Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz confirmed in a nearly 500-page report that the FBI relied on information paid for by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to obtain a FISA warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
According to the IG report, which relied on interviews with over 100 witnesses, the FBI’s investigative team had unsuccessfully sought a FISA warrant on Page in August 2016 as part of its “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into the Trump campaign because “more information was needed to support a probable cause finding that Page was an agent of a foreign power.”
However, on Sept. 19, 2016, the same day that the FBI team received its first memos from former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, “the team contacted FBI OGC [Office of the General Counsel] again about seeking a FISA order for Page and specifically focused on Steele’s reporting in drafting the FISA request.”
Steele is the former British intelligence professional who founded a commercial investigative firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, and was hired by Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research into members of the Trump campaign. Fusion GPS, in turn, was retained by law firm Perkins Coie on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC.
The Inspector General said Steele’s research played “a central and essential role” in the FBI and Justice Department’s efforts to obtain the spy warrant on Page.
The FBI, however, did not independently verify the allegations in the Steele dossier. An earlier analysis by The Epoch Times showed that special counsel Robert Mueller in his nearly two-year-long investigation did not confirm, nor provide any evidence for any of 103 specific claims in Steele’s memos, collectively known as the “Steele dossier.”
“We found that the FBI did not have information corroborating the specific allegations against Carter Page in Steele’s reporting when it relied upon his reports in the first FISA application or subsequent renewal applications,” the IG report stated.
According to the Inspector General, Steele himself was not even the original source of the information.
“Steele himself was not the originating source of any of the factual information in his reporting. Steele instead relied on a Primary Sub-source for information, who used his/her network of sub-sources to gather information that was then passed to Steele,” the report said.
Steele’s political bias against then-presidential candidate Donald Trump had also been known to Steele’s handling agent as well as the supervisory intelligence analyst who supervised the investigative team’s analytical efforts.
Yet despite the fact that Steele’s information was uncorroborated, was paid for by a political campaign, and could not be verified, the FBI used his claims in the FISA application. In its report, the Inspector General said that “FBI policy mandates that the case agent ensure that all factual statements in a FISA application are ‘scrupulously accurate.'”
The Carter Page FISA application consisted of five main allegations. One of them accused Page of “coordination with the Russian government on 2016 U.S. presidential election activities.”
The FBI relied “entirely” on unsubstantiated information in the Steele dossier to substantiate that allegation.
“We found that the FBI did not have information corroborating the specific allegations against Carter Page in Steele’s reporting when it relied upon his reports in the first FISA application or subsequent renewal applications,” the IG report states.
According to the Inspector General, it was especially important, absent independent confirmation of Steele’s claims, for “the FISA applications to articulate the FBI’s knowledge of Steele’s background and its assessment of his reliability.”
Instead, the FBI informed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which ruled four times in favor of a FISA warrant on Page, that Steele was “a reliable source.”
Other than one footnote included in the FISA application, after “persistent inquiries” by Stuart Evans, the National Security Division’s Deputy Assistant Attorney General, no mention was made of Steele’s work for a political campaign.
The Inspector General also says it “identified multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation, based upon information the FBI had in its possession at the time the application was filed.”
These examples include the fact that the FBI omitted information detailing the fact that Page had been an “operational contact,” for a U.S. government agency, and that he had provided information on his prior contact with Russian intelligence officers.
Another example states that the FBI “overstated the significance of Steele’s past reporting.”
Some information contained in the Steele dossier was also included in the Obama administration’s intelligence community assessment (ICA) on the actions by Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. According to the IG report, the ICA “was a topic of significant discussion between the FBI and the other agencies participating in it.”