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The Washington Post corrected and deleted large portions of old articles on the infamous Steele dossier on Friday after discovering that a key fact in those reports is likely wrong.
The Steele dossier is a report compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele and funded by Democrats detailing alleged attempts by President Donald Trump’s campaign to work with Russian agents to influence the 2016 election. The dossier’s key claims have yet to be substantiated, and many claims have been debunked outright.
The Post rewrote parts of stories published in March 2017 and February 2019, removing claims in the stories that the Steele dossier’s “Source D,” who is responsible for some of the most salacious and outrageous claims in the document, is Belarusian American businessman Sergei Millian.
“The newspaper’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, said The Post could no longer stand by the accuracy of those elements of the story,” the Washington Post reported, in a separate story on the changes it made. “The story’s headline was amended, sections identifying Millian as the source were removed, and an accompanying video summarizing the article was eliminated. An editor’s note explaining the changes was added. Other stories that made the same assertion were corrected as well.”
“The Post’s decision to edit and repost the Millian stories is highly unusual in the news industry,” the Post added.
The Post’s corrections come after federal authorities arrested and charged Igor Danchenko, a key source for Steele, with lying to the FBI. Danchenko, a Russian analyst who now resides in Washington D.C., was arrested as a part of special counsel John Durham’s investigation into “Crossfire Hurricane,” an investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign and alleged contact with Russian agents
“The June 15, 2017, false statement count alleges that Danchenko denied that he had spoken with a particular individual about material information contained in one of the Company Reports when he knew that was untrue,” Durham’s office said. “The March 16, 2017, May 18, 2017, Oct. 24, 2017, and Nov. 16, 2017, counts involve statements made by Danchenko on those dates to FBI agents regarding information he purportedly had received from an anonymous caller who he believed to be a particular individual, when in truth and in fact he knew that was untrue. The information purportedly conveyed by the anonymous caller included the allegation that there were communications ongoing between the Trump campaign and Russian officials and that the caller had indicated the Kremlin might be of help in getting Trump elected.”
The Post’s corrections came after the indictment against Danchenko, as well as other reporting by the Post, undermined and “created doubts” about Millian’s alleged involvement in the Steele dossier, Buzbee said. The Post reported:
The new reporting included an interview with one of the original sources in its 2017 article, who now is uncertain that Millian was Source D, she said. “We feel we are taking the most transparent approach possible” to set the record straight, she said.
The March 2017 Post story carried the headline, “Who is ‘Source D’? The man said to be behind the Trump-Russia dossier’s most salacious claim.” It said Millian had been identified in different portions of the dossier as Source D and Source E. The article included Millian’s repeated denials that he had helped Steele.
The newspaper removed references to Millian as Steele’s source in online and archived versions of the original articles. The stories themselves won’t be retracted. A dozen other Post stories that made the same assertion were also be corrected and amended.