- U.S. officials who investigated the Steele dossier had “misgivings” about the salacious document much earlier than previously known, according to a report in The New York Times.
- The FBI also interviewed an alleged source for the dossier in January 2017 and determined that he may have embellished some of the claims attributed to him by Christopher Steele.
- If the report is accurate, it is unclear why the FBI and other government officials have allowed the dossiers salacious claims to hang like a dark cloud over the Trump administration for more than two years.
Government officials who investigated the Steele dossier had doubts about the salacious documents claims much earlier than previously known, according to a bombshell report from The New York Times.
The FBI and CIA had determined by summer 2017 that one of the key claims in the dossier was likely false, according to the newspaper. In the dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele alleged that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin insiders as part of a campaign-related conspiracy.
But Cohens financial records and foreign intelligence services who communicated with the CIA did not substantiate the dossiers claims, according to The Times. The special counsels report, released Thursday, settled the question of the Prague allegation once and for all. In his report, special counsel Robert Mueller stated outright that Cohen did not visit the European city, as Steele alleged.
The Times also reports that “misgivings” about the dossiers reliability arose soon after BuzzFeed News published the document on Jan. 10, 2017.
The new report does not detail when those misgivings arose. But the FBI and other government agencies have remained tight-lipped about the dossiers veracity. That silence allowed a cloud of suspicion to hang over the Trump administration and several Trump associates.
The dossier, which was commissioned by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee, alleges a “well-developed conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and Russian government to influence the 2016 election. It also alleges that the Kremlin has blackmail material on President Donald Trump in the form of a tape of him in Moscow with a group of prostitutes.
Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson listens as his lawyer, Joshua Levy, speaks to members of the media following a meeting with members of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committee in the Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill on Oct. 16, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
The unfounded claim has fostered allegations that Trump is acting under the control of the Russian government.
The FBI relied heavily on Steeles reporting to obtain four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Page, an energy consultant who has done business in Russia, is also accused by Steele of serving as a Trump campaign back channel to the Kremlin. Page has vehemently denied the claims. He was not charged in Muellers Russia probe, which officially ended on March 22 after a 22 month investigation.
FBI agents also tracked down two of Steeles sources in January 2017 and determined that one may have embellished allegations attributed to him in the dossier, according to The Times.
One of the sources is described by The Times as “a Russian speaker from a former Soviet republic who had spent time in the West.”
“After questioning him about where hed gotten his information, they suspected he might have added his own interpretations to reports passed on by his sources, one of the people said. For the F.B.I., that made it harder to decide what to trust,” reads The Timess Friday report.
FBI agents did not believe that the source or Steele had lied about the information, according to The Times. Instead, they appear to have assessed that the information containRead More – Source