Politics The ‘close enough’ defense — media make excuses for their discredited Steele Dossier reporting
Durham theory of case appears to be Trump-Russia collusion was largely a Clinton fabrication
Special counsel John Durham's investigation and indictments appear to be affirming what has long been suspected: that many of the biggest Trump-Russia collusion claims can be traced back to the Clinton campaign. © Provided by Washington Examiner Durham’s indictments of Igor Danchenko, British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s main source, and lawyer Michael Sussmann outline the deep links that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had in creating and peddling the discredited dossier and pushing refuted claims that Russia’s Alfa Bank and the Trump Organization had a secret back channel during the 2016 election.
The Steele Dossier, which the FBI used as justification to spy on onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page, is almost certainly a work of fiction.
In fact, the dossier that also served as the foundation for the media’s manic coverage of supposed Russian collusion with Trump's campaign may itself be a Russian counterintelligence propaganda product.
Amazingly, rather than strike a conciliatory note and apologize for uncritically promoting a document whose primary source has since been indicted on five counts of lying to federal investigators, certain journalists who faithfully endorsed the dossier have fallen back on a defense that amounts to saying, “Close enough!”
Jim Jordan says lies exposed by Durham matter because they underpinned Trump-Russia investigation
A top Republican working to expose problems with the Trump-Russia investigation contends the alleged lies exposed by special counsel John Durham matter because they underpinned and spurred on years of federal investigations. © Provided by Washington Examiner Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, told the Washington Examiner the Durham developments are a “positive” step toward accountability.
“Even if every single word in the Steele dossier was wrong,” the Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum mused this week, “that would not change the fact that the Russians sought to manipulate the U.S. election using hacked material and a disinformation campaign.”
She added, “Nor would it change the fact that the Trump family welcomed this intervention.”
The brazenness of it all — to ignore entirely that the FBI used this fake document to spy on an actual presidential campaign. That alone poses a far greater danger to the republic than all the Russian bots that littered Twitter in 2016 combined.
Applebaum’s argument is even more ridiculous when one recallsto promote and legitimize the dossier.
In 2017, she promoted a New York Times story titled, “How a sensational, unverified dossier became a crisis for Donald Trump.” Applebaum then alleged, “The political origins of the dossier have long been known. Problem was that so many European intelligence agencies had similar information.”
DOJ and FBI gave cover to Steele dossier source accused of lying
The Justice Department and the FBI continued defending their use of information from Christopher Steele’s main source, Igor Danchenko, even after interviews with the bureau during which special counsel John Durham says the Russian lied repeatedly. © Provided by Washington Examiner Danchenko, a U.S.-based and Russian-born researcher, was charged “with five counts of making false statements to the FBI” that Durham claims he made about the information he provided to Steele for the dossier. The Durham indictment stated Danchenko lied to the FBI five times in 2017. He pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
But now she is arguing, “Sure, the dossier may be a lie. This doesn’t change that Russia and Trump are bad!”
Also, Applebaum’s casual dismissal of the grave implications of the dossier incident ignores that nearly everyone involved in creating it worked for Russia.
“Steele was working for Deripaska,” Bloomberg Opinion’snotes. “Fusion GPS was working with Veselnitskaya to advance Russian interests and discredit the Magnitsky Act. Charles Dolan was an unregistered lobbyist for Gazprom.”
Ignore all that, Applebaum says. What was reported and what was promised regarding the dossier is basically “close enough.”
“[G]iven the fact that the Russians sought to manipulate the U.S. election campaign using hacked material and a disinformation campaign,” she said this week, “it was not stupid for the FBI to take the Steele dossier seriously. Was a mistake to publish it, but that wasn't the FBI's fault.”
WaPo columnist demands CNN retract claim Steele dossier is 'verified'
A Washington Post columnist has sharply criticized CNN for failing to retract its claim that British ex-spy Christopher Steele's dossier is 'corroborated,' following the Danchenko indictment.Media critic Erik Wemple issued the harsh rebuke in a column on Friday, calling on CNN to correct its longstanding claim that its reporting had verified substantial portions of the 2016 dossier alleging Donald Trump conspired with Russia.
She added, “Some of the confused responses to this very uncomplicated and uncontroversial statement reflect just how much damage Trump's lies have done to the American psyche. Tragic that so many of you fell for them,” wrote this person who fell for the Steele Dosier.
If you can believe it, Applebaum is not the only former dossier enthusiast to retreat to the “close enough” position.
"Steele’s overall thrust was that Russia was trying to interfere in the 2016 election," said New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer, who did more to legitimize the dossier than just about anyone. "And about that he was absolutely right, correct?"
No, the overall thrust of the dossier was not that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. Russia has been interfering for years. Just ask former.
The overall thrust of the dossier was that there was an explicit and coordinated “conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump 2016 campaign and senior officials in Moscow. This is an explosive claim — one that suggests criminal activity on Trump's part.
After indictment of Steele source, question remains whether Durham will charge FBI agents or leaders
As John Durham's investigation takes shape, the question of whether the special counsel will charge anyone else at the FBI looms large. © Provided by Washington Examiner Michael Sussmann, a Democratic cybersecurity lawyer, was indicted in September for allegedly concealing his work for the Clinton campaign when pushing claims of a connection between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian bank Alfa Bank to the FBI's top lawyer. And Igor Danchenko, a U.S.
Too bad for the people who bought the dossier hook, line, and sinker that it appears to have been a complete fraud. But even now, when proven wrong, they lack the humility and good judgment to admit they fell for something that reinforced their own prejudices.
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The many Russian links to the operatives behind the Steele dossier .
The Russian links to the figures behind Christopher Steele’s discredited dossier have come into clearer focus following special counsel John Durham’s indictments. © Provided by Washington Examiner Steele was working for Vladimir Putin-linked oligarch Oleg Deripaska before, during, and after his time targeting then-candidate Donald Trump, and the former MI6 agent was hired to put the dossier together by an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, which was simultaneously working for Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya of the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting.