The much anticipated DoJ Inspector General report on the FBI’s surveillance of the Trump campaign finally landed this week, and the biggest loser was … the so-called Trump Dossier.
That dossier, created by the political mercenary firm Fusion GPS via funds from the DNC and the Clinton campaign, compiled anti-Trump gossip, much of it sourced from Kremlin officials. The most salacious item involved Trump staying in a Moscow hotel room while watching Russian prostitutes pee on each other.
The resulting compilation of uncorroborated rumors wound up in the FBI’s hands, which, perplexingly, used it as the basis for launching a surveillance campaign against the Trump campaign’s Carter Page. The DoJ’s IG, Michael Horowitz, was emphatic that the dossier was “essential” to the FBI’s FISA application.
Echoing the Rep. Devin Nunes’ memo on FBI’s FISA misconduct, Horowitz’s report stated: “We determined that the Crossfire Hurricane team’s receipt of Steele’s election reporting on September 19, 2016 played a central and essential role in the FBI’s and Department’s decision to seek the FISA order.”
And Horowitz noted that the dossier itself was unverified and unreliable. Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi reports:
At the time the FBI submitted its first FISA application, Horowitz writes, it had “corroborated limited information in Steele’s election reporting, and most of that was publicly available information.” Horowitz says of Steele’s reports: “The CIA viewed it as ‘internet rumor.’”
Worse (and this part of the story should be tattooed on the heads of Russia truthers), the FBI’s interviews of Steele’s sources revealed Steele embellished the most explosive parts of his report.
The “pee tape” story, which inspired countless grave headlines (see this chin-scratching New York Times history of Russian “sexual blackmail”) and plunged the Trump presidency into crisis before it began, was, this source said, based a “conversation that [he/she] had over beers,” with the sexual allegations made… in “jest”!
Steele in his report said the story had been “confirmed” by senior, Western hotel staff, but the actual source said it was all “rumor and speculation,” never confirmed. In fact, charged by Steele to find corroboration, the source could not: corroboration was “zero,” writes Horowitz.
Meanwhile the Steele assertions that Russians had a kompromat file on Hillary Clinton, and that there was a “well-developed conspiracy of coordination” between the Trump campaign and Russians, relied on a source Steele himself disparaged as an “egoist” and “boaster” who “may engage in some embellishment.” This was known to the FBI at the start, yet they naturally failed to include this info in the warrant application, one of what Horowitz described as “17 significant errors or omissions” in the FISA application.
Despite the problematic nature of the Trump Dossier, the major media reliably informed Americans over the last three years that it was “corroborated.” CNN was one of the dossier’s biggest boosters. The network’s morning anchor, Alisyn Camerota, regularly told viewers that the Trump dossier was the God’s honest.
“I know the history of the dossier, but it hasn’t been discredited,” Camerota said in an interview with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). “In fact, it’s been the opposite, it’s been corroborated.”
When Jordan said the report wasn’t accurate, Camerota shot back: “Your intel community has corroborated all the details.”
CNN’s James Clapper, formerly Director of National Intelligence during the Obama Administration, “Some of the substantive content of the dossier we were able to corroborate in our intelligence committee assessment from other sources in which we had very high confidence.”
Horowitz reports that’s flatly untrue, and none of the information was corroborated.
In 2018, after it was becoming established the dossier was largely untrue, many in the media switched up their talking points. Rather than claiming it had been “corrobordated,” these talking heads started insisting it “hasn’t been disproven.”
MSNBC’s John Harwood, for one, said: “It’s not been corroborated but it hasn’t been disproven either.”
His colleague Rachel Maddow has been emphatic on this point, insisting: “No major thing from the dossier has been conclusively disproven.”
Nicolle Wallace has likewise adopted this talking point: “It’s a fact that none of it, not one word has been disproven. In fact a lot of it turned out to be right on the money.”
And that’s just a sampling. For more, check out the supercut above.