Lost in the coronavirus crisis and Congress’s multi-trillion-dollar bailout of Americans has been some shocking revelations about the FBI’s actions in starting the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin.
Recently declassified footnotes in the inspector general’s report on FISA abuses show the FBI to have knowingly disseminated Russian disinformation using the Steele Dossier as part of the basis for beginning the investigation. This has given new impetus to Senate investigations into how the effort to tie the Trump campaign to Russian intelligence got it so wrong.
Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson issued a joint statement pledging to use their committee’s subpoena power to get to the bottom of what happened.
Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), seizing on newly declassified details of a Justice Department watchdog report, are asking FBI Director Christopher Wray to hand over all records related to “Crossfire Hurricane,” the name for the counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia.
“We are deeply troubled by the Crossfire Hurricane team’s awareness of and apparent indifference to Russian disinformation, as well as by the grossly inaccurate statements by the FBI official in charge of the investigation and its supervisory intelligence analyst,” the two GOP senators wrote Thursday in a letter to Wray.
The counterintel agents knew that some of the information that Steele had gathered was Russian disinformation, according to one declassified footnote. Another footnote reveals that two Russian intel agents were aware as early as July, 2016 that Steele was investigating Trump and his campaign.
And yet, to this day, the FBI says they can’t verify the accuracy of Steele’s investigation.
“As we can see from these now-declassified footnotes in the [inspector general’s] report, Russian intelligence was aware of the dossier before the FBI even began its investigation and the FBI had reports in hand that their central piece of evidence was most likely tainted with Russian disinformation,” Grassley and Johnson said in a joint statement.
Republicans have homed in for months on the Steele dossier, with President Trump and his allies arguing it was the predicate for the FBI’s decision to open an investigation into the Trump campaign and Moscow.
If that wasn’t enough to sound the alarm, another source warned about the information on Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen. The Steele document accused Cohen of going to the Czech Republic to talk with Russians, but records show Cohen never went anywhere near there. The source cautioned that there was a “potential for Russian disinformation influencing Steele’s election reporting.”
The individual “stated that it did not have high confidence in this subset of Steele’s reporting and assessed that the referenced subset was part of a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate U.S. foreign relations,” the declassified footnote reads.
Senator Lindsey Graham has also released some new documents relating to the Judiciary Committee’s FISA probe.
The documents released by Graham, who created a new website for the committee probe, include newly declassified Justice Department material such as transcripts of conversations George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, had with FBI sources and redacted warrant applications against Page.
“I’m committed to being as transparent as possible about the circumstances surrounding FISA abuse. The goal is to make sure it never happens again,” Graham said in a statement.
And then there’s Attorney General William Barr’s investigation headed by special prosecutor John Durham. It may be about to reach a high point as rumors of indictments from Durham are swirling. For those who are involved in the Russian collusion matter, their time is coming.