Seth Abramson @SethAbramson Attorney. @Newsweek columnist. NYT bestselling author of a book on Trump's Iran policy, Proof of Conspiracy (Macmillan, Professor. Apr. 25, 2019 21 min read

(THREAD) Let's review the accuracy of Steele's dossier, post-Mueller Report.
(Steele said his raw intel needed processing, and was about 75% accurate.)
If you see people saying the Report discredited Steele, please RETWEET this.

1/ First, let's recall who Christopher Steele is: the former Russia desk chief for MI6, whose Russian sources were considered so well-developed that the MI6 actually tasked Steele with *training other spies*. He'd worked repeatedly—and to great success—with the FBI on past cases.

2/ Steele tried to get the FBI to take the raw intel he had seriously. He gave it to the FBI on his own say-so—no one told him to. He did what he did because he was worried (we now know rightly) about U.S. national security. He went to media only when the FBI buried his research.

3/ We still have no explanation for why the FBI lied to the NYT in the 14 days before a presidential election, falsely saying it had no info on Trump-Russia ties—and no pending investigation on the topic—rather than just saying, "No comment." Steele was rightly unnerved by this.

4/ Nor did Christopher Steele ever publish his dossier. He gave it to the FBI; he waited months for something to be done, and nothing was; and then he agreed to talk to David Corn of Mother Jones in late October. It was Buzzfeed News that made the decision to publish the dossier.

5/ And finally, we have to acknowledge that it was *Republicans* who originally hired Christopher Steele to research Trump's Russia dealings, *not* Democrats. Steele's willingness to do such research for either party—he's in business intelligence—undercuts claims he's a partisan.

6/ TRUE. We know these were Putin's aims, and we know that (in fact) Russian officials have been interested in Trump for far *longer* than five years—as we saw when the Kremlin let Ivanka Trump sit in Putin's chair in 2007. The Trumps have been on the Kremlin radar a *long* time.

7/ TRUE. Many Russians offered deals, but as of Steele's writing Trump hadn't accepted any—how much easier would it have been, were he a partisan, for him to say, "Yes, there were deals!" Moreover, we know that the Kremlin infamously gave the Trumps intel on Clinton in June 2016.

8/ TRUE. Everything Rtskhiladze wrote to Cohen; everything the CIA told the BBC; everything witnesses at the Ritz told Paul Wood (BBC); every contradiction between Trump's tale and Schiller's—all this supports the *very specific idea* that the Agalarovs got tape of Trump in 2013.

9/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. We know the Kremlin had info on Clinton it wanted to give Trump. We don't know if it had some larger dossier—but frankly Steele later says the dossier wasn't of much use or value anyway. Peskov certainly *would* be the man who'd be handling it—he's Putin's fixer.

10/ TRUE. We know Putin has been aware of Trump since at least 2002—and we know Putin personally oversaw Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election. Nothing in this paragraph runs afoul of what we know about Trump, Putin, or Russia's longstanding designs on Trump.

11/ TRUE. This is *just* what we've learned Putin's intentions were in interfering in the 2016 election. How much easier it would've been for Steele to say this was a GRU op Putin knew nothing about! Or that Putin was just up to mischief! No—Steele had Putin's agenda 100% right.

12/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. Agalarov was offered World Cup contracts—and Trump was in business with Agalarov—so this is possible. We know Trump aides had contact with suspected Russian intelligence agents. We don't know how much non-Veselnitskaya intel they got—if any—on Clinton, or when.

13/ TRUE. Though the mountain of evidence on this has mostly been reported on only in England—though the Mueller Report now seems to corroborate that reporting—the fact remains that all the evidence we have points toward the Agalarovs collecting tapes on Trump in 2013. All of it.

14/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. The info we have about Trump's other trips to Moscow—for instance in 1996—suggest that they were just as wild as Trump's 2013 trip, and remember that Steele was researching Trump's sexual proclivities *before* we knew how *many* affairs he had had (now we know).

15/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. How salacious it would've been if Steele had just said Putin gave Trump his Clinton dossier! But no—Steele said Putin hadn't done so, and in fact we've no evidence Putin ever gave Trump any such intel. As to what's in the Kremlin's Clinton dossier—we don't know.

