As the US Congress, the FBI, and newly appointed special counsel Robert Mueller probe the nest of activities around Russian interference in US politics, a lot of people are asking the same question: Why didn’t we know about all of this before the presidential election? If it turns out that there was a major Russian role in the outcome of the election, much of the US media, some members of Congress, and even leaders in the Obama White House may have to admit that they had fair warning. As with so many other disasters, from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to Hurricane Katrina and the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns, a lot of powerful people ignored an expert who very clearly told us what was coming.
Christopher Steele, a UK expert on Russia and formerly the head of British Secret Service (Mi6) efforts against Russia, drafted a detailed “dossier” on then-candidate Trump. The dossier alleges details of Trump’s activities in Russia, and claims that Trump had a compromising relationship with the Kremlin and that Russia worked with the Trump campaign to skew the election. That dossier was then presented to many US mainstream media organizations, but editors declined to run the stories because of their inability to fully verify its contents. Voters never heard about the allegations until the election was over.
Now, rumors coming out of the FBI and Department of Justice investigations suggest that parts of what Steele alleged may actually be true. Was there a conspiracy of silence among news editors in order to support the Trump campaign? No. But why was Steele’s warning ignored?