- A source for information that ended up in the Steele dossier voiced “strong support” for Hillary Clinton and also had contacts to someone who worked in the Russian Presidential Administration, or Kremlin.
- The bombshell information was declassified and released on Wednesday.
- Other evidence released Wednesday shows that the FBI was aware that Russian operatives fed disinformation to Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier.
A source of information for the Steele dossier had contacts with a Kremlin insider in early Summer 2016, and also voiced “strong support” for Hillary Clinton, according to information declassified on Wednesday.
Other declassified information shows that the U.S. intelligence community told the FBI in 2017 that two Russian intelligence officers were aware as of July 2016 that Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, was investigating Donald Trump.
The FBI also received evidence in early 2017, just after the dossier was published, that Russian operatives may have fed disinformation that ended up in the dossier.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence declassified the information along with multiple other footnotes from the Justice Department office of inspector general’s (IG) report of the FBI’s surveillance of the Trump campaign.
The footnote regarding the pro-Clinton Steele source does not tie the individual to the possible Russian disinformation campaign, but it shows for the first time that one of Steele’s sources may have had a political axe to grind against Donald Trump.
Steele himself was working indirectly for the Clinton campaign. An opposition research firm working for the presidential candidate and DNC hired Steele in June 2016 to investigate Trump’s possible ties to Russia.
Steele relied on just one source, dubbed “Primary Sub-Source” in the IG report, for information published in the dossier. The source collected information from a network of contacts, or sub-sources, and passed them along to Steele.
The Primary Sub-Source has disputed portions of Steele’s reporting. He told the FBI in a series of meetings in early 2017 that Steele misrepresented or embellished information in the dossier.
The IG report said that the pro-Clinton sub-source also disputed information in the dossier. The person told the FBI in an interview in August 2017 that the information attributed to him or her in the document had been “exaggerated.”
“He/she did not recognize anything as originating specifically from him/her,” the IG report says.
The FBI received information in June 2017 revealing that Steele’s primary source had “personal and business ties” to the sub-source. The bureau also received information of “contacts between the sub-source and an individual in the Russian Presidential Administration in June/July 2016,” the newly declassified footnote says.
The footnote is heavily redacted before a section that reads, “and the sub-source voicing strong support for candidate Clinton in the 2016 U.S. elections.”
The IG report does not say how the FBI obtained that tidbit of information, but clues in the footnote suggest it could have been through electronic surveillance of the Steele sub-source.
The footnote says that an FBI supervisory intelligence analyst told IG investigators “that the FBI did not have Section 702 coverage on any other Steele sub-source.”
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows the government to collect communications from foreigners outside the United States.
The FBI relied heavily on Steele’s information to obtain FISA orders to conduct surveillance against Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide.
Steele, a former MI6 officer, reported in the dossier that Page was part of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
The IG footnotes also say that the FBI received evidence on Jan. 12, 2017, two days after the dossier was published, that information regarding former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was likely the product of Russian disinformation. Steele had claimed that Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin operatives and pay off Russian hackers.
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