Don’t Worship an FBI That Took the Steele Dossier Seriously
New York Times columnist Bret Stephens now says he was wrong to defend James Comey when then-President Donald Trump fired Comey as director of the FBI amid the federal investigation into alleged Russian influence on Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign.
In 2017, when Trump fired Comey, Stephens saw it as proof that the president was trying to obstruct the investigation against him. “When the president calls news ‘fake’ or a story ‘phony,'” Stephen wrote, “you know the truth quotient is likely to be high. And, again, you know he knows you know it.”
But revelations about the FBI’s poor handling of the investigation, as well as a new federal arrest related to the sourcing of the unsubstantiated Steele Dossier, have Stephens rethinking what he thought he knew.
And Stephens is not the only one apologizing for getting the story wrong. Some media outlets, including The Washington Post, have had to issue corrections and removed inaccurate reporting about the infamous Steele Dossier, which attempted to show corrupt ties between Trump and the Russian government that both left him open to potential blackmail and threatened national security.
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice charged Igor Danchenko with lying to the FBI. He allegedly covered up the fact that he was the source of some of the information in the Steele Dossier and attempted to conceal the fact that some of the information actually came from Democratic Party sources, rather than Russian ones. The Washington Post, by contrast, reported in 2017 and 2019 that a Belaurisan American businessman named Sergei Millian was a source for the Steele Dossier and was behind the claim that the Russians had video of Trump getting golden showers from prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. The Post has now updated that reporting online, including editor’s notes explaining the changes and why they made them.
Stephens notes that the media’s handling of the Steele Dossier is itself a scandal, but he’s more focused on how FBI agents misled the overseeing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court when they filed warrant applications to wiretap Carter Page and downplayed and omitted information that might have caused the FISA judges to quest
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