Mueller Report Undercuts Several Steele Dossier Claims, Though The Salacious Document Is Barely Mentioned
Chuck Ross at The Daily Caller News Foundation
- The Steele dossier was the FBI’s roadmap for the collusion investigation, but the controversial document is barely mentioned in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report
- But the few references to the dossier paint an unflattering picture of the document, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC
- Mueller’s report addresses some of the dossier’s claims about Michael Cohen, as well as the salacious claims about the Kremlin having blackmail material on President Trump
The infamous Steele dossier, which served as the FBI’s roadmap to its investigation into Trump campaign collusion, is barely mentioned in the special counsel’s report, released on Thursday.
The word “dossier” doesn’t appear at all in the partially redacted report. Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele on behalf of the Clinton campaign, is also not discussed. And Christopher Steele, a former British spy who wrote the dossier, is mentioned by name only 14 times in the 448-page document.
But the few references to the dossier contained in the report undercut many of the claims in the salacious document. And nothing in the Mueller report appears to bolster Steele’s report, which was cited heavily in the FBI’s applications to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Mueller’s report asserts that one of the dossier’s core claims about former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is inaccurate. The report also cites statements from one witness who claimed that a purported blackmail tape of Donald Trump referenced in the dossier was fake.
Mueller’s report does not mention Steele in the context of Carter Page. But prosecutors did not find evidence that Page conspired with the Russian government or acting as an illegal Russian agent, as the dossier suggests.
The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s reporting to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Page. The warrants were granted on the grounds that there was probable cause to believe that Page was working clandestinely as a foreign agent of Russia. Steele cited sources who claimed that Page was part of a “well-developed conspiracy” involving the Trump campaign and Kremlin to influence the 2016 election.
Republicans have accused the FBI of misleading the FISA Court judges by relying on the unverified dossier, which was indirectly funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC. The Justice Department’s inspector general is reportedly scrutinizing Steele and his anti-Trump work. Politico reported on Wednesday that the DOJ watchdog is expected to cast doubt on the veracity of Steele’s work.
Mueller said that prosecutors were unable to make a case that Page or any other Trump campaign advisers worked as Russian agents or conspired to influence the election.
Cohen, the former Trump lawyer, was also a major target of the dossier. Citing anonymous sources, Steele alleged that Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin insiders. There, he allegedly discussed how to make deniable cash payments to hackers who stole emails from Democrats.
Mueller’s report appears to back up Cohen’s denials of the Prague allegation.
“Cohen had never traveled to Prague and was not concerned about those allegations, which he believed were provably false,” the report states.
Cohen has denied the dossier’s allegations ever since the document was published by BuzzFeed on Jan. 10, 2017. Those denials were widely dismissed because of Cohen’s history of telling falsehoods to reporters. Two stories from McClatchy News, published on April 13, 2018 and Dec. 27, 2018, also kept the allegations alive. The stories, authored by Greg Gordon and Peter Stone, alleged that Mueller’s office had received evidence placing Cohen in or near Prague during the time period alleged in the dossier.
Cohen disputed those reports, but he was not taken as seriously until he testified to Congress in late February that he has not visited Prague.
Mueller’s report also contains a footnote that refers to the dossier’s steamiest allegation.
In Steele’s first dossier memo, dated June 20, 2016, he alleged that the Kremlin is blackmailing Trump with a video of him engaged with prostitutes at a Moscow hotel in 2013. Steele claimed that the video showed Trump watching as the prostitutes urinated on each other.
According to Mueller, a Georgian businessman named Giorgi Rtskhiladze sent a text message to Cohen on Oct. 30, 2016 referring to the tapes.
“Stopped flow of tapes from Russia but not sure if there’s anything else. Just so you know….,” Rtskhiladze wrote.
According to Mueller, Rtskhiladze told investigators that “‘tapes’ referred to compromising tapes of Trump rumored to be held by persons associated with the Russian real estate conglomerate Crocus Group.”
Crocus is the Russian firm owned by Aras Agalarov, who partnered with Trump to host the 2013 Miss Universe pageant. Agalarov and his son, Emin, were involved in arranging the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower.
Cohen spoke to Trump about the messages from Rtskhiladze, the reports says. In a May 10, 2018 interview with investigators, Rtskhiladze said that he was told that the tapes were “fake,” but that he did not provide that information to Cohen.
Trump was told about the alleged tapes again on Jan. 6, 2017, during a meeting with then-FBI Director James Comey. Comey briefed Trump on the allegations contained in Steele’s dossier.
Mueller also investigated contacts between George Papadopoulos and Sergei Millian, a Belarus-born businessman who is said to be a major source for the dossier. Millian is reportedly one of the sources behind the claim about the compromising video tape of Trump as well as other activities involving Trump campaign figures.
Papadopoulos is not named in the dossier, but he appears to have had the most contact with Millian out of any Trump campaign associate.
Mueller’s team was unable to fully investigate Millian because he “remained out of the country since the inception of our investigation and declined to meet with members of the Office despite our repeated efforts to obtain an interview.”
Millian first contacted Papadopoulos on July 15, 2016, introducing himself as the chairman of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce, and claiming to have “insider knowledge and direct access to the top hierarchy in Russian politics.”
The pair met in New York City on July 30, 2016 and Aug. 1, 2016. It is not mentioned in the Mueller report, but Millian had been interviewed a day before that first meeting by ABC News. That interview was arranged by Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS.
During that interview, Millian made cryptic comments about Trump, asserting that the then-candidate “had tricks up his sleeve” to win the election.
“You think so?” ABC’s Brian Ross asked.
“That you will see soon in the presidential campaign, yes,” Millian replied.
According to the Mueller report, weeks later, on Aug. 23, 2016, Millian sent Papadopoulos a Facebook message “offering to “share with you a disruptive technology that might be instrumental in your political work for the campaign.”
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