Unverified: adj; not having been confirmed, substantiated, or proven to be true.
This is the word of the week courtesy of BuzzFeed news.
The site published a 35-page unverified “secret dossier” on Donald Trump this week. Editor and Chief of BuzzFeed, Ben Smith, publicly admitted contained “unverified allegations” and said that, “there is serious reason to doubt the allegations.”
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) January 11, 2017
This dossier wasn’t much of a secret. It had been shopped around to multiple news outlets including big names like Washington Post, New York Times, Politico and McClatchy. None of these outlets were able to confirm the contents of the “secret dossier.”
“McClatchy has reported that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., gave the bulk of the report to FBI Director James Comey on Dec. 9. The final pages of the report are dated Dec. 11. McClatchy had the report earlier but couldn’t verify any of its allegations.” (Source: McClatchy, January 11, 2017)
“The Times has checked on a number of the details included in the memos but has been unable to substantiate them.”(Source: NY Times, January 10, 2017)
“Dossiers compiled by the former British intelligence official have been circulating in Washington for months. Several news organizations, including The Washington Post, have been attempting to confirm many of the specific allegations without success.” (Source: Washington Post, January 10, 2017)
Three major outlets agree that the document is unverified. Yet, BuzzFeed ran with it anyway.
MSNBC’s Chuck Todd ripped into Ben Smith in an interview about BuzzFeed publishing the unverified dossier and told Smith, “I know this was not your intent. I’ve known you a long time, but you just published fake news.”
What did Buzzfeed do? Doubled-down on defending the “unverified allegations.”
Hereâ€™s note BuzzFeed CEO @peretti sent staff today.
â€œWe are not going to respond to these divisive comments,â€ he says re: Trump criticism. pic.twitter.com/O3SO7Z3k8G
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) January 11, 2017
Users on the website 4Chan claimed that part of the “secret dossier” was a prank by one of their users. Specifically, the portion in the dossier about ‘golden showers’ was mentioned as having been sent to Rick Wilson, a Republican political consultant who was very vocal about being anti-Trump during the 2016 election cycle.
While 4Chan threads claim to have sent some of the information, Senator John McCain has found himself in the hot seat for his involvement. Apparently, Sen. McCain was the original person in receipt of this document and he turned it over to FBI Director James Comey. McCain allegedly told Comey that the document was created by a former MI6 agent who was believed to have ‘excellent contacts’ in Russia.
The former MI6 agent had been identified by CNN as one Michael Steele, age 52. Steele works for Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd. in London. According to the Orbis website, Orbis was formed by former British intelligence professionals sometime in 2009.
In an article at the New York Times, a company based in Washington D.C. called Fusion GPS is the firm that hired Steele.
So what’s in this “secret” and unverifiable dossier?
The dossier is 35-pages long containing lot of salacious claims – many of which can be debunked rather than substantiated. We’ve made a copy available for readers to access.
One of the more ridiculous claims made is that the Russians were “nervous about political fallout from the DNC hacking” and officials frantically tried to ‘cover-up’ their activities. When was that last time anyone recalls Russia ever been nervous about anything they’ve done?
Another is the section where “Source C” claims that Donald Trump went to the Ritz Carlton in Moscow, obtained the same suite the Obama’s had when they visited and then hired prostitutes which he had perform “golden showers” on the bed.
According to the unverified dossier, this activity at the Ritz Carlton was believed to have happened in 2013 and would be allegedly used by the Russians to ‘blackmail’ Trump in the future.
Hillary Clinton didn’t get away without mention. The unverified dossier claims that Dmitriy Peskov, Spokesman for President Putin, was allegedly controlling a similar dossier on Hillary Clinton’s “unorthodox” behavior on orders from Putin himself. The report says that this was because, “Putin motivated by fear and hatred of Hillary Clinton.”
The dossier contains a number of typos, misspellings and in one section, the date of 2015 instead of 2016 is given. The formatting of the document has also been called into question.
Sources named in the unverified dossier were assigned letters of the alphabet:
A: Allegedly a “Senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure.”
B: Allegedly a former “top level Russian intelligence officer.”
C: Allegedly a Senior Russian Financial Official
D: Allegedly a “close associate” of Trump.
E: Allegedly an “Ethnic Russian” and “close associate” of Trump.
F: Allegedly a “Staffer at the Ritz Carlton.”
G: Allegedly a “Senior Kremlin Official.”
“Source E” claims Russia was behind the information that went to WikiLeaks on the DNC, Podesta and Clinton. The unverified report throws in a page or two on Russian Cyber Crimes targeting Western governments, banks, Elites, big companies and other targets. This is a nice, neat tie-in to the Hacking allegations U.S. intelligence groups have been touting.
Allegations made in the document also include a “mechanism” for intelligence being “pension disbursements to russian emigres” using consular officials in NY, Miami DC. The unverified dossier says that, “Tens of Thousands of dollars are involved.” Small wrinkle in that claim — There is no Russian consulate in Miami.
The dossier makes claims that a meeting happened in Prague in August 2016 involving Trump’s Attorney, Michael Cohen and Russian officials. Cohen refuted the travel alleged in the document, telling The Atlantic that, “I’m telling you emphatically that I’ve not been to Prague, I’ve never been to Czech [Republic], I’ve not been to Russia,” Cohen said. “The story is completely inaccurate, it is fake news meant to malign Mr. Trump.”
The Atlantic also reports that Cohen was in Los Angeles and New York during the time periods the dossier claims he was in the Czech Republic. The University of Southern California corroborated that Cohen was with his son at a baseball related event there at the time the document says he was abroad.
This former MI6 agent must really have good source, he’s just making stuff up or he just spun available media speculation because his report makes the claim that Ex-Ukrainian President Yanukovych, “confides directly in Putin” that he made kick-back payments to Paul Manafort as alleged in “western media”. The dossier says this meeting is alleged to have happened August 15, 2016, near “Volgograd Russia.” Volgograd is 1018 km away from Sochi, which is where Putin was that day to meet with President of Kazakhstan Nursultan.
One interesting tidbit claimed by the dossier is that the Kremlin engaged “Stein” “Page” and former DNI Director Michael Flynn. The document goes on to claim that the Kremlin appeared to have paid for their “recent trips to Moscow.”
It’s revealed as one reads further that “Stein” is referring to Jill Stein, former Green Party candidate for President and that “Page” is Carter Page, an American oil industry consultant. Page was named as a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign which flummoxed some media outlets who had no clue who he was.
During his news conference on Wednesday, President Elect Donald Trump responded to the dossier saying, “It’s all fake news. It’s all phony stuff. It didn’t happen.”
From what we’ve demonstrated here, it would appear that the President Elect is correct.