The Senate Judiciary Committee on July 17 released a partly-classified FBI memo summarizing the bureau’s interview with the key source for the dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.
The contents of the newly released record further undermine the credibility of Steele’s infamous dossier of unverified claims targeting then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and associates of his 2016 campaign.
The documents suggest that Steele’s key source was not based in Russia and was neither a current nor former Russian government official. The source, who is referred to as the “Primary Sub-source” in the report by the Justice Department Inspector General, repeatedly told the FBI that he was not aware of where some of the claims attributed to him in the dossier originated. The source also said that Steele recharacterized some of the information to make it appear more substantiated.
Steele’s dossier played a critical role in the FBI’s decision to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump-campaign associate Carter Page. Despite learning of the serious credibility issues with the dossier, the bureau went on to obtain two renewal warrants to keep surveilling Page. The 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign was Steele’s ultimate client.
“It is clear to me that the memo regarding the FBI interview of the primary sub-source in January 2017 should have required the system to stop and reevaluate the case against Mr. Page,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said in a statement.
“Most importantly after this interview of the sub-source and the subsequent memo detailing the contents of the interview, it was a miscarriage of justice for the FBI and the Department of Justice to continue to seek a FISA warrant against Carter Page in April and June of 2017.”
The FBI interviewed Steele’s source in Washington from Jan. 24 to 26, 2017. While the memo summarizing is heavily redacted to protect the source’s identity, the new information, in addition to what is already public, strongly suggests that the source was living outside of Russia at the time he provided information to Steele.
The documents also confirm what Steele had already told a British court earlier this year, specifically that he paid the source as a contractor on a regular basis.
The Senate Judiciary Committee simultaneously released several pages of comments by then-FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok on a Feb. 14, 2017, article by the New York Times. In the notes, Strzok rejected the newspaper’s claim that Steele had a “credible track record.”
“Relevant interviews and investigation, however, reveal Steele may not be in position to judge the reliability of his subsource network,” Strzok wrote.
Strzok also disputed several of the article’s key claims, including an allegation in the opening paragraph that members and associates of the Trump campaign “had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials.”
“This statement is misleading and inaccurate as written. We have not seen evidence of any individuals affiliated with the Trump team in contacts with IOs,” Strzok wrote, using an acronym for intelligence officers.
When the article repeated the allegation about Trump-Russia contacts, Strzok wrote, “Again, we are not aware of ANY Trump advisors engaging with Russian intelligence officials.”
In an email to The Epoch Times, New York Times senior vice president for communications Eileen Murphy said, “We stand by our reporting.”