The Steele Dossier, which the FBI used as justification to spy on onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page, is almost certainly a work of fiction.
In fact, the dossier, which served also as the foundation for the corporate press’s manic coverage of the supposed conspiracy between Moscow and the Trump 2016 campaign to steal the election, may itself be a Russian counterintelligence propaganda product.
Amazingly, rather than strike a conciliatory note and apologize for uncritically promoting a document whose primary source has since been indicted on five counts of lying to federal investigators, certain journalists who faithfully endorsed the dossier have fallen back on a defense that amounts to saying, “Close enough!”
“Even if every single word in the Steele dossier was wrong,” the Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum mused this week, “that would not change the fact that the Russians sought to manipulate the U.S. election using hacked material and a disinformation campaign.”
She added, “Nor would it change the fact that the Trump family welcomed this intervention.”
The brazenness of it all — to ignore entirely that the FBI used an obviously dubious and now-discredited document to spy on an actual presidential campaign. This alone poses a far greater danger to the republic than all the Russian bots that polluted social media in 2016 combined.
Applebaum’s argument is even more ridiculous, and damnable, when one recalls her personal effort to promote and legitimize the dossier.
In 2017, she promoted a New York Times story titled, “How a sensational, unverified dossier became a crisis for Donald Trump.” Applebaum then alleged, “The political origins of the dossier have long been known. Problem was that so many European intelligence agencies had similar information.”
Now, she argues, “Sure, the dossier may be a lie. But this doesn’t change that Russia and Trump are bad!”
Also, Applebaum’s casual dismissal of the grave implications of the dossier incident ignores that nearly everyone involved in creating it worked for Russia.
“Steele was working for Deripaska,” Bloomberg Opinion’s Eli Lake notes. “Fusion GPS was working with Veselnitskaya to advance Russian interests and discredit the Magnitsky Act. Charles Dolan was an unregistered lobbyist for Gazprom.”
Ignore all this, Applebaum says. What was reported and what was promised regarding the dossier is “close enough” to the truth.
“[G]iven the fact that the Russians sought to manipulate the U.S. election campaign using hacked material and a disinformation campaign,” she said this week, “it was not stupid for the FBI to take the Steele dossier seriously. Was a mistake to publish it, but that wasn’t the FBI’s fault.”
She added, “Some of the confused responses to this very uncomplicated and uncontroversial statement reflect just how much damage Trump’s lies have done to the American psyche. Tragic that so many of you fell for them,” wrote this person who fell for the Steele Dossier.
If you can believe it, Applebaum is not the only former dossier enthusiast to retreat to the “close enough” position.
Read More at the Washington Examiner.