16/ TRUE.

17/ UNKNOWN. (Though all of this appears to be consistent with what we know of Russian "active measures" and tradecraft generally.)

18/ UNKNOWN. There's a key point to be made here, however: if Steele were just some partisan hack looking to take down Trump, uh, why would he spend *so much space* passing intel to the FBI that has *nothing to do with Trump*? Really seems like genuine intel transfer, doesn't it?

19/ TRUE. This appears to be accurate, based on what we know of Putin's cyber-targets and ambitions—particularly with respect to monitoring his own oligarchs, targeting Western governments specifically, and taking out his domestic and foreign (like Clinton) political opponents.

20/ As far as we know, this is all true (e.g., as to Latvia and the fact the FSB has *not*, otherwise—to our knowledge—had major success messing with *other* nations' government infrastructure). Again, I'd note that this is a level of detail no partisan hack would seek to gather.

21/ I'll pause here, for one post, to note that people like Bob Woodward, Glenn Greenwald, and Michael Isikoff have said that Steele's dossier has turned out to be almost entirely untrue. I'm a good way into the dossier—many paragraphs—and are *you* seeing any indication of that?

22/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. That the Kremlin is using Russian Jewish channels to make connections in the West (including the US) is accurate—and a pretty obscure fact that Steele got right. We can't really know—though the CIA might—if these specific Russian operations did or didn't occur.

23/ UNKNOWN. All this is consistent with how Putin operates—but without access to counterintelligence, it's hard to say much more. I note again, though, that Trump and his team told us that Steele... *made all this up*. Pretty *oddly specific* imagination you'd have to have, huh?

24/ TRUE. Yes, Russian interference was sanctioned at the highest levels; yes, Russian diplomatic staff were involved; yes, WikiLeaks was a Kremlin cutout. Steele's use of the word "conspiracy" is here a *lay* usage—as he's making no effort to detail a statutory (code) violation.

25/ TRUE/FALSE/UNKNOWN. It's TRUE Putin acted out hatred of Clinton; it's UNKNOWN if Trump passed intel on oligarchs to Putin—and Mueller never investigated it—but Trump certainly could've gotten such info, given his customers; it's FALSE that Trump had DNC moles or U.S. hackers.

26/ TRUE. Yep, this happened.

27/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. Three years after Steele collected his intelligence, we're learning that—indeed—Trump's ties to China could be even more problematic than his Russian ties. Odd thing for a partisan hack to say, though, isn't it? That the stuff he's finding isn't the worst stuff?

28/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. It's TRUE that Paul Manafort led the Trump-Russia coordination that occurred (illegal or not, Mueller couldn't establish once Trump shut Manafort up); it's TRUE Putin hated Clinton; TRUE Page was an intermediary; UNKNOWN if any coordination was "well-developed."

29/ I want to acknowledge here that Tweet #28 poses semantic problems. Yes, the Kremlin had 140 contacts with Trump aides, advisers, and family—representing more than 20 different lines of outreach—and yes, that's *insane*, but we can argue all night if it means "well-developed."

30/ Steele again uses "conspiracy and coordination" in a lay sense, meaning he makes no effort to establish the elements of a criminal conspiracy with specificity, suggesting his is loose talk attempting to categorize "well-developed" contacts—a word, again, we could argue over.

31/ Given that—by a factor of like 100—Trump, his family, his aides, his allies, his associates, and his advisers had a better-developed level of access to the Kremlin than *any presidential campaign in American history*, I see no problem in calling the contacts "well-developed."

32/ TRUE. This may be the most dead-on intel in the dossier. This is *exactly* what Putin did, and exactly what he wanted in return, and exactly what Trump offered. Whether or not Mueller could prove "conspiracy," Team Trump *did* communicate his sanctions policy to the Kremlin.

33/ TRUE/FALSE. TRUE: the pension plot; operatives working in Russia; and Russians who came to the U.S. to both scout us and to participate in the propaganda (disinformation) campaign. FALSE: We don't as yet have any indication of Russian agents operating in the Democratic Party.

