The so-called Steele Dossier is the centerpiece of ‘Russiagate,’ the conspiracy theory that Donald Trump “colluded” with Moscow in the 2016 US presidential election. The dossier’s most bombastic claim was that Russia had “kompromat” on him in the form of sex tapes from a Moscow hotel involving urinating prostitutes.
Steele compiled the dossier for Fusion GPS, a DC-based firm paid by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign through the DNC. The FBI then used it to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page in October 2016, and extended it three times well into 2017.
While lightly redacted, the bureau spreadsheet shows the FBI relied heavily on media reporting to back up claims about Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and others. IG Horowitz faulted the FBI over lack of corroboration + evidence of circular reporting.
— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) October 12, 2020
A 94-page spreadsheet made public on Monday, however, shows the FBI relied heavily on media reports to corroborate Steele’s claims – in many cases, the very same reports Steele had planted himself.
According to analyst Stephen McIntyre, footnotes listed in the spreadsheet show that 39 percent of the footnotes lead to Washington, DC media outlets, another 29 percent are redacted, and Steele himself was cited on 18 occasions, somehow self-verifying his own work.
6/ here is a summary table of footnotes on provenance. Sources redacted for 114 of 390 footnotes, despite Trump's promises. Some redactions stupid. FBI's primary verification resource was Beltway media articles. pic.twitter.com/RwmB5XcuMp
— Stephen McIntyre (@ClimateAudit) October 13, 2020
In one instance, McIntyre notes, the FBI triple counted an article from the Daily Beast as three separate sources. Other media outlets named in the document are CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo News and Mother Jones.
The FBI had actually decided to fire Steele as a paid informant in September 2016 – before obtaining the Page warrant – because he leaked to the media, specifically Yahoo and Mother Jones, but that never raised any red flags either with the warrant or the corroboration, apparently.
Moreover, the Bureau knew in December 2016 that the “primary sub-source” (PSS) for the dossier was a Russian national they had investigated as a foreign agent in 2009, but the investigation was abandoned without explanation and this fact was never flagged. Even after interviewing the PSS in January 2017, and establishing that most of the dossier was fabricated outright, the FBI continued to use it at the FISA court to extend the Page warrant.
Another source the FBI used to corroborate Steele was Cody Shearer, a long-time Clinton operative who produced a memo alleging that Russian intelligence had a sex tape of Trump. That amounts to more circular reporting, however, as Steele was reportedly given the Shearer dossier by State Department official Jonathan Winer, and then handed it over to his FBI contacts in October 2016.
NEW: The FBI relied on info from Clinton operative Cody Shearer in its efforts to analyze the Steele dossier.
Sidney Blumenthal passed Shearer's memos to State Dept official Jonathan Winer, who gave it to Steele.https://t.co/PebCYqmWAQ
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) October 13, 2020
The spreadsheet is the first confirmation that the FBI actually used the ‘Shearer Dossier,’ whose existence was first reported by the Guardian in January 2018, as part of a push by Democrats to show that the Steele dossier wasn’t the sole grounds for the FISA warrants.
Just last week, however, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe declassified notes from then-CIA chief John Brennan, who said he warned the Obama administration about a plan by Hillary Clinton to smear Trump with allegations of ‘Russian collusion’ as a means of “distracting the public from her use of a private email server” before the 2016 election.
The two-year probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller came up with zero evidence of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia, much less Trump himself – and while it argued that Moscow “meddled” in US elections, it offered no evidence beyond its own assertions contained in indictments that were subsequently dropped when challenged in court.
While all these revelations have amounted to an indictment of the entire ‘Russiagate’ affair, the media that gave each other awards for their coverage of ‘collusion’ has never apologized for any of it. To this day, millions of Americans continue to believe their president is a “Russian agent.”
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