FBI Knew The Steele Dossier Was Highly Dubious As Early As January 2017, But Still Relied On It For FISA Renewals
Erielle Davidson
By

According to the just-released Department of Justice Inspector General’s report, the FBI knew as early as January 2017 that the reporting contained in the “Steele Dossier,” authored by former FBI informant and once-British spy Christopher Steele, was highly questionable, if not pure junk.

The dossier contained a heap of entirely sensational, unverified allegations against President Donald Trump, which many in the media seized upon with sheer and unabated glee. Steele had assembled the dossier while contracted out by the American investigative firm Fusion GPS. During the Republican primaries, Fusion GPS’ work was financed by the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative media outlet. Once Trump became the Republican nominee, the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party began footing the bill for the opposition research on then-nominee Trump.

The document catapulted to infamy when it was revealed that the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the Trump campaign had at least partially relied on the DNC-funded dossier when investigators sought a court order to wiretap Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.

The original application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was filed in October 2016. When a wiretap target is a U.S. person, a FISA warrant requires renewal every 90 days. Given there were several renewals associated with Page’s wiretap after the initial application in October 2016 — in January, April, and June 2017, to be exact — at least two of the three renewal applications were made after the FBI knew the Steele dossier had serious credibility issues. The FBI filed the renewal applications anyway.

According to the IG’s report, “[T]he FBI did not have information corroborating the specific allegations against Carter Page in Steele’s reporting when it relied upon his reports in the first FISA application or subsequent renewal applications.” However, when information is obtained from a “Confidential Human Source” of the FBI, such as Steele, the agent need only to be sure the information then used in the FISA application reflects what was stated by the CHS.

However, the Office of the Inspector General “determined that Crossfire Hurricane team was unable to corroborate any of the substantive allegations regarding Carter Page listed in Steele’s election reporting which the FBI relied on in the FISA application.”

When the FBI conducted interviews with Steele’s various sources, numerous inconsistencies began appearing between source statements and the allegations in the dossier. As early as January 2017, one of Steele’s sources had made statements that raised “significant questions about the reliability of the allegations included in the FISA applications.” For instance, whereas Steele had reported Trump’s sexual encounters at the Ritz Carlton to be “‘confirmed’ by a senior, western staff member,” interviews with Steele’s primary sub-source revealed the sexual activity was merely “rumor and speculation.”

The primary sub-source also noted that the bribe Steele reported to have taken place between Page and Igor Sechin, the president of Russian energy company Rosneft, was never actually communicated to Steele by the primary sub-source. According to the report, the IG “reviewed the [source] texts [relied upon by the primary sub-source] and did not find any discussion of a bribe, whether as an interest in Rosneft itself or a ‘brokerage.’”

The primary sub-source was questioned again in March 2017, and “the Washington Field Office agent (WFO Agent 1) who conducted that interview and others after it told the OIG that the Primary Sub-source felt that the tenor of Steele’s reports was far more ‘conclusive’ than was justified.” According to the WFO, “the Primary Sub-source explained that his/ her information came from ‘word of mouth and hearsay;’ ‘conversation that [he/she] had with friends over beers;’ and that some of the information, such as allegations about Trump’s sexual activities, were statements he/she heard made in ‘jest.’” In other words, it was becoming increasingly apparent that the Steele dossier was highly problematic. Nonetheless, a FISA renewal application to continue spying on Page moved forward the next month.

The IG report notes that the renewal applications to continue wiretapping Page communicated none of these glaring inconsistencies. According to the report, “Carter Page FISA Renewal Application Nos. 2 and 3 advised the court that following the January interview with the Primary Subsource, ‘the FBI found the Russian-based sub-source to be truthful and cooperative.’” The FBI smelled garbage but did not alter its course with regard to targeting Carter Page.

According to the IG’s report, “[FBI Director James] Comey and [Deputy Attorney General Sally] Yates approved the first renewal application, Comey and then Acting Attorney General Dana Boente approved the second renewal, and then Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and then Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Rod Rosenstein approved the third renewal.”

It seems the failure to screen information used in the repeated FISA applications occurred within several rungs of the FBI. As the IG report asserts, “Information that was known to the managers, supervisors, and senior officials should have resulted in questions being raised regarding the reliability of the Steele reporting and the probable cause supporting the FISA applications, but did not.”

The IG’s report raises alarming questions regarding the level of discernment of those within the FBI. If a Democratic campaign had been the target of spying, would those in the FBI have treated the salacious (and frankly, ridiculous) dossier with more scrutiny? If they knew the allegations against Carter Page were increasingly suspect, why did they continue to file a FISA renewal, not once but THREE more times? The FBI should be forced to answer these questions.

As the mainstream media obsesses over a phone call with Ukraine wherein President Trump asked for well-founded allegations of corruption against Hunter Biden to be investigated, we have clear evidence that a DNC-funded oppo campaign was used to justify spying on the Trump campaign with the continued blessing of the FBI, despite alarming factual inconsistencies within the supposed “oppo.” It should be deeply unsettling that a figure funded by the Democratic Party was able to peddle falsities to the FBI that were then used to justify spying on their political opponents.

Erielle is a staff writer at The Federalist and a part-time law student at Georgetown University Law Center.

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