Comey con­tra­dicts record on dossier

Al­ters time­line, source of fund­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

Fired FBI Direc­tor James B. Comey has pro­vided a num­ber of as­ser­tions about the Trump-Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion that con­flict with the his­tor­i­cal record.

Whether it in­volves who paid for the dossier that re­peated sala­cious and un­proven claims about Pres­i­dent Trump, what Mr. Comey knew about the fund­ing, and when au­thor Christo­pher Steele first met with the FBI, the for­mer direc­tor has pro­vided his ver­sion of facts that crit­ics say are wrong.

Mr. Comey is on a me­dia tour sell­ing his mem­oir, “A Higher Loy­alty.”

Dossier fund­ing

Mr. Comey told Fox News Chan­nel an­chor­man Bret Baier last week that Repub­li­cans first funded the Steele dossier and the money flow later shifted to un­known Democrats. This as­ser­tion is one that lib­er­als of­ten re­peat to cast blame on Repub­li­cans for a dossier that makes a se­ries of elec­tion col­lu­sion charges that re­main pub­licly un­con­firmed. Here was their di­a­logue: Mr. Baier: When did you learn that the DNC and Hil­lary Clin­ton cam­paign had funded Christo­pher Steele’s work?

Mr. Comey: Yes. I still don’t know that for a fact. Baier: What do you mean? Mr. Comey: I’ve only seen it in the me­dia. I never knew ex­actly which Democrats had funded. I knew it was funded first by Repub­li­cans. Mr. Baier: But that’s not true. Mr. Comey: I’m sorry? Mr. Baier: That’s not true that the dossier that Christo­pher Steele worked on was funded by Repub­li­cans.

Mr. Comey: My un­der­stand­ing was his work started funded by — as oppo re­search funded by Repub­li­cans.

The con­gres­sional and court records in this mat­ter clearly show that Fu­sion GPS, a pri­vate in­ves­tiga­tive firm, re­ceived funds from a Repub­li­can donor to in­ves­ti­gate Mr. Trump dur­ing the pri­mary elec­tion sea­son. When Mr. Trump se­cured the nom­i­na­tion, the fund­ing stopped.

In June 2016, Fu­sion went to the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee and the Hil­lary Clin­ton cam­paign for op­po­si­tion re­search funds. With money se­cured, Fu­sion hired Mr. Steele, a for­mer Bri­tish spy, who be­gan sub­mit­ting on June 20 the memos that even­tu­ally be­came the dossier.

His work was based on one or more in­ter­me­di­aries whom he paid to col­lect anti-Trump in­for­ma­tion from Krem­lin spies. The dossier writ­ing did not be­gin un­til the Demo­cratic money started flow­ing to Fu­sion, via a law firm.

In a court fil­ing in Lon­don, where he is be­ing sued for li­bel, Mr. Steele pro­vided this chronol­ogy: “Be­tween June and early Novem­ber 2016 [Steele] was en­gaged by Fu­sion to pre­pare a se­ries of con­fi­den­tial mem­o­randa based on in­tel­li­gence con­cern­ing Rus­sian ef­forts to in­flu­ence the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion process and links be­tween Rus­sia and Don­ald Trump.”

Mr. Comey has of­fered no crit­i­cism of the dossier or Mr. Steele. Repub­li­cans call it a work of fic­tion that em­broiled Mr. Trump in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion now headed by spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller.

Steele-FBI mar­riage

Mr. Comey says the FBI did not re­ceive any in­for­ma­tion from Mr. Steele un­til af­ter “late July.”

This is im­por­tant be­cause the FBI and lib­eral me­dia out­lets are try­ing to down­play the dossier’s role, while Repub­li­cans say it drove and dom­i­nated the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Late July” is the time the FBI of­fi­cially opened a coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence in­ves­ti­ga­tion based on a tip about Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los, a Trump vol­un­teer liv­ing in Lon­don.

“The FBI didn’t get any in­for­ma­tion that’s part of the so-called Steele dossier, as I un­der­stand it, un­til af­ter that,” Mr. Comey told ABC News. “And so the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was trig­gered en­tirely sep­a­rately from the Steele dossier.”

But avail­able ev­i­dence shows Mr. Steele be­gan fun­nel­ing in­for­ma­tion well be­fore late July. In fact, the dossier and other Demo­cratic Party op­po­si­tion re­search made up the driv­ing force for the FBI in­ves­ti­ga­tion of the Trump cam­paign that sum­mer and fall.

In late Oc­to­ber, Mr. Steele did a Skype in­ter­view with Mother Jones mag­a­zine. He told re­porter David Corn that he had sent his re­ports to the FBI “near the start of July.”

This is an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to a July 5, 2016, meet­ing Mr. Steele had in Eng­land with an FBI agent sta­tioned in Rome. Mr. Steele handed him his re­ports on a sup­posed con­spir­acy be­tween the Trump cam­paign and the Krem­lin.

The agent read them and re­marked, “I have to re­port this to head­quar­ters,” ac­cord­ing to the book “Rus­sian Roulette.”