34/ Note that Steele gives his sources a little "wiggle room" in terms of persons involved with the Democratic Party—using the term "facilitators" as an option for U.S. intel in trying to understand what's happening. Certain Clinton supporters probably would agree with this term.

35/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. It's TRUE Putin is preoccupied with what his oligarchs do; it's TRUE oligarchs can only do business abroad when/as Putin allows it, so Trump has been "allowed" to get largesse—hundreds of millions—from Russian oligarchs. Did he pass intel on them? We don't know.

36/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. This may be the most *prescient* intel Steele collected, as we *do* now have significant evidence—from Florida "spas" to bizarre intruders at Mar-a-Lago to Ivanka's trademarks getting re-upped at convenient times—suggesting Trump may be receiving Chinese bribes.

37/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. All the evidence we have suggests this is all true—including the emergence of David Geovanis as the guy who arranged entertainment for Trump's trips to St. Petersburg (he made several such trips, especially after he crowned Putin's "girl" Miss Universe in 2002).

38/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. It's so amazing Steele managed to find out that Page was lying about his Moscow trip—and get details on who he met with and some of what he spoke of with those he met—you almost want to take all else at face value. But we don't know about the kompromat dossier.

39/ TRUE. How *easy* it would've been for a partisan hack to write, "Page agreed to a deal!" But no—Steele writes that Page was noncommittal, and it appears that he was even correct in this, too, as Steele didn't consider himself to have full ability to negotiate while in Moscow.

40/ I want to pause again to note that we've been lied to about how much the dossier has held up—there's nothing in what I've found to suggest the dossier is less than 75% accurate, and much to suggest it's more accurate than that. Some issues—like Page—Mueller couldn't resolve.

41/ UNKNOWN. We just don't know—but we *know* Page lied about every aspect of his Moscow trip, and that the *campaign* lied about every aspect of Page's Moscow trip, and that Page debriefed the campaign on his return (suggesting he had things to tell them), so that's suspicious.

42/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. TRUE that Trump's associates got nervous; TRUE that Russia didn't "ratchet up" operations in the fall (though we might've expected them to, Steele knew better); TRUE that Putin never used kompromat on Trump—Rtskhiladze "stopped the flow"; UNKNOWN about the rest.

43/ TRUE.

44/ UNKNOWN. Be cautious about people who say something didn't happen because Mueller didn't *say* it happened. Mueller *never* looked at whether Trump had passed on intel about customers—say, using a Trump Tower-Alfa Bank server connection—in-campaign, or for eight years prior.

45/ I *do* think this is a reasonable spot, however, to note that Trump is known to eavesdrop on conversations at Mar-a-Lago *and* Trump Tower, and that Trump has *so* many Russian customers—and as Jr. said, they're *so* important to Trump Org—that he *would've* had info to give.

46/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. It's UNKNOWN whether the Kremlin *actually* had seriously damaging information on Clinton that it didn't release via WikiLeaks, but we *know* that it was telling Trump and others it had Clinton's "missing emails," so in this sense the intel Steele had was TRUE.

47/ UNKNOWN. Who knows—though by this point in the dossier, Steele's record of accuracy is pretty damn good, and certainly he's describing the major players in the Kremlin in ways that are consistent with the power and influence they actually do wield. But ultimately, who knows.

48/ UNKNOWN. Certainly it's TRUE Russian oligarchs feared US sanctions would keep them from traveling to America, TRUE that by mid-October there was talk that Trump might withdraw from the presidential race, and TRUE that foreign governments meddled in the failed coup in Turkey.

49/ TRUE. Indeed, WikiLeaks' fall 2016 leaks *weren't* "new" material but "held" material; and the Kremlin targeted educated US youth; and the Kremlin did engage with Stein, Page, and Flynn, and did fund (indirectly) some of Page's trip to Moscow (and all of Flynn's and Stein's).

