Details revealed in the Justice Department’s inspector general report raise immediate questions about disgraced ex-FBI Director James B. Comey’s repeated decision to push back against requests from President Donald Trump to investigate the origins of the infamous “pee” claim made inside the anti-Trump dossier.
The IG report relates that the FBI not only investigated those salacious claims but divined the origins of the outlandish charges, finding serious sourcing problems and poking major holes in the already wild and unsubstantiated storyline.
During his prepared remarks for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, delivered on June 8, 2017, Comey related that he pushed back against a suggestion from Trump to investigate the dossier’s sexual claims.
The former FBI chief stated that following a January 6 Oval Office meeting with Intelligence Community leaders, Comey “remained alone with the President Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.”’
It is clear Comey was referring to the dossier since he writes the “salacious and unverified” material was about to be publically reported by the news media. Four days after that briefing, the dossier produced by Fusion GPS was published by BuzzFeed.
Fusion GPS was paid for its anti-Trump work by the Democratic National Council and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
In his statement summarizing his conversation with Trump, Comey refers to Russian prostitutes, a key component of the dossier:
He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia.
In a private White House dinner with Trump on January 27, Comey says the topic of the “salacious material” again came up and he reveals that Trump was considering asking the FBI to investigate the origins of the claims. Comey pushed back against that idea.
During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them. He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn’t happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it.
Yet the FBI chief said his agency would investigative the sexual claims according to an email obtained by the IG and sent by Comey to the highly compartmentalized FBI team investigating unsubstantiated claims of Russian collusion. That email was sent immediately after the Jan. 6 Oval Office briefing and before the Jan. 27 dinner where Comey writes that he again pushed back against Trump’s request to get to the bottom of the “pee” story.
Raising further questions about Comey’s actions, the IG report reveals the FBI in January, March and May 2017 conducted interviews with the main source cited in Christopher Steele’s dossier and found glaring issues with the way Steele reported the “pee” claim.
The timeline strongly indicates that by the January 27 dinner with Trump, Comey’s FBI had already interviewed a main source of the “pee” claims.
Below is just some of what the FBI found out about the “pee” claim and Steele’s main source, quoted in the IG report as “Primary Sub-Source”:
- The Primary Sub-source told [Agent 1] that he/she spoke with at least one staff member at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow who said that there were stories concerning Trump’s alleged sexual activities, not that the activities themselves had been confirmed by the staff member as stated in Report 80.
- The Primary Sub-source told the FBI that “the ability to blackmail Trump was [the sub-source’s] ‘logical conclusion’ rather than reporting,” even though it is presented as a statement from a sub-source.
- Steele told the interviewing agent and analyst that Reports 80, 95, 97, and 102, which range in date from June 20 to August 10, 2016, included information from a sub-source who was “close” to Trump. Steele further advised the FBI staff that this sub-source was the same person who originally provided the Primary Sub-source with the information concerning Trump’s alleged sexual activities at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Moscow, and that the Primary Sub-source met with this sub-source two or three times. However, we were told by WFO Agent 1 that the Primary Sub-source stated that he/she never met this sub-source and that other sub-sources were responsible for the Ritz Carlton reporting.
- The Primary Sub-source also told the FBI interviewers as well as WFO Agent 1 that he/she received a telephone call from an individual he/she believed was this sub-source but was not certain of the person’s identity and that the person never identified him/herself during the call.
There’s more. The “Primary Sub-Source” also said that he shared bar room talk and unverified rumors with Steele that were reported in the dossier as being confirmed information.
Steele’s dossier infamously claimed that while Trump was staying in the presidential suite at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Moscow in 2013, the real estate mogul hired “a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him.” The dossier claims Trump wanted to “defile” the bed because he learned that President Obama had used the same suite during a trip to Russia.
It is unclear why Comey saw fit to brief Trump on the “pee” claims in the first place. Comey and other former Obama administration officials presented the unusual briefing as a courtesy to Trump to warn him about the news media possibly publically releasing embarrassing claims about the newly elected president. Questions have been raised on the need to include the dossier’s wild and unsubstantiated charges in the classified briefings.
It is not the usual job of the intelligence community to warn politicians about possible pending negative publicity.
Comey’s classified briefing was subsequently leaked to the news media, with CNN on January 10, 2017 breaking the story that the contents of the dossier were presented during classified briefings one week earlier to Trump and then-President Barack Obama.
Prior to CNN’s report leaking the briefings, which was picked up by news agencies worldwide, the contents of the dossier had been circulating among some majo news media outlets, but the sensational claims were largely considered too risky to publish.
Comey’s briefing seems to have provided the news media with the hook to publish a story on the controversial dossier containing the infamous “Russian prostitute” claims as well as unsubstantiated charges of collusion between Russia and members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Just after CNN’s January 10 report on the classified briefings about the dossier, BuzzFeed infamously published the dossier’s full unverified contents.
The New York Times used CNN’s story to report some contents of the dossier the same day as CNN’s January 10 report on the briefings.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein is a researcher for Breitbart News.