WASHINGTON – Today, as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Crossfire Hurricane investigation and related FISA abuses, Chairman Lindsey Graham (R- South Carolina) released two recently declassified documents that significantly undercut the reliability of the Steele dossier and the accuracy and reliability of many of the factual assertions in the Carter Page FISA applications.
“I’m very pleased the investigation in the Senate Judiciary Committee has been able to secure the declassification of these important documents,” said Chairman Graham. “I want to thank Attorney General Barr for releasing these documents and allowing the American People to judge for themselves.
“What have we learned from the release of these two documents by the Department of Justice? Number one, it is clear to me that the memo regarding the FBI interview of the primary sub-source in January 2017 should have required the system to stop and reevaluate the case against Mr. Page.
“Most importantly after this interview of the sub-source and the subsequent memo detailing the contents of the interview, it was a miscarriage of justice for the FBI and the Department of Justice to continue to seek a FISA warrant against Carter Page in April and June of 2017.
“The dossier was a critical document to justify a FISA warrant against Mr. Page and this DOJ memo clearly indicates that the reliability of the dossier was completely destroyed after the interview with the primary sub-source in January 2017. Those who knew or should have known of this development and continued to pursue a FISA warrant against Mr. Page anyway are in deep legal jeopardy in my view.
“Secondly, the comments of Peter Strzok regarding the February 14 New York Times article are devastating in that they are an admission that there was no reliable evidence that anyone from the Trump Campaign was working with Russian Intelligence Agencies in any form.
“The statements by Mr. Strzok question the entire premise of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump Campaign and make it even more outrageous that the Mueller team continued this investigation for almost two and a half years. Moreover, the statements by Strzok raise troubling questions as to whether the FBI was impermissibly unmasking and analyzing intelligence gathered on U.S. persons.
“These documents, which I have long sought, tell a damning story for anyone who’s interested in trying to find the truth behind the corrupt nature of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign in 2016 and beyond.”
The first document is a 57-page summary of a three-day interview the FBI conducted with Christopher Steele’s so-called “Primary Sub-source” in January of 2017. [Document 1]
- This document not only demonstrates how unsubstantiated and unreliable the Steele dossier was, it shows that the FBI was on notice of the dossier’s credibility problems and sought two more FISA application renewals after gaining this awareness.
- The document reveals that the primary “source” of Steele’s election reporting was not some well-connected current or former Russian official, but a non-Russian based contract employee of Christopher Steele’s firm. Moreover, it demonstrates that the information that Steele’s primary source provided him was second and third-hand information and rumor at best.
- Critically, the document shows that Steele’s “Primary Sub-source” disagreed with and was surprised by how information he gave Steele was then conveyed by Steele in the Steele dossier. For instance, the “Primary Sub-source”: did not recall or did not know where some of the information attributed to him or his sources came from; was never told about or never mentioned to Steele certain information attributed to him or his sources; he said that Steele re-characterized some of the information to make it more substantiated and less attenuated than it really was; that he would have described his sources differently; and, that Steele implied direct access to information where the access to information was indirect.
- In total, this document demonstrates that information from the Steele dossier, which “played a central and essential role” in the FISA warrants on Carter Page, should never have been presented to the FISA court.
The second document contains Peter Strzok’s type-written comments disagreeing with assertions made in a New York Times article about alleged Russian intelligence ties to the Trump campaign. [Document 2]
- The document demonstrates that Peter Strzok and others in FBI leadership positions must have been aware of the issues with the Steele dossier that the FBI’s interview with Steele’s “Primary Sub-source” revealed, because Strzok commented that “[r]ecent interviews and investigation, however, reveal Steele may not be in a position to judge the reliability of his sub-source network.”
- The document further shows that the FBI’s assertion to the FISA court that “the FBI believes that Russia’s efforts to influence U.S. policy were likely being coordinated between the RIS [Russian Intelligence Services] and Page, and possibly others” appears to be a misrepresentation. This is because, in his comments on the Times article, Strzok asserts that “[w]e have not seen evidence of any individuals affiliated with the Trump team in contact with IOs [Intelligence Officials]. . . . We are unaware of ANY Trump advisors engaging in conversations with Russian intelligence officials.”
- The document also indicates that the FBI may have been using foreign intelligence gathering techniques to impermissibly unmask and analyze existing and future intelligence collection regarding U.S. persons associated with the Trump campaign: “Both the CIA and NSA are aware of our subjects and throughout the summer we provided them names and selectors for queries of their holdings as well as prospective collection.” The quote does not provide enough information to fully understand exactly what the FBI was doing but impermissible unmasking and analysis of existing and future incidental intelligence collection of U.S. persons would be troubling.
- The document also raises questions as to whether the FBI was properly using intelligence techniques and databases “throughout the summer” considering that the earliest formal investigation of a U.S. person associated with the Trump campaign was not officially opened until July 31, 2016.
These declassified documents and other related material may be accessed at the following link: judiciary.senate.gov/fisa-investigation.