50/ TRUE. The October Kremlin campaign was a disinformation campaign exploited by Trump, Trump Jr., Bannon, Prince, Flynn, Flynn Jr. and others connected to Trump. It involved falsely claiming that the "Clinton emails" the Kremlin had "stolen" had been found—and were inculpatory.

51/ Does it seem odd to anyone that neither Greenwald, Taibbi, Gagliano, Woodward, Isikoff, or any of the others attacking Steele were willing to make a thread like this *proving* his professional work-product was "garbage," but instead—in some cases—just libeled him out-of-hand?

52/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. Some of this is certainly TRUE—for instance, regarding Russian ambitions and its outreach to Stein, Page, and Flynn—and some of it is still UNKNOWN (meaning it may well be true, we just don't have access to the counterintelligence that would confirm or deny it).

53/ TRUE. Based on the information we have now, TRUE. (Note that this same caveat applies to even the "FALSE" notices in this thread: almost nothing has been conclusively *disproven* from the dossier, but I've used the term "FALSE" if we have no evidence of something being true.)

54/ TRUE/UNKNOWN/FALSE. Much of this is TRUE, but Page's role as a table-setter hasn't been shown; I rate it FALSE. UNKNOWN is all the material on what everyone was thinking. Note that a Trump associate discussing WikiLeaks *isn't* him/her saying Team Trump coordinated the leaks.

55/ We're now *well* into Steele's dossier and Steele has made no real attempt to nail down a conspiracy—as opposed to broad coordination. The closest he gets is saying Trump gave Putin info on oligarchs—but it's not clear if that's a business arrangement or election arrangement.

56/ In Tweet #54, a Trump associate saying "here is the purpose of the leaks" might be taken as s/he saying Team Trump orchestrated them, but Steele would say that if he meant it—it'd be a big allegation. On Trump-Putin info exchange, it's not clear it's an election quid pro quo.

57/ Note that Trump associates like Stone *were* speaking of the strategies behind the leaks even when/as they *weren't* orchestrating them—so Tweet #54 appears to refer to *that*. Trump getting Russian customers in exchange for giving away their info was a *pre-election* gambit.

58/ My point is that, this far into the dossier, I would *not* say that Steele has alleged or is intending to allege a *criminal* conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin that he has substantiated with specific acts. Rather, he's noting a *longstanding* Trump-Russia relationship.

59/ Note that Don Jr. has made the *same claim* regarding the relationships Trump Org developed in Russia in the mid-aughts—so far and away the most important (maybe the only) new fact Steele is adding is an info exchange beginning in 2011 or earlier (i.e., not election-related).

60/ I suspect that those who claim Steele is detailing—with great specificity—a Trump-IRA or Trump-GRU criminal conspiracy (with all the necessary legal elements) haven't actually *read* what the dossier says, and are working from a general sense impression media has given them.

61/ FALSE/UNKNOWN. The reason I rate this claim this way is that Mueller apparently had *some* evidence that Cohen had suspicious meetings in Europe in summer 2016—his fake Italy alibi among that evidence—but did not ultimately conclude that such a meeting had occurred in Prague.

62/ TRUE/UNKNOWN/FALSE. Did the Kremlin want meetings in "neutral" cities? TRUE. Did it meet Trump folks in Europe? TRUE. Was Cohen Trump's in-campaign fixer? TRUE. Did Steele hedge his bets in using the word "cryptic" on Prague? A bit. But it seems a meeting didn't happen there.

63/ To say the Cohen-in-Prague thing has been blown out of proportion is an understatement—as Cohen *admits* he had Kremlin contacts, and says that Trump knew he had had such contacts, and (remember) Team Trump had 140+ Russian contacts! Was *one* in *Prague*? Who really *cares*?

64/ There's *plenty* of evidence—though it's too complicated to go into in detail in the way I did in PROOF OF COLLUSION—that Cohen *did* have a European meeting with Russian nationals in *Italy* a month earlier than Steele's dossier reports. So saying "FALSE" could be premature.

65/ TRUE. As far as we know, this is all TRUE.

66/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. Some of this is definitely TRUE, but of course the content of some conversations must be considered UNKNOWN (though Steele has *nailed* high-level Kremlin conversations—as to their content—elsewhere in the dossier, so that's something we have to keep in kind).

