Barry Meier, a retired New York Times reporter and author of “Spooked: The Trump Dossier, Black Cube, and the Rise of Private Spies,” discussed with Fox Nation’s “Tucker Carlson Today” some of the topics of the book — including how corporate investigation firms have sprung up over the past few decades and have had tangible effects on politics and business.
Host Tucker Carlson asked Meier about his research into the effect on investigational firms and the Trump campaign, specifically how Fusion GPS – an opposition research firm founded by former Wall Street Journal reporters – became involved in looking into then-private citizen Donald Trump.
“What I’m trying to tell in the book is, this a story about an industry. It’s about a business that most of your viewers – and certainly, I didn’t know much about when I started researching the book – and that was the business of what’s known as corporate investigations — private spying companies who are hired by lawyers, corporations, litigants often, to dig up dirt on their adversaries, or to dig up information that will embarrass them publicly,” Meier said.
“In the past decade, there’s been a huge boom in this industry, and demand for these services and the growth of the number of firms conducting these types of activities.”
Meier said the business model evolved from the mid-20th century covert private investigators that may have surveilled an allegedly cheating spouse — or as Carlson described, someone who might stake out “outside a motel on the other side of town… take pictures and get paid.”
“Essentially, they were all digging up dirt of one type or another. So for example, if I have a beef with you, and you know, I think you’ve done something unfair or whatever that case happens to be, I would go to one of these corporate intelligence firms. And I’d say, find out everything you can about Tucker, and tell me– and dig into his past,” Meier explained. “[G]o talk to his friends and find out whatever you want to find out, and tell me about it, and maybe I’ll use it in a lawsuit about him. Maybe I’ll use it through some publicity to embarrass him.”
That, he said, was the business model used by various entities like Fusion GPS to undermine Trump’s candidacy in 2015 and 2016.
“In the case of the Steele dossier, it was information about Donald Trump and any business activities that he and his associates might have had in Russia,” he said.
He called the corporate investigations into Trump “historically significant,” adding that it “changed the presidency – and therefore the country.”
While opposition research has been eternal in U.S. politics, Meier said the advent of the Steele dossier was a new level in that.
Meier claimed Fusion GPS had initially been hired by people who were interested in helping Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in the Republican primary.
“Fusion’s assignment was basically to go through Donald Trump’s business personal history, whatever, and dig up whatever information that would be detrimental, unflattering to Donald Trump. And obviously, Donald Trump’s had a long, checkered business career, so there’s of plenty stuff in business records with his bankruptcies and various business problems there to dig up,” he explained.
He noted that by early 2016, Trump was viewed as all but a lock in the GOP primary, with remaining candidates like former Ohio Gov. John Kasich polling exponentially lower and lacking delegates.
At that point, Meier reported that attorneys for the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign then sought for Fusion GPS to continue their work, albeit for them.
“But they say at that point, well, we’d like to start looking at his activities in Russia, because we haven’t really looked at that closely before. They get the go-ahead and the money to do that. And that’s when they hire Christopher Steele, a person has become sort of notorious in the aftermath of all this,” he said.
Steele, a former MI6 agent on the United Kingdom’s spy agency’s Russia desk, became one of the previously-described “corporate investigators” and started a firm specializing in cases relevant to Eastern Europe, the journalist said.
“So Fusion GPS was hired by people who didn’t like Trump on the Republican side, switched, and now is employed by the Hillary Clinton campaign, contracts with Christopher Steele’s firm in London to learn more about Trump’s involvement with Russia,” he said.
Meier claimed that Steele, as a former British agent, cannot go to Russia, so an intermediary was hired to “write up a series of memos, of which there were something like 17 or 18.”
“And those memos, which were then passed back to Fusion GPS, became known as the ‘dossier,” Meier said.
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