A newly-uncovered document suggests that the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ), including the FBI, was “well aware” that foreign agent Christopher Steele was trying to interfere in the 2016 presidential election with disinformation — and yet still used his materials to spy on American citizens and the Trump campaign, according to Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC).
“[O]fficials at the FBI and (Department of Justice) 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 Tuesday in a statement to The Hill’s John Solomon. “The fact that Christopher Steele and his partisan research document were treated in any way seriously by our Intelligence Community leaders amounts to malpractice.”
Meadows’ statement came in response to a federal document recently unveiled by a Citizens United lawsuit — an email from Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec, who met with Steele in October 2016 and recounted his desire to spread the lurid allegations of his since-debunked dossier on then-candidate Donald Trump. Solomon wrote on Tuesday:
Kavalec’s written account of her Oct. 11, 2016, meeting with FBI informant Christopher Steele shows the Hillary Clinton campaign-funded British intelligence operative admitted that his research was political and facing an Election Day deadline.
And that confession occurred 10 days before the FBI used Steele’s now-discredited dossier to justify securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the campaign’s ties to Russia.
Steele’s client “is keen to see this information come to light prior to November 8,” the date of the 2016 election, Kavalec wrote in a typed summary of her meeting with Steele and Tatyana Duran, a colleague from Steele’s Orbis Security firm. The memos were unearthed a few days ago through open-records litigation by the conservative group Citizens United. [emphasis added]
Solomon followed up on that report Thursday with another detail from the document — which FBI Director Christopher Wray has redacted all but three sentences of until the end of 2041. He writes that her memo makes it clear Steele “was political, inaccurate, spinning wild theories, and talking to the media,” even getting basic facts wrong about Russia’s diplomatic presence in the U.S.:
[T]he FBI swore on Oct. 21, 2016, to the FISA judges that Steele’s “reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings” and the FBI has determined him to be “reliable”… [Yet Kavalec] quoted Steele as saying, “Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami,” according to a copy of her summary memo obtained under open records litigation by the conservative group Citizens United. Kavalec bluntly debunked that assertion in a bracketed comment: “It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami.”
Kavalec alerted federal officials to these plans by Steele, a foreign national, to interfere with the presidential election, ten days before the FBI applied in a FISA court for a warrant to surveil the Trump campaign.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) told Solomon that the DOJ hid Kavalec’s email from the House Intelligence Committee during its investigation of 2016 foreign election interference.
This memo is the latest piece of evidence suggesting the FBI spied on American citizens for partisan political purposes.
Bruce Ohr — a career DOJ official whose wife worked for Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele — has testified that he told the FBI Steele was politically biased against Trump and that his dossier was based on hearsay.
Steele himself gave a statement to a London court saying that the purpose of his work, at least in part, was to give Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) standing to “challenge the validity of the outcome of that election.”
James, Comey, the FBI Director at the time, has admitted he knew Democrats were funding Steele and Fusion GPS’s work “before there were any court filings” — but withheld this information from the FISA application and from the intelligence briefing with president-elect Trump which gave CNN and BuzzFeed the “news hook” to publicly air the hoax allegations without any corroboration.
Two senators have recommended Steele for a criminal investigation, alleging that he lied to the FBI, according to a 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee memo.