Cornyn to Barr: How Do We Know That The Steele Dossier Was Not A Russian Disinformation Campaign?


Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) discusses the infamous Steele dossier with Attorney General Bill Barr at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): But I do believe that we need to ask the question why didn't the Obama administration do more as early as 2014 in investigating Russian efforts to prepare to undermine and so dissension in the 2016 election? Mr. Mueller's report does document that the Russian government through the intelligence--through their intelligence agencies and their Internet research or IRA I think it's called begin as early as 2014 began their efforts to do so and we know they met with some success.

Is it any surprise to you based on your experience that the Russians would try to do everything they can to so dissension in American political life including in our elections?

BILL BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: No, not at all. I mean I think the--the Internet creates a lot more opportunities to--to have--you know to have that kind of covert effect on American body politics. So it is getting more and more dangerous. But the Russians have been at this for a long time in various different ways.

But the point you made about Bob Mueller's efforts on IRA that is one of the things that struck me about the report. I think it's very impressive work that they did in moving quickly to get into the--to get into the IRA and also the GRU folks and I was thinking to myself if that had been done in 2000--you know starting in the beginning of 2016 we would have been a lot further along.

CORNYN: For example we have heard a lot about the Steele dossier. Mr. Steele of course is a former British intelligence officer hired by--to do opposition research by the Hillary Clinton campaign on her political adversaries including President Trump or Candidate Trump at that time. How do we know that the Steele dossier is not itself evidence of Russian disinformation campaign knowing what we know now that basically the allegations made therein were secondhand, hearsay or unverified? Can you state with confidence that the Russian--that the Steele dossier was not part of the Russian disinformation campaign?

BARR: No, I can't state that with confidence and that is one of the areas that I am reviewing. I am concerned about it and--and I don't think it is entirely speculative.

CORNYN: Well, we know that from published reports that the head of the CIA, Mr. Brennan went to President Obama and brought his concerns about initial indications with Russian involvement in the campaign as early as the late of July--late July 2016 and instead of doing more during the Obama administration to look into that and disrupt and deter Russian activities that threaten the validity and integrity of our campaign in 2016 it appears to me that the Obama administration, Justice Department and FBI decided to place their bets on Hillary Clinton and focus their efforts on investigating the Trump campaign. But as you have pointed out thanks to the general--thanks to the Special Counsel we now have confidence that no Americans colluded with the Russians in their effort to undermine the American people.

We now need to know and I am glad to hear what you are telling us about your inquiries and your research and your investigation. We now need to know what steps the Obama FBI Department of Justice and intelligence community, what steps they took to undermine the political process and put a thumb on the scale in favor of one political candidate over the other and that would be before and after the 2016 election.

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