The primary sub-source to the Steele dossier was likely a Russian agent and had been the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation, a recently declassified footnote to a Justice Department report has revealed. The identity of the source has not been revealed. The footnote states Christopher Steele’s Primary Sub-source “was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 that assessed his/her documented contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officers.”
The finding came in response to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham’s request for oversight of the reliability of the Steele dossier, a Clinton campaign financed document which alleged wrongdoing and conspiracy between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the government of Russia during the 2016 election.
The dossier was later used as the basis for three warrant applications made to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court by the FBI, and on four occasions to obtain a warrant against Carter Page, an American citizen who served as a foreign-policy advisor to Donald Trump during his 2016 Presidential campaign.
A summary provided by the FBI to the committee further revealed that the team running the Crossfire Hurricane FBI investigation into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia were aware of this information in December 2016, yet failed to inform the FISA court.
“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,” Senator Graham has said in a statement, adding: “The now famous email Susan Rice sent to herself on Inauguration Day where she states that President Obama said that everything has to be done ‘by the book’ has become highly suspect.
If this investigation is ‘by the book,’ then the book we’re using is the Kremlin playbook.” He added: “It’s stunning to be told that the single individual who provided information to Christopher Steele for the Russian dossier used by the FBI on four occasions to obtain a warrant on Carter Page, an American citizen, was a suspected Russian agent years before the preparation of the dossier.”
Senator Graham, in his role as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman was made aware of the finding by the Attorney General William Barr, who, in a letter to Senator Graham, informed him that the declassification of the footnote will not interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation into the origin of the allegations of collusion made against Trump.
That investigation takes in the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and its eventual outcome, the Mueller Report, which is the findings and conclusion of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the allegations, as well as wider considerations such as the Steele report.
Chairman @LindseyGrahamSC released a letter from AG Barr and a declassified summary from the FBI that indicate Steele’s Primary Sub-source was a likely Russian agent and had previously been the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation.
Chairman @LindseyGrahamSC released a letter from AG Barr and a declassified summary from the FBI that indicate Steele’s Primary Sub-source was a likely Russian agent and had previously been the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation. https://t.co/m1oMAS5wa1 pic.twitter.com/JYozBm03DC
— Senate Judiciary (@senjudiciary) September 24, 2020
In his letter, Barr indicated that there were other examples of FBI malfeasance still classified, but which may also be released, writing: “I have also alerted the Director of National Intelligence (“DNI”) to certain classified information in the possession of the intelligence community, also brought to my attention by Mr Durham, which bears upon the FBI’s knowledge concerning the reliability of the dossier. Mr Durham confirms that the disclosure of that information would not interfere with his investigation, and the Department otherwise defers to the DNI concerning the handling of this information.”
At Barr’s request, the FBI has prepared a declassified summary of information from the counterintelligence investigation of the Primary Sub-source, which has also been provided to the committee via Senator Graham.
That two-page summary includes the revelation that “Between May 2009 and March 2011, the FBI maintained an investigation into the individual who later would be identified as Christopher Steele’s Primary Sub-source (“the 2009 investigation”). … The FBI commenced this investigation based on information by the FBI indicating that the Primary Sub-source may be a threat to national security.”
It further indicates that the Crossfire Hurricane team was aware of this investigation, and that “after initiating the investigation, the FBI converted it from a preliminary to a full investigation” based on the fact that “A review of FBI databases revealed that the Primary Sub-source had contact in 2006 with the Russian Embassy and known Russian intelligence officers,” and that “The Primary Sub-source was identified as an associate of two FBI counterintelligence subjects,” forming associations with the two individuals through a university group of which they were a member.
Furthermore, “In September 2006, the Primary Sub-source was in contact with a known Russian intelligence officer. During these conversations, the Russian Intelligence Officer invited the Primary Sub-source to the Russian Embassy to see his office. The Primary Sub-source told the Russian Intelligence Officer that he/she was interested in entering the Russian diplomatic service one day.
The two discussed a time when the Primary Sub-source was to visit. Four days later, the Russian Intelligence Officer contacted the Primary Sub-source and informed him/her they could meet that day to work “on the documents and then think about future plans.”
Later in October 2006, the Primary Sub-source contacted the Russian Intelligence Officer seeking a reply “so the documents can be placed in tomorrow’s diplomatic mail pouch.” And: “FBI information further identified, in 2005, the Primary Sub-source making contact with a Washington, D.C.–based Russian officer. It was noted that the Russian officer and the Primary Sub-source seemed very familiar with each other.”
In July 2010 the FBI field office initiated a FISA request to surveil the sub-source, but were subsequently told that they had departed the USA in September 2010 and that their visa was not renewed. Consequently, the FBI withdrew the application and closed the investigation with a view to re-opening it if the sub-source returned to the United States.
In December 2016, the Crossfire Hurricane team identified the sub-source and became familiar with the investigation into them. The source was interviewed by the team over three days in January 2017, yet the investigation has never been reopened.
Responding to the revelations, Senator Graham said: “In light of this newly declassified information, I will be sending the FISA Court the information provided to inform them how wide and deep the effort to conceal exculpatory information regarding the Carter Page warrant application was in 2016 and 2017.
“A small group of individuals in the Department of Justice and FBI should be held accountable for this fraud against the court. I do not believe they represent the overwhelming majority of patriotic men and women who work at the Department of Justice and FBI. Senator Graham said that it was now down to the committee and Congress to “reform the system.” He added: “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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