That meet­ing was set up by Obama political ap­pointees at the State De­part­ment who knew Mr. Steele from his re­ports to them on Ukraine.

In the dark

Mr. Comey con­tended to Mr. Baier that he knew only that the dossier was funded by some uniden­ti­fied Demo­crat dur­ing his ten­ure. His lack of firm knowl­edge ex­tended to in­clude brief­ing the pres­i­den­t­elect on the dossier’s sleazy pros­ti­tute tale dur­ing a pri­vate meet­ing on Jan. 6, 2017, at Trump Tower in New York.

Mr. Comey took Mr. Trump aside to tell him about a re­port that Rus­sia had com­pro­mis­ing in­for­ma­tion on him. The then-FBI direc­tor never told the pres­i­dent-elect that the re­port was Demo­cratic op­po­si­tion re­search.

At the time, Mr. Comey claimed ig­no­rance of the dossier’s true fund­ing, but se­nior FBI and Jus­tice De­part­ment of­fi­cials knew it had been funded by the DNC and the Hil­lary Clin­ton cam­paign, ac­cord­ing to the ma­jor­ity re­port of the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence.

“The political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to se­nior DoJ and FBI of­fi­cials,” the com­mit­tee said, re­fer­ring to the Oct. 21, 2016, wire­tap war­rant ap­pli­ca­tion filed by the bureau.

Repub­li­cans say the FBI abused the court process by us­ing un­ver­i­fied ma­te­rial from the other party to spy on the Trump cam­paign.

Pa­padopou­los

Mr. Comey as­serted that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­gan in late July “be­cause of re­li­able in­for­ma­tion Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los was hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions about ob­tain­ing in­for­ma­tion from the Rus­sians,” he told ABC News.

Pa­padopou­los pleaded guilty to ly­ing to the FBI be­cause he de­nied he was work­ing for the cam­paign when he met Krem­lin-con­nected peo­ple. He was in Lon­don try­ing to set up a grand meet­ing be­tween the can­di­date and the Krem­lin, maybe even Mr. Putin. He ap­peared to be free­lanc­ing rather than act­ing on ex­plicit cam­paign orders.

The in­dict­ment doesn’t say he was try­ing to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion. It says that dur­ing a talk, a Krem­lin-con­nected pro­fes­sor told Pa­padopou­los he heard the Krem­lin owned thou­sands of Mrs. Clin­ton’s emails.

There has been no pub­licly re­leased ev­i­dence that Pa­padopou­los or the cam­paign tried to ac­quire the emails, if they even ex­isted. At the time, the Rus­sians were hack­ing Demo­cratic Party com­put­ers and steal­ing thou­sands of mes­sages.

Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn

Mr. Baier asked Mr. Comey whether he had tes­ti­fied to law­mak­ers that agents did not be­lieve for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Adviser Michael Flynn lied to them about the ex­tent of his ties to Krem­lin of­fi­cials. This was how last week’s in­ter­view went:

Mr. Baier: Did you tell law­mak­ers that FBI agents didn’t be­lieve for­mer Na­tional Se­cu­rity Adviser Michael Flynn was ly­ing in­ten­tion­ally to in­ves­ti­ga­tors?

Mr. Comey: No. … And I saw that in the me­dia. I don’t know what — maybe some­one mis­un­der­stood some­thing I said. I didn’t be­lieve that and didn’t say that.

Mr. Comey’s an­swer was im­me­di­ately chal­lenged by peo­ple in­side the closed House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee hear­ing room.

“Direc­tor Comey’s rec­ol­lec­tion is flawed if he does not re­mem­ber telling Congress that his agents told him that they didn’t think Flynn was ly­ing,” Rep. Trey Gowdy, South Carolina Repub­li­can, told Fox News Chan­nel’s Tucker Carl­son. “Direc­tor Comey’s rec­ol­lec­tion is flawed if he does not re­mem­ber telling Congress that his agents told him that they didn’t think Flynn was ly­ing. He needs to get his lawyers and go back and look at the tran­script. We did not mis­hear. Maybe he mis­spoke, but that is in the tran­script.”

Flynn pleaded guilty to ly­ing to the FBI about two phone calls with the Rus­sian am­bas­sador. He was fired by Mr. Trump for mis­lead­ing Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence about the calls con­cern­ing U.S. sanc­tions on in­di­vid­ual Rus­sians and their busi­nesses. Flynn is await­ing sen­tenc­ing.

Mr. Comey tweeted, the day his Fox News in­ter­viewed was broad­cast, “The last two weeks were a re­minder of the vi­tal role of the press and of open-minded, re­spect­ful con­ver­sa­tion in our lives. I’m grate­ful for good and tough ques­tions from re­porters across the spec­trum and around the world. Look for­ward to more.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

For­mer FBI Direc­tor James B. Comey is on a me­dia tour sell­ing his mem­oir. He also is an­swer­ing ques­tions about a dossier on Rus­sian links to Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.