On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee held a hearing on so-called "deepfakes," or the use of artificial intelligence and video editing to create fake footage of real people. As it grows more sophisticated, the nascent technology could threaten personal privacy — and just as worrisome, it could threaten election security, if opposition groups or even foreign governments start creating deepfakes of politicians.
But according to The Daily Beast, ranking committee member Devin Nunes (R-CA) tried to hijack the hearing and make it about his grievances with the "Steele dossier."
"I join you in your concern about deepfakes," said Nunes to chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA). "And I want to add to that fake news and fake dossiers, and everything else that we have in politics."
Quite aside from being irrelevant to the hearing at hand, the Steele dossier — a compilation of research by a former British spy alleging Trump's ties to the Russian government — was not "fake." In fact, many of the assertions made in the dossier were proven correct by special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, including that the Kremlin laundered stolen Democratic emails through WikiLeaks and that Paul Manafort had deep financial ties to Ukrainian oligarchs — although some of the dossier's claims, like the salacious idea that hookers performed urine-related sex acts for Trump in a Moscow hotel room, were never substantiated.
Nevertheless, the dossier and its supposed inaccuracies have become a major point of contention for Trump and his Republican allies like Nunes, who are particularly obsessed with the idea the FBI obscured facts about it to federal judges to get a warrant to surveil the Trump campaign. This has been repeatedly debunked, but Nunes desperately sought to prove this during his tenure as Intelligence Committee chairman.
The inspector general for the Department of Justice is expected to release a report soon on the dossier and how it was used by the FBI.