‘Russian intelligence was aware of the dossier before the FBI even began its investigation…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Formerly redacted details about FBI domestic-surveillance abuse during the 2016 presidential campaign suggested that Russia may, in fact, have colluded—directly or indirectly—in the deep-state effort to smear then-Republican candidate Donald Trump.
After the declassification of three footnotes last week from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz‘s December report on the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” operation, two powerful GOP senators announced more new pieces to the puzzle had emerged.
Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., who chair the Senate Finance and Homeland Security committees, respectively, added newly unredacted dates, courtesy of acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, to the previously declassified footnotes.
The newly public information further revealed that the FBI was fully aware of credibility issues surrounding the Steele Dossier when it initiated its sting operation, resulting in a series of warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.
The FBI relied exclusively on the dossier, commissioned as opposition research by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, when filing applications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to wiretap Trump adviser Carter Page.
The newly provided dates call into question Horowitz’s conclusion—based largely on interviews with the FBI officials who conducted it—that the investigation was properly predicated.
“As we can see from these now-declassified footnotes in the IG’s report, Russian intelligence was aware of the dossier before the FBI even began its investigation,” Johnson and Grassley said in a press release, “and the FBI had reports in hand that their central piece of evidence was most likely tainted with Russian disinformation.”
Also among the notes was further evidence that dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British spy and FBI resource, may have been working directly with pro-Clinton operatives in Russian intelligence to smear Trump in the disinformation campaign by, ironically, linking him to the Kremlin.
Steele’s since-discredited report suggested, among other things, that Russia had compromising information about Trump’s sexual activities during a 2013 visit to Moscow. The sources of that information, however, were unreliable, as the FBI came to realize after conducting interviews.
But the new footnote revelations lend additional weight to at least one of the 17 critical investigative flaws Horowitz’s report highlighted: that biased and corrupt FBI agents engaged in an active campaign to conceal exculpatory information from the FISA court when renewing its wiretap requests.
And it appears FBI officials also withheld that information from special counsel Robert Mueller, whom Congress appointed to take charge of the probe in July 2016, a few months after the firing of disgraced FBI Director James Comey.
“Thanks to Attorney General Barr’s and Acting Director Grenell’s declassification of the footnotes, we know the FBI’s justification to target an American Citizen was riddled with significant flaws,” said Johnson and Grassley.
“Inspector General Michael Horowitz and his team did what neither the FBI nor Special Counsel Mueller cared to do: examine and investigate corruption at the FBI, the sources of the Steele dossier, how it was disseminated, and reporting that it contained Russian disinformation.”