Washington, D.C. — The recently released FISA memo, compiled by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and other Republican lawmakers, made a number of claims, with one of the most significant claims being that the FBI and DOJ officials utilized unverified opposition research from a dossier created by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to procure and renew a warrant to spy on Trump campaign officials – without informing the FISA court that the dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign.
The allegation that the FBI and DOJ reportedly withheld virtually all relevant political context from their submission to the secret FISA court as a basis for a warrant has been claimed by some to be indicative of troubling political motivations.
The Federalist created a list of five critical facts the FBI and DOJ withheld from the FISA court, according to the memo:
#1. The Clinton campaign and the DNC paid to commission the Steel dossier.
Despite claims that Republicans helped pay for the Steele dossier, the commissioning of the document by Fusion GPS only took place after Republican funding had ended. Steele was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to engage in opposition research on Trump, which was the sole source of funding for Steele’s work on the dossier.
According to the memo: “Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior and FBI officials.
“The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.”
#2. Official FBI records note that Steele was “desperate Trump not get elected,” and was terminated for lying to the FBI about leaking to the media.
Steele was politically biased, as he professed to a senior DOJ official in September 2016 that he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” This bias was actually noted in official FBI files, but was allegedly never disclosed to the FISA court.
Additionally, Steele’s relationship with the FBI was terminated after he revealed his work for the agency to the press in October 2016.
According to the memo: “Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.”
None of this was reported to the FISA court, according to the memo.
#3. Then FBI Director Comey testified in June 2017 that the dossier was “salacious and unverified.”
“According to the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was—according to his June 2017 testimony—”salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.”
#4. The FBI essentially used the dossier to corroborate the dossier. A news story used by the FBI to corroborate the dossier actually came from the dossier author, Steele, leaking its contents to the media.
According to the memo: “The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.”
#5. A portion of the information provided to the FISA court came from senior DOJ official, Bruce Ohr’s wife, who was paid by Clinton opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
Former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr provided the FBI with his wife’s opposition research, which was included in the information submitted to the FISA court to justify secret surveillance of the Trump team.
Despite the clear connections to Clinton campaign-funded Fusion GPS, the FISA court was apparently never made aware that some of the information provided came from the wife of a DOJ official who was actually working for the Clinton campaign.
According to the memo: “Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.”
The FBI and DOJ are accused of intentionally concealing important information from the FISA court when applying for secret surveillance. Dossier author Steele was fired by the FBI as a source after first FISA warrant was approved in October— with numerous claims put forth in the dossier largely proven unverifiable. Nonetheless, the FBI reportedly chose to conceal the numerous verifiable political motivations to the court in each of the three subsequent renewals of the warrant.