As early as 2015, a unit within the FBI was skeptical of dossier author Christopher Steele’s Russian contacts and recommended that his work be put through a validation review.
The FBI, however, didn’t conduct such a review until 2017 and even then, didn’t include the results of the review in Steele’s official file at the agency’s electronic record-keeping system.
The early skepticism about the Russian sources and the nearly two-year delay on the review are instructive since the FBI under James Comey relied on Steele’s dossier, which cited alleged Russian sources making wild claims about then-candidate Donald Trump, to apply for successive FISA warrants to spy on Carter Page, a tangential advisor to Trump’s campaign. Steele’s discredited claims also helped form the basis of the false Russia collusion narrative that nearly tarnished the first two years of Trump’s presidency.
The FBI also did not inform the FISA court that Steele was specifically working on behalf of Fusion GPS, which was paid to produce the dossier by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee via the Perkins Coie law firm.
The details about the FBI’s 2015 skepticism of Steele and its recommendation that he be put through a validation review were contained in previously redacted footnotes to a Justice Department watchdog report investigating the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe into Trump alleging Russian collusion. The footnotes were released this past week by two Republican senators.
Footnote 208 reveals:
A 2015 report concerning oligarchs written by the FBI’s Transnational Organized Crime Intelligence Unit (TOCIU) noted that from January through May 2015, 10 Eurasian oligarchs sought meetings with the FBI, and 5 of these had their intermediaries contact Steele.
The report noted that Steele’s contact with 5 Russian oligarchs in a short period of time was unusual and recommended that a validation review be completed on Steele because of this activity. The FBI’s Validation Management Unit did not perform such an assessment on Steele until early 2017 after, as described in Chapter Six, the Crossfire Hurricane team requested an assessment in the context of Steele’s election reporting.
The footnote further relates that the FBI’s Transnational Organized Crime Intelligence Unit (TOCIU) report looking into Steele’s sources “was not included in Steele’s Delta file,” referring to the FBI’s electronic file system for confidential human source management.
Other footnotes as well as the full IG report released in December document numerous glaring issues with Steele and his dossier claims.
For one, the footnotes show the FBI obtained information from a source that the dossier’s most infamous claim, the unsubstantiated “golden showers” charge about Trump, was not only false but was likely a product of Russian disinformation.
One footnote documents that the FBI was alerted in 2017 that one of Steele’s allegations included in the dossier was “part of a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate U.S. foreign relations.” Meaning Steele’s wild charges about Trump may have been part of a Russian misinformation campaign.
Another footnote says the Russian Intelligence Service may have targeted Obris, Steele’s company, and that Russian intelligence was aware of Steele’s investigation into Trump.
That footnote states:
In late January 2017, a member of the Crossfire Hurricane team received information that RIS may have targeted Orbis and research all publicly available information about it.
However, an early June 2017 USIC report indicated that two persons affiliated with RIS were aware of Steele’s election investigation in early July 2016. The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us he was aware of these reports, but that he had no information as of June 2017 that Steele’s election reporting source network had been penetrated or compromised.
Another bombshell footnote documents the FBI was not only aware Steele’s dossier was potentially influenced by Russian “disinformation”, the agency also had information from sources totally denying some of Steele’s main claims.
The footnote reveals an “inaccuracy” about Steele’s claims about former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. The “inaccuracy” is not listed in the footnote. Steele’s dossier claimed that Cohen met with Russian agents in Prague in the summer of 2016. After that charge was first revealed in media reports, Cohen released passport information showing he never traveled to Progue.
Before those footnotes, there were already questions about whether Steele’s so-called sources were a product of Russian misinformation.
As Breitbart News previously reported, a book by the co-founders of Fusion GPS disclosed that Steele was unable to travel to Russia because the Russian government had reason since 1999 to suspect he was an MI6 intelligence officer. The information raises questions about the credibility of any supposed information on Trump that could be obtained by Steele from alleged Russian sources given that Russia had already suspected his ties to British intelligence.
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.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKlein_