Two Grifters and a Dossier

Former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele comes to London on July 24, 2020 for a defamation trial.


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tolga akmen / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Like many who have ordered Barry Meier’s new book “Spooked,” I was not interested in his complaint that corporate spies leak information to journalists. It is still up to reporters to do their own job properly.

I wanted to find out what he had learned about the origins of the Steele dossier. Mr. Meier, a retired New York Times reporter, doesn’t puff off his eyelids, but he makes it harder not to see that the crucial and indispensable element of Christopher Steele’s method – and Glenn Simpson’s method – was a blatant, unreserved pretext about who Mr. Steele’s sources were.

He had no significant sources; The implication that he tapped a network from his time as a British agent or was actively developing and evaluating new sources seems completely misleading. It’s time to say that only someone with a Russian surname is asked to say something bad

Donald Trump

and Russia is not the same as developing “intelligence”. Mr Steele would be better off reputation today if he could claim he was a victim of the Kremlin’s disinformation. At least he could say that it would take a large and capable national intelligence agency to make a fool of him or worse.

Mr. Meier believes the story here is the nefarious corporate intelligence sector that Mr. Simpson represents; I thought of day one It was about the kind of grifter and wannabe who keep approaching journalists who claim secret knowledge and contacts at the highest level.

Whatever his previous occupation a decade ago, this was what Mr. Steele had become.

Messrs Steele and Simpson didn’t find the press idiots they were looking for before the 2016 elections. BuzzFeed released the dossier weeks later until professional skepticism went out the window. It doesn’t come as a surprise either that the press is not now furious to expose the Steele charade. You can still hear Mr Simpson and his media outlets saying that even if Mr Steele’s “raw intelligence” was wrong, he was right on the big deal that the Russian elections interfered with Mr Trump’s interference. It’s hard to overstate how insincere this is. I have previously quoted My own email to colleagues, just weeks after Mr. Trump’s escalator ride in 2015, said it looked like Putin’s trolls were coming on board. The Putin regime likes to use the internet to cause trouble – that was already well understood. Otherwise, Mr. Steele’s own fables would not have been salable for a short time.

Another slim example of self-respect in the media is the wrong alternative: if you question Mr. Steele, you are a Trump supporter. Cable networks tell you that they don’t operate on such a weak intellectual basis. Don’t believe them.

In Mr. Meier’s book, Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer who worked with Mr. Simpson and later visited Trump Tower, laughs rightly at the thought of the “talented” Mr. Steele, without relevant contacts, and covers a Trump- Putin’s conspiracy on escaped the entire Western intelligentsia. When US resources were finally drawn, the Inspector General of the Department of Justice found that Mr. Steele’s allegations were largely false, unverifiable, or based on publicly available information. The FBI’s Peter Strzok, while searching for Mr. Steele’s main “sub-source”, realized that Mr. Steele was “unable to assess the reliability” of the hearsay he was relaying.

I could go on. If Mr. Steele had real contacts, he wouldn’t have counted on you wandering junior analyst in Washington and Emigrant (whom Mr. Steele falsely claimed to be a resident of Russia), whose sources are drinking buddies and a girlfriend in Cyprus; Mr Simpson would not have desperately outdone the role of Sergei Millian, a US-based real estate agent with modest ties to Mr Trump, in what Mr Meier portrays as an attempt to get closer to Mr Steele’s media friends and had inflated real sources.

The real story emerges in Mr. Meier’s book. Mr. Steele sold a shop-worn picture of himself as a former intelligence agent. He didn’t do any real work. Mr. Simpson did not rely on his experience as an investigative reporter. It was two empty tubes that sold a lazily packaged collection of lazy lies to lazy journalists. Now Messrs. Steele and Simpson will spend the rest of their lives lying to themselves about the job they failed to do, how they sold the last bits of their reputation for a check the size of which would not delight any reader of this newspaper.

On this point, Mr. Meier describes a crucial epilogue – Mr. Immediately after the dossier was published in early 2017, Simpson set up a dark money operation, the Democracy Integrity Project, which was reportedly funded by Rob Reiner, George Soros, and various liberal groups, to direct millions to Messrs. Steele and Simpson over the next year . I assume the likely purpose was to keep them in the reservation. The amount they received from the Hillary Campaign and the Democratic Party for preparing the dossier was a fraction of the personal effort for both men after it exploded on their faces. They couldn’t let themselves be seduced by the big payday that a conservative outlet or publisher might question for telling the bleak truth about the Steele dossier, a sell-off that would have been utterly characteristic of either man.

Potomac Watch (12/12/19): Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tears up Clinton or Steele after Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report was published. Image: Reuters / Erin Scott

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Published in the print edition on May 26, 2021.

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