Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz sent three lawyers to interview dossier author Christopher Steele last month. The story was first reported by Reuters based on two anonymous sources but now Politico is also reporting the story based on two anonymous sources:

Christopher Steele, the former British spy behind the infamous “dossier” on President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, was interviewed for 16 hours in June by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, according to two people familiar with the matter…

The interview was contentious at first, the sources added, but investigators ultimately found Steele’s testimony credible and even surprising. The takeaway has irked some U.S. officials interviewed as part of the probe — they argue that it shouldn’t have taken a foreign national to convince the inspector general that the FBI acted properly in 2016. Steele’s American lawyer was present for the conversation…

Conservatives have also seized on Mueller’s conclusion that no criminal conspiracy existed between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin as evidence that Steele’s sensational dossier was a fraud.

But the extensive interview with Steele, and the investigators’ sense that he offered new and important information, may dampen expectations among the president’s allies who’ve claimed that Steele’s sensational dossier was used improperly by the bureau to “spy” on the campaign.

Did you catch that “conservatives seized” trope in this story? It’s amazing that after two years of Democrats talking about collusion, no one in the media thinks they seized on this idea. Only Republicans seize (on the truth in this case).

Anyway, this leak to Politico and Reuters seems calculated to bolster Steele’s reputation at the expense of his critics. Back in April reports suggested IG Horowitz was focused on Steele’s credibility. Now this anonymously sourced story claims Steele was deemed credible by the IG. There’s just one problem. Steele’s dossier wasn’t found credible by the FBI or Mueller. Here’s how the NY Times put it back in April:

The 35-page dossier, spiced up with tales of prostitutes and spies, sketched out a hair-raising story more than two years ago. Russian intelligence had used bribery and blackmail to try to turn Donald J. Trump into a source and ally, it said, and the Kremlin was running some Trump campaign aides practically as agents.

But the release on Thursday of the report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, underscored what had grown clearer for months — that while many Trump aides had welcomed contacts with the Russians, some of the most sensational claims in the dossier appeared to be false, and others were impossible to prove…

By January 2017, F.B.I. agents had tracked down and interviewed one of Mr. Steele’s main sources, a Russian speaker from a former Soviet republic who had spent time in the West, according to a Justice Department document and three people familiar with the events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. After questioning him about where he’d gotten his information, they suspected he might have added his own interpretations to reports passed on by his sources, one of the people said. For the F.B.I., that made it harder to decide what to trust…

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.

The Times’ story went on to raise the possibility that the dossier contained Russian disinformation, something that Steele himself couldn’t rule out.

This claim that the IG was shocked by Steele’s credibility seems like something that is being fed to reporters by his team. Maybe some of it is true but I’d be willing to be it’s not the whole truth. The good news is we’ll know exactly what the IG thinks about the credibility of Christopher Steele and his dossier when his report is released.