OK folks, I know that the Russia tweetstormers can get a bit abrasive, and it feels like they’ve eternally set up camp several hundred miles off the reservation. Hell, I even wrote an entire post about how you should stop listening to Seth Abramson (and you should). Louise Mensch says things that are certifiably insane, as Buzzfeed dove into her Twitter feed and found that she’s accused upwards of 210 people of being a Russian agent. This all feels exhausting, and having people blast the TRUTH at you and promise that indictments are just around the corner is unnerving. I get it.
But give credit where credit is due. Mensch may be a nut, but she scooped a portion of the biggest story in the world before anyone else did. Her initial report in HeatStreet about a FISA warrant being approved in October was partially corroborated by major outlets like the BBC and The Guardian. She was a former member of British parliament, so it’s really not that difficult to envision her knowing someone in the know. That goes doubly for her tweet-buddy, Claude Taylor, who used to work in Bill Clinton’s White House. Back on April 29th, he tweeted this:
Ten days later, CNN reported that:
Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year's election, according to people familiar with the matter. CNN learned of the subpoenas hours before President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey.
And he's at it again today. Around 6 am EST he tweeted:
Around 1 pm EST, Jayne Miller—an investigative reporter with WBAL-TV in Baltimore—fired off three harrowing tweets that to this point, have largely been buried beneath the latest lie-fest known as the White House press briefing.
Shortly after Miller's report, Taylor sent out another update from his source(s):
A little less than an hour later, David Collins of WBAL-TV confirmed it:
Further driving this into madness, prior to WBAL’s scoop, Louise Mensch wrote that “several separate sources with links to the intelligence communities of more than one nation” informed her that “a RICO case is being considered against the Republican party for laundering Russian money.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, The Dark Knight did a pretty good job of summarizing it.
WBAL’s reporting on the FBI’s sting of a GOP fundraising/consulting firm doesn’t come close to confirming Mensch’s theory that a RICO case is being considered, but it sure does provide some compelling evidence that she may be on to something. We shouldn’t dismiss her sources because she’s extrapolated real reporting into conspiracy theories. Her FISA report proved that she knows someone with verifiable information, and Taylor’s bona fides went up tenfold the second that CNN confirmed the existence of a grand jury. Toss in the fact that Rick Wilson, a longtime Republican consultant who enjoys widespread respect, has basically said that his sources corroborate Taylor’s sourcing, and there really does seem to be something here.
No one should be considered an oracle when it comes to reporting, but man, how many times must someone be right before their “rumors” become “reports?” The mainstream media has missed big stories before, and they will again. Is it really that crazy to think that a former White House staffer would have better or similar sources to a group of people with an approval rating lower than Donald Trump? I’m not saying that you should take everything that Claude Taylor says as gospel, but if you want to be properly informed on the investigation into Trump’s Russian connections, it’s becoming harder to argue against including Taylor in your orbit of information gathering.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.