Phil Mudd, a former FBI official and CNN analyst, said Tuesday that dossier author Christopher Steele should not meet with the Justice Department, as he is reportedly planning, because doing so “will not end up well” for the former British spy.
“If you go to car races looking for car wrecks, this is significant. This will be a car wreck,” Mudd told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“I can’t believe he has perfect answers about the origins of the Steele dossier. I’m not even sure why he’s showing up. If I were him, I’d go to Disney World. I would not go to the Department of Justice, because it will not end up well.”
Mudd, who worked at the CIA and also served as deputy director of the FBI’s national security branch, speculated that Steele’s meeting with the Justice Department will not end well for him because of the flimsiness of the allegations in his controversial report.
“Let me give you how this game ends. Christopher Steele shows up in front of the Department of Justice and I’m guessing doesn’t have terrific answers for the quality of the information in that Steele dossier,” said Mudd.
The Times of London reported Tuesday that Steele, a former MI6 officer, plans to meet with U.S. officials within weeks to discuss the dossier, which alleged a vast conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
The Justice Department’s office of the inspector general is investigating the FBI’s handling of the dossier as well as the bureau’s use of Steele as a confidential source.
Steele has denied requests for past meetings with the Justice Department, but The Times reported that he would agree to meet with U.S. officials in London, as long as he would only be required to discuss his interactions with the FBI regarding the dossier.
The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s report to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser. Steele’s report, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC, also fueled media speculation that Donald Trump was compromised by the Kremlin and that campaign associates colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
The special counsel’s report dealt a heavy blow to the dossier. The probe was unable to establish a conspiracy involving the Trump campaign. The report also undercut a key claim in the dossier: that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin insiders to discuss paying off hackers. Cohen has denied all of the allegations against him in the dossier, which BuzzFeed published on Jan. 10, 2017.
Susan Hennessey, a former National Security Agency lawyer and CNN analyst, attempted to defend the FBI’s reliance on the dossier during the same segment with Mudd.
“Let’s keep in mind, what’s important is not whether or not Christopher Steele had good or bad information. What’s important is what the FBI did with that information,” she said, ignoring that the FBI relied on Steele’s work for the Carter Page FISAs.
Mudd then speculated that the Justice Department’s inspector general would find that the FBI relied too heavily on the unverified dossier to obtain FISA warrants against Page.
“The question here is not just what Steele found. If it’s determined that Steele had a bit of questionable information, that’s fine. If it’s found that that questionable information played into, for example, the FISA warrant to look at Carter Paige’s emails, that is a hot mess, and I think that’s where we’re headed here,” he said.
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