12.22.2017 0

FBI cannot corroborate Steele dossier as Russia-gate unravels

By Robert Romano

“[W]hen pressed to identify what in the salacious [Christopher Steele dossier] the bureau had actually corroborated, the sources said, [FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe cited only the fact that Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had traveled to Moscow. Beyond that, investigators said, McCabe could not even say that the bureau had verified the dossier’s allegations about the specific meetings Page supposedly held in Moscow.”

That was Fox News’ James Rosen reporting on FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s testimony to the House Select Committee on Intelligence on Dec. 20 and his inability to substantiate much of anything about the FBI’s ongoing quest to find collusion between President Donald Trump, his 2016 campaign and Russia.

After more than a year since the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), via law firm Perkins Coie, hired Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele to author the questionable dossier stating that Russia had hacked the DNC with the help of the Trump campaign, and put the emails onto Wikileaks, federal investigators have come up empty-handed in terms of corroborating anything besides what was already publicly known, that former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page had traveled to Moscow to deliver a speech on global economic developments.

After all, we didn’t need a national security investigation by the Obama administration into the opposition party and all this cloak and dagger nonsense to figure that out. Page is on Youtube for the whole world to see, published July 7, 2016, speaking at the New Economic School’s commencement ceremony.

So is former President Barack Obama, for that matter, who spoke at the university’s 2009 commencement.

In any event, as a result, the dossier apparently remains “salacious and unverified,” in the words of former FBI Director James Comey in testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June.

But it gets worse. Per the Fox News report, “when asked when he learned that the dossier had been funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, McCabe claimed he could not recall – despite the reported existence of documents with McCabe’s own signature on them establishing his knowledge of the dossier’s financing and provenance.”

So, now you have top Justice Department officials feigning amnesia when it comes to the fact that the dossier was not an intelligence product, but a political document authored by the Democrats against Trump during the heat of an election.

Meaning, the biggest problem with the official U.S. narrative is the Christopher Steele dossier itself.

Let’s give intelligence services and Justice Department the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say they actually believed Steele’s account when they sought Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrants against Page and others. Similarly, they relied on the separate report from Crowdstrike, also paid for by Perkins Coie, to ascertain that Russia intelligence services had hacked the DNC emails.

Now, let’s also assume this was all they really had to go on. Per McCabe and Fox News’ Rosen, the FBI could not corroborate anything besides Page’s meeting.

It was about that time last summer when Fusion GPS apparently arranged the June 9, 2016 meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, reportedly offering dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russia, another allegation that featured in the Steele dossier. This stands out as implicating that it was none other than Fusion which was shopping around “dirt” on Clinton — and then reporting that Russia was behind the efforts via Steele. Yet, according to Steele, the Clinton dossier was not being kept by low-level Russian agents, but, reporting on June 20, 2016, “the Clinton dossier was controlled exclusively by chief Kremlin spokesman, Dmitriy Peskov, who was responsible for compiling/handling it on the explicit instructions of Putin himself. The dossier however had not as yet been made available abroad, including to Trump or his campaign team.” If Peskov had it exclusively toward the end of June, and it had not been made available abroad, then how could Veselnitskaya have had it for the June 9 meeting?

Maybe Fusion was getting desperate. Trump, Jr. hadn’t taken the bait. The meeting was quickly dismissed as a nothing burger. So, later, there were other meetings cited, for example, putting Trump lawyer Michael Cohen in Prague in August 2016 when he couldn’t have been there, or Page’s own trip to Moscow, to substantiate the pre-determined conclusion, that somehow Trump was a Russian agent.

By January, the Director of National Intelligence had published the key findings of this investigation, which was that Russia had hacked the DNC with the specific intent of helping President Donald Trump win the 2016 election.

And the key sources for that assessment were not our own intelligence services, they were two Democratic-paid firms, one of which was reportedly in contact with top Russian government and intelligence officials and used as sources. When the allegations came forward, Clinton and the DNC denied having anything to do with them. And at some point, the FBI reportedly offered Steele money to continue getting information from those supposedly well-placed top sources.

Then according to the government’s original allegations, sources in the Putin-controlled Russian government assisted the Trump campaign with the DNC emails heist via Wikileaks to help Donald Trump win the election — and we knew that because Russian government sources had tipped off the Hillary Clinton campaign about the theft via Fusion GPS and Steele.

From this confused account, U.S. intelligence agencies, the top four: NSA, CIA, FBI and the DNI, all concluded that Putin wanted to help Trump. They conveniently leave out the part where they tipped off Clinton and that was how we supposedly found out.

Probably because it doesn’t make any sense. It suggests that the Russians were simultaneously attempting to advance the pro-Trump agenda by assisting Clinton with exposing it. It’s outlandish.

Either, Russian President Vladimir Putin is omniscient, a Machiavellian manipulator of the first order — managing to simultaneously convince the Trump campaign they were a helping hand to hack the Clinton campaign on their behalf, informing the Clinton campaign the Trump campaign had helped with the hack and succeeding in getting the Justice Department and intelligence services, and former President Barack Obama, to order national security investigations into Trump and his associates. A grand conspiracy so immense that would make the Iago villain from Othello or the emperor from Star Wars proud.

Or, much more likely, Steele either knowingly conjured his sources or was duped by them, and the Obama administration went off and pursued a politically motivated national security investigation into the opposition party during an election year to suit a campaign narrative. And they might have even known it was all fake.

Those are the options. Putting the spotlight not only the veracity of the Christopher Steele allegations, but also on the entire premise that Russia ever hacked the DNC in the first place. Why?

If Perkins Coie was willing to pay for lies that Trump colluded with Russia to hack the DNC and put the emails on Wikileaks, why not lie about the Russia hack narrative, too?

Besides Crowdstrike, the only document we’ve seen independent of the DNI assessment that purports to corroborate the Russian hack was Steele’s dossier, and Steele has been discredited. Wikileaks to this day denies Russia was ever its source, and associates of Julian Assange have suggested it was a DNC insider. Russia denies it, even though per Steele, the government via its sources apparently wanted us to know it was them.

In the very least, we need to be skeptical of the entirety of this conspiracy theory that was sown by the Obama administration in 2016, with an assumption that, after more than a year of the nation’s top law enforcement and intelligence officials looking at the matter, if it remains unproven, it is likely untrue.

Russia-gate is unraveling. Now it is up to Congress and the non-corrupt parts of the Justice Department and the nation’s intelligence agencies to get to the bottom of it. The witch hunt being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller needs to come to an end. If Trump is not and never was a Russian agent, and that was made up by Democrats to hurt the President, then that needs to come out and the agencies of the government that pursued those lies need to be held accountable.

Because, mark my words, they will do it again.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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