NEW YORK — In his newly released book, Sen. John McCain admits he knew the anti-Trump dossier that he infamously passed to the FBI contained “unproven accusations,” “mostly raw, unverified intelligence” and allegations about which the senator “had no idea” if “any were true.”
Yet McCain maintains he had an “obligation” to pass the wild charges against Donald Trump to FBI Director James Comey and he would even do it again. “Anyone who doesn’t like it can go to hell,” McCain exclaimed.
In the book The Restless Wave, McCain provides an inside account of how he says he came across the dossier.
He writes that he was told about the claims in the document at a security conference in Canada in November 2016, where he was approached by Sir Andrew Wood, a former British ambassador to Moscow and friend of ex-British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier.
McCain wrote that Wood told him Steele “had been commissioned to investigate connections between the Trump campaign and Russian agents as well as potentially compromising information about the President-elect that Putin allegedly possessed.”
McCain, however, did not address the obvious question of whether he was told exactly who “commissioned” Steele to “investigate” the alleged Russian ties.
The dossier was commissioned by the controversial Fusion GPS opposition research firm, which was paid for its anti-Trump work by Trump’s primary political opponents, namely Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) via the Perkins Coie law firm.
McCain goes on to describe Wood as telling him Steele’s work “was mostly raw, unverified intelligence, but that the author strongly believed merited a thorough examination by counterintelligence experts.”
The politician says the dossier claims described to him were “too strange a scenario to believe, something out of a le Carré novel, not the kind of thing anyone has ever actually had to worry about with a new President, no matter what other concerns.”
Still, McCain says he reasoned that “even a remote risk that the President of the United States might be vulnerable to Russian extortion had to be investigated.”
McCain concedes Wood told him he had not actually read the dossier himself, and writes that he wasn’t sure if he ever met Wood before and couldn’t recall previously having a conversation with Wood. Still, McCain took Wood’s word for it when Wood vouched for Steele’s credibility. “Steele was a respected professional, Wood assured us, who had good Russian contacts and long experience collecting and analyzing intelligence on the Kremlin,” McCain wrote.
Present at the meeting with Wood and McCain was David J. Kramer, a former State Department official and longtime McCain associate who agreed to “go to London to meet Steele, confirm his credibility and report back to me.”
McCain doesn’t detail Kramer’s visit to London beyond simply writing, “When David returned, and shared his impression that the former spy was, as Sir Andrew had vouched, a respected professional, and not to outward appearances given to hyperbole or hysteria, I agreed to receive a copy of what is now referred to as ‘the dossier.’’’
McCain leaves out exactly where Kramer obtained his dossier copy.
The Washington Post reported in February that Kramer received the dossier directly from Fusion GPS after McCain expressed interest in it. Those details marked the clearest indication that McCain may have known that the dossier originated with Fusion GPS, meaning that he may have knowingly passed on political material to the FBI.
Also, in a New York Times oped in January, GPS co-founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritch wrote that they helped McCain share their anti-Trump dossier with the Obama-era intelligence community via an unnamed “emissary.”
Without mentioning Fusion GPS, McCain goes on to briefly describe turning over the dossier to Comey:
The allegations were disturbing, but I had no idea which if any were true. I could not independently verify any of it, and so I did what any American who cares about our nation’s security should have done. I put the dossier in my office safe, called the office of the Director of the FBI Jim Comey and asked for a meeting. I went to see him at his earliest convenience, handed him the dossier, explained how it had come into my possession. I said I didn’t know what to make of it, and I trusted the FBI would examine it carefully and investigate its claims.
With that, I thanked the director and left. The entire meeting had probably not lasted longer than ten minutes. I did what duty demanded I do. I don’t know what is true, partially true or not true in the dossier. I gave it to the people best equipped to answer those questions. Had I done any more, I would have exceeded my capability. Had I done any less I would be ashamed of myself. And if any of my colleagues in Congress had been in my situation and not done what I did, I would be ashamed of them.
McCain implies he was essentially targeted as an appropriate venue to deliver the dossier to the FBI due to his hawkish views on Putin and Russia:
Why had I been given the dossier? That’s the first accusatory question in every budding conspiracy theory about my minor role in the controversy. The answer is too obvious for the paranoid to credit. I am known internationally to be a persistent critic of Vladimir Putin’s regime, and I have been for a long while. Wood and Steele likely assumed that my animosity toward Putin, which I unapologetically acknowledge, ensured that I would take their concerns seriously. They assumed correctly.
A few weeks after McCain gave Steele’s dossier to Comey on Dec. 9, 2016, the FBI chief updated then President-Elect Trump and President Obama on the dossier in a classified briefing.
As Breitbart News documented, Comey’s dossier briefing to Trump was subsequently leaked to the news media, setting in motion a flurry of news media attention on the dossier, including the release of the document to the public. The briefing also may have provided the veneer of respectability to a document that had been circulating for months within the news media but widely considered too unverified to publicize.
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.
Written with research by Joshua Klein.