An extensive New Yorker magazine profile of former British spy Christopher Steele disclosed that the author of the infamous, largely discredited anti-Trump dossier held a series of off-the-record briefings with national-security reporters in Washington.
The meetings were arranged by the controversial Fusion GPS outfit, which was paid for its anti-Trump work by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee via the Perkins Coie law firm.
New Yorker staff writer Jane Mayer reported that she personally attended one of the meetings and “these encounters were surely sanctioned in some way by Fusion’s client, the Clinton campaign.”
Mayer noted that like other news media organizations, the New Yorker did not publish any stories about the dossier allegations.
In late summer, Fusion set up a series of meetings, at the Tabard Inn, in Washington, between Steele and a handful of national-security reporters. These encounters were surely sanctioned in some way by Fusion’s client, the Clinton campaign. The sessions were off the record, but because Steele has since disclosed having participated in them I can confirm that I attended one of them. Despite Steele’s generally cool manner, he seemed distraught about the Russians’ role in the election. He did not distribute his dossier, provided no documentary evidence, and was so careful about guarding his sources that there was virtually no way to follow up. At the time, neither the New Yorker nor any other news organization ran a story about the allegations.
The meetings at the Tabard Inn were not previously reported.
The New Yorker is not the first news organization to admit to being briefed by Steele.
Last month, the Washington Post for the first time detailed two meetings the newspaper reported it held with Steele. At least one of the meetings was also attended by Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn R. Simpson. The meetings took place in September and October of 2016.
The Post wrote that it “made efforts to independently confirm Steele’s information at the time, but was unable to corroborate his specific findings and did not publish stories based on the material.”
The Post reported on meetings with other news outlets:
Around the same time, Steele also met with other news organizations including the New York Times, the New Yorker and Yahoo News, according to court filings. In an article published on Sept. 23, 2016, Yahoo chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff reported that U.S. officials had received “intelligence reports” alleging that (Carter) Page had met with Igor Sechin, executive chairman of the Russian energy corporation Rosneft, while in Moscow in July — a finding of Steele’s research. Page has denied meeting with Sechin but later acknowledged interacting with one of his deputies.
The Post did not make clear whether during the time of its meetings the newspaper was aware that Fusion GPS was being paid to conduct the firm’s anti-Trump work on behalf of both Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The newspaper first reported on those financial arrangements in October 2017.
A four-page House Intelligence Committee memo alleging abuse of surveillance authority revealed that Steele had been terminated as an FBI source after the agency discovered he had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media about his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016 article published by Mother Jones. The memo cites court filings in which Steele admitted to meetings with other news outlets. The memo also cited Steele’s meeting with Yahoo News, as related in a court filing.
When Buzzfeed published Steele’s full dossier on January 10, 2017, the website related the information had been “circulating among elected officials, intelligence agents and journalists for weeks.” Later in the article, the website stated the dossier information had circulated for “months.”
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.