What Sean Hannity and House Republicans are getting wrong about the Steele dossier and a Yahoo! News report

Why Hannity and Republicans talking about “circular logic” in the Nunes memo is so misleading 

On February 4, Fox News' Sean Hannity cited a memo written by intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to claim that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page using a dossier prepared by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, and that the FBI supported the Steele dossier by citing a Yahoo! News report by Michael Isikoff, whose “source for the information … was none other than Christopher Steele.” Nunes and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) also made similar claims on other news programs.

Parroting the memo, Hannity called it “circular reporting,” Nunes called it “outrageous,” and DeSantis called it “circular logic.” They’re all wrong. 

The very lede of the Yahoo! News article clearly cites “multiple sources,” most of whom -- “a Congressional source,” “a senior U.S. law enforcement official,” “one U.S. official who served in Russia” -- could not have possibly been Christopher Steele, “a former officer in Britain's Secret Intelligence Service.” 

On the February 4 edition of CNN’s Reliable Sources, Michael Isikoff explained that though “we don't know ... what the FBI was citing my article for” specifically, the ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), had confirmed on ABC’s This Week that the article “was being cited for information … other than what Steele had provided.”

Video file

BRIAN STELTER (HOST): Michael, you've said Steele was one of your sources. So, why is Hannity wrong here?

MICHAEL ISIKOFF (YAHOO! NEWS CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT): Well, what we don't know from this memo is what the FBI was citing my article for. And I should point out that Adam Schiff, who has seen the underlying documents, was on another TV show this morning, and said it was being cited for information in the article other than what Steele had provided. So, again, we haven't seen the FISA application. We don't know what it was they were specifically citing. I was surprised to see a reference to me in the memo. I had no idea I was going to get such attention from it.