- Michael Isikoff, the journalist who was first to report allegations from the Steele dossier, said in a new interview that many of the salacious allegations in the document are “likely false.”
- “All the signs to me are that Mueller is reaching his end game, and we may see less than many people want him to find,” Isikoff said in an interview.
- Isikoff met with dossier author Christopher Steele during the 2016 campaign and published a report alleging that Trump aide Carter Page has secret meetings in Moscow with two Kremlin insiders.
The investigative reporter who broke the first story based on allegations from Christopher Steele offered a surprising assessment of the former British spy’s infamous dossier, which alleges a vast conspiracy of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
“Would you agree that a lot of what’s in the Steele dossier has been somewhat vindicated?” Mediaite columnist John Ziegler asked Michael Isikoff, a co-author of the book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story on Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.”
“No,” Isikoff responded.
“You would not?” asked Ziegler.
“No,” Isikoff repeated.
Isikoff’s views about the dossier are significant because of his central role in advancing the narrative that the Russian government conspired with Trump associates.
Isikoff is the journalist who wrote the Sept. 23, 2016 article at Yahoo! News laying out Steele’s allegations that Trump campaign adviser Carter Page met secretly in Moscow with two Kremlin insiders. Isikoff’s co-author, David Corn, is the only other reporter to have written about Steele’s claims prior to the 2016 election.
Isikoff and Corn are two of a small handful of reporters who met during the campaign with Steele. The former British spy put the dossier together while working for Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that investigated Trump on behalf of the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The FBI cited both the dossier and Isikoff’s article in four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to spy on Page. Republicans have accused the FBI of abusing the FISA process by relying heavily on the unverified Steele dossier and failing to reveal that the Clinton team and DNC funded the salacious report.
“When you actually get into the details of the Steele dossier, the specific allegations, we have not seen the evidence to support them, and in fact, there is good grounds to think that some of the more sensational allegations will never be proven and are likely false,” Isikoff told Ziegler.
Isikoff said that while Steele’s claims about collusion have a “mixed record at best,” he asserted that Steele was “clearly on to something” with his allegations of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election.
Isikoff’s remarks come amid two other major developments on the dossier front, neither of them good for Steele’s report.
A top national security reporter at The Washington Post claimed in October that FBI and CIA sources have told the newspaper that they do not believe that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague during the campaign to arrange payments to Russian hackers, as Steele reported.
“We’ve talked to sources at the FBI and the CIA and elsewhere — they don’t believe that ever happened,” WaPo’s Greg Miller, who has a written a book about the Trump-Russia affair, said at an event in October that was aired Saturday on C-SPAN.
And Sunday, Lanny Davis, an adviser to Cohen, vehemently denied the dossier’s allegations about Cohen.
“No, no Prague, ever, never,” Davis told MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt when asked about the dossier.
Davis has disputed the dossier’s allegations in the past, but had refused to comment on the matter since Cohen began cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller.
“After you get through the pee tape the Michael Cohen allegation in the Steele dossier may be the most important one,” said Isikoff.
Davis’ comments suggest that Cohen has made the same denials to Mueller and that prosecutors believe the former Trump fixer. Cohen pleaded guilty in the special counsel’s probe on Nov. 29 to lying to Congress during his testimony in 2017 about his attempts to negotiate a deal to build a Trump Tower Moscow during the campaign. He also pleaded guilty in New York federal court on Aug. 21 to tax evasion, bank fraud and making illegal campaign contributions by paying off Stormy Daniels, the porn star who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
Cohen claimed that he paid off Daniels at Trump’s direction. The president has disputed that the payment was illegal or related to the campaign.
As Isikoff noted, Cohen vehemently denied the dossier’s claims during that same congressional testimony, but he was not charged with lying about those matters.
“Why wasn’t he charged with lying about it? That would have been as serious a lie as the lie he told about the Trump Tower Moscow project,” said Isikoff. “All the signs to me are that Mueller is reaching his end game, and we may see less than many people want him to find.”
Isikoff was not asked about his views about the dossier’s assertions regarding Page.
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