are hardly left wing.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  15th January 2017

        edit….the Conservative Party,and the Democrats….apologies,do not want any mods,I mean moderators to spend the whole day on acronyms.

        Reply

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