A book by the co-founders of Fusion GPS confirms that dossier author Christopher Steele passed to James Comey’s FBI anti-Trump material compiled by Cody Shearer, a shadowy former tabloid journalist who has long been closely associated with various Clinton scandals.
That Shearer’s memo made its way to the FBI raises further questions about the origins of the agency’s Russia collusion probe.
In their new book, Fusion GPS co-founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch make the following disclosure about Steele’s initial meetings with Rome-based FBI Special Agent Michael Gaeta.
The FBI’s Gaeta had asked Steele to share anything he deemed potentially relevant. The Shearer memo qualified, in Steele’s mind. He provided a copy of the memo to the FBI at meetings in Rome on October 3, with a handwritten note on the front—scrawled in the back of a Roman taxi—explaining his understanding that the document had been written by Shearer and that he had no knowledge of its sourcing and couldn’t vouch for its veracity. Copies of the report and Steele’s note were dutifully recorded in the FBI’s file documenting its dealings with Steele.
It was at Steele’s 2016 meetings with Gaeta that the unsubstantiated dossier material was first given by Steele to the FBI alleging collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
National Review previously dubbed Shearer a “Creepy Clinton Confidante” and “The Strangest Character in Hillary’s Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy.”
Simpson’s book relates that Steele obtained Shearer’s memo from Jonathan M. Winer, an Obama State Department official who was an associate of Steele. Winer got the memo from longtime Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, whom Winer previously described as an “old friend.”
After his name surfaced in news media reports related to probes by House Republicans into the dossier, Winer authored a Washington Post oped in which he conceded that while he was working at the State Department he exchanged documents and information with Steele.
Winer further acknowledged that while at the State Department, he shared anti-Trump material with Steele passed to him by Blumenthal. Winer wrote that the material from Blumenthal – which Winer in turn gave to Steele – originated with Cody Shearer.
Now the book by Simpson and Fritsch, Crime in Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump, confirms that Steele passed the anti-Trump Shearer memo to the FBI. The book alleges that Steele did not know the Shearer memo was passed to Winer by Blumenthal but that Steele did know when providing it to the FBI that Shearer was the author of the document.
Last year, the Guardian newspaper reported the FBI had been utilizing a dossier authored by Shearer as part of its since discredited probe into Trump and alleged Russian collusion.
The Guardian reported the so-called Shearer memo was given to the FBI by Steele in October 2016.
The newspaper reported that, like Steele’s dossier, Shearer’s memo cites an “unnamed source within Russia’s FSB” alleging Trump was compromised by Russian intelligence during a 2013 trip to Moscow in which the future president purportedly engaged in “lewd acts in a five-star hotel.”
Shearer’s name, meanwhile, was mentioned in a January 25 letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, addressed to the DNC and to Marc E. Elias, an attorney at the Perkins Coie law firm. The Washington Post previously reported that Elias, utilizing Perkins Coie, retained Fusion GPS to conduct the firm’s anti-Trump work on behalf of both Clinton’s presidential campaign and the DNC.
In his letter, Grassley inquired about a second possible memo on Trump, asking whether “anyone at the DNC” ever received “other memoranda written or forwarded by Mr. Steele regarding Mr. Trump.”
Grassley further asked the DNC to provide “all communications to, from, copying, or relating to” numerous individuals for the periods of March 2016 through January 2017, including any communications between the DNC and Shearer.
A criminal referral authored by Grassley and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) contains redacted information that Steele received information from someone in the State Department, who in turn had been on contact with a “foreign sub-source” who was in touch with a redacted name described as a “friend of the Clintons.”
Numerous media reports stated that the second dossier author mentioned in the Grassley-Graham memo was Shearer.
According to sources who spoke to CNN, Shearer’s dossier is “actually a set of notes based on conversations with reporters and other sources.” CNN reported that Shearer had “circulated those notes to assorted journalists, as well as to Blumenthal.”
Shearer has numerous close personal and family connections to the Clintons and has reportedly been involved in numerous antics tied to them.
