Former British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the salacious dossier about President Donald Trump, admitted in a deposition that he used unverified sources for some of the information contained in the document.
CNN reported on a deposition Steele gave last summer, in which he said he used material gathered from CNN iReport stories. CNN iReport was a citizen journalist arm of the news network that relied on users submitting stories and multimedia content.
Steele admitted to using information he found via internet searches to compile information about Russian company Webzilla, its parent company XBT, and XBT CEO Aleksej Gubarev. The Steele dossier, which was first published by BuzzFeed in January 2017, claimed that Webzilla was working with the Russian government to help conduct cyber operations and interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Steele said during the deposition that he believed the content he read on CNN iReport had "some kind of CNN status. Albeit that it may be an independent person posting on the site."
When asked whether he knew the content on the site had no connection to CNN reporters, Steele replied, "I do not."
Reaction to Steele's admission has been swift. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted, "The author of the fake Russia dossier — paid for by Hillary and the DNC and used to launch the witch hunt against President @realDonaldTrump — now admits he relied on claims posted by a random person on a CNN site 'not edited, fact-checked or screened.'"
Trump himself weighed in as well, tweeting, "Report: Christopher Steele backed up his Democrat & Crooked Hillary paid for Fake & Unverified Dossier with information he got from “send in watchers” of low ratings CNN. This is the info that got us the Witch Hunt!"
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