Newly declassified documents spotlight the role of John Kerry’s State Department in fueling the FBI’s dubious Russia collusion probe, showing it was the State Department that provided “information” leading to the controversial surveillance of Carter Page.
Last Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham released a trove of documents from the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation into Trump’s campaign, including a less redacted version of the Obama administration’s FISA warrant applications to spy on Page, who served as a tangential adviser to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The disclosures focus renewed attention on the text of the warrant, which begins by claiming Page is “an agent of a foreign power” and that “the status of the target was determined in or about October 2016 from information provided by the U.S. Department of State.”
The newly declassified sections underscore that the FBI under its disgraced former chief, James Comey, relied heavily on the Christopher Steele dossier alleging debunked Russian collision charges. The dossier was produced by Fusion GPS, which was paid for its anti-Trump work by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The centrality of the State Department in providing “information” purporting that Page was a Russian agent raises questions in light of previous reporting exposing connections on spreading the dossier claims between elements of Kerry’s State Department and Steele, as well as ties to longtime Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer, who is a controversial figure long tied to various Clinton scandals.
One previously declassified FBI document contains a charge that Victoria Nuland, a former Hillary Clinton associate who served as a senior State Department official, was in communication with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.
Also David Kramer, a long-time adviser to late Senator John McCain, revealed in testimony that he met with two Obama administration officials to inquire about whether the anti-Trump dossier authored by was being taken seriously. This was before Kramer obtained the dossier and McCain passed it officially to the FBI.
In a deposition on Dec. 13, 2017 that was later posted online, Kramer said that McCain specifically asked him in early December 2016 to meet about the dossier with Victoria Nuland, a senior official in John Kerry’s State Department, as well as an official from the National Security Council.
Nuland’s role in the dossier episode has been the subject of some controversy for her.
In their book, Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump, authors and reporters Michael Isikoff and David Corn write that Nuland gave the green light for the FBI to first meet with Steele regarding his dossier’s claims. It was at that meeting that Steele initially reported his dossier charges to the FBI, the book relates.
Steele sought out Rome-based FBI Special Agent Michael Gaeta, with whom he had worked on a previous case. Before Gaeta met with Steele on July 5, 2016, the book relates that the FBI first secured the support of Nuland, who at the time was assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs specializing in Russia.
Regarding the arrangements for Steele’s initial meeting with the FBI about the dossier claims, Isikoff and Corn report:
There were a few hoops Gaeta had to jump through. He was assigned to the U.S. embassy in Rome. The FBI checked with Victoria Nuland’s office at the State Department: Do you support this meeting? Nuland, having found Steele’s reports on Ukraine to have been generally credible, gave the green light.
Within a few days, on July 5, Gaeta arrived and headed to Steele’s office near Victoria station. Steele handed him a copy of the report. Gaeta, a seasoned FBI agent, started to read. He turned white. For a while, Gaeta said nothing. Then he remarked, “I have to report this to headquarters.”
The book documents that Nuland previously received Steele’s reports on the Ukrainian crisis and had been familiar with Steele’s general work.
An extensive New Yorker profile of Steele named another former official from Kerry’s State Department for alleged involvement in circulating the dossier. The magazine reported that Kerry’s chief of staff at the State Department, John Finer, obtained the contents of a two-page summary of the dossier and eventually decided to share the questionable document with Kerry.
Finer received the dossier summary from Jonathan M. Winer, the Obama State Department official who acknowledged regularly interfacing and exchanging information with Steele, according to the report. Winer previously conceded that he shared the dossier summary with Nuland.
After his name surfaced in news media reports related to probes by House Republicans into the dossier, Winer authored a Washington Post oped in which he conceded that while he was working at the State Department he exchanged documents and information with Steele.
Winer further acknowledged that while at the State Department, he shared anti-Trump material with Steele passed to him by longtime Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal, whom Winer described as an “old friend.” Winer wrote that the material from Blumenthal – which Winer in turn gave to Steele – originated with Cody Shearer, who is a controversial figure long tied to various Clinton scandals.
In testimony, Nuland made statements about a meeting at the State Department in October 2016 between State officials and Steele, but said that she didn’t participate.
At a June 2018 hearing, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) revealed contents of the State Department’s visitor logs while he was grilling Nuland.
At the hearing, Burr asked: “I know you talked extensively with our staff relative to Mr. Steele. Based upon our review of the visitor logs of the State Department, Mr. Steele visited the State Department briefing officials on the dossier in October of 2016. Did you have any role in that briefing?”
“I did not,” Nuland replied. “I actively chose not to be part of that briefing.”
“But were you aware of that briefing?” Burr asked.
“I was not aware of it until afterwards,” Nuland retorted.
Nuland did not explain how she can actively choose not to be part of Steele’s briefing, as she claimed, yet say she was unaware of the briefing until after it occurred. Nuland was not asked about the discrepancy during the public section of the testimony, which was reviewed in full by Breitbart News.
Nuland previously served as chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott under Bill Clinton’s administration, and then served as deputy director for former Soviet Union affairs.
Nuland faced confirmation questions prior to her most recent appointment as assistant secretary of state over her reported role in revising controversial Obama administration talking points about the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks. Her reported changes sought to protect Hillary Clinton’s State Department from accusations that it failed to adequately secure the woefully unprotected U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi.
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_