August 09, 2020

Newly Declassified Document Indicates FBI Misled Congress on Reliability of Steele Dossier

WASHINGTON –  Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today released a newly declassified FBI document that indicates the Bureau misled the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2018 about the Steele dossier’s Primary Sub-source and, therefore, the reliability of the Steele dossier. 

“This document clearly shows that the FBI was continuing to mislead regarding the reliability of the Steele dossier. The FBI did to the Senate Intelligence Committee what the Department of Justice and FBI had previously done to the FISA Court: mischaracterize, mislead and lie. The characterizations regarding the dossier were completely out of touch with reality in terms of what the Russian sub-source actually said to the FBI.

“What does this mean? That Congress as well as the FISA Court was lied to about the reliability of the Russian sub-source. I will be asking FBI Director Wray to provide me all the details possible about how the briefing was arranged and who provided it.

“Inspector General Horowitz’s team found this briefing document. Inspector General Horowitz and his team deserve great credit for uncovering systematic fraud at Department of Justice surrounding the Carter Page FISA warrant. I’m also very appreciative of the Department of Justice’s release of the FBI document used to brief the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

The document includes talking points from the FBI’s briefing of the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2018 and details the FBI’s assessment of the primary source of the information contained in the Steele dossier. This FBI briefing to Members of Congress occurred after the FBI had learned that the Steele dossier was unreliable in 2017. [Document]

Among the most misleading statements from the FBI:

The FBI told Congress that the Primary Sub-source “did not cite any significant concerns with the way his reporting was characterized in the dossier to the extent he could identify it.

  • However, documents previously declassified by the Senate Judiciary Committee revealed the Primary Sub-source told the FBI that he “has no idea” where some of the language attributed to him came from or that his contacts “never mentioned” some of the information attributed to them.
  • The Primary Sub-source told the FBI he “did not know the origins” of other information that was supposedly from his contacts and he “did not recall” other information attributed to him or his contacts.
  • Further, the Primary Sub-source said that Steele used “incorrect source characterization” for one of the Primary Sub-source’s contacts. 

The FBI told Congress that “At minimum, our discussions with [the Primary Sub-source] confirm that the dossier was not fabricated by Steele.

  • However, as Inspector General Horowitz’s December 2019 report on Crossfire Hurricane revealed, the Primary Sub-source told the FBI that the corroboration for the dossier was “zero” and that he takes what the sources for the dossier told him with “a grain of salt.
  • Moreover, the Primary Sub-source told the FBI that Steele presented some of the information in the dossier as fact reported by sub-sources when the information was really just Steele’s own “analytical conclusions” and “analytical judgments.”
  • The Primary Sub-source explained to the FBI that his information came from “word of mouth and hearsay” and “conversation that [he] had with friends over beers”, and that some of the information, such as allegations about Trump’s sexual activities, were statements made in “jest.

The FBI told Congress that the Primary Sub-source maintains trusted relationships with individuals who are capable of reporting on the material he collected for Steele.

  • However, the FBI interviews with the Primary Sub-source revealed that there were many degrees of separation between the Primary Sub-source’s contacts and the persons quoted in the reporting and that it could have been multiple layers of hearsay upon hearsay.
  • For example, the Primary Sub-source stated to the FBI his contacts did not have direct access to the persons they were reporting on. Instead, the Primary Sub-source told the FBI that the information was “from someone else who may have had access.

Today’s release is another milestone in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation into Crossfire Hurricane and related FISA abuses.

This declassified document and other related material may be accessed at the following link: judiciary.senate.gov/fisa-investigation.

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