Trump dossier author Christopher Steele lied to the FBI about his contact with Yahoo News, and the FBI misled a court to obtain a surveillance warrant on a former Trump campaign adviser, according to a less-redacted version of a memo by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Their memo, which was released Tuesday evening after the FBI withdrew some of its previous redactions, also reveals a number of other bombshells, and backs up assertions made in the House Intelligence Committee memo.
A newly-unredacted portion of the memo says that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Grassley, ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Graham all saw the FISA warrant application and renewals for a surveillance warrant on Carter Page.
According to the memo, the FBI relied “heavily” on the Steele dossier, and also relied on “numerous” other FBI documents related to Steele, in order to get a surveillance warrant on Page in October 2016, and to continue surveilling him through 2017.
Then-FBI Director James Comey briefed Feinstein and Grassley in March 2017, and told them that the FBI had relied on the dossier “absent meaningful corroboration — and in light of the highly political motives surrounding its creation” because Steele himself was considered reliable due to his past work with the FBI.
The House Intelligence Committee memo asserted that the FBI had significantly relied on the dossier to get the warrant, but critics refuted that.
The Grassley-Graham memo also supports the House memo’s assertion that the FBI did not tell the FISA court (FISC) that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee were behind the dossier.
The Grassley-Graham memo spells out exactly why the two senators recommended Steele for a criminal investigation, for lying to the FBI.
The FBI included in its initial FISA warrant application in October 2016 a September 2016 Yahoo News article that contained information that seemingly corroborated the dossier.
Steele apparently told the FBI that he had not spoken to Yahoo News for the article, and the FBI related that in its application to the FISC. The FBI learned in October he had unauthorized contacts with media, and suspended its relationship with Steele.
However, in a January 2017 FISA application renewal on Page, it noted in a footnote that it had suspended its relationship with Steele based on unauthorized contacts with the media in October 2016, but still continued to defend that he had nothing to do with the Yahoo News article. The FBI also did so in subsequent renewals.
The FBI did so despite an April 2017 report that said Steele had testified to a British court that he had spoken to news outlets before October 2016, and senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr had also told the FBI about those contacts in November or December 2016. The memo noted that the committee had evidence of those contacts before October 2016 as well.
The FBI also noted in its January 2017 application renewal that Steele was “bothered” by the FBI reopening its investigation into Clinton
The FBI also unredacted a portion that said Steele’s information “formed a significant portion of the FBI’s warrant application, and the FISA application relied more heavily on Steele’s credibility than on any independent verification or corroboration for his claims.”
Grassley and Graham submitted their memo to the Justice Department and FBI for review and redaction last month — giving DOJ and FBI officials plenty of time to review and offer corrections.
The memo initially returned to them last week heavily redacted, but in light of the release of the House Intelligence Committee memo, Grassley asked the FBI to review its redactions and withdraw them where possible.
Grassley and Graham had released the heavily-redacted version of the memo earlier this week. The parts that were unredacted at that time revealed that Clinton friends had given a Obama State Department official information to give to Steele, which he passed on to the FBI.
Multiple reports in the Washington Post and the Guardian suggest that one of the Clinton friends was Cody Shearer, whose siblings were married to associates close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, and the State Department official was Jonathan Winer.
Former senior Obama State Department official Victoria Nuland admitted on Sunday that Steele had established contact with the State Department. Further reporting suggests that Shearer had passed on information to close Clinton associate Sidney Blumenthal, who played a role in passing the information on to the State Department.
Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said Tuesday on Fox News’s The Story that the Clinton friend has been mentioned in the past.
“When you hear who the source, one of the sources of that information is, you’re going to think, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’ve heard that name somewhere before. Where could it possibly have been?’” Gowdy he said.
“I’m trying to think of how Secretary Clinton defined him. I think she said he was an old friend who emailed her from time to time,” he added.
Asked by host Martha McCallum whether it was Blumenthal, Gowdy said, “That would be really warm. You’re warm.”
He implied that what the source passed on to Steele made it into the FISA application.
“I am troubled by what I read in the documents with respect to the role the State Department played in the fall of 2016, including information that was used in a court proceeding,” he said.
Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said he has known about the State Department’s role for more than a month.
“Everything that there is to know about it, and I have known about it for over a month,” he said. “If you go and read the documents at the Department of Justice, you see it. I am troubled by it.”