The two former Wall Street Journal reporters who promoted the discredited anti-Trump dossier are out with their own book on Tuesday and already a key item is being challenged.
The dossier, written by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and spread to the Justice Department, FBI, State Department, White House and journalists, told of a far-reaching election conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
After a three-year FBI investigation — that encompassed special Counsel Robert Mueller, 40 agents, 19 prosectors and U.S. intelligence — no such conspiracy was found. A bombshell dossier item that President Trump’s then-attorney traveled to Prague in 2016 to collude with Russians never happened.
NPR last week wrote a pre-publication review of “Crime in Progress,” by former journalists and co-founders of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. Theirs and Mr. Steele’s dossier financing came from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The book reports that Devin Nunes, California Republican and then chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, traveled to London and tried to get information on Mr. Steele from British officials.
Here is how NPR described the book’s London episode:
“The authors describe a campaign by an archenemy, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman and now-ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, to target and destroy Fusion. Nunes flies to London to try to get a meeting with the heads of British intelligence to try to undermine Steele.
“But this was amateur hour of the highest order: The agencies flatly refused to meet with him. He did, however, meet with a junior national security official, who very politely told him nothing,” according to Steele’s sources.
The former MI6 officer was not impressed, per the authors.
“This Nunes is a proper clown,” Steele told Fritsch. “It’s stunning he thought that would work.”
The Atlantic first reported in August 2018 that Mr. Nunes went to London and tried to obtain material on Mr. Steele.
The problem is, Mr Nunes said then and still says today that none of this happened in London. He said he made no effort to obtain any information on Mr. Steele.
Jack Langer, his spokesman, released this statement to The Washington Times.
“For some reason, fake news reporters are enamored with the concept of Nunes flying abroad to have some nefarious meeting. They’re often just variants of the ridiculous ‘Michael Cohen went to Prague’ story.’ In this case, Nunes did not try to schedule any meetings to discuss Steele, and he didn’t mention Steele in any meetings. The trip had nothing to do with Steele. But two totally anonymous people claimed otherwise, and that’s all the media needs to assert it as fact, so long as these unknown people are saying what the reporters want to hear.”
Coincidentally, Mr. Nunes faced a new media travel allegation last week. CNN and the Daily Beast reported that he traveled to Vienna in 2018 to meet with a former Ukraine prosecutor to gain material on former Vice President Joe Biden.
Mr. Nunes says the story is false and will file a defamation law suit after Thanksgiving.
Mr Nunes and Fusion GPS are old adversaries.
Using his subpoena power, Mr. Nunes was the first to discover the the Democrats funded the Steele dossier and that the FBI embraced it. Agents used it as evidence to obtain at least one intrusive wiretap on a Trump associate. The bureau wanted to pay Mr. Steele to keep investigating Mr. Trump, but then fired him for leaking to the press. Still, agents continued to take to Steele well into 2017.
A former White House Russia expert testified at House impeachment hearings that Russian intelligence duped Mr. Steele.
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