Could this be one reason why Democrats objected so sharply to the interim appointment of Ambassador Richard Grenell to Director of National Intelligence? In his capacity as DNI, Grenell declassified a number of footnotes from Inspector General Michael Horowitz’ damning report on the FBI’s handling of Operation Crossfire Hurricane. Not only did the bureau mislead the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) about Carter Page to secure warrants, its use of the Christopher Steele dossier was even more indefensible than the unclassified report suggested. The FBI had reason to believe that Steele’s sources in Russia fed him disinformation about Trump — and yet pursued the warrants anyway.
Most of the national media has ignored this development today, but the New York Times did pick up on it:
The Trump administration has declassified several footnotes from a report about the F.B.I.’s Trump-Russia investigation, providing details hinting anew at the possibility that Russia may have sown disinformation in a dossier used to investigate a former Trump campaign aide. …
Mr. Horowitz’s report had said that the F.B.I. worried about “the possibility that Russia was funneling disinformation to Steele, and the possibility that disinformation was included in his election reports.”
“The F.B.I. was aware of the potential for disinformation in the Steele election reporting and, in part to address that issue, made some effort to assess that possibility,” the report said. “However, in view of information we found in F.B.I. files we reviewed, and that was available to the Crossfire Hurricane team during the relevant time period, we believe that more should have been done” to examine whether that had happened, Mr. Horowitz’s team added.
Townhall’s Katie Pavlich has more on that issue and the reaction from Senate Republicans Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson. According to the declassified footnotes, the FBI had already assessed the Steele dossier as unreliable before even applying for the warrant:
“Despite multiple reports in 2017 warning that claims in an anti-Trump dossier were ‘false’ and ‘part of a Russian disinformation campaign,’ the FBI continued to rely on the Democrat-funded opposition research to spy on a Trump campaign aide. The once-classified details contained in footnotes of the Justice Department Inspector General’s postmortem of the FBI’s flawed spying operation were unmasked at the repeated urging of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)” Grassley released Wednesday night.
“Earlier this month, the Justice Department provided the senators with a partially-declassified version of three footnotes following their January request, but key information detailing exactly when the FBI became aware of exculpatory intelligence reports remained redacted. The new material, provided with the assistance of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, sheds new light on the remaining redactions as well as additional information that was previously classified in the IG report,” the release continues.
Details in the footnotes reveal the FBI knew the dossier wasn’t credible before applying for FISA renewals on at least one Trump campaign official. This information was also known before the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Adding insult to injury, Russian intelligence officials were aware of Steele’s investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016. This information helped Russia with disinformation campaigns against the United States.
And that’s not all. While the FBI was using the Steele dossier to support its warrant on Page, they were also opening up investigations into Steele’s sources as disinformation agents:
Further, the “FBI had open counterintelligence case on Steele’s key source, but failed to apprise the FISA Court” and “despite repeated warnings of tainted evidence, FBI continuously sought FISA renewals.”
“As we can see from these now-declassified footnotes in the IG’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,” Senators Grassley and Johnson said about the confirmed revelations.
What can we conclude from these footnotes? Well, for one thing, it’s tough to believe that Russia worked to get Trump elected if they were passing along disinformation about him through Steele to first the Hillary Clinton campaign and then the FBI. This reinforces the perception that Moscow played a malicious Merry Prankster role in 2015-16, hoping to disrupt the election and call its legitimacy into question rather than go all-out for a particular outcome. Why else would Russian intel feed disinformation through Steele to the Clinton campaign? The insanely dumb decision to meet with Natalia Veselnitskaya at the Trump Tower was perhaps Russia’s attempt to balance the equation by passing along disinformation about Hillary, as well as making an opening into Trump’s inner circle.
Second, it’s very difficult to believe that the FBI didn’t have political motivations of its own in pursuing Carter Page if they knew that Steele was a potential conduit for disinformation. That information alone should have prompted a sharp reverse on Crossfire Hurricane, and had they shared that information with FISC, that reversal might have been forced on them. The FBI agents involved must have known that too, which is why they made sure that information never made it to FISC at all. And as we have since discovered, they would have felt almost no risk in misleading the court in that fashion since the bureau never effectively policed that process nor held anyone accountable for errors, inadvertent or otherwise.
This time, however, it blew up in their faces — and it’s likely to get worse. With all of this in mind, one has to imagine that US Attorney John Durham has a number of threads to pursue, and perhaps so too does his grand jury.
Addendum: Just as a fun aside, Ann McIlhenny and Phelim McAleer have made a new version of FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers available after a supporting actor’s objections forced the original off YouTube. His objection? He thought the verbatim play was unfair to Peter Strzok and Lisa Page:
McAleer and his team were forced to re-edit the film after politically-inspired legal objections by one of the play’s actors, Christopher T. Wood. The anti-Trump actor claimed his contract meant he could refuse to allow the play to remain on YouTube. This forced the play’s removal meaning that the truth about the FBI plot to undermine the Trump candidacy and presidency was no longer available to the public.
The team behind FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers has re-edited the film of the play and removed Wood entirely. The edited version of the play is now available on YouTube. It can be accessed at FBILovebirds.com.
McAleer condemned Wood’s attempt at censorship, noting that it had only started after President Trump announced his support for the project and after he hosted Cain, Swanson and McAleer in the Oval Office. …
“Hollywood actors and art organizations have been begging for a bailout during the COVID-19 crisis and yet actors like Christopher T. Wood refuse work because of their radical political beliefs,” McAleer continued. “Not only is it a display of arrogance while millions of Americans are out of work, Wood’s actions also affect other actors. If Hollywood can reject decent jobs and roles and venues cancel productions then there is obviously plenty of work and money in the sector and they don’t need a bailout. Working America should just say no to the privileged class who reject work and try to stop their colleagues from getting work and demand the rest of us pay their wages anyway.”
Lame, Christopher … very lame. Check out the rest of the story at the link, but here’s the new, Wood-free version of FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers. It’s been “declassified,” you might say.