Bombshell Senate Memo Affirms House FISA Findings
Sens. Grassley and Graham lay out some incredibly damning information on the FBI, Steele and the dossier.
Now that the dust has settled from Tuesday night’s release of a less redacted version of a key Senate memo about dossier author Christopher Steele, there are some key things to highlight. This memo complements the one written by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes that Mark Alexander covered comprehensively Monday. But if anything, the Senate memo, written by Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), is even more damning.
Grassley and Graham summarize, “It appears the FBI relied on admittedly uncorroborated information, funded by and obtained for Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in order to conduct surveillance of an associate of the opposing presidential candidate. It did so based on Mr. Steele’s personal credibility and presumably having faith in his process of obtaining the information. But there is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one which bears on his credibility.”
The memo elaborates on those charges. The senators make public for the first time actual text from the FBI’s FISA application for surveillance of Carter Page, a member of Donald Trump’s campaign team. While Nunes revealed that the FBI used the dossier for that FISA application, the Senate memo indicates the bureau relied “heavily” on Steele’s dossier — as in it comprised the bulk of the application. The memo explains, “The application appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations against Mr. Page.” That’s critical: The FBI used the dossier not as a lead for further digging but as self-sufficient evidence, and the court apparently agreed. That’s incredibly weak justification for what ended up being a Fourth Amendment violation.
Also made public is classified FBI testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the dossier and FISA application. What do we learn? The FBI did not inform the FISA court that Steele was, by his own account, “desperate” to stop Trump from being elected. According to the Senate’s letter, “The application failed to disclose that the identities of [Fusion GPS founder Glenn] Simpson’s ultimate clients were the Clinton campaign and the DNC [Democratic National Committee].” Thus, Steele’s political motivation — never mind his funding — was deliberately concealed, and thus the court issued a surveillance order based on false information.
The FBI also based its trust in Steele on … its trust in Steele. Investigators considered him credible because he’d given good information previously, leaving them blind to his political bias. Yes, the FBI eventually ended its relationship with Steele after learning some of this, but it was too late. As Graham said, “You can be an FBI informant. You can be a political operative. But you can’t be both, particularly at the same time.”
Moreover, Steele wasn’t honest, much less credible. Steele lied to the FBI, in part by denying that he was the source for a Yahoo News article about the dossier, when in fact he was the source. That news article was not only used by the FBI as backup for Steele’s dossier, it was cited by the Clinton campaign in attacks on Trump — meaning she was getting political mileage out of the same “intelligence” used by Barack Obama’s law enforcement arm to surveil Trump’s campaign.
And Steele leaked like a sieve, speaking also to The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, The New Yorker and maybe other Leftmedia outlets. Once he was leaking, he could be manipulated by bad actors feeding him bad information. Garbage in, garbage out.
But wait; there’s more. The Wall Street Journal writes, “The Grassley-Graham referral also drops the stunning news that Mr. Steele received at least some of the information for his dossier from the Obama State Department. The letter redacts the names involved. But the press is now reporting, and our sources confirm, that one of the generators of this information was none other than [Hillary hatchet man] Sidney Blumenthal.” In other words, Hillary’s cronies at State were backfilling information she was paying for and using to discredit her opponent.
National Review’s Andrew McCarthy elaborates, “Beyond all that, we now learn through the senators’ memo, and some follow-up reporting, that two longtime Clinton cronies, Cody Shearer and Sidney Blumenthal, fed their own anti-Trump dossier to Steele, through a State Department official, Jonathan Winer. In the fall of 2016, Steele, while working on his Clinton-funded project, reported this Clinton-crony information to the FBI.”
Bottom line: It’s time to declassify and release all four FISA applications (the original and three renewals) for surveilling Carter Page. The Senate memo sheds even more light than Nunes’ did on FBI corruption, but more information and transparency is needed.
(Updated with McCarthy’s observation.)