67/ TRUE.


69/ UNKNOWN. (Though of course Putin's degree of involvement is TRUE, as is how the Kremlin handled the accusations that were flying in fall 2016.)

70/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. TRUE: Putin's high level of involvement; Russia's (and *everyone's*) growing sense in mid-October 2016 that Trump would lose; Russia's interest in Ukraine, Syria, and TPP—issues it discussed with Trump reps during the campaign. UNKNOWN: the rest of this excerpt.

71/ TRUE.

72/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. Trump supporters made hay about—wait for it—Steele spelling "Alfa Bank" as "Alpha Bank," which tells you how desperate they were to dispute a largely accurate doc. Steele nailed Aven's closeness to Putin, advice on Trump, and Alfa Bank being broadly significant.

73/ I very much do hope that if you have people in your feed buying into the B.S. claim that Steele's dossier was "disproven" by the Mueller Report, you will RETWEET my pinned tweet (the first tweet in this thread). We're on pg. 25 now—and there's no sign at *all* of "disproven."


75/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. We know from Aven that he was made to do Putin's bidding, so that part is TRUE. The rest remains UNKNOWN. (Again, notice how *in the weeds* Steele is on Kremlin politics for a guy who—per Trump—was just doing this to stick it to the GOP presidential candidate.)

76/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. Rtskhiladze made pretty damn clear to Cohen that damning video evidence existed and that Agalarov had it.

77/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. This is one of those excerpts which is TRUE as far as we know and in a way that makes you think the UNKNOWN parts are TRUE too. That is, Trump has been at sex parties, has been to St. Petersburg, has spoken out in support of bribing foreign officials, and so on.

78/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. By mid-October 2016, Clinton looked like a winner; observers would've said the summer 2016 WikiLeaks leaks had little impact. As for new Clinton "kompromat," this may well refer to the lies about "Clinton emails" Team Trump spread in late October/early November.

79/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. Steele nailed the primacy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in dealing with Trump's campaign—as the MFA reached out to both Papadopoulos and Page—and also the "new" early October document dumps by WikiLeaks. The rest is still UNKNOWN (maybe unknowable).

80/ TRUE.

81/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. We don't know what Sechin offered Page—but they certainly discussed the Rosneft sale. We know Putin wanted sanctions removed; we know Cohen had numerous Kremlin contacts during the campaign, and was considered a Trump point-man by Peskov—Putin's right-hand man).

82/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. Again, this is nearly all TRUE, with the UNKNOWN part being whether in fact Sechin offered a deal to Trump through Page—a deal which, we should note, is exactly the sort of deal Putin would've offered. (And Page certainly wrote the campaign excitedly afterward.)

83/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. We know Trump authorized his surrogates to represent to Russians that he planned to remove sanctions, so there's no particular reason to doubt Page—who got his job in large part due to his personal opposition to sanctions—said anything different to the Russians.

84/ TRUE. Note that Chris Steele switches to "EU" for Cohen's European meeting, putting Italy—and there's evidence to support this—on the table. The involvement of Cohen, other cutouts, Kremlin institutes... this is basically what we know happened in 2016 from the Mueller Report.

85/ TRUE/UNKNOWN. Cohen's role as Trump's main fixer, Manafort's role as the campaign's chief Russia liaison—and recall Trump telling friends in January '18 that if Manafort "flipped" he (Trump) would have a problem—all TRUE. We can't know *exactly* all Michael Cohen did, though.

86/ Some—oddly, people who've spent months calling Cohen a liar—will say the preceding is FALSE because Cohen never told Mueller that he had any role in dealing with Manafort and Page issues. But recall that Cohen keeps coming out with new info and today even retracted some info.

87/ I don't think the Mueller Report answered all our Cohen queries, and—beyond Cohen constantly changing his testimony—the reality is that his work with Sater certainly *was* an effort to extend an olive branch to the Kremlin through Election Day as Manafort/Page stuff blew up.

