This is another piece to a puzzle that’s been coming together over the past few weeks.
For years, we were told the FBI was oblivious to the fact that the Steele dossier was a dumpster fire of unverified nonsense. Defenders of the bureau have assured us that at the time of it’s use before the FISA court (to garner the Carter Page warrant), the FBI saw it as reliable intelligence from a source they had no reason to doubt, in this case super-duper spy Christopher Steele.
Here’s Qatari mouthpiece lawfareblog letting us all know as late as December of 2018 that the Steele dossier actually “held up well” as a raw intelligence document.
As a raw intelligence document, the Steele dossier, we believe, holds up well so far. But surely there is more to come from Mueller’s team. We will return to it as the public record develops.
In actuality, the Steele dossier ended up being shunned almost completely by the Mueller team because it was such trash. It was only mentioned a couple of times in passing and several aspects were directly dis-proven by other evidence and testimony in the report (i.e. Cohen in Prague, the pee tape, etc.). So lawfareblog was spectacularly wrong again. We call that another day ending in y.
The Hill has a new report further showing just how dishonest the FBI were about the Steele dossier.
Newly unearthed memos show a high-ranking government official who met with Steele in October 2016 determined some of the Donald Trump dirt that Steele was simultaneously digging up for the FBI and for Hillary Clinton’s campaign was inaccurate, and likely leaked to the media.
The concerns were flagged in a typed memo and in handwritten notes taken by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec on Oct. 11, 2016.
I reported on that memo last week. The main thrust was that just ten days after it was revealed that Steele had admitted his work was political, the FBI went before the FISA court and directly said that Steele was unaware of the motivations of his employer.
Things have gotten worse for the FBI though.
In her typed summary, Kavalec wrote that Steele told her the Russians had constructed a “technical/human operation run out of Moscow targeting the election” that recruited emigres in the United States to “do hacking and recruiting.”
She 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.”
Steele had made a totally false claim about the center piece of a supposed Moscow operation to target the election. Kavalec had the integrity to flag it as debunked for the FBI ten days before they took Steele’s dossier to the FISA report.
Despite that, FBI officials pressed on. Not only did they lie about Steele’s motivations to the court, they also knew the “raw intelligence” was already being shown to be unreliable at the time.
The misconduct doesn’t stop there.
Kavalec’s handwritten notes clearly flagged in multiple places that Steele might be talking to the media.
“June — reporting started,” she wrote. “NYT and WP have,” she added, in an apparent reference to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Later she quoted Steele as suggesting he was “managing” four priorities — “Client needs, FBI, WashPo/NYT, source protection,” her handwritten notes show.
This is important because Steele was telling the FBI at the time that he was not talking to the media. This may explain why the FBI has been so reluctant to go after Steele on that obvious lie. Did they know he was talking to the media, in direct conflict with his contract conditions, and were allowing it? It’s starting to look fairly improbable that they didn’t know. We also know that none of this was revealed to the FISA court, who may have found it interesting that the FBI was using unverified nonsense that was being spun to the media for political reasons.
This all adds up to the most probable explanation. The FBI purposely misled and lied to the FISA court. The standards for a FISA warrant on a U.S. citizen are high for a reason. The government is not supposed to be able to take raw, knowingly false intelligence and present it as the majority basis for a warrant.
Yet, that’s exactly what happened here.
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