It may be time to get out the magnifying glass, fire up the Meerschaum calabash and dust off the deerstalker. The game is afoot and the sleuths are in hot pursuit of - Donald Trump. No, this isn't Robert Mueller's gang. This is the Sherlocks, the private eyes.
For the last six months, a team led by a former top FBI and White House cybersecurity official has been traveling the globe on a secret mission to verify parts of the Trump dossier, according to four sources familiar with different aspects of the ongoing probe.
Their client: BuzzFeed, the news organization that first published the dossier on U.S. President Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, which is now being sued over its explosive allegations.
The ramifications of FTI’s dossier investigation could be game-changing for Mueller’s probe, because it “would establish outside veracity of dossier allegations,” a source familiar with the work told Foreign Policy. Yet news of FTI’s involvement, including the critical role of a former top FBI official, would also be controversial because the dossier itself is “a political football,” the source said.
The dossier, which was funded by those connected with the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, has been the subject of ongoing controversy; while some of its claims have allegedly been verified, many others remain unproven. Trump and his allies have repeatedly attacked those involved in the dossier, as well as top FBI officials, as being involved in a partisan witch hunt.
[Anthony] Ferrante, a former top FBI official who previously served as director for cyber incident response at the U.S. National Security Council during the Barack Obama administration, is now at FTI Consulting, where he is leading the effort.
BuzzFeed is being sued for libel by Russian technology executive Aleksej Gubarev, who argues that the news organization was reckless in publishing a series of memos written by former British spy Christopher Steele. Those memos — part of a so-called dossier of information about Trump — include unverified claims that servers belonging to a company owned by Gubarev were used to hack the Democratic Party’s computer systems during the 2016 campaign.
It will be fascinating to learn what, if anything, from the Steele dossier, FTI will be able to corroborate.