There are few ways to really describe the Steele dossier and the ramifications of the Crossfire Hurricane team using it to target incoming President Donald Trump. “Incredibly irresponsible” comes to mind. “Absolutely outrageous” does, too. However, given what we know, at this point, few things short of “Russian disinformation” seem apt.
On Thursday, Lindsey Graham released a memo from Attorney General William Barr that makes the damning revelations:
U.S. Attorney John Durham discovered that the primary sub-source for British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s discredited dossier was investigated by the FBI as a possible “threat to national security,” but the bureau never told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and used the dossier anyway.
The revelation was made public Thursday evening by Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, who is conducting an investigation of the Trump-Russia investigators. He made public a letter from Attorney General William Barr along with an unclassified FBI overview, created at Barr’s behest, of the FBI’s 2009-2011 counterintelligence investigation into Steele’s main source, U.S.-based Russian lawyer Igor Danchenko, who the bureau suspected of being a Russian agent, according to a newly declassified footnote from DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into ties between President Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia. The FBI said that the Crossfire Hurricane team became aware of this information about Steele’s Primary Sub-source in December 2016.
In the release, we see that as far back as 2005, the primary sub-source for the Steele dossier was suspected of being a Russian agent. This revelation heavily implies that the FBI knew this could be an attempt at Russian disinformation and that the information could not possibly be reliable. How do we know they knew that? They never brought that investigation up to the FISA court when obtaining warrants. If they had, there would have been a big pause from the court in granting those warrants.
It is likely that, as an agent of the country that was already actively meddling in the 2016 election, this source could not be trusted at all, but the dossier was used by the FBI because hey, let’s get Trump in trouble.
Since the investigations by the Crossfire Hurricane team became public, every Democrat, media figure, and anti-Trump personality threw out every allegation they could get their hands on, all of which stemmed from the implications of the Steele dossier – that Trump himself was being used by Russia and that the foreign power was trying to undermine our national security for their own purposes through him. Without the initial allegations that Russia was behind Trump’s campaign/victory/agenda, none of the follow-up allegations and whistleblower complaints would have been filed, and the media would not have latched on to every single one of them and given them wall-to-wall coverage.
But the Steele dossier set up that entire playbook, and Democrats and journalists have drawn from that well over and over again.
By now, it is abundantly clear that any evidence linking Trump to Russia as some sort of pawn is at best false. At worst, it is a Russian disinformation campaign that has been successful for four years, continuing to sew chaos in American politics and media. What’s more, this is all thanks to career FBI agents who thought themselves above the office of the President, who had an agenda, and worked overtime trying to discredit him (and more).
That’s a very serious problem that has to be addressed, and it’s got to be addressed in more than just public firings. A serious reckoning has to happen within our federal investigative agencies, or else this will continue to happen.