Biden national security adviser pick defended Steele dossier as 'perfectly appropriate'

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President-elect Joe Biden’s national security adviser choice Jake Sullivan previously served as an adviser for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and years after that election defended the dossier the campaign paid for on President Trump.

In a January 2018 interview on David Axelrod’s podcast resurfaced by the Daily Caller, Sullivan denied knowledge of the dossier’s origin when it was first created, but made clear that he was not shying away from it.


“I certainly don’t want my saying that I didn’t know who paid for the dossier to suggest I’m saying I want to distance myself from it,” Sullivan said. “By no means am I saying that.”

Sullivan claimed that he first saw the dossier when it was published in January 2017. This is consistent with what he said during a December 2017 interview with the House Intelligence Committee. During that interview, he did acknowledge having learned of some of the information contained in the dossier beforehand.

Ex-British spy Christopher Steele compiled the dossier as part of opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party through the firm Fusion GPS. When asked who with the Clinton campaign had authorized the dossier, Sullivan said, “I can’t tell you.”

Sullivan went on to extol the virtues of digging into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“I mean, I believe that it is perfectly appropriate and responsible if we get wind, or if people associated with the campaign get wind, that there may be real questions about the connections between Donald Trump, his organization, his campaign and Russia that that be explored fully,” he said.

The dossier ultimately landed in the hands of the FBI, which used it to support their application for a warrant to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, even though they had never verified the dossier’s contents. Steele’s sub-source had also told the FBI that the information in the dossier was not reliable.


In his interview with the House Intelligence Committee, Sullivan acknowledged that he had shared suspicions of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia with reporters during a 2016 briefing. Sullivan told members of Congress that Trump had been taking positions "that seemed to track almost exactly to Vladimir Putin's wish list," and so he told reporters about this, as well as ties to Russia and Trump campaign members Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Page.

At the time of Sullivan’s interview with the House committee, the FBI had already secured their initial warrant for Page as part of a multi-year investigation of Russian election interference and the possible involvement of the Trump campaign. That probe, which was mostly conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller, yielded insufficient evidence to conclude that any illegal coordination between the campaign and Russia took place.

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