Trump Misquotes Reporter To Attack Steele Dossier And FISA Warrants, Demand End To Russia Investigation

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President Donald Trump misquoted journalist Michael Isikoff on Tuesday morning to attack the Steele dossier and the FISA warrants used by the FBI to conduct investigations into Trump’s 2016 campaign connections to Russia.

Isikoff is known as the reporter who first reported on the Steele dossier, and during an interview this week, cast some doubt on it, which Trump quickly jumped on as some sort of proof that the whole Russia investigation is a “witch hunt.”

The first problem here is that Trump misquoted Isikoff, as CNN’s Brian Stelter pointed out:

In fact, many parts of the Steele dossier have been verified, including Paul Manafort’s work in Ukraine, Carter Page’s talks with Russian officials, and Russian meddling in the 2016 Election. Other parts have not been verified, but that doesn’t make those parts true or false.

It should also be pointed out that the Steele dossier was only part of the evidence the FBI used to get a warrant.

As NBC News explained in July about the redacted FISA warrants:

The heavily redacted documents released Saturday comprise an application to, and subsequent renewals by, judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing the FBI to investigate Page, a foreign policy aide to the Trump campaign. But it’s already been established by the House Intelligence Committee that the Russia investigation began after the FBI learned that another campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, had been approached by a Russian agent. The agent told Papadopoulos the Russians had incriminating information about Hillary Clinton, including emails, according to court documents…The so-called dossier formed only a smart part of the evidence used to meet the legal burden of establishing “probable cause” that Page was an agent of Russia.

There was also “evidence that goes beyond what was included in the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele” that was used to convince the judge to sign off on the warrant.

Even John Zeigler, who interviewed Isikoff, concedes that the reporter’s argument is “admittedly circumstantial” and that the Steele dossier has been “largely vindicated in the big picture.”

In response to Trump’s tweets, Isikoff cryptically posted a link to his book.

In short, Trump is jumping to false conclusions based on his terrible interpretation of Isikoff’s words. Parts of the Steele dossier have been verified and it played only a small role in helping the FBI secure FISA warrants, which were signed off on by Republican FISA judges and Trump’s own Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Isikoff’s words certainly do not mean that the Russia investigation should be ended, and Trump claim otherwise smacks of pathetic desperation. Besides, ending the investigation would not erase all the other crimes Trump has been alleged to commit, such as coordinating with a directing Michael Cohen to commit campaign finance felonies and all the other possible crimes stemming from other investigations.

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