British ex-spy Christopher Steele says there’s no way he was fooled by Russian disinformation when compiling his Trump-Russia dossier.
“These people simply have no idea what they are talking about. I’ve spent my entire adult life working with Russian disinformation,” Steele told Fusion GPS co-founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch in their new book, Crime in Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump.
But impeachment witness Fiona Hill, the Trump administration’s former Russia expert on the National Security Council, testified behind closed doors in October that Steele’s dossier “very likely” contained Russian disinformation.
“The ultimate Russian goal was to prevent Hillary Clinton from becoming president, and therefore, the idea that they would intentionally spread embarrassing information about Trump — true or not — is not logical.” Steele claimed.
In constrast, Hill told the House Intelligence Committee in public hearings in November the Russians targeted both candidates in 2016.
“The goal of the Russians was really to put whoever became the president, by trying to tip their hands on one side of the scale, under a cloud,” Hill said. “They seed misinformation, they seed doubt, they have everybody questioning the legitimacy of a presidential candidate, be it President Trump or potentially President Clinton.”
The Fusion authors wrote Steele “remains confident that at least 70 recent of the assertions in the dossier are accurate” while they acknowledged the allegations about former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen meeting with foreign hackers in Prague could’ve been “misinformation fed to Steele to discredit him.”
The U.S. intelligence community concluded in 2017 that Russian military intelligence was responsible for hacking thousands of Democratic emails and providing them to WikiLeaks, a claim bolstered by special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional investigations.
Steele’s salacious and unverified dossier was used extensively by the FBI and DOJ to obtain surveillance warrants to monitor Trump campaign associate Carter Page. Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz’s report on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse will be released next Monday.
Attorney General William Barr told the Senate in May he was “concerned about” possible Russian disinformation in Steele’s dossier, and former CIA Moscow station chief Daniel Hoffman told the Washington Examiner the Steele dossier was likely Russian government disinformation.
The Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee used the Perkins Coie law firm to hire Fusion GPS which then hired Steele, whose Democratic funding, strong desire for Trump to lose, and possible flaws with his dossier weren’t revealed to the FISA court.
“He’s obviously out there soliciting information,” Hill said of Steele’s 2016 actions. “What a great opportunity to, basically, you know, present him with information that he’s looking for that can be couched in some truth and some disinformation.”