Strassel: Mueller Should've Looked at Whether Steele Dossier Was Russian 'Disinformation'
Fox News contributor and Wall Street Journal Editorial Board member Kimberley Strassel argues that Special Counsel Robert Mueller erred by not investigating whether the Steele dossier was part of the Russians' effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
One of the biggest failures of the Mueller probe concerns not what was in the final report, but what was not. Close readers will search in vain for any analysis of the central document in this affair: the infamous “dossier.” It’s a stunning omission, given the possibility that the Russians used that collection of reports to feed disinformation to U.S. intelligence agencies, sparking years of political maelstrom.
The dossier -- compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele on behalf of Fusion GPS, an opposition-research firm working for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee -- fed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the media the principal allegations of the “collusion” narrative.
It claimed Paul Manafort was at the center of a “well-developed” Trump-Russia “conspiracy”; that Carter Page served as his intermediary, conducting secret meetings with a Kremlin official and the head of a state energy company; that Michael Cohen held a clandestine meeting in Prague with Vladimir Putin cronies; and that the Russians had compromising material on Donald Trump, making him vulnerable to blackmail.
The dossier was clearly important to the FBI probe. Its wild claims made up a significant section of the FBI’s application for a secret surveillance warrant on Page.
The Mueller report exposes the dossier claims as pure fiction. Yet in describing the actions of the Trump campaign figures the FBI accused, the report assiduously avoids any mention of the dossier or its allegations. Mueller refers to Steele and his work largely in passing, as part of the report’s description of how former FBI Director James Comey informed Trump of the dossier’s existence. The dossier is blandly described several times as “unverified allegations compiled” by Steele.
Elaborating on "America's Newsroom" Friday, Strassel told Bill Hemmer that Mueller should have considered whether the dossier was "disinformation from the Russian government," but such analysis is absent from the final report.
She said it seemed that Mueller wrote the report with the intention of "shielding" the FBI and senior law enforcement officials from criticism over its use of the dossier.
"What he did is a total dereliction of duty. Your job is to look at Russian interference in our election and here is this central document, which has caused so much political mayhem for two years ... and you don't examine that question," said Strassel.
Watch the full segment above.