FBI and DoJ admit to Congress their inability to verify Trump Dossier collusion allegations
By Alexander Mercouris | The Duran
Perhaps the clearest sign that the Russiagate investigation has run into the sand are reports which circulated over the weekend that the FBI and Department of Justice have informed Congressional investigators that their attempts to verify the collusion allegations in the Trump Dossier have so far failed.
The clearest account of these reports has come from Byron York writing for the Washington Examiner on 19th November 2017
FBI and Justice Department officials have told congressional investigators in recent days that they have not been able to verify or corroborate the substantive allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign outlined in the Trump dossier….
An August 24, 2017 subpoena from the House Intelligence Committee to the FBI and Justice Department asked for information on the bureau’s efforts to validate the dossier. Specifically, the subpoena demanded “any documents, if they exist, that memorialize DOJ and/or FBI efforts to corroborate, validate, or evaluate information provided by Mr. Steele and/or sub-sources and/or contained in the ‘Trump Dossier.’”
According to sources familiar with the matter, neither the FBI nor the Justice Department has provided documents in response to that part of the committee’s subpoena. But in face-to-face briefings with congressional staff, according to those sources, FBI and DOJ officials have said they cannot verify the dossier’s charges of a conspiracy between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
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I have previously said that following the testimony Carter Page recently gave to the House Intelligence Committee it is now incontrovertible fact that the Trump Dossier has provided the frame narrative for the whole Russiagate inquiry.
In an earlier article for the Washington Examiner dated 12th November 2017 Byron York spelled this out in detail, showing the influence the Trump Dossier has had in shaping the Russiagate inquiry, and showing that there is a strong likelihood that it was the document which precipitated it
The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump-Russia affair shortly after receiving the first installment of an anti-Trump dossier from a former British spy working for the Hillary Clinton campaign. What congressional investigators want to know is whether that was a coincidence or not.
The first report in the dossier compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele was dated June 20, 2016.
Steele told the left-leaning publication Mother Jones that he took the first part of his dossier to the FBI “near the start of July.”
James Comey, when he was FBI director, told members of the House Intelligence Committee the Trump-Russia investigation began “in late July.”
So the timeline is: The first dossier report was June 20, Steele approached the FBI near the start of July, and the FBI began its investigation in late July….
The FBI was very interested in Steele’s report, according to Mother Jones’ David Corn, who was personally briefed by Steele:
The former intelligence officer says the response from the FBI was “shock and horror.” The FBI, after receiving the first memo, did not immediately request additional material, according to the former intelligence officer and his American associates. Yet in August, they say, the FBI asked him for all the information in his possession, and for him to explain how the material had been gathered and to identify his sources. The former spy forwarded to the bureau several memos — some of which referred to members of Trump’s inner circle. At that point, he continued to share information with the FBI. “It’s quite clear there was or is a pretty substantial inquiry going on,” he says.
Corn’s report suggested the FBI was surprised by the dossier report’s contents, which in turn suggested the FBI wasn’t already on the case when Steele approached the bureau near the start of July…..
Now, with multiple investigations underway, some officials are trying to reconstruct the events of June through October 2016. Were the allegations in the dossier accurate in the first place? If they were, did involvement go to the highest levels of the Trump campaign? But if they weren’t, was it a situation in which the Clinton campaign, through its hired foreign agent Steele, fed the FBI bad information for the purpose of having it leaked to the press in time to hurt Trump before the election?
In fairness Byron York does also say that part of the initial spur for the investigation may have been the FBI’s detection of the blundering activities of George Papadopoulos and his fictitious attempts to set up a summit meeting between Russian President Putin and then candidate Trump.
Still, there’s one more important factor to be considered in assessing the dossier’s role in the FBI investigation. According to papers released as part of his plea of guilty to lying to investigators, Trump volunteer advisor George Papadopoulos admitted having contacts with possible intermediaries to high-ranked Russians who are said to have offered assistance to the Trump campaign. That happened beginning in March, 2016 and continued for a few months. What is not known is whether the FBI knew about Papadopoulos’ activities as they happened, or whether the bureau found out about them later, and in any event whether or not the Papadopoulos matter was, along with the dossier, part of the FBI’s decision to start a counterintelligence investigation. It does seem clear that the Papadopoulos affair did not prompt the FBI to start a counterintelligence probe in March, or April, or May, or June of 2016.
