David Corn

December 16, 2018 – Michael Isikoff, first to report allegations from the Steele dossier, says the salacious allegation are “likely false”

Michael Isikoff (Credit: public domain)

The investigative reporter who broke the first story based on allegations from Christopher Steele offered a surprising assessment of the former British spy’s infamous dossier, which alleges a vast conspiracy of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.

“Would you agree that a lot of what’s in the Steele dossier has been somewhat vindicated?” Mediaite columnist John Ziegler asked Michael Isikoff, a co-author of the book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story on Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.”

“No,” Isikoff responded in an interview released Saturday.

“You would not?” asked Ziegler.

“No,” Isikoff repeated.

Isikoff’s views about the dossier are significant because of his central role in advancing the narrative that the Russian government conspired with Trump associates.

Isikoff is the journalist who wrote the Sept. 23, 2016 article at Yahoo! News laying out Steele’s allegations that Trump campaign adviser Carter Page met secretly in Moscow with two Kremlin insiders. Isikoff’s co-author, David Corn, is the only other reporter to have written about Steele’s claims prior to the 2016 election.

Isikoff and Corn are two of a small handful of reporters who met during the campaign with Steele. The former British spy put the dossier together while working for Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that investigated Trump on behalf of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The FBI cited both the dossier and Isikoff’s article in four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to spy on Page. Republicans have accused the FBI of abusing the FISA process by relying heavily on the unverified Steele dossier and failing to reveal that the Clinton team and DNC funded the salacious report.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 12/17/2018)

March 18, 2018 – Glenn Simpson thinks Sergei Millian is a “big talker” who overstated his links to Trumpworld

Sergei Millian (Credit: Twitter)

“The veracity of the Steele dossier is once again a topic of intense debate following the Justice Department’s release of secret warrants that the FBI used to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The four applications, which were obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), show that the bureau relied heavily on the dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC, to obtain the warrants, which accused Page of being a secret Kremlin agent.

But not only do many of the allegations in the dossier remain unverified, there is reason to doubt the credibility of a major source for the 35-page document, including for claims that the Kremlin has blackmail material on President Donald Trump and about Page’s alleged involvement in a collusion conspiracy.

According to the recent book “Russian Roulette, Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, believed that Millian was a “big talker” who overstated his links to Trumpworld.

“Had Millian made something up or repeated rumors he had heard from others to impress Steele’s collector? Simpson had his doubts. He considered Millian a big talker,” write authors Michael Isikoff and David Corn, who are good friends with Simpson.

Millian is both Source D and Source E in the dossier, according to The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. In the 35-page document, Source D alleged that the Russian government is blackmailing Donald Trump with video of a sexual tryst with prostitutes at a Moscow hotel room. Source E described an alleged “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation between them and the Russian leadership.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 7/24/2018)

January 23, 2018 – David Kramer’s deposition reveals late Sen. McCain had contact with at least 14 members of the media regarding the Steele dossier

David Kramer, a longtime associate of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), revealed in an unsealed deposition that he had contact with at least 14 members of the media regarding the Steele dossier—a collection of 17 memos containing unverified allegations against Donald Trump.

Additionally, Kramer gave a full copy of the unverified dossier to then-Senior Director for Russian Affairs at the National Security Council Celeste Wallander, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), and then-House Speaker Paul Ryan’s chief of staff, Jonathan Burks. Kramer also provided a briefing in early December 2016 on the dossier to both Wallander and Victoria Nuland, then the assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasian Affairs.

Kramer also provided ongoing updates to Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, former MI6 spy and dossier author Christopher Steele, and other members of the media regarding McCain’s meeting with FBI Director James Comey.

Steele had been hired by Simpson on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to produce the so-called Steele dossier on Trump.

David Kramer (Credit: McCain Institute)

Kramer, in his deposition, confirmed that he was BuzzFeed News’ source for the dossier. BuzzFeed published the dossier online in January 2017, resulting in a defamation lawsuit by Aleksej Gubarev, whose company XBT/Webzilla was mentioned in the dossier. The Epoch Times covered the court case in a previous article.

McCain famously denied ever providing a copy of the dossier to BuzzFeed, telling the Daily Caller on Oct. 18, 2017: “I gave it to no one except for the director of the FBI. I don’t know why you’re digging this up now.”

