But wait, there’s more! In my recent commentary on revelations in newly declassified footnotes from the Horowitz report, I said the FBI would try to claim they were duped by the Russians but that they actually weren’t. As of yesterday, we have hard evidence that if the Russians were getting in on the act and supplying disinformation to Steele, FBI agents KNEW IT.
In other words, there was no “duping” going on. Well, maybe of Steele, but not of the FBI.
As Chuck Ross at the DAILY CALLER reports, Russian intelligence knew during the 2016 campaign that Christopher Steele was investigating Trump’s campaign. Just-declassified footnotes from the IG report show not only that Russian intelligence might have been collecting information on Steele’s firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, but that in January of 2017, a member of the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” team had evidence of this.
Recall that Steele started working for Fusion GPS on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee in June of 2016. There’s a footnote in the IG report that says a June, 2017, intel report “indicated that two persons affiliated with RIS [Russian Intelligence Service] were aware of Steele’s election investigation in early July 2016.”
So the Russians knew he was doing this almost from the beginning and very likely were feeding him disinformation; this would certainly help explain the many inaccuracies.
But, to me, this isn’t the most important part of the story. It was almost a given that the Russians would have known what Steele was up to and would have tried to create a little chaos. (It’s what they do.) The really important part is that the FBI agents KNEW about this. Information released on Wednesday, in the form of these declassified footnotes, shows that the FBI found out on January 12, 2017, two days after BUZZFEED published the “dossier.” At that point, they knew, for example, that the fake story Steele had provided about Michael Cohen going to Prague in August of 2016 was likely Russian disinformation.
Oh, and the fake story about Trump and the hookers in the Moscow hotel? On February 27, 2017, the FBI found out that might have been Russian disinformation, too.
In fact, the FBI had been questioning Steele’s value as a source since 2015 because of his multiple contacts with Russian oligarchs and/or their intermediaries.
There were problems with the sub-source, too (the person who passed information to Steele), and the agents knew about that, too, as of early June 2017. According to these footnotes, the sub-source (not identified) had contacts with an individual in the Russian presidential administration in June/July of 2016. Also, the sub-source had voiced “strong support” for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. (I would add that Steele had, too.)
So, once the FBI agents involved in “Crossfire Hurricane” knew that Russians might have compromised Steele’s information, did they go to the FISA Court and say, “Um, we see that there might be a problem with some of the information in our original warrant application...”? Heck, no, they just kept right on renewing the application and continuing their spying. Why spoil a good thing? And did they go to BUZZFEED and say, “You know that Trump ‘dossier’ you published a couple of days ago? There’s some false information in there that we are pretty sure was planted by the Russians.” Again, heck no.
As Chuck Ross reports, “The lead supervisory intelligence analyst on the FBI investigation told the IG’s office he did not know as of June 2017 that Steele’s source network “had been penetrated or compromised.”
On Wednesday’s HANNITY show, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes said, “...You’re beginning to see what we wanted you to see all along….Here’s the problem that we have with the dirty cops at the FBI and DOJ and elsewhere: ...House Republicans were running an investigation, starting in 2017, on everything ‘Russia,’ remember? Well, here, the whole time, who had this information? The FBI knew that Steele could be compromised.”
"I hope,” he said, “that---there better be people who are charged with lying and obstructing a congressional investigation, because we should have been given this information.”
Nunes also noted that in the Intel Community Report on Russia –- the one that concluded Russia had interfered in our election to help Trump –- Steele’s phony “dossier” had been used. (I would add that both John Brennan and James Comey were pushing hard for it to be included in that report.) “Now, if that is all of the information that we have from all of our intelligence assets, where was the information that we now learn from the Horowitz report? Why was that not in the ICA?”
House Judiciary Committee member Matt Gaetz added that when he questioned Robert Mueller directly, asking if the Steele “dossier” was part of the Russian disinformation campaign, he said, “That’s not my purview.” I would observe that if he really didn’t know the answer to this most basic of questions, then he couldn’t possibly have been in charge of the special counsel investigation into Trump/Russia “collusion” (as if we didn't already have plenty of reason to conclude that), and that makes the Mueller probe a big fraud. And if he did know, then he was lying his head off, which also makes the Mueller probe a big fraud and Mueller himself guilty of lying before Congress.
It’s all becoming clearer by the day. Lying (both to Congress and the FISA Court) and obstruction of a congressional investigation --- those are crimes, the sort of thing U.S. Attorney John Durham has been looking into and (let's hope) making a case. Attorney General Bill Barr had good reason to say that what happened to President Trump was “a travesty.”
Here's another excellent report on the story, from Law Enforcement Today.