Alisyn Camerota said the FBI corroborated “most of” the Steele dossier on President Donald Trump during her CNN show Friday.
“They investigated everything that was in the dossier and corroborated most of it,” she said. “Though, the most salacious parts they were unable to corroborate.”
Camerota’s comment came as she summarized remarks from former FBI Director James Comey on Thursday regarding the FBI’s use of the dossier as a basis to investigate the Trump campaign.
Comey said “some” of the dossier claims matched intelligence that the bureau already had, most notably that Russia was trying to interfere in the election. But he acknowledged the work to verify the many “spokes off of that” was still ongoing when he was fired in 2017. The most salacious claims regarding Russian dirt on Trump have not been verified.
“I told President Trump that the particular allegation about him being involved with prostitutes in Moscow was unverified, but I felt it important that he know it,” Comey said. That meeting with Trump was leaked to the press and resulted in the dossier getting published.
“More broadly,” he continued, “the bureau began an effort after we got the Steele dossier to see how much of it we could replicate. That work was ongoing when I was fired.”
The work was still ongoing when the FBI used the dossier to secure a series of surveillance warrants on Trump campaign associate Carter Page. The New York Times reports the agency had doubts about the credibility of the document as early as January 2017 but continued to use it to secure surveillance warrants into that summer.
“How the dossier ended up loaded with dubious or exaggerated details remains uncertain, but the document may be the result of a high-stakes game of telephone, in which rumors and hearsay were passed from source to source,” reported The New York Times. “Another possibility — one that Mr. Steele has not ruled out — could be Russian disinformation.”
The Mueller report undercut multiple claims in the dossier, including a key assertion that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen visited Prague in 2016 as part of a plot to conspire with Russia. Mueller found that Cohen never went to Prague. And of course the report found no evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia — another central dossier claim the FBI was unable to corroborate.
The Justice Department’s internal watchdog has opened a probe into the FBI’s use of the document, and several congressional committees led by Republicans are investigating. But it’s not just Republicans at this point who are saying the dossier is bunk.
Legendary Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward has repeatedly referred to the dossier as “garbage” and said its use “needs to be investigated.”
Michael Isikoff, the investigative reporter who broke the dossier story, said recently he’s surprised it’s still being treated as credible. “It’s been surprising to me the degree to which some people have wanted to maintain that the dossier was checking out when, as far as I can tell, it hasn’t,” he said.
Investigative reporter Jon Solomon has reported extensively on the problems with the dossier, and increasing evidence the FBI misled a federal court regarding its confidence in the credibility of its sources.