Attorney General William Barr said during his Wednesday congressional testimony that he is “reviewing” the question of whether the infamous Steele dossier was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
Barr was asked about the origins of the opposition-research file compiled on then-candidate Donald Trump by former British spy Christopher Steele during his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Can we state with confidence that the Steele dossier was not part of the Russian disinformation campaign?” asked Senator John Cornyn (R., Texas).
“No, I can’t state that with confidence and that is one of the areas that I’m reviewing. I’m concerned about it, and I don’t think it’s entirely speculative,” Barr replied.
The Steele dossier, which was initially commissioned by the Clinton campaign, alleged in part that then-candidate Trump had been compromised by Russian intelligence agents who obtained a recording of him engaged in lewd acts with prostitutes. Mueller’s investigation, which failed to establish any coordination between Trump campaign associates and Russia, disproved many of the claims in the dossier, including the allegation that Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to meet with Kremlin agents who were orchestrating payments to hackers.
The FBI agents investigating the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia relied on information contained in the dossier in determining the trajectory of their probe. The agents’ reliance on the dossier was made clear in their use of the unverified opposition research to obtain a FISA warrant to surveil Trump campaign national-security adviser Carter Page, as well as their lengthy description of the dossier in a 2017 draft counterintelligence report.
Steele, who worked in Russia and Eastern Europe during his time as a British intelligence officer, relied on Russian sources, who, he admitted in court, may have fed him disinformation.