September 24, 2020

Chairman Graham Releases Newly Declassified Summary Indicating FBI Knew Steele Dossier Source Was Likely a Russian Agent, Had Been Under U.S. Counterintelligence Investigation

FBI failed to inform FISA Court, Continued to Seek FISA Warrants

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today released a letter from Attorney General William Barr and a declassified summary from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that indicate Christopher Steele’s Primary Sub-source was a likely Russian agent and had previously been the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation.

In response to Graham’s request for oversight of the reliability of the Steele dossier, the Justice Department recently declassified a key footnote in Inspector General Horowitz’s report. The footnote states Christopher Steele’s Primary Sub-source “was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 that assessed his/her documented contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officers.”

“To me, failure of the FBI to inform the court that the Primary Sub-source was suspected of being a Russian agent is a breach of every duty owed by law enforcement to the judicial system.”

The FBI summary provided to the committee reveals that the Crossfire Hurricane team was aware of this information in December 2016, yet failed to inform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Further, they continued to seek three FISA warrant applications using the Steele dossier as a basis.

Key takeaways from the FBI’s declassified summary:

  • The Crossfire Hurricane team knew in December 2016 that Christopher Steele’s Primary Sub-source was an individual who the FBI had indicated in 2009 “could be a threat to national security.”
  • In May 2009, Steele’s source reportedly attempted to recruit two individuals connected to an influential foreign policy advisor connected to President Obama, offering that if the two individuals “‘did get a job in the government and had access to classified information’ and wanted ‘to make a little extra money,’ [Steele’s source] knew some people to whom they could speak.
  • FBI databases revealed Steele’s source “had contact in 2006 with the Russian Embassy and known Russian intelligence officers, [including contacting a known Russian intelligence officer] ‘so the documents can be placed in tomorrow’s diplomatic pouch.’
  • One individual interviewed by the FBI noted that “the Primary Sub-source persistently asked about the interviewee’s knowledge of a particular military vessel.”
  • Significantly, the “record documenting the closing of the investigation [of the Primary Sub-source] stated that consideration would be given to re-opening the investigation in the event that the Primary Sub-source returned to the United States.”

“This is the most stunning and damning revelation the committee has uncovered.

“I very much appreciate Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray for providing the Senate Judiciary Committee with essential and relevant documents regarding Crossfire Hurricane. 

“There are several takeaways from this latest revelation.

  • First, the primary source for the Steele dossier was likely a Russian agent. 
  • Second, the Primary Sub-source was suspected by the FBI in 2009 of being a Russian agent, and there had been an active counterintelligence investigation of this individual.  That FBI investigation revealed the Primary Sub-source was suspected of providing information to the Russian Embassy and was in contact with known Russian intelligence officers, and made offers to people connected to incoming Obama Administration officials that any classified information they provided could be paid for.  In addition, during this investigation it was disclosed that the Primary Sub-source persistently asked individuals about a particular military vessel of the United States. 
  • Third, the information provided shows that in December 2016, the FBI knew of the previous counterintelligence investigation of the Primary Sub-source and the source’s ties to Russian intelligence services.  However, they failed to inform the FISA Court.  In fact, not only did they not inform the FISA Court the Primary Sub-source was likely a Russian agent, they continued to use the Steele dossier to seek warrants against Carter Page.  They told the court the Primary Sub-source was truthful and cooperative.  Specifically the three FISA applications filed after December 2016 make no mention of the previous counterintelligence investigation against the Primary Sub-source and the last two FISA applications additionally misled the court about the results obtained of the interviews of the Primary Sub-source in January and March of 2017.

Graham on Totality of FBI Crossfire Hurricane Failures:

“In light of this newly declassified information, I will be sending the FISA Court the information provided to inform them how wide and deep the effort to conceal exculpatory information regarding the Carter Page warrant application was in 2016 and 2017.

“A small group of individuals in the Department of Justice and FBI should be held accountable for this fraud against the court.  I do not believe they represent the overwhelming majority of patriotic men and women who work at the Department of Justice and FBI.

“The now famous email Susan Rice sent to herself on Inauguration Day where she states that President Obama said that everything has to be done ‘by the book’ has become highly suspect.  If this investigation is ‘by the book,’ then the book we’re using is the Kremlin playbook.

“It is up to the committee and Congress to reform the system so it never happens again.  It’s stunning to be told that the single individual who provided information to Christopher Steele for the Russian dossier used by the FBI on four occasions to obtain a warrant on Carter Page, an American citizen, was a suspected Russian agent years before the preparation of the dossier.

“The committee will press on and get to the bottom of what happened, and we will try to work together to make sure this never happens again.”