Politics

What’s True, False And In-Between In The Trump Dossier?

The infamous Trump dossier: Democrats say key parts of it have been proved accurate and Republicans claim it has been debunked.

But the truth about the salacious document, written last year by former British spy Christopher Steele, lies somewhere in the middle.

An analysis of the 35-page document by The Daily Caller shows that a vast majority of its claims have neither been proved nor disproved. Many are under dispute; others are the subject of defamation lawsuits.

Democrats are correct in one regard. The parts of the dossier that describe in general terms a Russian plot to meddle in the presidential campaign have been backed up by the U.S. intelligence community, which says there is ample evidence that Russia interfered in the presidential campaign. But none of the specific claims about the Trump team’s involvement have been verified. And some of those specific claims have been vehemently denied by Trump and his associates.

Here is a review of the dossier’s claims, in chronological order. Some are quoted directly from the dossier while others are paraphrased.

June 20, 2016

“The Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump for at least 5 years.”  

  • Unsubstantiated. Trump has adamantly denied receiving any help from the Russian government.

“The Kremlin had been feeding Trump and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, for several years.” 

  • Unsubstantiated. The Trump campaign has denied receiving help from the Kremlin during the campaign. But the date of this Steele memo — June 20 — is significant because it followed 11 days after the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting attended by Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a group of Russian lobbyists. Trump Jr. accepted the meeting after he was offered damaging information about Clinton. But he claims that no such information was provided.

“The Kremlin’s cultivation operation on Trump had also comprised offering him various lucrative real estate development deals in Russia.”

  • Unsubstantiated. Trump and his real estate company did discuss real estate projects in Russia, but there has been no evidence produced so far that those were part of a Kremlin “cultivation operation” of Trump.

Russians sought to “exploit Trump’s personal obsessions and sexual perversions to obtain suitable ‘kompromot’ [compromising material] on him.” Kremlin operatives filmed Trump in compromising positions in a Moscow hotel. 

  • Unsubstantiated. In a press conference just after BuzzFeed published the dossier on Jan. 10, Trump called the sex allegations “phony stuff.”

President-Elect Donald Trump addresses allegations made in the Steele dossier, Jan. 11, 2017. (Youtube screen grab)

“The Clinton dossier was controlled exclusively by chief Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, who was responsible for compiling/handling it on the explicit instructions of Putin himself.” 

  • Unsubstantiated. While U.S. intelligence officials do believe that Putin was directly involved in the campaign meddling — a claim that the Kremlin denies — no evidence has been produced showing that Peskov personally handled the project. Some Russia observers have questioned why Putin’s chief spokesman would be in charge of the collusion operation.

July 19-30

“There was a well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership.” 

  • Unsubstantiated. Trump and his campaign have adamantly denied the allegation.

“This was managed on the Trump side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who was using foreign policy advisor, Carter Page, and others as intermediaries.” 

  • Unsubstantiated. Both Manafort and Page say they do not know each other. Page, who served in a small volunteer role on the campaign, has also never met Trump. He has repeatedly denied the allegations against him in the Steele document, which he calls the “dodgy dossier.”

“The Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the [DNC], to the WikiLeaks platform.”

  • True. The CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence all agree that Russian operatives hacked DNC emails and used WikiLeaks as a cutout to make them public.

“The operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of Trump and senior members of the campaign team.”   

  • Unsubstantiated. Trump and his campaign have denied the allegation, and no evidence has been released that supports the collusion claim.

“Russian diplomatic staff in key cities like New York, Washington and Miami were using the emigre ‘pension’ distribution system as cover.”    

  • Unsubstantiated. While this dossier claim has not been proved, it has been reported that U.S. investigators are looking into whether a pension system that the Russian government uses to pay soldiers living abroad was used as cover to finance covert actions during the presidential campaign. What is not known is whether investigators began looking into that independent of the dossier or whether Steele’s reports prompted the probe.

July 19

Igor Sechin, a crony of Putin’s and the CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft, met secretly with Carter Page during a trip that the Trump campaign adviser made to Moscow in early July. Sechin allegedly brought up the possibility of removing Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia, which Page allegedly “reacted positively” to. Page also met secretly with senior Kremlin official Igor Divyekin. 

  • Unsubstantiated. Page did visit Moscow during the time that the dossier claims. But the visit, where Page gave a speech at the New Economic School, had been revealed in the press by the time Steele made this allegation. Page has denied ever meeting Sechin and Divyekin, though he has spoken positively about the former and said he would be honored to meet him one day.
  • Page is suing the parent company of Yahoo! News for republishing these claims. Yahoo! reporter Michael Isikoff wrote a Sept. 23, 2016 article based on the allegations, which he had apparently learned about after meeting with Steele and Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired Steele. (RELATED: Carter Page Sues Yahoo! Over Dossier Story)

Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page speaks at New Economic School in Moscow, July 6, 2016. (Youtube screen grab)

“An intelligence exchange had been running between [the Trump team and Kremlin] for at least 8 years.”

