Christopher Steele is perhaps one of the most successful and most duplicitous grifters of the last decade. He has managed to reach mythical status among the American left and those who ate his lies with glee in the media. Steele has been described as a “super-spy” and a patriot, a “spymaster” and someone who cares deeply for the United States. His supposed expertise and unimpeachable character were often cited as a defense of the Steele Dossier, which turned out to be abject nonsense.
Disappointingly, many on the right bought that line for way too long, which is a pattern when it comes to conservatives having too much blind obedience to the “intelligence community” and other agencies stocked with bureaucrats.
Of course, essentially none of what we heard about Steele was actually true. Mollie Hemingway did some myth busting in an excellent, well researched piece a few months back at The Federalist.
It turns out Christopher Steele wasn’t 007.
For years, the media assured Americans that the dossier alleging treasonous collusion between Donald Trump and Russia was based on the scrupulous work of a mastermind British ex-spy and his vast network of credible and well-connected sources spread throughout Europe. It wasn’t true.
Steele did not personally collect any of the factual information in his reports. The “vast network” was instead a “social circle” of an American-based former Brookings Institute junior staffer, recently identified for the first time as Igor Danchenko. The friends didn’t have well-documented claims so much as rumors, drunken gossip, and outright brainstorming, conjecture, and speculation. Even that information was “multiple layers of hearsay upon hearsay” before it got to Steele, who then hyperbolically overstated it. And the damning claims of “collusion” appear to have been scandalously misattributed or invented out of whole cloth.
Even since then, more and more of what we were told about Steele and his dossier have gone up in flames. Just a few weeks ago I reported that Danchenko, who Mollie mentions above, was in fact investigated as a foreign spy by the FBI. The case was only closed after he left the country and was deemed no longer a threat.
The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation on the primary source for dossier author Christopher Steele, and considered obtaining a warrant to wiretap him in 2010, according to a document released Thursday.
“This is the most stunning and damning revelation the committee has uncovered,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said in a statement after releasing an FBI memo about the dossier source.
He was indeed a threat though. Not too many years later, he was feeding Russian information to various figures who then fed that to Steele. That would become the Steele Dossier, which taxpayers were ultimately forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for. We were also left holding the bag for the Mueller investigation, a multi-million dollar boondoggle that relied heavily on salacious, false charges within the dossier.
And yet, not a single person involved in the Steele Dossier has been held accountable. There hasn’t even been anyone fired directly for entertaining and using what was obviously known to be unverified, poorly sourced garbage at the time. FBI Dir. Christopher Wray can’t even be counted on to turn over documents at this point, much less drop the hammer. AG Bill Barr, for all the cool memes, has been largely ineffective as well, with the Durham investigation still showing almost zero results as the election nears. As far as we know, one of the ringleaders behind the dossier is still on the DOJ payroll. That would be Bruce Ohr, who was having secret, unsanctioned meetings with Steele throughout 2016.
A price needs to be paid and no one is being forced to hand their credit card over. You know what that means? It’s going to happen again.
Sean Davis shared that sentiment on Tucker Carlson’s show a few days ago.
Sean Davis: If Nobody Goes To Prison For Russia Hoax, It Will Happen Again https://t.co/SIrsY0yDNX
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) October 7, 2020
He’s completely right here. What deterrent is there to not use the levers of government to spy on and try to overthrow your political opponents if not a single person involved in procuring, using, and defending the Steele dossier is punished for it? The answer is that there will be no deterrent. The establishment partisans within our bureaucracies will have gotten away with it and will have every incentive to do it to the next Republican nominee.
And don’t kid yourself. This was never just about Trump. Whoever the 2024 GOP banner carrier is, they will be hit in the same manner. Bill Barr has possibly just weeks left to fix this. If he doesn’t, that will be his legacy.
(Please follow me on Twitter! @bonchieredstate)