Opinion| Lawrence David| And just like that, Christopher Steele, who was so desperate to share his information with the FBI, and the media, in 2016, has gone silent.
Steele has refused to be interviewed by U.S. Attorney John Durham as part of the federal prosecutor’s review of the origins of the Russia investigation.
What’s behind Steele’s sudden desire for secrecy? Certainly he stands behind his dossier, or does he?
Reuters is reporting that Steele’s representatives have informed Durham’s team that he would not cooperate with their investigation.
Funny that! According to Steele’s contact at the DOJ, Bruce Ohr he was desperate to get the dossier he compiled and peddled to left-wing reporters anxious to smear Donald Trump, to the FBI.
That dossier formed the sum and substance of the evidence behind the issuance of at least four FISA warrants used to spy on Donald Trump, his campaign team, his family, and everyone else he came in direct contact with.
Steele gave his reasons for his refusal to be deposed during an address at Oxford University claiming he had already cooperated with the Department of Justice’s Inspector General. Huh…?
That doesn’t square with what Inspector General Michael Horowitz determined from his investigation.
Horowitz identified at least 17 “significant errors or omissions” in the Justice Department’s and the FBI’s use of Steele’s dossier that formed the basis for FISA warrants to wiretap Page in 2016 and 2017.
Additionally, Horowitz questioned the veracity of Steele’s dossier after it was learned that the FBI interviewed Steele’s primary Moscow-based source who “raised significant questions about the reliability of the Steele election reporting.”
That FBI interview took place in January of 2016 prior to the first FISA renewal. The FBI had an obligation to report that exculpatory information to the court. It didn’t. That should be reason enough for Steele to plead the Fifth.
The FBI knew, or had first-person testimony, that Steele, a former British spy, was peddling Russian disinformation to them yet they knowingly ignored that exculpatory information in order to secure three FISA warrant renewals.
Talk about foreign interference in our elections…
Aided and abetted by the FBI. But there’s more. A lot more. None of it good.
Following the release of Horowitz’s report, the Justice Department told the FISA court it believed the final two FISA warrants issued against Carter Page were “not valid.”
DOJ lawyers haven’t given their blessings to the initial warrant application or the first renewal. Those are still under review.
Already, Justice Department and FBI officials under review for their role in misleading (lying) to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to secure the wiretaps have been banned from appearing before the court in the future.
While that doesn’t come close to the penalty needed to deter future miscreants, by preventing their ability to appear as affiants their careers as federal agents are effectively over.
Judge James Boasberg who presides over the FISC noted the seriousness of the FBI’s deliberate malfeasance/misfeasance:
“The frequency and seriousness called into question the reliability of the information proffered in other FBI applications.”
The ramifications raised by Boasberg’s concern could have far-reaching implications as defense attorneys for any client surveilled by the accused federal agents will be clamoring for new trials.
At the risk of sounding like a late-night infomercial… wait, there still more:
Remember the importance attached to the meeting in Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian honeypot Natalia Veselnitskaya, was promoted as proof of Trump-Russia collusion. Eh… not so much.
And the FBI knew that too, almost immediately.
(Politico) According to the transcript of an interview with Anatoli Samochornov, a onetime [sic] State Department translator who attended the Trump Tower meeting as an interpreter, no one present discussed the release of “hacked emails” to the Trump campaign.
Samochornov also said there was no discussion of the dissemination of fake news to aid the Trump campaign or the prospect of hacking voter registration systems — two tactics that intelligence agencies say were part of the Kremlin’s attempts to disrupt the 2016 election. In fact, Samochornov said there was no discussion “of anything that might reasonably be considered collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.”
Of course Politco had this buried 26 paragraphs into an otherwise anti-Trump narrative…
This information was hidden in an FBI 302 report from a July 12, 2017 interview with Samochornov that only recently became public.
So choirboy Robert Mueller takes over the investigation on May 17, 2017. One would think the first thing he does is call in the FBI’s lead investigator on the case, Peter Strzok, to ask him what he knows so far.
It seems fair to assume Strzok either lied to him or told him he had nothing because two days later, in response to a text from Lisa Page congratulating him on being asked to join the special counsel’s team, Strzok texts back:
“You and I both know the odds are nothing. If I thought it was likely, I’d be there no question. I hesitate in part because of my gut sense and concern that there’s no big there there.”
Here’s the FBI’s Director of Counterintelligence, after leading an investigation admitted to be 10 months long at this time (evidence suggests it was significantly longer than that), telling Mueller he signed on to conduct an inquiry of a red herring.
What does Mueller do? He continues the lies to secure two more FISA warrant renewals. And, if Strzok didn’t convince Mueller there was no there, there… less than two months later the FBI interview of Samochornov confirmed nothing improper was going on.
Perhaps it’s unfair to pin this misfeasance on Robert Mueller. He presented as a doddering old man when he appeared before congress to answer questions. Perhaps he was managed by the 19 Clinton apparatchiks who comprised his team of prosecutors.
Certainly Rod Rosenstein had to have been aware of Mueller’s ineptitude – and therefore the ability of Rosenstein’s prosecutors, who he knew were anxious to take down Trump, to manipulate Mueller – when he appointed him.
Do you think it’s a coincidence that once it was announced that Durham’s inquiry had morphed into a criminal investigation… with real consequences… Steele clammed up?
It’s well past time for people to be held accountable and banning a few miscreants from the FISA court doesn’t come close to the punishment necessary to deter future seditionists.