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Christopher Steele admits “there is a chance” Russia fed him disinformation while he was compiling his discredited anti-Trump dossier in 2016.
The former British spy was asked whether the Russians may have had played him or fed him disinformation in a documentary interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News.
“I think there is a chance. I think it’s very unlikely, and I’ll tell you why,” Steele said. “Ultimately, any disinformation operation has an objective, and it would’ve been disinformation about Hillary Clinton. Why would they run a disinformation campaign that was derogatory about the person they preferred to be elected?”
Ukraine impeachment witness Fiona Hill, the Trump administration's former Russia expert on the National Security Council, testified behind closed doors in October 2019 that Steele’s dossier “very likely” contained Russian disinformation. Hill told the House Intelligence Committee in November 2019 that the Russians targeted both candidates in 2016.
“They seed misinformation, they seed doubt, they have everybody questioning the legitimacy of a presidential candidate, be it President Trump or potentially President Clinton," Hill said.
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.
"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.”
Hill said she met with Steele in 2016 and noted he “was clearly very interested in building up a client base," which made him a target for Russia.
Hill testified that Steele’s dossier was a “rabbit hole” and that he “could have been played” by the Russians. She said that “it’s very likely that the Russians planted disinformation” in the dossier.
In his new interview, Steele stood by the dossier, including claims that have been refuted by the FBI. Steele was asked if he thought it was a mistake to push allegations about the so-called “pee tape,” former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, or former Trump campaign associate Carter Page, but Steele said no.
“None of those things, to my mind, have been disproven,” Steele contended.
FBI investigators received information in 2017 “indicating the potential for Russian disinformation influencing Steele’s election reporting." Declassified footnotes show that a report from a still-classified source in 2017 “contained information about an individual with reported connections to Trump and Russia who claimed that the public reporting about the details of Trump’s [redacted] activities in Moscow during a trip in 2013 were false.” That report concluded the allegations “were the product of [Russian intelligence services] ‘infiltrating a source into the network’ of a [redacted] who compiled a dossier of information on Trump’s activities."
Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska is known for his ties to President Vladimir Putin, as well as his prior business relationships with Steele and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. A mansion in Washington, D.C., tied to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska was raided by the FBI on Tuesday.
The Senate Intelligence Committee’s 1,000-page report last year found that “the Russian government coordinates with and directs Deripaska on many of his influence operations.”
Steele and his company, Orbis Business Intelligence, worked for Deripaska in 2016, helping recover millions of dollars the Russian oligarch claimed Manafort had stolen from him. Steele sought help in this anti-Trump research effort from Fusion GPS, and the company hired Steele soon after.
The investigation found “multiple links between Steele and Deripaska” and “indications that Deripaska had early knowledge of Steele's work." Steele’s continued relationship with Deripaska “provid[ed] a potential direct channel for Russian influence on the dossier."
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Original Author: Jerry Dunleavy
Original Location: Christopher Steele says 'there is a chance' Russia fed him disinformation