Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is seeking to declassify a 40-page memo describing the FBI’s interview with the main source that former British spy Christopher Steele used to compile his infamous dossier.
The senator said the FBI interviewed Steele's source for three days in January 2017 and again in March. During the January interview, the sub-source contradicted some of the key claims in Steele’s dossier, including those the FBI included in its applications to surveil former Trump 2016 campaign associate Carter Page.
“There is a memo about that interview,” Graham said in an appearance on “The Trey Gowdy Podcast” that aired on July 14. “My staff has finally got to look at it; it’s classified. I'm going to try to get it unclassified. The Horowitz report suggests that the result of the Russia sub-source interview put great doubt into the reliability of the dossier in terms of being able to get a warrant.”
Despite learning of significant contradictions between the claims in the dossier and those by the sub-source, the FBI went on to apply to renew Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to continue spying on Page. The renewal applications simply stated that the sub-source was “truthful and cooperative” and left out the fact that the source had contradicted Steele.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz highlighted this omission as one of the 17 most significant errors contained in the four FISA applications used to surveil Page.
“The Horowitz report suggests that the result of the Russia sub-source interview put great doubt into the reliability of the dossier in terms of being able to get a warrant," Graham said. "Here’s the question: Is it possible, [with] an interview of that magnitude that basically shredded the key document to get a warrant, that the people at the top—McCabe and Comey—were never told, ‘Oh by the way, our entire case has collapsed’? I’m looking at that.”
Graham’s office didn't immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times to confirm whether the senator has made a formal declassification request.
The declassification of the notes may shed more light on the identity of the sub-source, who is referred to as the “Primary Sub-source” in Horowitz’s seminal report on the FBI’s spying on the Trump campaign. While the source is described as “Russian-based” in the Horowitz report and “Russia-based” in the Russia report by the House Intelligence Committee, credible evidence suggests that the source resided in the United States at the time of the FBI interviews.
Steele’s boss, Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson, told DOJ official Bruce Ohr in December 2016 that “much of the collection about the Trump campaign ties to Russia comes from a former Russian intelligence officer ... who lives in the U.S.,” according to a copy of Ohr’s notes examined by investigative journalist John Solomon.
Simpson’s statement would later be confirmed by the release of Ohr’s interviews (pdf) with the FBI that were obtained via a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by Judicial Watch. In records released to Judicial Watch, the words “former Russian intelligence officer ... who lives in the U.S.” are redacted.
During the interview with the FBI, the sub-source said that Steele’s lewd claims about Trump were “rumor and speculation,” as opposed to the dossier's claim that they were “confirmed.” The sub-source also disputed a claim in the dossier stating that Igor Sechin, a Russian oligarch, offered Page a stake in Rosneft in exchange for the lifting of sanctions on Russia.
The sub-source said that he learned about the claim via a text message from another source, but that the text message made no mention of an offer to Page. The FBI reviewed the text message and confirmed the sub-source’s claim.