Kramer, who is an affiliated senior fellow at the McCain Institute, revealed in his deposition that he had been in contact with 14 journalists and producers about the dossier. These contacts included:

  • ABC News: Brian Ross, Matt Mosk
  • BuzzFeed: Ken Bensinger
  • CNN: Carl Bernstein
  • The Guardian: Julian Borger
  • McClatchy: Peter Stone, Greg Gordon
  • Mother Jones: David Corn
  • NPR: Bob Little, Rachel Martin
  • The Washington Post: Tom Hamburger, Rosalind Helderman, Fred Hiatt
  • The Wall Street Journal: Alan Cullison

Kramer, who doesn’t appear to have spoken with The New York Times, noted that both Simpson and Steele were speaking to the Times directly because “they felt it required investigation by a serious news outlet, and they seemed to have chosen The Times at that point.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 3/15/2019)

January 10, 2017 – A Peter Strzok email reveals there are three versions of the dossier

John McCain, Glenn Simpson and David Corn (Credit: public domain)

(…) “We know from public testimony that dossier author and former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele shared his findings with the FBI in summer and fall 2016 before he was terminated as a confidential source for inappropriate media contacts.

And we learned that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) provided a copy to the FBI after the November 2016 election — out of a sense of duty, his office says.

Now, memos the FBI is turning over to Congress show the bureau possessed at least three versions of the dossier and its mostly unverified allegations of collusion.

Each arrived from a different messenger: McCain, Mother Jones reporter David Corn, Fusion GPS founder (and Steele boss) Glenn Simpson.

That revelation is in an email that disgraced FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok wrote to FBI executives around the time BuzzFeed published a version of the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.

Our internal system is blocking the site,” Strzok wrote of the document posted on BuzzFeed.I have the PDF via iPhone but it’s 25.6MB. Comparing now. The set is only identical to what McCain had. (it has differences from what was given to us by Corn and Simpson.)”

The significance of Strzok’s email is obvious to investigators who reviewed it in recent days. The FBI is supposed to be immune to manipulation by circular information flows, especially with sensitive investigations such as evaluating whether a foreign power tampered with an American election.

Yet, in this case, the generally same information kept walking through the FBI’s door for months — recycled each time by a new character with ties to Hillary Clinton or hatred for Trump — until someone decided they had to act.

That someone was Strzok, whose own anti-Trump bias was laid bare by his personal text messages. He first opened a case on Russia-Trump collusion on July 31, 2016 after the first flow of information, then escalated to get a warrant targeting a former Trump adviser in October after a second flurry of allegations.

The pattern is so troubling that one investigator said this to me: “The dossier and its related dirt was on a circular flight path aboard a courier service called ‘Air Clinton,’ and the FBI kept signing for the packages.” (Read more: The Hill, 7/10/2018)

October 31, 2016 – David Corn writes the first article that quotes Christopher Steele about the Kremlin having compromising information about Trump

David Corn (Credit: MSNBC)

“On Friday, FBI Director James Comey set off a political blast when he informed congressional leaders that the bureau had stumbled across emails that might be pertinent to its completed inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s handling of emails when she was secretary of state. The Clinton campaign and others criticized Comey for intervening in a presidential campaign by breaking with Justice Department tradition and revealing information about an investigation—information that was vague and perhaps ultimately irrelevant—so close to Election Day. On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid upped the ante. He sent Comey a fiery letter saying the FBI chief may have broken the law and pointed to a potentially greater controversy: “In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government…The public has a right to know this information.”

Reid’s missive set off a burst of speculation on Twitter and elsewhere. What was he referring to regarding the Republican presidential nominee? At the end of August, Reid had written to Comey and demanded an investigation of the “connections between the Russian government and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign,” and in that letter he indirectly referred to Carter Page, an American businessman cited by Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers, who had financial ties to Russia and had recently visited Moscow. Last month, Yahoo News reported that US intelligence officials were probing the links between Page and senior Russian officials. (Page has called accusations against him “garbage.”) On Monday, NBC News reported that the FBI has mounted a preliminary inquiry into the foreign business ties of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chief. But Reid’s recent note hinted at more than the Page or Manafort affairs. And a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence tells Mother Jones that in recent months he provided the bureau with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump—and that the FBI requested more information from him.

Does this mean the FBI is investigating whether Russian intelligence has attempted to develop a secret relationship with Trump or cultivate him as an asset? Was the former intelligence officer and his material deemed credible or not? An FBI spokeswoman says, “Normally, we don’t talk about whether we are investigating anything.” But a senior US government official not involved in this case but familiar with the former spy tells Mother Jones that he has been a credible source with a proven record of providing reliable, sensitive, and important information to the US government.

In June, the former Western intelligence officer—who spent almost two decades on Russian intelligence matters and who now works with a US firm that gathers information on Russia for corporate clients—was assigned the task of researching Trump’s dealings in Russia and elsewhere, according to the former spy and his associates in this American firm. This was for an opposition research project originally financed by a Republican client critical of the celebrity mogul. (Before the former spy was retained, the project’s financing switched to a client allied with Democrats.) “It started off as a fairly general inquiry,” says the former spook, who asks not to be identified. But when he dug into Trump, he notes, he came across troubling information indicating connections between Trump and the Russian government. According to his sources, he says, “there was an established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit.” (Read more: Mother Jones, 10/31/2016)