It is generally accepted that evidence of a source’s bias, including the source’s own acknowledgment of it, should be disclosed in warrant applications that are predicated on that source. The FBI simply did not do that in Steele’s case.

But perhaps the bureau, when it filed the first application in October, did not know what Steele had said to Ohr just the month before. Perhaps. The problem is, the FBI also failed to include the information in any of the later renewal applications, in January, April, and June of 2017.

The later applications did inform the court of problems with Steele. The FBI expected that Steele, as a trusted (and paid) source, would not share his findings with the press. Yet that is what Steele did in September and October before the election, when he discussed his work with reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, New Yorker, Yahoo, and Mother Jones — and then falsely denied that he had.

In subsequent renewal applications, the FBI informed the court that it had suspended, and then ended, its relationship with Steele. But the bureau argued that Steele was still a reliable source, because he broke his agreement and lied after he gave the FBI the information included in the warrant application.