Payments to anonymous contractors raise speculation about researchers
Special counsel Robert Mueller spent nearly three quarters of a million dollars on “outside contractors” for his Russia collusion investigation, reports Paul Sperry for RealClearInvestigations.
But Mueller won’t say who he paid, and that has “led congressional investigators, government watchdog groups and others to speculate that the private investigators and researchers who worked for the special counsel’s office might have included Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS, the private research firm that hired Steele to produce the Russia collusion dossier for the Clinton campaign.”
Sperry reported Mueller listed expenses of $732,000 for private investigators and researchers.
“While it’s not unusual for special government offices to outsource for services such as computer support, Mueller also hired contractors to compile ‘investigative reports’ and other ‘information,’” the report said. And he kept them secret.
Some “suspect the dossier creators may have been involved in Mueller’s operation – and even had a hand in his final report – because the special counsel sent his team to London to meet with Steele within a few months of taking over the Russia collusion investigation in 2017.”
“Also, Mueller’s lead prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, had shared information he received from Fusion with the media,” he wrote.
The red flags don’t stop there, Sperry found.
“Mueller’s report recycles the general allegations leveled in the dossier. And taking a page from earlier surveillance-warrant applications in the Russia investigation, it cites as supporting evidence several articles – including one by Yahoo! News – that used Steele and Fusion as sources.”
Mueller even furthered one of the dossier’s more sensational claims, that Moscow had “compromising tapes” of Trump with Russian hookers.
The special counsel did that by slipping into a footnote an October 2016 text Michael Cohen received from a Russian businessman who saying, “Stopped flow of tapes from Russia.”
Significantly, the businessman, Giorgi Rtskhiladez, through lawyers, is demanding a retraction because Mueller dropped a portion of the text in which “he said he did not believe the rumor about the tapes.”
The dossier assembled by Steele, based on Russian sources, was funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. The document was churned through the Washington rumor machine and ended up at the FBI and DOJ, whose officials, under Barack Obama, used it as evidence to obtain a warrant from a FISA court to spy on the Trump 2016 campaign.
Even former FBI Director James Comey called some of its claims “salacious and unverified.”
Attorney General William Barr has said he believes the Obama administration was spying on the Trump campaign, and he’s investigating. So is the DOJ inspector general, as well as members of the Senate.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, told Sperry the report should be renamed “The Mueller Dossier,” because of its innuendo.
The RealClearInvestigations report charged said Mueller “implies” there’s a bit of truth to the dossier.
Mueller, or one of his hirelings, wrote: “In July 2016, Campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page traveled in his personal capacity to Moscow and gave the keynote address at the New Economic School. Page had lived and worked in Russia between 2003 and 2007. After returning to the United States, Page became acquainted with at least two Russian intelligence officers, one of whom was later charged in 2015 with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent of Russia.”
The report continues, “Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow and his advocacy for pro-Russian foreign policy drew media attention. July 2016 was also the month WikiLeaks first released emails stolen by the GRU [Russian intelligence] from the DNC.
“Page acknowledged that he understood that the individuals he has associated with were members of the Russian intelligence services.”
The suggestion that Page “knowingly cavorted with Russian spies,” echoed Steele’s claims, Sperry explained.
“But federal court records make it clear that Page did not know that those men were Russian agents.”
Sperry also reports: “Mueller’s team worked closely with dossier author Steele, a long-retired British intelligence officer who worked for the Clinton campaign. Mueller’s investigators went to London to consult with Steele for at least two days in September 2017 while apparently using his dossier as an investigative road map and central theory to his collusion case.”
Mueller, however, rejected multiple requests from RealClearInvestigations for “contract details, including who was hired and how much they were paid.”
In Washington, watchdog Judicial Watch has asked the government for Mueller’s contracting records, as well as communications between Mueller’s office and his private contractors.
“Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr declined comment when asked specifically if Mueller’s team hired or collaborated with Fusion GPS or any of its subcontractors,” the report said.