If Papadopoulos’s activities did have a role in getting the Russiagate investigation started – which by the way I strongly doubt – then that leg of the Russiagate investigation has also collapsed, with the indictment against Papadopoulos making no reference to the collusion allegations and proving a damp squib.
That the FBI gave the Trump Dossier far too much credence, and is becoming increasingly embarrassed because of that fact, is incidentally also indicated by something else Byron York writes: that getting information out of Fusion-GPS and the FBI about the Trump Dossier is proving to be extremely difficult
…….Congress is trying to uncover the dossier story — what did the FBI do to try to verify it? Did agents use it as a basis for seeking wiretaps? — but getting information out of the FBI, as well as Fusion GPS, has been like pulling teeth, even after a House subpoena.
Ultimately more will become public. But if the past months have shown anything, it is that the FBI will not reveal its secrets, even to its legitimate congressional overseers, without a fight.
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I would say in passing that this information completely vindicates the article the Creation of Russiagate by Joe Lauria which The Duran has published and which was also published in a slightly earlier form by Consortium News, but which the Huff Post disgracefully took down after it was up on its site for a few hours.
It also incidentally substantiates a claim I made in an article for The Duran on 24th June 2017, which was that the early entries of the Trump Dossier were almost certainly the ‘intelligence’ the CIA sent to President Obama in August 2016, which supposedly ‘conclusively confirmed’ that the Russians on President Putin’s orders were meddling in the US election.
The fact that – as Byron York shows – the early entries of the Trump Dossier were being circulated throughout the US intelligence community in August 2016 all but confirms that this was the ‘intelligence’ referred to.
I will here express my own bafflement. From the moment I first read the Trump Dossier I realised that it was essentially a fabrication. I have also pointed out that the whole picture of the Russian government’s decision making process which it gives is an absurd one.
A detailed fact-check of the Trump Dossier’s individual allegations made by the Russian Explainer has shown that those allegations which can be proved to be true were – with one explainable exception – previously reported by the Russian media, whilst those which cannot be proved to be true are more often than not simply too farfetched to be true.
That this strange document or collection of documents should ever have been taken seriously by the CIA, the FBI, the Justice Department, the US intelligence community, the US Congress, the US media, and indeed the whole US governing class, is nothing short of astonishing.
That they did so shows how staggeringly ill-informed about Russia they have become, which makes one wonder what all the tens of billions of US taxpayers’ dollars which are being spent on the US intelligence services to get information about Russia are being used for?
That sixteen months after its first entries began to circulate the credibility of this strange document is finally collapsing is a relief. However it is also an appalling indictment of the state of the US’s intelligence agencies and of the remarkable faith so many people seem to have in them.
Meanwhile there are signs that those whose credibility is tied up with the Trump Dossier are becoming nervous.
As Byron York points out, Representative Adam Schiff – the Democrats’ point man in the Russiagate inquiry and their most aggressive advocate in the House Intelligence Committee – is starting to shift his position, and instead of saying that the specific allegations are true, is now saying that what it got was the “broad picture” right
The biggest thing that I think people need to realize about the dossier is that Christopher Steele discovered that the Russians were embarked on a broad effort to help the Trump campaign before our own intelligence agencies came to the same conclusion. In the broadest outline of what he investigated, he proved more than prescience — he proved accurate in terms of the Russian involvement and what their motivations were.
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Needless to say a document which only provides a “broad outline” cannot be used to prove anything in legal proceedings. As evidence, it is worthless.
Even Christopher Steele – increasingly besieged by court cases brought by people who say he has libelled them – now admits that he thinks the Trump Dossier is only “70-90%” true.
To which one can only ask what in that case is the 10-30% of the Trump Dossier which Christopher Steele no longer thinks is true?
Does it include Donald Trump’s sex orgy in Moscow’s Ritz Carlton hotel, or Rosneft chief Sechin’s offer to Carter Page to make him a billionaire?
Both are central claims made by the Trump Dossier, but neither of them looks to be true.
The other big question is: what happens next? Ultimately the answer lies with the Justice Department and with Congress. Will they continue to insist on an investigation based on an obviously concocted document which is becoming discredited? Or will they finally face up to the truth – that the entire investigation is a nonsense – and finally act to close it down?