‘The fact that Christopher Steele and his partisan research document were treated in any way seriously … amounts to malpractice…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Republicans are closing in on the case against foreign conspiracy and election interference from the “other side” of the 2016 election.
New evidence emerged this week that the FBI was likely aware ex-British spy Christopher Steele had openly acknowledged his desire to interfere in the presidential race and do damage to the Trump campaign, The Hill reported.
The agency nonetheless continued to promote Steele’s un-vetted work—compiled via the Fusion GPS research firm, which was being contracted by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
It used the infamous Steele Dossier as a primary justification to launch a covert investigation into the Trump campaign and obtain a FISA warrant to spy on campaign officials, including Russian energy policy expert Carter Page.
Following the election, Democratic operatives with access to the dossier also leaked it to Trump opponents and members of the partisan media, in what appeared to be a last-ditch effort to undermine the new administration’s legitimacy.
It succeeded to a point, with the ensuing Mueller investigation having disrupted Trump’s agenda for much of the past two years.
Although the FBI’s warrant application vouched for the credibility of its source, the bureau later acknowledged Steele’s information to be “salacious” and “unverified.”
The recently revealed memo and accompanying handwritten notes from Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec after an Oct. 11, 2016 meeting with Steele provide the hardest evidence yet that investigators were aware of those issues when deciding to advance Steele’s claims.
In her typed summary—10 days before the FBI submitted the FISA application to secretly spy on the Trump campaign—Kavalec said Steele was “keen to see this information come to light prior to November 8.”
Not only does the memo call into question Steele’s motivations, however, it also raises serious credibility issues about the former MI6 operative with deep ties to the Kremlin.
Among the wild conspiracies Steele conveyed to Kavalec, he said Russians had a network of agents who had infiltrated and were interfering with the election and that “[p]ayments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami.”
However, Kavalec observed: “It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami.”
The handwritten notes accompanying the memo also indicate an awareness that Steele had been leaking information to The New York Times and The Washington Post, which ultimately caused the FBI to sever its formal ties with him—although it continued to support and promote his claims through backdoor channels.
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC, confirmed for The Hill that Kavalec’s memo was forwarded to the FBI on Oct. 13, 2016.
“This once again shows officials at the FBI and DOJ were well aware the dossier was a lie—from very early on in the process all the way to when they made the conscious decision to include it in a FISA application,” Meadows said.
“The fact that Christopher Steele and his partisan research document were treated in any way seriously by our Intelligence Community leaders amounts to malpractice,” he said.
Fighting the Swamp
Previous Republican-led committee investigations seemed to touch on the memo, or other established concerns over Steele’s credibility.
Congressmen last year grilled former Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and his wife, Fusion GPS researcher Nellie Ohr, about their interactions with Steele and perceptions of his motives.
However, in a bid to keep its own failures from the public eye, the FBI retroactively designated the Kavalec documents as classified.
Even after being forced to release it, current FBI Director Christopher Wray, a Trump appointee, redacted all but three lines of the memo until the year 2041.
“They tried to hide a lot of documents from us during our investigation, and it usually turns out there’s a reason for it,” Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the former House Judiciary chairman, told The Hill.
Nunes sent eight criminal referrals related to the Congressional investigation to Attorney General William Barr in early April.
A few days later, appearing before the House Financial Committee, Barr said there was good reason to believe that unauthorized, partisan spying against Trump had occurred in the upper echelons of the FBI.
His subsequent promises to investigate clearly struck fear into the hearts of the Left.
House Democrats’ resolution this week to hold Barr in contempt of Congress cleared Rep. Jerrold Nadler‘s kangaroo Judiciary Committee, where farcical scenes of partisans eating a bucket of fried chicken captured perfectly the spirit of the effort.
Meanwhile, they torqued up the anti-Trump rhetoric to draw media attention from the Steele revelations, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claiming the country had reached a “constitutional crisis” and disgraced former FBI Director James Comey saying, menacingly, that President Donald Trump could be indicted when his term ends.
But where petty political retaliation has, to some extent, hamstrung Trump officials’ investigative efforts, civilian groups are picking up the charge.
Judicial Watch has launched several lawsuits pursuant to Freedom of Information requests in various areas of interest surrounding the role of the intelligence community, Clinton campaign and other Obama agencies.
And it was Citizens United—best known for the landmark Supreme Court case that upheld the rights of companies to make political statements—that helped bring to light the recent memo, according to The Hill.
“This new information proves why the attorney general must conduct a thorough investigation of the investigators,” Citizens United head David Bossie said.