Rep. Adam Schiff appeared on Fox News yesterday morning where he was asked about a recent report by the NY Times suggesting the Steele dossier may have become part of a Russian disinformation campaign. Specifically, the Times reported that Steele himself won’t rule out the possibility that Russia funneled information to him which then became part of the dossier and, from there, part of the years-long investigation into Russian collusion. As the Times pointed out last week, several of the most serious allegations, including that Trump had shared information with Russia over a period of eight years, were not found to have any support by Special Counsel Mueller. From the Daily Caller:
“Don’t you think the question of exactly how this investigation began, was it a Russian disinformation campaign to try to get, since they were trying to set Americans against each other, not only to tarnish Hillary Clinton, but also to tarnish Donald Trump, isn’t that a legitimate source of an investigation?” Wallace asked Schiff.
The lawmaker dodged the question.
“Chris, you know, the reality is that the Republicans on our committee spent two years investigating exactly that because, frankly, they weren’t that interested in what Russia had done, the systemic attack on our democracy. They spent the focus of their two years investigating the investigators and investigating exactly that question,” Schiff said.
That talking point is a bit dated, as host Chris Wallace was quick to point out. The question isn’t whether an investigation was legitimate a year ago, it’s whether it’s legitimate now in light of the findings of the Mueller report. “Shouldn’t you be looking at that just to find the truth?” Wallace asked.
“Let me just be very clear about this. The Mueller report makes it absolutely crystal clear that the initiation of this investigation was not only warranted but absolutely necessary because it revealed a widespread, systemic effort by the Russians to help the Trump campaign,” Shiff replied.
Fine, but that effort to interfere in the campaign is something we’ve known about since 2016. Even the conclusion that the goal was to hurt Hillary and help Trump was made by elements of the intelligence community months before the Special Counsel was appointed. So again, we didn’t really need a Special Counsel to reveal that because it had already been revealed. The hook for the Special Counsel was the idea that the Trump administration (or Trump himself) might have colluded with Russia. That’s what the (by then public) dossier claimed and that’s what Shiff himself has been promising for two years. The fact that Mueller couldn’t find it and that it’s possible the dossier itself was part of the Russian campaign seems like something Congress might want to investigate.
During the same Sunday show, journalist Bob Woodward revealed that the dossier had been included in an early draft of one of those intelligence assessments, but intelligence experts decided it was unreliable and took it out. From the Washington Examiner:
“What I found out recently, which was really quite surprising, the dossier, which really is got a lot of garbage in it and Mueller found that to be the case, early in building the intelligence community assessment on Russian interference in an early draft, they actually put the dossier on page two in kind of a breakout box,” Woodward said in a panel moderated by host Chris Wallace.
“I think it was the CIA pushing this,” he added. “Real intelligence experts looked at this and said no, this is not intelligence, this is garbage and they took it out. But in this process the idea that they would include something like that in one of the great stellar intelligence assessments as Mueller also found out is highly questionable. Needs to be investigated.”
CIA was pushing for the inclusion of the dossier in the intelligence assessment comes nearly a month after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he was told former CIA Director John Brennan “insisted” the dossier be included in the report.
Woodward’s bottom line: “It needs to be investigated.” Brennan has been one of the most partisan officials (along with Rep. Shiff) to appear on television and push the collusion narrative. He also spent much of the last year taking obviously partisan pot shots at the president on Twitter. He said as recently as two months ago that people connected to Trump would be indicted on collusion/conspiracy before the Mueller report came to a close. Obviously, he was wrong.
Here’s Schiff trying to dodge the question about investigating the Steele dossier.
Finally, here’s Bob Woodward discussing the “garbage” dossier: