Apr 15, 2018, 10:04 PM ET

Comey says he believes the source of the Steele ‘dossier’ to be 'credible'

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President Donald Trump has slammed the so-called “dossier” as fake, phony, dirty, horrible and a disgrace.

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But former FBI Director James Comey said he believed from the outset that the British intelligence officer who wrote the report was a “credible source.”

“It was coming from a credible source, someone with a track record, someone who was a credible and respected member of an allied intelligence service during his career,” Comey said, referring to former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. “And so it was important that we try to understand it, and see what could we verify, what could we rule in or rule out.”

The “dossier” is a 35-page document containing raw intelligence compiled by Steele.

PHOTO: A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James ComeyFlatiron Books
A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey

Comey talked about the FBI’s first impressions of the dossier during his exclusive interview with ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos ahead of the April 17 release of his book “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.”

“It, at its core, was consistent with the other information we'd gathered during the intelligence investigation,” he said of the dossier.

Comey said there were three goals behind the Russian effort, which are “at the core” of the dossier: to “dirty up the American democracy”; to damage Hillary Clinton in her candidacy because Russian President Vladimir Putin “personally hated” her; and “to help Donald Trump become elected president.”

“Those allegations are at the core of the Steele dossier, and we already knew that was true from totally separate information. And so at its core, it said something that was consistent with what we believed,” Comey told Stephanopoulos.

Comey said he was aware of who funded the report, which Steele compiled for Fusion GPS, a political research firm co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson.

“I was told at some point that it was — the effort had originally been financed by a Republican source to develop material, opposition research on Donald Trump,” Comey told Stephanopoulos. “Then after the Republican nominating process ended, the effort was taken up and funded by a Democratic-aligned group trying to get opposition research on Trump. … I never knew … who the groups were, but I knew it started with Republicans paying for it and then Democrats were paying for it.”

But when asked if he thought the document was credible, Comey referred to its source.

“Well, certainly the source was credible. There's no doubt that he had a network of sources and sub-sources in a position to report on these kinds of things. But we tend to approach these things with a bit of a blank slate, trying to figure out, ‘So what can we replicate?’ This guy, who's credible, says these things are true. Okay. That means we should try and replicate that work to see if we can develop the same sources,” Comey said.

PHOTO: Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who set-up Orbis Business Intelligence and compiled a dossier on Donald Trump, in London where he has spoken to the media for the first time. PA Wire/PA Images/AP
Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who set-up Orbis Business Intelligence and compiled a dossier on Donald Trump, in London where he has spoken to the media for the first time.

Comey stressed that the dossier was not the reason why federal authorities opened an investigation into possible connections between some members of the Trump presidential campaign team and Russia.

“The investigation began because of reliable information that George Papadopoulos was having conversations about obtaining information from the Russians,” Comey said, referring to the president’s former campaign foreign policy adviser. “That's probably as far as I can go at this point.”

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October 2017 to making false statements and material omissions in January to investigators probing interference in the 2016 presidential election, in relation to his contacts with a London-based professor with ties to the Russian government.

PHOTO: ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos sits down with former FBI director James Comey for an exclusive interview that will air during a primetime 20/20 special on Sunday, April 15, 2018 on the ABC Television Network.Ralph Alwang/ABC News
ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos sits down with former FBI director James Comey for an exclusive interview that will air during a primetime "20/20" special on Sunday, April 15, 2018 on the ABC Television Network.

Comey said he isn’t “sure” how much of the information in the dossier checked out.

“The answer is, I don't know,” he said.

Comey added that when he left the FBI, an agency effort to verify as much as possible about the report was still underway.

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  • Larry

    Comey said, “at the core”, Putin “personally hated” Hillary Clinton and wanted damage her candidacy and “help Donald Trump become elected president.”

    “Those allegations are at the core of the Steele dossier, and we already knew that was true from totally separate information. And so at its core, it said something that was consistent with what we believed,” Comey told Stephanopoulos.

    The Russians desiring to damage our republic has been a given for at least eight decades. It's only novel to people under forty. However, the Obama Administration had specific information regarding mounting efforts on the part of the Russians to interfere in the 2016 election, as early as late 2014. Comey had specific information four months before the election. Neither did anything, because they thought their rigging of the system was bulletproof even against Russian efforts and Clinton would be elected to bury their crimes, thus locking anything but Dems and RINOs from power forevermore. Their hubris was their undoing.

  • William Ripskull

    He "thinks"... yet he has done NOTHING to validate it and has NOTHING to validate it, and presented it to the FISA court without informing them as such. Sounds more like he is trying to discredit Trump through innuendo. Not surprising for a one of the worst FBI Directors in history trying desperately to salvage his pathetic, politically motivated career. A dirty cop... pure and simple.

  • Furrmin The Cat

    None of that dossier has been proven to be false. That is the most important thing to remember.

  • Roger

    Trump and trumpers believe that they can scream "phony dossier" over and over and that magically makes there claim true.
    Opposed to that is Mueller. Mueller is being methodical, tracking down the contacts, chasing the leads, going over the data.
    Mueller and Trump are opposites. And that's why Trumpers hate him.

  • flatrock

    "Comey says he believes the source of the Steele ‘dossier’ to be 'credible'"

    Which is one more reason why Comey isn't credible. He and his successor, Mueller who has demonstrated far more competence than Comey, and spent nearly 2 years looking for evidence that corroborates the allegations in the dossier. Comey in one of his interviews pointed out that it's difficult to prove that something didn't happen. That is true to an extent. But if the allegation is detailed enough to be credible rather than a vague rumor, then there will be aspects of it that can be corroborated or disproved. Yet after nearly 2 years of having the mast advanced intelligence gathering agencies in the world directed to finding out about it, they have nothing.
    The former top law enforcement official in the United States calls that credible? Credible from a law enforcement standard or credible as in hes a biased hack and he heard a rumor and he likes how damaging it is to the person it's about so he's going to keep repeating it and speculating that it could be true?

  • Zqueen

    Does this mean the fake story about Carter Page/FISA is now dead?

  • Ctrygrl

    Why does everyone make such a big deal out of the so called "dirty" parts of the dossier, the scary stuff is all the meetings and connections between the Russians and the campaign

  • GayEGO

    Why would someone waste their time creating a fake dossier? They wouldn't and Trump is just afraid we will find out that the color of his hair came from the Russian prostitutes relieving themselves on Trump's head!

  • Independent

    something from a proven credible source versus something from a known con and liar - yep - got it.

    Let me know when the trumpettes actually say trump is a chronic liar.

  • Bill Toone

    I am beginning to think we will see pee tapes.

  • Independent

    Its funny that the trumpettes will ask for iron clad proof from a credible source but accept the word of a known con man - how is trump's foundation and university doing trumpettes or his promised tax release?

  • Ctrygrl

    I can understand since ABC got the first interview they are really playing this big but honestly. Earth shattering "revelations" in this book.
    The thing in the WH is unfit to be president. A majority of Americans have known that for a long time
    The thing in the WH lies incessantly publicly and privately. Wow like we hadn't noticed
    The thing in the WH like to talk incessantly about himself and how great he is, see above
    Rather than playing it straightforward Comey tried to nuance his position on investigations and s-----d the pooch royally
    Comey has a petty side and thinks America should be punished for electing the thing in the WH by having him serve 4 years.

  • jj Summers

    Big difference between "verified" and "I believe it could be". If its verified, there is hard evidence. If its belief, it is speculative and subjective (basically useless).

  • Leopbjs

    It pretty much fits with everything we've learned about trump, so don't know why anyone would be shocked.

  • Walter Sobchak

    Good way to cash in! Don't listen and instigate a situation and then retain a lawyer? lol Amerika

  • wilkinak

    Comey is not the boy scout he thinks he is.

  • Jack25

    Yes, everyday it seems more and more likely that the Steele dossier is factual. Very disturbing that Cohen met with Russian agent in Prague.

  • pbgd

    Of course we don't know if Trump did commit a crime, but he sure acts like someone who did. Why would he act like this if he was innocent?

  • shivas

    Inconceivable, is what Vizzini says to Fezzik = sarcasm.

  • unusual

    Comey has a proven history of telling the truth. Trump has a proven history of telling lies. When it comes to who we should believe when it comes down to which one of them is telling the truth, there's really no contest here - it isn't rocket science.

  • Rodney Bayburn

    There are many things in the dossier that have been corroborated. The meeting in trump tower to talk about dirt on Hillary. It was in the dossier before we knew about it and trumpnwas saying there were no meetings with Russians. Trumpnpeople working with putin to build the highest building ever in Moscow. Popadopolous meeting with Russians about dirt onnhillary. There are many others. The rest ((telling Wikileaks when to release her emails) are not yet corroborated, but it sure looks like they will be.

  • TexasVulcan

    At the very least the dossier is worthy of further investigation. And I am sure Mueller is all over it.

  • David

    Fox News is Putin propaganda TV.

  • mtntrek3

    2020. Hoping for some decent candidates all around. Hoping.

  • Tegbessou Géléhéso

    Trump making America Great Again... the question is how much more greatness can the country handle?

  • Hangman

    Donald Trump starring in the smash hit motion picture,

    "The Pee Pee Party!"

    We can pay off the national debt selling tickets!

  • Fermer Votre Bouche

    Christopher Steele should get a award for his work on the dossier.
    The GOP have yet to disprove anything in it and Steele is much more credible than Trump.

  • Benedict Donald T.A.B.A

    if the dossier was 51% legit i would say it bears some recognition. 99.9% legit is just insane. can;t wait for the tape so surface!

  • joe schlag

    Trump's latest line on the Steele Dossier: It is a "false, phony, dirty, horrible, disgrace." He always seems to think a string of adjectives overpowers facts.

  • Rooster3k4

    Comey is a political hack and a proven liar, why has he not been charged for lying under oath?