Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday he is reviewing whether the infamous Steele dossier was a product of Russian disinformation.
Barr made the explosive revelation during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing regarding the results of the special counsel’s probe. The investigation severely undercut the Democrat-funded Steele dossier, which alleged a “well-developed conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
Barr was asked about the origins of the dossier during an exchange with Texas Sen. John Cornyn.
“Can we state with confidence that the Steele dossier was not part of the Russian disinformation campaign?” asked Cornyn, a Republican.
Barr replied: “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’s entirely speculative.”
If the dossier was indeed the product of disinformation, it would mark a significant twist in the Russia probe. The Democratic National Committee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign financed the dossier, which former British spy Christopher Steele wrote. The dossier, which Steele provided to the FBI as well as to reporters, has served as a roadmap of sorts for the conspiracy theory that President Donald Trump and members of his campaign colluded with Russia.
Special counsel Robert Mueller said in a report of his 22-month investigation that there was no evidence that members of the Trump campaign conspired with Russians to interfere in the 2016 campaign. Mueller was also unable to establish that Trump associates acted as agents of Russia. (RELATED: Investigate The Steele Dossier As Russian Disinformation, Intel Experts Say)
The report said former Trump attorney Michael Cohen did not visit Prague, as Steele claimed. The former British spy, who relied on Russian sources and others who claimed to have links to the Trump campaign, claimed that Cohen visited the European city in order to meet with Kremlin insiders to discussing paying off computer hackers.
Steele also made the salacious allegation that the Kremlin has a blackmail video of Trump with Russian prostitutes in Moscow in 2013. No evidence of the video has surfaced. The Mueller report cites one witness who claimed to have heard a rumor about a tape of Trump that they believed to be false.
Mueller’s findings have led to additional scrutiny that Steele, a former MI6 officer who worked in Moscow, was provided with disinformation from his Russian sources.
Daniel Hoffman, a former CIA station chief who worked in Russia, has said he believes the dossier was a disinformation tool used by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Hoffman wrote in The Wall Street Journal in January 2018 that it was possible Russians who hacked Democrats’ computer networks learned about Steele’s efforts to investigate Trump and decided to plant false information.
Hoffman recently told The Daily Caller News Foundation he hopes that U.S. intelligence officials are conducting a counterintelligence investigation into the origins of the dossier.
Steele was hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS in April 2016 to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia. He has acknowledged in court depositions that he could have been fed disinformation by his Russian sources, but he claimed he was trained to spot such efforts.
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