WASHINGTON — The primary source of the controversial Steele dossier had previously been investigated by the FBI for contacts to suspected Russian-intelligence officials, according to information released by Attorney General William Barr.
The new charge was outlined in a letter sent by Barr on Thursday to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), whose panel is investigating the origins of the Russia probe.
According to newly declassified intelligence, the FBI knew that the research compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele relied on a source that had “documented contacts” with suspected Russian intelligence officials — but still used it to obtain a warrant to spy on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The document, now known as the Steele dossier, led the FBI to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants to monitor former Trump campaign-aide Carter Page as part of their “Crossfire Hurricane” probe.
Steele, an ex-MI6 agent, was paid by Clinton presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee to find dirt on Trump. He compiled the dossier, which was based on unverified rumors.
In Barr’s letter, he said he had declassified a footnote from Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review of the Trump-Russia probe that showed Steele’s primary sub-source was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence operation from May 2009 to March 2011.
Steele’s unidentified source had contact with known Russian intelligence officials, the footnote said.
The source also attempted to recruit two people who knew an influential foreign policy advisor connected to President Obama, telling them they could “make a little extra money” for sharing classified information.
The footnote also shows the investigators in the Crossfire Hurricane probe knew in Dec. 2016 that Steele’s source was the subject of an investigation by their own department, and even interviewed the source over several days in Jan. 2017.
“To me, failure of the FBI to inform the court that the Primary Sub-source was suspected of being a Russian agent is a breach of every duty owed by law enforcement to the judicial system,” Sen. Graham said.
“This is the most stunning and damning revelation the committee has uncovered,” he went on.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation has raised questions about much of the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into collusion between Russia and the Trump’s presidential campaign.
FBI leadership knew early on that the Steele dossier they used to pursue an investigation of Trump did not support their theory and was full of rumor, but repeatedly relied on it to obtain warrants to snoop on Page, declassified documents revealed in July.
“A small group of individuals in the Department of Justice and FBI should be held accountable for this fraud against the court,” Graham said Thursday in the wake of the fresh revelations.
“The committee will press on and get to the bottom of what happened, and we will try to work together to make sure this never happens again.”
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