Yahoo News‘ Michael Isikoff was the first Washington journalists to write about and push wild allegations against then-GOP nominee Donald Trump contained in the infamous “Steele dossier,” but he now says the lack of evidence in the years since it was publicized mean they were “likely false.”
As Election Day drew close in September 2016, Isikoff wrote about Steele’s memos, focusing principally on the former British spy’s claim that Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page met with Russian operatives linked to President Vladimir Putin during a publicly announced trip to Moscow in July of that year.
But as noted by the Washington Times, Isikoff told Mediate columnist John Ziegler this month, “When you actually get into the details of the Steele dossier, the specific allegations, we have not seen the evidence to support them, and in fact, there is good grounds to think that some of the more sensational allegations will never be proven and are likely false.”
This is noteworthy considering the origin of the dossier: Fusion GPS, via funding from the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Isikoff is best friends with Fusion co-founder and former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson, the man who hired Steele with Clinton campaign money funneled through a ‘cutout’ — the Perkins Coie law firm. Isikoff was one of a few Washington journalists who talked personally with Steele in a meeting arranged by Simpson, the Times noted.
The second Washington journalist to report on the dossier was Mother Jones‘ David Corn. His story was based on an interview with Steele, who admitted that he was no fan of Trump and wanted to sabotage his campaign while prompting the FBI to boost its investigation of the GOP billionaire.
Here are some of the more sensational allegations Steele made in his dossier, none of which have been corroborated:
— “The Trump campaign was a partner in an ‘extensive conspiracy’ with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 election.” — No confirmed evidence of this has been made public, and it’s also noteworthy to mention that not a single Trump campaign official has been charged with this. And yet, this was the core reason special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed.
— “Then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen secretly traveled to Prague in August 2016 and met with Putin aides to organize cash payments to hush up hackers who infiltrated Democratic Party computers.” — Again, no evidence, though one mainstream media outlet, McClatchy DC, has published two stories claiming Cohen did go to Prague (despite his repeated denials). The most recent story claimed that a cell phone belonging to him pinged a signal tower briefly near Prague, but it turns out that claim was based on third-hand information and has not been corroborated by any other media outlets.
Also: Top national security reporter Greg Miller, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, said during an event in October that the FBI and CIA never did believe a key allegation contained in the widely debunked “dossier” compiled ahead of the 2016 election by former British spy Christopher Steele, The Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross notes.
— “Carter Page met with two Putin operatives and discussed a brokerage fee in return for pushing an end to U.S. sanctions on wealthy Russians and businesses.” — The FBI, after obtaining FISA court warrants using the dubious dossier as justification, put Page under surveillance for a year. No evidence has been presented that Page met with Putin operatives; he told Congress under oath he did not; he’s not been charged.
— “Mr. Page and campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked as a team to coordinate election interference with the Kremlin.” — Again, nothing has been presented publicly to support this allegation, and Manafort has been charged by Mueller and convicted for unrelated crimes the special counsel would not have pursued if he had evidence of nefarious election collusion. In fact, Manafort attorney Kevin Downing said he filed a court document seeking evidence of his client conversing with Russian officials. He was told there wasn’t any.
— “The Trump team paid Russian hackers.” — No evidence if this has been presented, though Mueller has brought charges against Russian operatives he says did the hacking.
In an interview this month, Mediaite asked Isikoff whether the Steele dossier “has been somewhat vindicated.”
Isikoff said, “No.”
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