A star witness in Democratic California Rep. Adam Schiff’s impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump expressed skepticism about information collected by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, according to The Daily Caller.
Dr. Fiona Hill, who served as the White House’s top adviser on Russia until July, centered a portion of her Oct. 14 closed-door testimony on the infamous dossier compiled by Steele.
The Steele dossier contained accusations of a conspiracy between the Russian government and then-candidate Donald Trump.
It was widely considered to be riddled with false intelligence, and many of its claims remain unsubstantiated even after the conclusion of the investigation.
Hill told lawmakers that Steele was desperate to “drum up business” and obtain work, which made him vulnerable to be misled by his Russian sources.
Upon reading the report, Hill said she was concerned that “[Steele] could have been played.”
She also speculated that the Russians’ move to feed material to Steele was motivated more by revenge than by an interest in helping out Trump.
“Because if you also think about it, the Russians would have an ax to grind against [Steele] given the job that he had previously,” she said. “And if he started going back through his old contacts and asking about, that would be a perfect opportunity for people to feed some kind of misinformation.”
Hill admitted that she was “shocked” when she discovered that Steele, whom she had worked with during her time as a national intelligence officer from 2006 to 2009, was the author behind the suspicious report.
She even testified that she had first-person knowledge of Steele’s desperation, noting that he “was clearly very interested in building up a client base” when the two met in 2016.
“And this is why I was concerned about the Steele report because that is a vulnerability,” Hill said.
“Christopher Steele going out and looking for information. He’s obviously out there soliciting information,” she continued. “What a great opportunity to, basically, you know, present him with information that he’s looking for that can be couched some truth and some disinformation.”
Hill’s testimony only adds to the already substantial amount of evidence discrediting the dossier.
Not only was Steele’s operation funded by Trump’s political opponents in the Democratic National Committee and 2016 Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton, but it also contained explosive accusations that are wholly unverified.
The most notorious of those accusations was the claim that Russian officials were blackmailing Trump with a sexually explicit video of the future president with a group of prostitutes taken during a Moscow trip in 2013.
No evidence of the video’s existence has been presented, and reports indicate that Trump was rarely alone during his one-day stay in the capital.
Hill also said she believed that President Trump is a victim of the Russians, as opposed to a co-conspirator with them.
She believed the dossier to be evidence that Russia wanted to insert itself into American politics and effectively steal Trump’s credit for an electoral victory.
“The point that actually hasn’t come out and, again, why I’ve been very cross in the media, is that the president was attacked as well, because the Russians sought to discredit him,” she said.
“There’s been a cloud over President Trump since the beginning of his presidency, and I think that’s exactly what the Russians intended.”
Given its content, the timing of its release in January 2017, its connection to the Democratic National Committee and its questionable source, the Steele dossier does not seem to be a useful ingredient in Schiff’s impeachment efforts.
However, it will make a perfect addition to a slice of humble pie for the Democrats.
That’s what happens when your political battles fall flat on their face, all thanks to your very own star witness.
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