His brother-in-law, Strobe Talbott, was friends with Bill Clinton when the two were students at Oxford. Talbott went on to become special adviser to the Secretary of State during the first Clinton administration. Derek Shearer, Cody’s brother, was Clinton’s ambassador to Finland.
The Independent reported on a government investigation of whether Shearer misrepresented himself as working on behalf of the Clinton State Department in Bosnia in the 1990s:
According to the Washington Examiner, Mr Shearer was investigated by the State Department Inspector General in 1998 after he led negotiations that “caused temporary diplomatic damage in Bosnia.” Citing documents obtained by Citizens United through the Freedom of Information Act, the Examiner reported that Mr Shearer “may have represented himself as speaking on behalf of the State Department” in conversations about the proposed partitioning of Bosnia.
National Review further reported on Shearer’s efforts in Bosnia:
In the middle of the decade, for reasons that remain unclear, he traveled to Europe to negotiate with associates of Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian-Serb president known to have orchestrated the mass killings of Bosnian Muslims — including the Srebrenica genocide — during the brutal Yugoslav Wars. Representing himself as an agent of the State Department, Shearer told his Serbian contacts, which included members of Karadzic’s family, that he could reduce the severity of impending war-crimes charges if Karadzic surrendered. He claimed he was in contact not only with his brother-in-law, but also with then-secretary of state Madeleine Albright and even with President Clinton himself.
A subsequent State Department investigation found that the Serbs paid Shearer at least $25,000 for his efforts, though the Serbs themselves claim he was paid much more.
Emails hacked from Blumenthal’s AOL account discuss a plan with Shearer to put paid operatives on the ground along the Libya-Tunisia border for about $60,000. The emails talk about “the general” and “Grange,” which ProPublica reported was a seeming reference to David L. Grange, founder of Osprey Global Solutions, a military contractor reportedly seeking to work with Libya’s transitional government.
Shearer’s name was directly associated with a Blumenthal message to Clinton that may have resulted in the Secretary of State meeting with Mahmoud Jibril, an opposition figure in Libya who would later serve as interim prime minister during Libya’s civil war.
National Review reported:
The March 6, 2011 email released by the Benghazi Committee, however, illustrates a more direct link between Clinton and Shearer. “Cody, on his own, still at heart an indefatigable journalist, simply picked up the phone … and had a conversation with one of the key figures in the Libyan National Council,” Blumenthal writes, copying Shearer’s intelligence memo directly into the email.
Shearer’s memo calls Jibril “very smart” saying the Libyan has “no desire to serve in a future government, [but] only wants to help in the transition.” “Someone should contact Mahmod Jipreel [sic],” Shearer continues. “He is balanced, level-headed and understands [the] current situation well.” “Cody says that Jipreel [sic] said he has not been contacted by anyone from the U.S. government,” Blumenthal wrote in the email.
On March 15, 2011, nine days after Blumenthal’s email referencing Shearer, Clinton met with Jibril for 45 minutes in Paris.
In the 1990s, Shearer’s name came up regarding alleged Clinton efforts to suppress charges of sexual assault against Bill Clinton. Questions surfaced about Shearer’s alleged role in the controversial work of Terry Lenzner, a private investigator tied to efforts to discredit Clinton’s accusers.
In a 1999 profile of Shearer, Slate reported:
Shearer’s name popped up in the course of Sen. Don Nickles’ angry questioning of Terry Lenzner, the private investigator who would later, in the thick of the Jones/Lewinsky/Willey/Who Knows Who Else matter, be accused (by Dick Morris, among others) of coordinating efforts to smear and intimidate those women. Shearer had apparently acted as a liaison between Lenzner’s firm, Investigative Group International, and the Cheyenne-Arapaho tribe. The tribe had donated more than $100,000 to the Democratic Party, hoping, according to testimony, that the administration would intervene on its behalf in a dispute over drilling rights on tribal land. Lenzner had been retained to uncover compromising links between Nickles–who opposed the tribe’s claims–and local oil interests. Lenzner, while he admitted that he had accepted the tribe’s retainer, has denied that Cody Shearer had ever worked for IGI–though the firm did once employ his sister Brooke.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this story.