FBI Was Still Assessing Christopher Steeles Reliability Even After Using Dossier To Obtain Spy Warrant
Chuck Ross and Luke Rosiak | Contributor
- The FBI was still assessing the reliability of Christopher Steele in late November 2016, a month after the bureau used the ex-spys anti-Trump dossier to obtain spy warrants against Carter Page.
- FBI lawyer Sally Moyer testified to Congress last year that the FBI wanted Justice Department official Bruce Ohr to establish contact with Steele to get further clarity about Christopher Steele and his reliability.
- The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained a copy of Moyers testimony.
An FBI lawyer told Congress last year that investigators were assessing the reliability of Christopher Steele as of late November 2016, a month after the bureau cited the former spys anti-Trump dossier to obtain a warrant to snoop on Carter Page.
Sally Moyer, an attorney in the FBI general counsels office, described a meeting held at FBI headquarters on Nov. 21, 2016 with Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official who has long known Steele, a former British spy. A month before that meeting, on Oct. 21, 2016, the FBI obtained its first of four FISA warrants against Page, a former Trump campaign adviser.
In that application, FBI and Justice Department officials asserted that Steele, a retired MI6 officer, was credible and reliable. That assessment has come under question in recent months, as the most serious claims in Steeles dossier have either been undermined by new evidence, or have yet to be verified.
“We were meeting — one of the reasons that the investigators were talking to Bruce Ohr was to try to get further clarity about Christopher Steele and his reliability,” Moyer told lawmakers, according to a transcript of her testimony obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The FBI had severed ties with Steele around a week before the Nov. 8, 2016 election because of his unauthorized contacts with the media. Steele was quoted anonymously in a story published by Mother Jones on Oct. 31, 2016 that laid out claims that the Kremlin had blackmail material on Trump.
Moyers testimony provides new insight into why the FBI asked Ohr to reconnect with Steele. Other FBI and Justice Department officials have said that the FBI wanted to reconnect with Steele after Trumps election win as part of the bureaus investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. (RELATED: Mueller Finds No Collusion)
The FBI turned to Ohr because of his longstanding ties to Steele, who operates a private intelligence firm in London.
Ohr first met with Steele regarding the ex-spys Trump investigation on July 30, 2016. Days after the meeting, Ohr met at FBI headquarters with then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and his general counsel, Lisa Page. Ohr testified to Congress on Aug. 28, 2018 that he told the FBI officials about the Trump-related information that Steele had shared.
Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page following Nov. 2, 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Ohr also testified that Steele said he was “desperate” not to see Trump elected president because of his concerns about the Republicans links to Russia.
The FBI did not include Steeles comments about Trump in its FISA applications. The bureau did, however, portray Steele as a reliable and credible source.
“The FBI assesses Source #1 to be reliable,” reads the Oct. 21, 2016 FISA application, referring to Steele.
“Source #1 has been compensated [redacted] by the FBI and the FBI is unaware of any derogatory information pertaining to Source #1.”
Moyer also testified that the FBI typically vouches for sources used to obtain FISA applications.
“Usually in a FISA it will say that source number one has been credible and reliable in the past,” she said.
Steele had provided information to the FBI in the past, including for a bribery investigation of FIFA, the international soccer organization. But while the FISA application puts Steele in a positive light, Moyers testimony suggests that the FBI still had questions about Steele.
“After we had — after the FBI closed him, the investigative team was making efforts to try to figure out if there were other issues or trying to verify the information he had provided,” Moyer said.
“So they wanted to talk to Bruce Ohr because they knew that he had had a relationship with him, so they were trying to get a better sense of his background, his reputation, the sorts of questions that you would ask others to try to verify your source reliability.”
The revelation comes in the wake of a report by The New York Times that the Justice Department inspector general is scrutinizing Steeles role as a source for the FBI.
According to the newspaper, investigators with the inspector generals office “have asked about [Steeles] role in helping the bureau investigate corruption at FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, suggesting that one focus of his is whether the bureau exaggerated Mr. Steeles previous history with the bureau in its application to wiretap Mr. Page.”
Moyer and other FBI and Justice Department officials were interviewed last year by a task force comprised of members of the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees. Republican lawmakers formed the task force to investigate the FBIs hanRead More – Source