Analysis by WorldTribune Staff, May 7, 2019
Anti-Trump Russia “dossier” author Christopher Steele has openly admitted he was fed information by Russians, which he and anyone else have been unable to verify, on “collusion” allegations.
Yet, in his 448-page report, special counsel Robert Mueller does not once mention whether an investigation was launched into whether Steele interfered in the 2016 presidential election.
The dossier was a key factor in the FBI launching the Russia investigation.
Not going after Steele was a “major omission” and “shows Mueller was either incompetent or a political hack,” Margot Cleveland claimed in a May 6 op-ed for The Federalist.
Steele, a former British intelligence agent, has not been charged with lying to the FBI. Mueller did not issue a criminal referral against Steele to federal prosecutors.
“Given Mueller’s conclusion that no one connected to the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to interfere with the election, one of those two scenarios must be true — either Russia fed Steele disinformation or Steele lied to the FBI about his Russian sources,” Cleveland wrote.
Few noticed Mueller’s apparent failure to investigate whether Russia interfered in the election by peddling phony intel to Steele that Steele relayed to the FBI, until Sen. Chuck Grassley raised the issue with Attorney General William Barr last week.
During questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley framed the issue as follows:
“The Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee hired Fusion GPS to do opposition research against candidate Trump. Fusion GPS then hired Christopher Steele, former British intelligence officer, to compile what we all know as the Steele dossier, that reportedly used Russian government sources for information. The Steele dossier was central to the now-debunked collusion narrative.
“Now here’s the irony: The Mueller report spent millions investigating and found no collusion between Trump campaign and Russia but the Democrats paid for a document created by a foreign national with reported foreign government sources. Not Trump, but the Democrats. That’s the definition of collusion. Despite the central status of the Steele dossier to the collusion narrative, the Mueller report failed to analyze whether the dossier was filled with disinformation to mislead U.S. intelligence agencies and the FBI.”
“My question,” Grassley continued: “Mueller spent over two years and 30 million dollars investigating Russia interference in the election. In order for a full accounting of Russia interference attempts, shouldn’t the special counsel have considered whether the Steele dossier was part of a Russian disinformation and interference campaign?”
Barr responded that he had “not yet had anyone go through the full scope of [Mueller’s] investigation to determine whether he did address or look at all into those issues,” before adding, “one of the things I’m doing in my review is to try to assemble all the existing information out there about it, not only for the Hill investigations and the OIG, but also to see what the Special Counsel looked into. So I really couldn’t say what he looked into.”
Later during the Judiciary Committee hearing, Sen. John Cornyn asked the attorney general, “how do we know that the Steele dossier is not evidence of a Russian disinformation campaign? Knowing what we know now that the allegations are unverified? Can we state with confidence that the Steele dossier was not part of the Russian disinformation campaign?”
Barr responded: “No, I can’t state that with confidence, and that is one of the areas that I’m reviewing. I’m concerned about it, and I don’t think it is entirely speculative.”
Cleveland noted that “If Barr is concerned about it, why wasn’t Mueller? Any competent prosecutor would have investigated whether Russia peddled false intel to Steele.”
Not all of the intelligence and counterintelligence information derived from the special counsel investigation was included in Mueller’s report.
As Mueller explained, the report contains only the “information necessary to account for the Special Counsel’s prosecution and declination decisions and to describe the investigation’s main factual results.”
Cleveland noted that “This assertion is laughable given the special counsel’s report unnecessarily opined on whether Trump obstructed justice, but then failed to reach a ‘prosecution or declination decision,’ as required by regulation. The more likely answer? Political expedience. After all, evidence that Russia interfered in the election by feeding the false collusion narrative to Steele would vindicate Trump, who has been screaming ‘Witch hunt’ from day one.
“Of course, there is another possibility: Steele could have invented his Russian sources and the ‘intel’ they supposedly provided him. If so, Steele should have been charged with lying to the FBI. Yet Steele remains a free man.”