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Grading the Steele dossier 2 years later: what’s been corroborated and what's still unclear

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  • Thursday marks two years since the so-called Steele dossier, an explosive collection of memos alleging collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, was published.
  • The document was compiled by the former British spy Christopher Steele.
  • Many of the dossier’s claims remain uncorroborated, but several allegations have held up.

Thursday marks two years since the so-called Steele dossier, an explosive collection of memos alleging collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia, was published by BuzzFeed News for public consumption.

The largely unverified document, compiled by the former British spy Christopher Steele, consists of 16 separate reports that total 35 pages.

The FBI and the Senate Intelligence Committee are both known to be using the dossier as a “roadmap” in their respective investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election. The FBI also used the document to support, in part, its application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser who has drawn scrutiny over his Russia ties.

Trump dismissed the memos as a “pile of garbage,” and he and his Republican allies frequently accuse the FBI of fabricating the information to oust Trump from office.

Two years later, many of the dossier’s claim remain uncorroborated. But several allegations have proven, at least in part, to have held up over time.

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WikiLeaks, Roger Stone, and the 2016 DNC hack

The dossier said the “Russian regime had been behind the recent leak of embarrassing e-mail messages, emanating from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to the WikiLeaks platform.”

“The reason for using WikiLeaks was ‘plausible deniability’ and the operation had been conducted with the full knowledge and support of TRUMP and senior members of his campaign team,” the dossier said.

It added: “Over the period March-September 2016 a company called [redacted] and its affiliates had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership. Entities linked to one [redacted] were involved and he and another hacking expert, both recruited under duress by the FSB, [redacted] were significant players in this operation.”

What’s been corroborated and what hasn’t

  • The special counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian military intelligence officers last July on hacking and conspiracy charges related to the 2016 DNC hack and the subsequent dissemination of stolen emails via the Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0, the Russia-linked website DCLeaks, and the radical pro-transparency platform WikiLeaks.
  • The charging document alleged that beginning in March 2016, the conspirators “used a variety of means to hack the email accounts” of people working on the Hillary Clinton campaign.
  • In April, the defendants hacked into the computer networks of the DNC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), according to the allegations.

Once they breached the network, the indictment said, the hackers “covertly monitored the computers of dozens of DCCC and DNC employees, implanting hundreds of files containing malicious computer code … and stole emails and other documents from the DCCC and DNC.”

In June, the Russians allegedly “staged and released” tens of thousands of hacked documents using Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks.

The indictment said the hackers also used Guccifer 2.0 to pass stolen emails along to WikiLeaks.

  • The charging document did not directly implicate any Americans. But it said that in August 2016, Guccifer 2.0 opened a channel of communication with “a person who was in regular contact with senior members” of the Trump campaign.
  • The longtime GOP strategist and informal Trump adviser Roger Stone is known to have communicated with Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks during the election. He has also publicly stated that he believes he is the unnamed American referred to in Mueller’s indictment.

Additional emails between Stone and the far-right conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi, which are in Mueller’s possession, shed light on the two men’s murky ties to WikiLeaks. Three days after the first document dump, the two men discussed how to get “the pending [WikiLeaks] emails,” and Corsi also later touched base with Stone to tell him about an upcoming dump.

“Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps,” Corsi reportedly wrote to Stone on August 8, according to NBC News. “One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct … Impact planned to be very damaging.”

“Time to let more than [Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta] to be exposed as in bed w enemy if they are not ready to drop HRC,” Corsi reportedly added, referring to Clinton. “That appears to be the game hackers are now about.”

A little over two weeks later, on August 21, Stone tweeted that Podesta would “soon” be targeted.

On October 7, WikiLeaks published a damaging batch of emails belonging to Podesta.

Trump heaped praise on WikiLeaks on the campaign trail. His son, Donald Trump Jr., is also known to have been in contact with WikiLeaks via Twitter during the election, according to The Atlantic.

While media reports indicate that Trump, Stone, Trump Jr., and other members of the Trump campaign were interested in the WikiLeaks dumps, there is no evidence corroborating Steele’s claim that the hacking operation was carried out “with the full knowledge and support of TRUMP and senior members of his campaign team.”

NATO and Russia’s intervention in Ukraine

The dossier said that in return for Russia’s help in dumping hacked emails damaging to the Clinton campaign, the “TRUMP team had agreed to sideline Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue and to raise US/NATO defence commitments in the Baltics and Eastern Europe to deflect attention away from Ukraine, a priority for PUTIN who needed to cauterise the subject.”

The “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation between [the Trump campaign] and the Russian leadership was managed on the Trump side by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort,” the dossier added.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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