Steele admits he used posts from 'random individuals' on CNN website for Trump dossier
The dossier that launched several investigations into Donald Trump and his presidential campaign was based, in part, on posts from "random individuals" from a CNN website that allows the public to publish unverified information.
Christopher Steele made the admission in a deposition given in connection with a lawsuit against the dossier. The judge released portions of the deposition this week.
According to deposition transcripts released this week, Steele said last year he used a 2009 report he found on CNN's iReport website and said he wasn't aware that submissions to that site are posted by members of the public and are not checked for accuracy.
A web archive from July 29, 2009 shows that CNN described the site in this manner: "iReport.com is a user-generated site. That means the stories submitted by users are not edited, fact-checked, or screened before they post."
The FBI was able to obtain several FISA warrants based on the dossier. Was the FISA judge told that some of the information was from an internet crank?
He was pressed on this further: "Do you understand that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals' assertions on the Internet?" Steele replied: "No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has [sic] some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site."
When asked about his methodology for searching for this information, Steele described it as "what we could call an open source search," which he defined as "where you go into the Internet and you access material that is available on the Internet that is of relevance or reference to the issue at hand or the person under consideration."
Steele said his dossier contained "raw intelligence" that he admitted could contain untrue or even "deliberately false information."
When in doubt, Google it.
The FBI was aware of Steele's "sources" but still used the dossier to convince a FISA judge to issue a warrant against Trump campaign aide Carter Page. That the FBI has, to this day, refused to verify the authenticity of the information in the dossier is not surprising. A document as flawed as this should never have been presented to a FISA court as justification for granting a warrant to spy on Carter Page. It makes the FBI look ridiculous.
Many on the left still take the dossier as gospel and refer to it as if it were relevant. It isn't. It was a political smear job, paid for by Democrats, that Steele passed on to a former aide to GOP presidential candidate John McCain, who gave it to BuzzFeed, who then posted it.
The FBI has no interest in declaring most of the information in the dossier untrue. Look at the anti-Trump mileage they're getting out of it. Someday, in some dusty history of our times, a small footnote will tell the story of how a political hit job was used to try to blow up a presidency.