88/ Remember that Cohen originally said he worked with Sater and the Kremlin through January 2016; and then it was July 2016; and then Giuliani let slip that it was November 2016. So that means Cohen *did* keep working with Felix Sater on a "business-and-peace" deal with Russia.

89/ UNKNOWN. Here we seem to have Steele *making clear* he isn't sure about the date *or* location of the Cohen meeting in Europe, which would have undercut the claim he clearly said Prague and stuck with it (and therefore was proven conclusively wrong, on that particular point).

90/ FALSE. The final Steele memo—a post-election memo, so it hardly had any effect—is the one Trump supporters would most harp on, as it claims not only a Prague meeting but Cohen paying hackers indirectly (it's not clear if Steele is saying Cohen knew of the hacking beforehand).

91/ The two problems are these: first, the Cohen-in-Prague error (if it is one) is dwarfed by the fact that Trump's attorney Michael Cohen *really did have secret Kremlin contacts throughout the election, and may well have had some in the EU in the general period Steele alleged*.

92/ The second issue is that the possibility that the Trump campaign *didn't* know of the hacking beforehand but was willing to make payments—er, besides *trillions* in sanctions relief—to the Kremlin after the fact is still an open question given the payments made to Joel Zamel.

93/ We still don't know what digital actions Zamel offered to Trump Jr.—in George Nader's presence—in August '16 (actions that Jr. welcomed). We just know Zamel had access to the best possible hacking technology and that Nader made a huge payment to him immediately post-election.

94/ Do I think Cohen paid off hackers directly? Not really, no. Was Cohen Trump's main fixer on Russia? Yes. Do I think Trump sought to reward Russia financially for its crimes? Well, that's actually not in doubt. So the details may be wrong even if the broad strokes are correct.

95/ TRUE/UNKNOWN/FALSE. Romanians? TRUE. Direct payments facilitated by Cohen? Likely FALSE. (Though ironically, he *was* facilitating *illegal payments* during this period.) The redacted sections here could be incredibly telling, depending on what they say. "Psy-Group"? UNKNOWN.

96/ Steele never establishes—or tries to—a before-the-fact Trump-IRA/Trump-GRU conspiracy in the way Mueller investigated it. Rather, he says that Trump began giving the Russians info about Russian oligarchs in 2008—unrelated to any election—in order to get more Russian business.

97/ This *is* the same period Trump Jr. said Russians became key to Trump Org, so Steele's allegation is eminently plausible. As for the less-plausible Cohen payments, I note that they were after-the-fact—it's not clear that Steele is saying Team Trump knew of hacking beforehand.

98/ Moreover, it *is* an open question whether Trump made *any* suspicious payments—indirectly, via Saudi Arabia and the UAE—to anyone involved in pre-election digital activities. And we certainly *know* he was offering *trillions* to Putin in the unilateral removal of sanctions.

99/ Steele mentions "conspiracy" twice, but *alleges* aiding and abetting, and a Trump-Putin intel-sharing deal that wouldn't have been the sort of conspiracy Mueller investigated. And where Steele was wrong in fact, he was often *right* as to categories of conduct broadly writ.

100/ No one—including Steele—says the dossier is 100% correct, or even 85% correct. But it still seems wholly possible that it's 75% correct—and where wrong, it's often immaterially so (for instance, Cohen dealing with the Kremlin by phone or in Prague hardly seems to matter).

CONCLUSION/ What Steele alleged—and whether it has been/could be confirmed—is *incredibly* complicated. We know Steele got *much* right, and a very few things—all over-harped on—clearly (we think) wrong. But anyone who dismisses the dossier using the Report is disingenuous. /end

You can follow @SethAbramson.


Tip: mention @threader_app on a Twitter thread with the keyword “compile” to get a link to it.

Enjoy Threader? Sign up.

Since you’re here...

... we’re asking visitors like you to make a contribution to support this independent project. In these uncertain times, access to information is vital. Threader gets 1,000,000+ visits a month and our iOS Twitter client was featured as an App of the Day by Apple. Your financial support will help two developers to keep working on this app. Everyone’s contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support Threader by becoming premium or by donating on PayPal. Thank you.