TEL AVIV — For the past three days, Sen. John McCain’s office has not responded to Breitbart News phone and email inquiries seeking clarification of the Arizona politician’s role in delivering the infamous, largely discredited 35-page dossier on President Donald Trump to the U.S. intelligence community under the Obama administration.
In a New York Times oped last week, the founders of the controversial opposition research firm Fusion GPS admitted that they helped get the dossier to McCain using an “emissary,” with the goal of McCain passing the information contained in the questionable document to U.S. intelligence agencies.
The disclosure raises questions about whether McCain knew that the information he delivered to the Obama administration was actually an opposition document reportedly funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Breitbart News has been seeking clarification on this issue since Tuesday. However, McCain’s office did not reply yesterday to phone and email requests for comment on the matter.
Last December, it was revealed that it was McCain who notoriously passed the controversial dossier documents produced by the Washington opposition research firm Fusion GPS to then FBI Director James Comey, whose agency reportedly utilized the dossier as a basis for its probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Writing in a New York Times oped last Tuesday, Fusion GPS founders Glenn R. Simpson and Peter Fritch relate that they helped McCain share their anti-Trump dossier with the intelligence community via an “emissary.”
“After the election, Mr. Steele decided to share his intelligence with Senator John McCain via an emissary,” the Fusion GPS founders related. “We helped him do that. The goal was to alert the United States national security community to an attack on our country by a hostile foreign power.”
It was not clear from their statement whether McCain knew Fusion GPS was behind the dossier. Fusion GPS paid former intelligence agent Christopher Steele to do the purported research for the document. Steele later conceded in court documents that part of his work still needed to be verified.
In October, the Washington Post reported that in April 2016, attorney Marc E. Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie retained Fusion GPS to conduct the questionable anti-Trump work on behalf of both the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Through Perkins Coie, Clinton’s campaign and the DNC continued to fund Fusion GPS until October 2016, days before Election Day, the Post reported.
On January 10, CNN was first to report, based on leaked information, that the contents of the dossier were presented during classified briefings one week earlier to then-president Obama and president-elect Trump.
Just after CNN’s January 10 report on the classified briefings about the dossier, BuzzFeed published its full unverified contents.
In October, McCain denied providing the dossier to BuzzFeed and said that he only gave the material to the FBI. “I gave it to no one except for the director of the FBI. I don’t know why you’re digging this up now,” McCain told the Daily Caller during what the news website described as a testy exchange.
While the Fusion GPS oped sheds some light on the manner in which McCain obtained the dossier, the Fusion founders did not name the “emissary” who delivered the document to McCain.
A January 11 statement from McCain attempted to explain why he provided the documents to the FBI but did not mention how he came to possess the dossier or whether he knew who funded it.
“Upon examination of the contents, and unable to make a judgment about their accuracy, I delivered the information to the director of the FBI,” McCain said at the time. “That has been the extent of my contact with the FBI or any other government agency regarding this issue.”
Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Moscow, said McCain first consulted him about the claims inside the dossier at a security conference in Canada shortly after last November’s presidential election.
Wood stated that McCain had obtained the documents from the senator’s own sources. “I told him I was aware of what was in the report but I had not read it myself, that it might be true, it might be untrue. I had no means of judging really,” Wood further told BBC Radio 4 in January.
Last Month, Wood related that he served as a “go-between” to inform McCain about the dossier contents. “My mission was essentially to be a go-between and a messenger, to tell the senator and assistants that such a dossier existed,” Wood told Fox News.
In March, Vanity Fair raised questions about the alleged involvement of David J. Kramer, a former State Department official, in helping to obtain the dossier directly from Steele. The issue was also raised in a lawsuit filed against Steele by one of the individuals named in the dossier.
The dossier contains wild and unproven claims that the Russians had information regarding Trump and sordid sexual acts, including the widely mocked claim that Trump hired prostitutes and had them urinate on a hotel room bed. It also claimed there was an exchange of information between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government.
