On Tuesday, John Solomon posted an opinion piece at The Hill that is going to create problems for those diehards still trying to justify the political use of the intelligence community under President Obama. As we all remember, the Steele Dossier was the main justification for spying on the Trump campaign (and the transition team and the entire administration in its early days). We all know that the Steele Dossier was political opposition research. Some of us wonder how the FBI and the FISA Court did not know that fact (or if they did and chose to ignore it). Well, we are finally getting answers.
The Hill notes:
Some in the news media have tried in recent days to rekindle their long-lost love affair with former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and his now infamous dossier.
The main trigger was a lengthy interview in June with the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general, which some news outlets suggested meant U.S. officials have found Steele, the former Hillary Clinton-backed political muckraker, to be believable.
“Investigators ultimately found Steele’s testimony credible and even surprising,” Politico crowed. The Washington Post went even further, suggesting Steele’s assistance to the inspector general might “undermine Trumpworld’s alt-narrative” that the Russia-collusion investigation was flawed.
For sure, Steele may have valuable information to aid Justice’s internal affairs probe into misconduct during the 2016 Russia election probe. His dossier alleging a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow ultimately was disproven, but not before his intelligence was used to secure a surveillance warrant targeting the Trump campaign in the final days of the 2016 election.
…Multiple sources familiar with the FBI spreadsheet tell me the vast majority of Steele’s claims were deemed to be wrong, or could not be corroborated even with the most awesome tools available to the U.S. intelligence community. One source estimated the spreadsheet found upward of 90 percent of the dossier’s claims to be either wrong, nonverifiable or open-source intelligence found with a Google search.
In other words, it was mostly useless.
The article concludes:
Even State officials, who listened to Steele’s theories in October 2016 – less than two weeks before his dossier was used to support the FISA request – instantly determined he was grossly wrong on some points.
Any effort to use Steele’s belated cooperation with the inspector general’s investigation to prop up the credibility of his 2016 anti-Trump dossier or the FBI’s reliance on it for the FISA warrant is deeply misguided.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a key defender of Trump, said he talked with DOJ officials after the most recent stories surfaced about Steele and was told the reporting is wrong. “Based on my conversations with DOJ officials, recent reports which suggest Christopher Steele’s dossier and allegations are somehow deemed credible by DOJ, are simply false and not based on any confirmation from sources with direct knowledge of ongoing investigations,” Meadows told me.
The FBI’s own spreadsheet was so conclusive that it prompted then-FBI Director James Comey (no fan of Trump, mind you) to dismiss the document as “salacious and unverified” and for lead FBI agent Peter Strzok to text, “There’s no big there there.” FBI lawyer Lisa Page testified that nine months into reviewing Steele’s dossier they had not found evidence of the collusion that Steele alleged.
Two years later, Mueller came to the same conclusion: Steele’s intelligence alleging a conspiracy was never verified.
The next time you hear a pundit suggesting Steele’s dossier is credible or that the FBI’s reliance on it as FISA evidence was justified, just picture all those blanks in that FBI spreadsheet.
They speak volumes as to what went wrong in the Russia investigation.
Some people in the Obama administration have some ‘splainin’ to do. If we truly have equal justice under the law, some of them will see jail time.