Attorney General Barr: Source of Steele dossier was investigated by FBI for Russia contacts

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WASHINGTON, DC- This is huge.

Fox News is reporting that the FBI investigated the primary source of the phony Russian dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, between 2009-2011 for contact with Russian intelligence officials, the outlet learned.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Attorney General William Barr responded to requests made by the committee as part of its probe into the origins of the Russia investigation.

“In connection with your Committee’s investigation of these matters and ongoing hearings, you have been asking us to accelerate this process and to provide any additional information relating to the reliability of the work of Christopher Steele and the so-called ‘Steele dossier,’ as long as its release would not compromise U.S. Attorney John Durham’s ongoing criminal investigation,” the attorney general wrote.

“A footnote in the Inspector General’s report contains information, which up till now has been classified and redacted, bearing on the reliability of the Steele dossier,” Barr wrote.

“The FBI has declassified the relevant portion of the footnote, number 334, which states that “the Primary Sub-source was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 that assessed his or her contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officers.”

Barr said that he requested the FBI compile a declassified summary of a portion of the information gleaned from the counterintelligence investigation into the source, which he provided to the committee.

“I have consulted with Mr. Durham, who originally brought this information to my attention in the course of his investigation, and he has informed me that the disclosure of the information will not interfere with his criminal investigation,” Barr wrote, while adding that he had notified John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence to “certain classified information in possession of the intelligence community,” which “bears upon the FBI’s knowledge of the reliability of the dossier.”

Barr continued that Durham had confirmed that the information would not interfere with his ongoing investigation and noted that the Department of Justice would “defer to the DNI” regarding how that information would be utilized.

U.S. Attorney John Durham was appointed by Barr last year to further explore the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation which was started under the Obama administration.

The request came after Special Counsel Robert Mueller finished his probe into whether the Trump administration had colluded with Russian assets in order to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Steele was  hired by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that was hired by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign to obtain dirt on the Trump campaign. The investigation was basically “laundered” by funding the operation through the law firm of Perkins Cole.

The phony dossier served as the basis for the obtaining of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants which were used against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. This despite the fact that FBI officials knew the dossier was bogus.

Fox News also reported back in July that the primary source was not in fact a current or former Russian official, but rather a non-Russian contract employee of Steele’s firm. In addition the information which Steele used as a basis of the phony dossier was determined to be “second and third-hand information and rumors at best,” according to a Fox News report filed at that time.

The Judiciary Committee earlier this year released a summary of a three-day interview with the source, which had been declassified, Fox News said.

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The committee also noted that the source told the FBI in interviews conducted back in January and March of 2016 that the anti-Trump dosser contained false information.

The dossier was determined to be “unsubstantiated and unreliable” according to those who reviewed it and proved that the FBI was aware of the dossier’s credibility issues, yet they still used it in order to seek additional FISA warrant renewals for Carter Page.

The primary sub-source also “disagreed with and was surprised by” how the information he provided to Steele was addressed by Steele in the dossier, Fox said.

The source told the FBI that he “did not recall” where some of the information Steele included in the dossier came from and claimed that he never told Steele certain information which Steele had attributed to him, or his sources.

He also said that Steele had “re-characterized” some of the information to make it seem more reliable and “less attenuated” than it really was, while also saying that he would have described some of his sources differently, Fox said.

The sub source also said that Steele had made it seem like information he had was from direct knowledge, while the information was “indirect.”

Last year, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said that his examination of FISA abuses showed at least 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in Carter Page’s FISA warrant applications.

In addition, Horowitz also discovered that the applications did not address the veracity of one of Steele’s key “sub-sources.”

Steele’s attorneys however disputed some of the claims, saying they were “never given an opportunity to respond to the claims” regarding the sub-source.

Horowitz claimed that the FBI had not notified the Office of Investigations which was tasked with working on the Page FISA applications that there were “potentially serious problems identified with Steele’s election reporting that arose as early as January 2017.”

Horowitz also found issues with the FBI’s interviews of Steele and his sub sources, claiming that they “revealed potentially serious problems with Steele’s description of information in his election reports.”

Last month, John Ratcliffe, Director of National Intelligence noted that a declassified footnote of the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian election interference showed that Steele only had “limited corroboration” and used “identified and unidentified sub sources” which noted “”highly politically sensitive information from the summer to the fall of 2016 on Russian influence efforts aimed at the presidential election.”

The declassified annex said, “We have only limited corroboration of the source’s reporting in this case and did not use it to reach the analytic conclusions of the CIA/FBI/NSA assessment.”

Yet another footnote which had been previously redacted further called into question the reliability of Steele’s main sources.

“When interviewed by the FBI, the Primary Sub-source stated that he/she did not view his/her contacts as a network of sources, [REDACTED] with whom he/she has conversations about current events and government relations,” one of the previously hidden footnotes reads.

Horowitz said however that Steele’s primary sub-source “used his/her network of sub-sources to gather information that was then passed to Steele.”

And we went through three years of nonsense for this.

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