Former U.K intelligence officer Christopher Steele admitted to using unverified information gathered from the Internet to back up his infamous Trump-Russia dossier that was used to launch the FBI’s probe into President Donald Trump in 2016, according to a lawsuit deposition partially unsealed on Thursday.
According to snippets from Steele’s July 2018 deposition in London, the former MI6 officer had presented a 2009 article from CNN’s website iReport — a “user-generated” website whose reports “by users are not edited, fact-checked or screened” prior to being published — when asked if he had found “anything of relevance concerning Webzilla.”
“We did. It was an article I have got here which was posted on July 28, 2009, on something called CNN iReport.”
Webzilla — one of the companies named in the dossier — was alleged to have been used by Russia to hack into Democratic emails.
When Steele was pressed on how the website worked, however, he said that he “[did] not have any particular knowledge of that.” He also answered in the negative when asked if he “[understood] that they have no connection to any CNN reporters.”
He was then asked if he “[understood] that CNN iReports are or were nothing more than any random individuals’ assertions on the Internet,” to which he replied:
“No, I obviously presume that if it is on a CNN site that it may has some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site.”
Steele characterized how he gathered his information as “an open source search,” which he described as “where you go into the Internet and you access material that is available on the Internet that is of relevance or reference to the issue at hand or the person under consideration.”
He also admitted that some of the “raw intelligence” presented in the dossier could potentially be “deliberately false information.”
The revelation prompted a tweet from President Trump Sunday morning, who slammed the dossier as “fake and unverified.”
Report: Christopher Steele backed up his Democrat & Crooked Hillary paid for Fake & Unverified Dossier with information he got from “send in watchers” of low ratings CNN. This is the info that got us the Witch Hunt!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2019
The dossier was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and commissioned through the Washington, D.C.-based firm Fusion GPS. It alleged a “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation” between the president and Russia.