- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Democratic Party-financed dossier, once celebrated by liberal Washington politicians and journalists, is officially debunked, according to a review of special counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page investigative report.

Dossier creator Christopher Steele, who was paid with money from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, leveled at least a dozen Russian election conspiracy charges against President Trump and associates.

Virtually all his information came from Kremlin intelligence, according to the dossier. Mrs. Clinton’s operatives spread the document to the Justice Department, the FBI and news outlets.

A Washington Times review shows that not one of his conspiracy charges — 0-for-12 — was proved true and most were outright rejected by Mr. Mueller. The Mueller report also puts to rest four other non-dossier conspiracy charges tied to Mr. Trump.

“Goodbye Russia hoax,” tweeted Rep. Devin Nunes of California. His Republican majority on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said in its report, released a year ago, that it had found no collusion.

Mr. Steele, who produced one of the most influential — and erroneous — opposition research papers in U.S. political history, is mentioned only in passing by Mr. Mueller. Outside the report narrative, his name doesn’t appear in an appendix glossary of more than 170 Trump-Russia figures.

The word “dossier” shows up only once in the lightly redacted report and is not used by Mr. Mueller but is a quote from Mr. Trump.

Two years ago, the dossier was recited freely. Rep. Adam B. Schiff, California Democrat and now chairman of the House intelligence committee, was a prominent fan. He vouched for Mr. Steele and named names as he listed the former British intelligence officer’s felony charges against Mr. Trump. His committee colleagues attempted to find witnesses to confirm Mr. Steele’s tale of Mr. Trump frolicking with prostitutes in Moscow.

Schiff colleague Rep. Eric Swalwell, California Democrat, recently defended the dossier by asking what part had been disproved. He calls Mr. Trump a “Russian agent.”

Mr. Mueller provides no evidence that Mr. Trump is a Kremlin agent.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, has said she didn’t know of any dossier charge that had been disproved.

By early 2017, the FBI relied on the dossier for at least one 12-month wiretap on a Trump associate. FBI Director James B. Comey took dossier material directly to President-elect Trump. Before that, on Jan. 5, 2017, President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden were briefed by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper. Mr. Clapper and Mr. Comey were among the intelligence leaders who attached the dossier to the official report on Russian computer hacking.

Journalists cited Mr. Steele in stories and books. BuzzFeed posted the entire 17-memo document. Mr. Steele worked with Glenn R. Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS, to spread the anti-Trump material inside the FBI to its counterintelligence branch investigating Mr. Trump.

Mr. Nunes said they were peddling a “hoax” and possibly a deliberate disinformation campaign by the Kremlin against the president.

Here are 12 of Mr. Steele’s 2016 conspiracy charges, as compared with Mueller findings.

Mr. Steele: There was an “extensive conspiracy between Trump campaign team and Kremlin” and a “well developed conspiracy of cooperation between them and Russian leadership.”

Mr. Mueller: Not true. “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities,” he wrote.

Mr. Steele: Mr. Trump and his team set up a hacking operation in the U.S. Mr. Trump funded hacking teams overseas along with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Mueller: Not true. The Mueller investigation found no such illegal activities.

Mr. Steele: The supposed U.S. hacking operation was funded by the Russian Embassy in Washington. It skimmed cash off pension payments to emigres. The Trump team was involved.

Mr. Mueller: No such evidence was presented.

Mr. Steele: Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and volunteer adviser Carter Page worked as a team to liaison with the Kremlin on election interference.

Mr. Mueller: Not true. “The investigation did not establish that Page coordinated with the Russian government in its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election,” the report said.

For Manafort, the Mueller report cited his sharing of internal polling with his longtime employee in Ukraine, Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the FBI believes is tied to Russian intelligence.

“The Office did not identify evidence of a connection between Manafort’s sharing polling data and Russia’s interference in the election, which had already been reported by U.S. media outlets at the time of the August 2 meeting. The investigation did not establish that Manafort otherwise coordinated with the Russian government on its election-interference efforts,” the report states.

Mr. Steele: The Trump campaign received a regular flow of anti-Democratic Party intelligence from the Kremlin.

Mr. Mueller: Not true.

Mr. Steele: Mr. Trump exchanged information with Russian intelligence for eight years.

Mr. Mueller: Not true.

Mr. Steele: Mr. Trump knew of and supported WikiLeaks’ alliance with Moscow, which fed stolen Democratic Party emails to the anti-secrecy group. It released them in huge batches during the campaign.

Mr. Mueller: Weeks before the election, evidence pointed to the Kremlin as the hacker. There is no evidence that Mr. Trump supported the illegal activity.

