FBI Knew Anti-Trump Dossier Was 'Russian Disinformation Campaign,' New Docs Reveal
But they used it to obtain FISA warrants anyway
The FBI received evidence that the infamous anti-Trump intelligence dossier, which was assembled by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele, was corrupted with fake intelligence as part of a disinformation campaign, according to declassified footnotes in General Michael Horowitz's watchdog report.
On Friday, all the footnotes were declassified.
The notes suggest that the FBI continued forward with obtaining FISA surveillance warrants against Trump campaign aide Carter Page whilst in the full knowledge that their 'evidence' - the Steele dossier - was faulty.
Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) explained the significance of report in a press release:
The footnotes reveal that, beginning early on and continuing throughout the FBI's Russia investigation, FBI officials learned critical information streams that flowed to the dossier were likely tainted with Russian Intelligence disinformation. But the FBI aggressively advanced the probe anyway, ignoring internal oversight mechanisms and neglecting to flag the material credibility concerns for a secret court.
Despite later intelligence reports that key elements of the FBI's evidence were the result of Russian infiltration to undermine U.S. foreign relations, the FBI still pushed forward with its probe. It would eventually spill over into the years-long special counsel operation, costing taxpayers more than $30 million and increasing partisan divisions – all based on faulty evidence. In the end, the special counsel concluded that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russia.
"For years, the public was fed a healthy diet of leaks, innuendo and false information to imply that President Trump and his campaign were part of a Russian conspiracy to spread disinformation," the Senators said.
"The FBI's blind pursuit of the investigation, despite exculpatory and contradictory information, only legitimized the narrative," they added.
"The mounting evidence undercutting this narrative should have stopped the investigation early in its tracks. Instead, it took several years and millions in taxpayer dollars to conclude that the allegations were baseless."
"Had FBI leadership heeded the numerous warnings of Russian disinformation, paid attention to the glaring contradictions in the pool of evidence, and followed long-standing procedures to ensure accuracy, everyone would have been better off."
"Carter Page's civil liberties wouldn't have been shredded, taxpayer dollars wouldn't have been wasted, the country wouldn't be as divided, and the FBI's reputation wouldn't be in shambles," the senators continued.
#FISA READ footnote 350 FBI effort to verify Steele Dossier “The (redacted) stated that it did not have high confidence in this subset of Steele’s reporting and ASSESSED that the referenced subset was part of a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate US foreign relations” pic.twitter.com/7aVvNkx3BV— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) April 10, 2020
#FISA READ FULL footnote 302 Steele dossier sub-source “According to a document circulated among Crossfire Hurricane team members and supervisors in early October 2016, Person 1 had historical contact with persons and entities suspected of being linked to RIS (Russian Intel)... pic.twitter.com/VxIX4dQ6zH— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) April 10, 2020
...In addition, in late December 2016, Department Attorney Bruce Ohr told SSA 1 that he had met with Glenn Simpson (Fusion GPS) and that Simpson had assessed that Person 1 was a RIS (Russian intel) officer who was central in connecting Trump to Russia.” @CBSNews #MyHighlighter pic.twitter.com/xJxv04zPSI— Catherine Herridge (@CBS_Herridge) April 10, 2020
"It's ironic that the Russian collusion narrative was fatally flawed because of Russian disinformation."
"These footnotes confirm that there was a direct Russian disinformation campaign in 2016, and there were ties between Russian intelligence and a presidential campaign — the Clinton campaign, not Trump's," they said.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said he agrees that FBI surveillance of Page was not legal.
Last May, Obama's top FBI attorney James Baker admitted he was concerned about the Steele dossier's authenticity after the agency received it in the run-up to the 2016 US election.
"It was more information that we viewed, that I viewed, skeptically from the outset, and I was concerned about it and had a jaundiced eye, or looked at it with a jaundiced eye right from the outset," Baker told MSNBC's, Chuck Todd.
"Steele was and had been a source that we thought was reliable. He’s reporting all this information. It looks alarming. We took it seriously, but we tried to vet it."
Attorney General William Barr also said the FBI's use of the unverified Steele Dossier as counterintelligence against Trump's presidential campaign was "very unusual."