  • Unsubstantiated. No evidence has been produced to support this claim, and the Trump campaign has denied it.

“Putin’s priority requirement” in the information exchange with Trump world was to obtain information about Russian oligarchs and their families. Trump and his associates supplied the information.  

  • Unsubstantiated. Neither the Russian government nor Trumpworld has addressed the claim.

“The Kremlin had more intel on Clinton and her campaign.” 

  • True. At the time the memo was written, Russian operatives had already hacked into the email account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. WikiLeaks would begin publishing those hacked emails in October. U.S. intelligence officials have said that there is ample evidence pointing to Russia being behind the hacks.

Aug. 10

Carter Page “conceived and promoted” the idea of releasing hacked DNC emails through WikiLeaks. 

  • Unsubstantiated. Page has denied allegations in the dossier. Trump and senior members of the campaign have denied that Page offered any significant input to the campaign.

Sept. 14

“The Kremlin had further ‘kompromat’ on candidate Clinton and had been considering releasing this via ‘plausibly deniable’ channels after the Duma (legislative) elections were out of the way in mid-September.”  

  • True. WikiLeaks would begin releasing Podesta emails a month after Steele wrote this claim in the dossier.

Russian diplomat Mikhail Kalugin was withdrawn from Washington at short notice because of his “heavy involvement in the US presidential election operation.” Kalugin took part in the veterans’ pension “ruse” to help fund the active measures campaign.

  • Partially True. Kalugin was called back from Washington, D.C. at the time that the dossier claims he was. But he denied to McClatchy that he was involved in paying any operatives to influence the election. McClatchy also reported that the FBI was investigating whether Russia’s intelligence agency, the FSB, used a pension system for former Russian soldiers to disguise payments for hackers who targeted the campaign. The status of that investigation is unclear.

Sept. 14

Trump participated in sex parties in St. Petersburg and paid bribes to make the stories “disappear.” Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire Aras Agalarov would know the details. 

  • Unsubstantiated. Trump does know Agalarov. They partnered on a deal to host the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Russia. The Agalarov family was also involved in the June 9, 2016 Trump Tower meeting. It was set up at the request of Agalarov’s son, Emin.

Oct. 20

“Clandestine meeting between…Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen and Kremlin representatives in August 2016.” The meeting too place in Prague    

  • False. Cohen has vehemently denied the allegations that he met with Kremlin representatives to discuss collusion and that he traveled to Prague. Cohen has provided photos of his passport showing that he has never visited Prague. CNN reported just after the dossier was published in January that the document referred to a different Michael Cohen who had visited Prague. (RELATED: Government Source Says Trump’s Personal Lawyer Was Not In Prague)

A Kremlin-controlled cultural exchange group called Rossotrudnichestvo “was being used as cover for this relationship and its office in Prague may well have been used to host the Cohen meeting/s.”

  • Unsubstantiated. In addition to Cohen’s denial that he was in Prague, there has been no evidence produced that Rossotrudnichestvo was involved in helping the Trump campaign.

Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen on Capitol Hill, Sept. 19, 2017. (Youtube screen grab)

“Konstantin Kosachev (head of the Foreign Relations Committee) is an important figure in the Trump campaign-Kremlin liaison operation.”

Mid-October

Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin offered Carter Page a 19 percent brokerage stake on a deal involving the Russian oil giant in return for getting sanctions lifted if Trump was elected president. Page expressed interest in the proposal. 

  • Unsubstantiated. Page has denied ever meeting Sechin or being offered a brokerage deal for Rosneft.

Dec. 13

“A company called XBT/Webzilla and its affiliates had been using botnets and porn traffic to trasmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic party leadership. Entities linked to one Aleksej Gubarev were involved and he and another expert, both recruited under duress by the FSB, Seva Kapsugovich, were significant players in this operation.” 

  • Unsubstantiated. Gubarev is suing BuzzFeed and Steele for publishing the dossier containing this allegation. BuzzFeed later apologized to Gubarev and redacted his name from the dossier.
  • McClatchy has also reported that Kapsugovich appears to have been in prison when the dossier claims he was involved in the hacking scheme.
  • Steele acknowledged in April in a court filing in London, where he is being sued by Gubarev, that the Dec. 13 memo had not been verified. (RELATED: Ex-Spy Who Wrote Trump Dossier Says Some Claims In It Are Unverified)

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