Christopher Steele’s unproven dossier is a mix of felony charges against President Trump and his people, as well as supposed gossip inside the Kremlin over computer hacking and personnel firings.
For the ongoing special counsel investigation into suspected Trump-Russia election coordination, it is helpful to separate what counts: Dust away the atmospherics — supposed Kremlin intrigue — and focus on the collusion charges brought by the former British spy based on his paid intermediaries and Moscow sources. None is identified.
Funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, these specific dossier charges of secret spy missions and criminality are what came to permeate the FBI investigation. Republicans say the FBI abused the court process by using the partisan charges to obtain four wiretap warrants against the other campaign. They say the bureau has yet to confirm any charge.
As the dossier today takes on even more importance, The Washington Times identified Mr. Steele’s 10 core collusion accusations. The analysis includes the charges’ status, 20 months after Mr. Steele first contacted the FBI and urged the prosecution of President Trump.
• The Trump campaign launched an “extensive conspiracy” with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. To date, no public verification.
• Mr. Trump, for decades a developer of tall buildings, maintained an eight-year relationship of give-and-take with Russian intelligence. To date, no public verification.
• Mr. Trump and senior campaign aides actively supported the Russia hacking of Democratic Party computers to steal and release stolen emails. To date, no public verification.
• Volunteer Carter Page and campaign manager Paul Manafort personally conspired with Moscow to hack the Democrats’ computers. When the hacking began in 2015, neither man was associated with the Trump campaign. Both deny the charge. Mr. Page testified under oath that he had never met or spoken with Mr. Manafort. To date, no public verification of this dossier part.
• Mr. Page, an Annapolis graduate, an energy investor and a former resident of Moscow, traveled to that city in early July 2016 to deliver a public speech at a university. The dossier says he met with two top Kremlin operatives and discussed bribes for working to lift economic sanctions. Mr. Page testified under oath that he had never met nor spoke with them. He has filed libel lawsuits.
• Mr. Trump engaged with Russian prostitutes during a trip to Moscow in 2013. Mr. Trump has denied this numerous times. To date, no public verification.
• Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, secretly traveled to Prague in August 2016. His supposed mission: to orchestrate payments with agents of Vladimir Putin to cover up the hacking. At that point, the hacking was known worldwide. Mr. Cohen repeatedly has denied under oath that he took such a trip and showed his passport. He has filed libel lawsuits, including against Fusion GPS. Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson, who ordered the dossier, has suggested that Mr. Cohen took a private Russian plane and might have been on a yacht in the Adriatic Sea. To date, there has been no public verification of any of this.
• Russian tech entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev, owner of XBT Holding, hacked the Democrat Party computers with spyware and pornography. He has denied this repeatedly. He sued Mr. Steele for libel in a London court, where the former spy said the information was raw call-in information and not verified.
• Three Russian oligarchs and shareholders in Alfa Bank were involved in Russian election interference and paid bribes to Mr. Putin. They deny the charges and have filed libel lawsuits.
• Mikhail Kalugin was chief of the economic section at the Russian Embassy in Washington. Mr. Steele accuses him of being a spy and of funding the hacking with skimmed-off pension funds. He was supposedly whisked out of Washington when the hacking scandal broke in August. Washington associates of Mr. Kalugin told The Washington Times that the diplomat announced his planned departure 10 months beforehand. He and his family returned to Moscow. He now works in the Foreign Ministry. A former senior U.S. government official told The Times that Mr. Kalugin was never internally identified as a spy.
Republicans and dossier targets uniformly deride the 35 pages as falsehoods and fabrications. Some Democrats have acknowledged that the collection of memos is flawed.
But there are steadfast dossier believers, such liberal Twitter brigades and Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, the leading Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The FBI used the unverified dossier on Oct. 21, 2016, to obtain a court wiretap warrant on Mr. Page that lasted nearly a year.
Agents included dossier information in the application and three subsequent renewals. The filing was based on the pledge from Mr. Steele that he was not the source of a dossier-type report on Mr. Page that Michael Isikoff reported in Yahoo News in September 2016. But in the London court case, Mr. Steele acknowledged that he was the source.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, released a declassified referral last week that urges the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation of Mr. Steele for lying to the FBI.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the committee’s ranking Democrat, issued a rebuttal on Friday.
“Not a single revelation in the Steele dossier has been refuted,” she said, referring to the former MI-6 officer as a “respected and reliable expert on Russia.”
She said the Grassley-Graham referral “provides no evidence that Steele was ever asked about the Isikoff article or if asked that he lied.”
But the Republican senator’s referral said there is ample evidence that Mr. Steele lied.
“There is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one which bears on his credibility,” the referral said.
The next paragraph, which presumedly details that evidence, is completely redacted.
The two senators wrote, “The FBI already believed Mr. Steele was reliable, he had previously told the FBI he had not shared the information with the press — and lying to the FBI is a crime.”
Four targets of the dossier have filed seven libel lawsuits against Mr. Steele, Fusion GPS and BuzzFeed, which first posted it online on Jan. 10, 2017, during Mr. Trump’s presidential transition.
Then FBI-Director James B. Comey told Mr. Trump in a one-on-one meeting that month that the dossier was “salacious and unverified.”
At the same time, the FBI was citing dossier information before a judge to obtain a second 90-day wiretap warrant on Mr. Page. There would be two more, the last in June 2017.
J.D. Gordon, a former Pentagon spokesman and Trump campaign adviser, has suffered over a year of government, press and congressional scrutiny. All the negative attention is because he had brief encounters with the Russian ambassador at the Republican National Convention.
“At least four dozen Trump associates have reportedly been summoned before the various congressional committees and special counsel over anything and everything related to Trump-Russia,” Mr. Gordon told The Washington Times. “Apart from targeting the president with a high-tech coup, the Democrats and ‘Never Trump’ Republicans are trying to destroy a large group of innocent people who were merely trying to serve their country in presidential politics.”