According to newly unearthed memos which were retroactively classified by the DOJ, a high-ranking government official who met with Christopher Steele in October 2016 determined that information in the Trump-Russia dossier was inaccurate, and likely leaked to the media, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon.
Ten days before the FBI used the now-discredited dossier to apply for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, Steele met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec, who took handwritten notes of the encounter.
Steele told Kavalec that Russia had a “technical/human operation run out of Moscow targeting the election,” which recruited US emigres to “do hacking and recruiting. Steele added that “Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian consulate in Miami.”
Kavalec, two days later and well before the FISA warrant was issued, forwarded her typed summary to other government officials. The State Department has redacted the names and agencies of everyone she alerted.
But it is almost certain the FBI knew of Steele’s contact with State and his partisan motive. That’s because former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland says she instructed her staff to send the information they got from Steele to the bureau immediately and to cease contact with the informer because “this is about U.S. politics, and not the work of — not the business of the State Department, and certainly not the business of a career employee who is subject to the Hatch Act.” –The Hill
What makes this particularly damning is that the FBI swore on October 21, 2016 to the FISA judges that Steele’s “reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings,” and that the FBI deemed him to be “reliable” and was “unaware of any derogatory information pertaining” to the former British spy who was working for Fusion GPS – the firm paid by the DNC and the Clinton campaign to come up with dirt on Donald Trump.
As we noted yesterday based on an earlier Hill report on the Kavalec-Steele notes, Steele was flagged for admitting that his research was political and facing an Election Day deadline, as his client was “keen to see this information come to light prior to November 8.”
Notes and testimony from senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr make clear Steele admitted early on that he was “desperate” to get Trump defeated in the election, was working in some capacity for the GOP candidate’s opponent, and considered his intelligence raw and untested. Ohr testified that he alerted FBI and other senior Justice officials to these concerns in August 2016. –The Hill
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2019
Kavalec also flagged several places in her notes in which she suspected that Steele might be leaking information to the press.
“June — reporting started,” she wrote. “NYT and WP have,” she added, in an apparent reference to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
She then quoted Steele as indicating that he was “managing” four priorities — “Client needs, FBI, WashPo/NYT, source protection,” – a clear indication that media outreach was part of his job.
Those same notes suggest Steele spun some wild theories to State, including one that the Russians had a “plant in DNC” and had assembled an “HRC dossier,” apparent references to the Democratic National Committee and Clinton.
She expounded in her typed memo. “The Russians have succeeded in placing an agent inside the DNC,” she quoted Steele as saying.
Steele offered Kavalec other wild information that easily could have been debunked before the FISA application — and eventually was, in many cases, after the media reported the allegations — including that:
- Trump lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague to meet with Russians;
- Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort owed the Russians $100 million and was the “go-between” from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Trump;
- Trump adviser Carter Page met with a senior Russian businessman tied to Putin;
- The Russians secretly communicated with Trump through a computer system. –The Hill
Those rumors were debunked by Special counsel Robert Mueller’s April report, despite barely mentioning Steele and a passing reference to his infamous dossier being “unverified.”
Except that the FBI’s FISA request from October 2016 – which relied almost entirely on Steele’s work – was marked “verified application” prior to the FBI’s submission to the court.
Eventually, Steele was fired to the FBI for leaking to the media and then lying about it – however that happend after the FISA warrant was approved – and according to The Hill, the court was not notified about it until a few months later, well after the election.
In short, the FBI undoubtedly lied to their teeth to the FISA court in order to obtain a warrant to surveil Carter Page and the Trump campaign.