Mr. Steele: The Kremlin told Mr. Trump it had incriminating evidence on him but would not use it.

Mr. Mueller: No evidence of a conspiracy.

Mr. Steele: Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen secretly traveled to Prague in August 2016 to meet with Putin cronies to devise a cover-up of the conspiracy and pay off hackers. This is one of Mr. Steele’s most sensational charges.

Mr. Mueller: Not true. “Cohen had never traveled to Prague and was not concerned about those allegations, which he believed were provably false,” the special counsel wrote.

Mr. Steele: Carter Page, while on a public trip to Moscow in July 2016 to deliver a commencement speech, met with two powerful Putin associates. Mr. Page agreed to a huge bribe in exchange for lifting U.S. economic sanctions on Russian businesses and figures.

Mr. Mueller: Investigators couldn’t determine everything Mr. Page, an energy investor, did during the trip. Mr. Page repeatedly has denied the Steele tale. He wasn’t charged. Mr. Mueller cleared him of any election conspiracy.

Mr. Steele: Russian intelligence has material on Mr. Trump’s sex escapades in The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow during the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant, which he co-owned with NBCUniversal.

Mr. Mueller: His report contains no evidence. Rumored tapes of the encounter with prostitutes are “fake,” Giorgi Rtskhiladze, a U.S.-based businessman, told the FBI. Mr. Rtskhiladze was an early player in the Trump Organization’s 2015-16 bid to build a Moscow hotel.

Mr. Steele: Russian entrepreneur Aleksej Gubarev, owner of web-hosting service firm XBT, hacked Democratic Party computers under pressure from Russian intelligence. Mr. Gubarev categorically denies the charge and has sued Mr. Steele in London.

Mr. Mueller: His report depicts Russian military intelligence officers as the lone hackers, working out of boiler rooms at a Moscow headquarters. There is no mention of Mr. Gubarev.

Other conspiracies

At least four other prominent Russia conspiracies are not supported by the Mueller report.

⦁ Both Slate news website and most recently The New Yorker gave credence to cyberdata interpretations that suggested a dedicated computer server existed between Trump Tower and Alfa Bank in Moscow. It is Russia’s largest commercial bank, run by oligarchs close to Mr. Putin.

The FBI investigated the charge, pushed by Fusion GPS, Mrs. Clinton’s opposition researcher and the firm that handled Mr. Steele. The Mueller report contains no evidence of such a server.

Petr Aven, who runs the bank, tried to make contact with the Trump transition team after meeting with Mr. Putin. The report section on Mr. Aven doesn’t mention a computer server.

⦁ BuzzFeed reported that Mr. Trump explicitly ordered Cohen to lie to Congress about the timeline of the aborted Moscow hotel deal. Mr. Mueller shot down the report at the time. The Mueller report quotes Cohen as saying the president told him to cooperate with lawmakers.

⦁ The Republican National Convention platform was changed to weaken language on giving military aid to Ukraine, which had been invaded by Russia. (Trump people say the plank was strengthened, not weakened, via a compromise.) The Mueller report said there was no Russian involvement in the drafting of the plank.

⦁ The Guardian newspaper reported that Manafort visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange three times in 2016 in London. The Mueller report concluded that Manafort didn’t collude in Russian interference. During his debriefing by the Mueller team, Manafort wasn’t asked about the Guardian report, The Washington Times has reported.

The Times sent queries to Mr. Steele’s business as well as to Fusion GPS’s attorney and a spokesman for Mr. Schiff. None replied.

Mr. Schiff has opened a Russia probe that follows many of the investigative trails promoted by Mr. Simpson and Fusion GPS — supposed money laundering and Kremlin influence.

Mr. Schiff rejects the idea that no collusion occurred. He cites Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer to get dirt on Mrs. Clinton as an example.

Mr. Schiff’s newly hired chief investigator is a former federal prosecutor who as recently as December tweeted that the entire dossier is true.

Mr. Nunes said in a statement that the Mueller report’s disclosure of the special counsel’s tasking order indicates that the Steele dossier was used by the FBI to open the investigation into Mr. Page.

It was Mr. Nunes, through subpoenas, who forced the Democrats to disclose their role in the dossier’s creation.

“The Mueller report ignored a wide range of abuses committed during the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign,” Mr. Nunes said. “And now, with the revelation that the Special Counsel was authorized at the outset to investigate Carter Page for allegedly colluding with Russians to hack the election, it’s clear that false allegations from the Steele dossier played a major role not only in the FISA warrant application on Page, but in the appointment of the Special Counsel as well.

“The biggest takeaway from the entire Russia hoax is that our nation’s counter-intelligence capabilities should never again be abused to target an administration’s political opponents.”

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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