Those allegations remain unsubstantiated following numerous public hearings. Indeed, former CIA Director John Brennan made clear in testimony last May that after viewing all of the evidence that was available to him on the Russia probe he is not aware of any collusion between Russia and members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Dossier was reportedly basis for Obama administration moves
According to the BBC, the dossier served as a “roadmap” for the FBI’s investigation into claims of coordination between Moscow and members of Trump’s presidential campaign during the Obama administration.
In April, CNN reported that the dossier served as part of the FBI’s justification for seeking the FISA court’s reported approval to clandestinely monitor the communications of Carter Page, the American oil industry investor who was tangentially and briefly associated with Trump’s presidential campaign.
Senior Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have reportedly requested that the FBI and Department of Justice turn over applications for any warrants to monitor the communications of U.S. citizens associated with the investigation into alleged Russia interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In testimony last May, former FBI Director James Comey repeatedly refused to answer questions about his agency’s ties to the dossier.
In further testimony to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey admitted he pushed back against a request from President Donald Trump to possibly investigate the origins of “salacious material” that the agency possessed in the course of its investigation into alleged Russian interference.
Major questions have been raised as to the veracity of the dossier, large sections of which have been discredited.
Citing a “Kremlin insider,” the dossier, which misspelled the name of a Russian diplomat, claimed that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen held “secret meetings” with Kremlin officials in Prague in August 2016.
That charge unraveled after Cohen revealed he had never traveled to Prague, calling the story “totally fake, totally inaccurate.” The Atlantic confirmed Cohen’s whereabouts in New York and California during the period the dossier claimed that Cohen was in Prague. Cohen reportedly produced his passport showing he had not traveled to Prague.
In testimony in May, the FBI’s Comey confirmed that the basis for the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia allegedly wanted Trump in office was not because the billionaire was, as Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) claimed during a hearing, “ensnared in” Russia’s “web of patronage” – just as the dossier alleged. Instead, the FBI chief provided two primary reasons for Russia’s alleged favoring of Trump over Clinton during the 2016 presidential race.
One reason, according to Comey, was that Putin “hated” Clinton and would have favored any Republican opponent. The second reason, Comey explained, was that Putin made an assessment that it would be easier to make a deal with a businessman than someone from the political class.
Comey’s statements are a far cry from the conspiracies fueled by the dossier alleging Putin held blackmail information on Trump.
Citing current and former government officials, the New Yorker reported the dossier prompted skepticism among intelligence community members, with the publication quoting one member saying it was a “nutty” piece of evidence to submit to a U.S. president.
Steele’s work has been questioned by former acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who currently works at the Hillary Clinton-tied Beacon Global Strategies LLC.
NBC News reported on Morell’s questions about Steele’s credibility:
Morell, who was in line to become CIA director if Clinton won, said he had seen no evidence that Trump associates cooperated with Russians. He also raised questions about the dossier written by a former British intelligence officer, which alleged a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. …
Morell pointed out that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said on Meet the Press on March 5 that he had seen no evidence of a conspiracy when he left office January 20.
“That’s a pretty strong statement by General Clapper,” Morell said.
Regarding Steele’s dossier, Morell stated, “Unless you know the sources, and unless you know how a particular source acquired a particular piece of information, you can’t judge the information — you just can’t.”
Morell charged the dossier “doesn’t take you anywhere, I don’t think.”
“I had two questions when I first read it. One was, how did Chris talk to these sources? I have subsequently learned that he used intermediaries.”
And then I asked myself, why did these guys provide this information, what was their motivation? And I subsequently learned that he paid them. That the intermediaries paid the sources and the intermediaries got the money from Chris. And that kind of worries me a little bit because if you’re paying somebody, particularly former FSB [Russian intelligence] officers, they are going to tell you truth and innuendo and rumor, and they’re going to call you up and say, “Hey, let’s have another meeting, I have more information for you,” because they want to get paid some more.
I think you’ve got to take all that into consideration when you consider the dossier.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.