Who could forget Buzzfeed’s epic fail of an attempt to be the world’s muckrackers in Donald Trump’s America?
The website behind hard hitting pieces such as “how trash are your Dunkin Donuts opinions,” “you can only eat chocolate if you pass this quiz,” and “China finally nailed making ballpoint pens and everyone is excited AF,” came a release in early January of what they claimed was a letter from a retired British intelligence agent detailing Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia, and asserted that the Kremlin has been aiding Trump for the past five years.
Among the other claims in the 35-page document is that Trump participated in extremely graphic sexual fetishism in the Moscow Ritz-Carlton. If it sounds completely ridiculous, that’s because it is. It’s no coincidence the report makes outrageous claims that are unverifiable, and even more bizarre, Senator John McCain was apparently the source who first obtained the “dossier.” The claims within the dossier were quickly proven to be nonsense, earning them the honor of being branded a “failing piece of garbage” by the president.
Now, thanks to breaking news from the Washington Post, the elusive spy behind the dossier is likely to find himself back in the news:
The former British spy who authored a controversial dossier on behalf of Donald Trump’s political opponents alleging ties between Trump and Russia reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the bureau to pay him to continue his work, according to several people familiar with the arrangement.
The agreement to compensate former MI6 agent Christopher Steele came as U.S. intelligence agencies reached a consensus that the Russians had interfered in the presidential election by orchestrating hacks of Democratic Party email accounts.
While Trump has derided the dossier as “fake news” compiled by his political opponents, the FBI’s arrangement with Steele shows that bureau investigators considered him credible and found his line of inquiry to be worthy of pursuit.
Ultimately, the FBI did not pay Steele. Communications between the bureau and the former spy were interrupted as Steele’s now-famous dossier became the subject of news stories, congressional inquiries and presidential denials, according to the people familiar with the arrangement, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
The FBI had known of Steele from work he’d done for them in the past when he was hired to help a U.S. inquiry into alleged corruption at FIFA.
The controversial dossier is the result of work that Steele compiled for Washington research firm Fusion GPS, that was providing the information to an unnamed Democrat client who opposes Trump. His information alleging a Trump/Russia connected was provided by an intermediary to the FBI and other U.S. intelligence officials after Wikileaks released the first batch of hacked DNC emails in July.
Given how nonsensical the dossier was proven to be, the Washington Post’s interpretation that the government was going to pay Steele means that it “shows that bureau investigators considered him credible and found his line of inquiry to be worthy of pursuit” to be laughable. What it really means is that fake news is just something else we can add to the list of things our government is willing to waste taxpayer dollars on in pursuit of bringing down a political opponent.
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]