Politics & Policy

IG Report Says CIA Dismissed Steele Dossier as ‘Internet Rumor’

The logo of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in the lobby of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia March 3, 2005. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

The CIA considered the now infamous dossier from former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to be nothing more than an “internet rumor,” according to the Justice Department inspector general.

According to the Intel Section Chief and Supervisory Intel Analyst, “the CIA expressed concern about using the Steele election reporting in the text of the [January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment into Russia’s election interference],” Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in his report released Monday on the FBI’s handling of investigations into the Trump campaign.

“The Supervisory Intel Analyst explained that the CIA believed that the Steele election reporting was not completely vetted and did not merit inclusion in the body of the report. The Intel Section Chief stated that the CIA viewed it as ‘internet rumor,'” the report states.

The controversial dossier came under scrutiny when its unverified and salacious information about then-presidential candidate Trump showed up in the FBI’s applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to surveil the Trump campaign during the 2016 election cycle.

The dossier alleged that the campaign had conspired with Russian operatives to benefit Trump in the election. However, Horowitz’s report asserts that the FBI found Steele’s information about a Russian government connection to be dubious, but nevertheless declined to mention as much in its later applications to the FISA court for warrants to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

Contrary to Democratic partisans’ repeated claim that the dossier was a trivial piece of the FISA warrant, Horowitz determined that the unverified intelligence played a “central and essential role” in the FBI’s decision to apply for a warrant in the first place.

Fusion GPS, the firm that contracted Steele to compile the dossier, was working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign at the time.

Trump has slammed the 35-page dossier as a “hoax” and “garbage.”

Attorney General William Barr on Monday condemned the FBI’s decision to investigate the Trump campaign in 2016, saying the probe was launched on the “thinnest of suspicions” and the evidence that resulted “consistently exculpatory.”

“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said.

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