Christopher Steele “meticulously” documented and recorded interactions with a key source for his infamous Trump dossier, lawyers for the former British spy said Tuesday in a lengthy response to the Justice Department inspector general’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Russia probe.
The report, released Monday, poked holes in the dossier, and revealed that a primary source for Steele disavowed some of the information in the salacious document.
The source, who FBI agents interviewed multiple times between January and May 2017, said that Steele exaggerated or misrepresented information in his dossier, which the FBI cited extensively in applications for surveillance warrants against Carter Page.
FBI interviews with the source “raised significant questions about the reliability of the Steele election reporting,” according to the inspector general’s (IG) report.
The source, who is identified only as “Primary Sub-Source,” told FBI agents that Steele’s dossier asserted that there was evidence to support the claim that the Kremlin had blackmail video of Donald Trump in Moscow with prostitutes. But Steele’s source told the FBI that the information was based on “rumor and speculation,” and had not been verified.
The source also showed FBI agents a text message that undercut the dossier’s assertion that Page and Kremlin insider Igor Sechin discussed a bribe in order to relax U.S. sanctions against Russia. Page has vehemently denied ever meeting Sechin.
The IG report document 17 errors and omissions in the FBI’s applications to surveil Page. One of those omissions was the information that Steele’s source provided to FBI agents.
In a statement first reported by ABC News, Steele’s lawyers disputed the IG’s findings in their statement on Tuesday, and suggested that Steele has evidence to back up what the source told him.
“The Primary Sub-Source’s debriefings,” Steele’s lawyers said, “were meticulously documented and recorded.”
Chris Steele’s attorneys have just released a lengthy statement responding to the IG report and the outstanding points of dispute: pic.twitter.com/53yR2ufVQ0
— Julia Macfarlane (@juliamacfarlane) December 10, 2019
The lawyers did not say what if anything Steele plans to do with the recordings of the source.
The lawyers lamented that Steele was not given a chance to respond to some of the information in the report. They said there were “several serious errors and misstatements” in the report regarding Steele and his work.
The IG report is heavily critical of the FBI’s efforts to validate Steele’s dossier. The report also said that the FBI was unable to corroborate any of its most serious claim. The IG also flatly debunked one pervasive claim of Steele’s that was not included in the Carter Page surveillance warrants. The report said it was “not true” that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin insiders, as the dossier alleged.
The office of the inspector general did not respond to a request for comment.
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