Arizona Senator John McCain has spent the past few months betraying the Republican Party by relentlessly attacking President Donald Trump. Now, however, this has come back to bite him in a huge way.
“My mission was essentially to be a go-between and a messenger, to tell the senator and assistants that such a dossier existed,” Wood told senior Fox News executive producer Pamela K. Browne.
Wood said that during the 2016 Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada, he was instructed by former British spy Christopher Steele to reach out to McCain, whom Wood called “a good man,” about the unverified document. Wood claims that he never read the dossier that his good friend and longtime colleague prepared, a document that was commissioned by opposition research firm Fusion GPS and funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Wood said that in August of 2016, “[Steele] came to me to tell me what was in it, and why it … was important. He made it very clear … yes, it was raw intelligence, but it needed putting into proper context before you could judge it fully.” This was a critical time, as it was just after the FBI opened the Russia meddling probe, and after then-director James Comey recommended against prosecution for Clinton’s mishandling of classified information.
Wood explained that Steele had “already been in contact with the FBI” at the time.
“He said there was corroborating evidence in the United States, from which I assumed he was working with an American company,” Wood said.
British court documents and U.S. congressional testimony show that Steele was directed and paid at least $168,000 by Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson to push the research that fall to five American media outlets. The court documents show that he met with The New York Times (twice), The Washington Post (twice), CNN, The New Yorker and Yahoo News (twice).
“Each of these interviews was conducted in person and with a member of Fusion also present,” state records associated with separate civil litigation against Steele and Fusion GPS. Though Wood said he knew Fusion GPS to be the group Steele was working with, he says he had “never heard of Mr. Simpson.”
The handoff to McCain took place at the Canadian conference three weeks after Trump won the election. The senator reportedly ordered McCain Institute for International Leadership staffer David J. Kramer to get a personal briefing from Steele in Surrey, just outside of London, and then return to Washington, D.C., where Fusion GPS would provide McCain with hard copies. One month later, McCain handed the dossier over to the FBI.
“Late last year, I received sensitive information that has since been made public,” McCain said in a statement in January. “Upon examination of the contents, and unable to make a judgment about their accuracy, I delivered the information to the Director of the FBI. That has been the extent of my contact with the FBI or any other government agency regarding this issue.”
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