One of the remaining SpyGate bombshells that has not yet detonated involves British spy-turned political opposition researcher-turned FBI informant Christopher Steele and his known credibility issues, The Hill’s John Solomon reported Wednesday.
According to Solomon, a British national security official in January of 2017 gave the incoming Trump administration a heads up about Steele, the author of the Clinton and DNC-funded anti-Trump dossier. Specifically, the Brits informed incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn that Steele lacked credibility — something the FBI should have figured out before they used his shoddy opposition research to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign.
“Multiple witnesses” have recently told Congress that then-British National Security Adviser Sir Mark Lyall Grant sent a private communique to Flynn a week before Trump’s inauguration, Solomon reports. And it’s possible that the explosive information never reached the president’s ears because Flynn, who was at the time the target of a deep state political assassination, apparently doesn’t remember seeing the memo.
The communique, according to Solomon, addressed Great Britain’s participation in the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016.
Most significantly, then-British national security adviser Sir Mark Lyall Grant claimed in the memo, hand-delivered to incoming U.S. national security adviser Mike Flynn’s team, that the British government lacked confidence in the credibility of former MI6 spy Christopher Steele’s Russia collusion evidence, according to congressional investigators who interviewed witnesses familiar with the memo.
According to Solomon, congressional investigators have interviewed two U.S. officials who saw the memo, one of whom was also interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The Department of Justice has reportedly been informed about the information.
“Now the race is on to locate the document in U.S. intelligence archives, to see if the witnesses’ recollections are correct,” says Solomon. “And Trump is headed to Britain this weekend, where he might just get a chance to ask his own questions.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a member of the House Oversight Committee, told The Hill: “A whistleblower recently revealed the existence of a communique from our allies in Great Britain during the early days of the Russia collusion investigation.”
He added: “Based on my conversations with that individual, and the credible timelines that are supported by other events, I made a referral to Attorney General William Barr and Inspector General Michael Horowitz for further investigation. There now is overwhelming evidence to suggest that on multiple occasions the FBI was warned that Christopher Steele and the dossier had severe credibility issues.”
Solomon’s report comes less than a month after a long-suppressed State Department memo surfaced, revealing that a State Department official who met with Steele in October of 2016, had serious concerns about the accuracy of the information he provided.
Those notes, as I have written, quoted the British operative as saying he had a political deadline of Election Day to make his information public and that he was leaking to the news media — two claims that would weigh against his credibility as an FBI informant. They also flagged a piece of demonstrably false intelligence he provided.
Solomon says the British Embassy in Washington did not return a call or email seeking comment, nor did Grant, who left his post in April 2017. Grant’s former top deputy declined comment.
Solomon also contacted Flynn’s lawyer, Robert Kelner, and he “did not return a call, email and text seeking comment.”
A source familiar with Flynn’s account, however, told me the former Trump national security adviser has no recollection of receiving the British communique or what might have happened to it, meaning that President Trump likely was not told about it.
Flynn first heard about the memo when Mueller’s team questioned him about it last year during debriefings after reaching a plea bargain on a charge of making false statements to the FBI and a cooperation agreement with the special prosecutor, the source said.
Mueller’s team apparently learned about the memo from some of Flynn’s former national security team members, the source said.
Congressional investigators say one former Flynn team member approached them recently as a whistleblower and disclosed the existence of the communique because the person believed it was relevant to the ongoing review of the FBI and intelligence community’s conduct in the Russia probe.
The whistleblower told Congress he personally delivered the memo to Flynn on Jan. 12, 2017, was aware of its content about Steele, and later ensured the document was sent for preservation in the national security archives of the Trump transition team, the investigators say. The whistleblower also claimed to overhear Flynn’s team discussing the memo.
A second NSC staffer told investigators that he had also read the memo in Flynn’s office. Based on what the staffer told Solomon, it appears that the British government was eager to distance itself from the Obama administration’s Trump-Russia collusion investigation.
“The message was clear: the Brits were saying they may have done some stuff to assist the investigation that they now regretted after learning the whole thing was based on information from Steele,” the former U.S. official told Solomon. “They wanted Trump’s team to know they did not think Steele’s information was credible or reliable,” he added. “They also wanted Trump to know whatever they had done, they did only at the Americans’ request and didn’t want it to get in the way of cooperating with the U.S.”
Of course, we now know that the London-to-Langley spy ring, which began spying on the Trump team in late 2015, was still going strong in May of 2016 when Australian diplomat Alexander Downer, who has ties to British intelligence, tried to entrap George Papadopoulos at an upscale bar in London.
Congressional investigators believe Grant may have been prompted to contact the Trump administration after BuzzFeed published the unverified Steele Dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.
Coincidentally or perhaps not, Robert Hannigan, the former director of the British intelligence and security organization GCHQ, resigned from his job on January 23, 2017. The British media at the time expressed shock that the intel boss had quit after just two years. GCHQ told the UK Telegraph that Hannigan had left his post for “personal reasons” and had not been “sacked or subject to disciplinary proceedings.”
In an exclusive that shocked the political world in March of 2017, Judge Andrew Napolitano reported on Fox News that President Obama had used GCHQ to spy on the Trump campaign. The British intelligence agency immediately pushed back hard.
“Recent allegations made by media commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense. They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored,” GCHQ told Fox in a statement.
Fox News suspended Napolitano for a couple of weeks over his GCHQ claim.
A couple of months later, Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
Mueller, of course, found no conclusive evidence of links between the Trump campaign and Russia, and he was unable to conclude whether or not Trump tried to “obstruct” their sham investigation.
Steele is now reportedly refusing to answer questions from U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was recently named by Attorney General William Barr to examine the origins of the investigations into the Trump campaign.