Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., right, accompanied by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 13, 2007, to discuss the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2007. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
Back in early January, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a criminal referral to the Department of Justice. The subject of the referral was the author of the so-called Trump or Steele dossier, retired British spy, and Fusion GPS subcontractor, Christopher Steele. The referral alleges that Steele was not terribly candid with the FBI.
Senators @ChuckGrassley and @LindseyGrahamSC have referred Christopher Steele to @TheJusticeDept for investigation after information reviewed by committee investigators revealed significant inconsistencies in statements provided to authorities pic.twitter.com/MKhJlscdKP
— Senate Judiciary (@senjudiciary) January 5, 2018
Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham, both noted Trump supporters–or they will be framed as such before this is over–wanted to make the referral public. The Department of Justice and FBI insisted on so much redaction from the referral that Grassley accused them of acting in bad faith (really? tell me it ain’t so). He called out the FBI for obstructing his investigation in a speech from the well of the Senate.
Evidently, there was a period of negotiation but now the criminal referral has been released in largely un-redacted form. You can read it here. The useful thing is that the criminal referral somewhat parallels the memo prepared by the House Intelligence Committee and released by the White House last week. And it creates a range of new problems for the FBI.
Comey says that the FBI relied upon Steele’s history to corroborate the dossier
When asked at the March 2017 briefing why the FBI relied on the dossier in the FISA applications absent meaningful corroboration–and in light of the highly political motives surrounding its creation–then-Director Comey stated that the FBI included the dossier allegations about Carter Page in the FISA applications because Mr. Steele himself was considered reliable due to his past work with the Bureau.
As I pointed out a couple of days ago, all Steele can attest to is that he was told by Person A (Steele’s emissary) that Person B (source) said something. In some cases, it is Person A (Steele’s emissary) saying that Person B (source) heard Person C (acquaintance of the source) say something. There is no way the FBI could plausibly test the reliability of the sources. I find myself in a minority among conservatives as I think the Fourth Amendment requires a good faith effort by the government in its presentation of evidence for a warrant. I’m reliably told that no one really cares about truth or falsity of the underlying evidence in a warrant application so long as Trump is hurt.
The dossier was most of the evidence supporting the FISA warrant application against Carter Page
This sort of gives the lie to the assertion that the dossier was just one small part of the picture.
The FBI did not reveal the source of the dossier to the FISA court.
Again, because I’ve been reliably informed by all manner of people that the motive of the person providing the evidence and the provenance of the evidence itself is totally freakin irrelevant to the ability to use it in a warrant application, this is just my over-active imagination.
The FBI lied to the FISA court about Steele’s contacts with the media
In my world, where a modicum of honesty is expected on the part of the government before making a mockery of the Constitution, the fact that the FBI lied about Steele’s media contacts to the FISA court after they had fired Steele for being in contact with the media is a thing. But apparently to real lawyers, it isn’t.
There is a lot more in there. You owe it to yourself to read it. You can read the excellent summary by Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist.
The bottom line is, that the Grassley-Graham memo bolsters the case made in the memo produced by the House Intelligence Committee. It leaves no doubt that the FBI lied to the FISA court on numerous occasions and continued to misrepresent Steele’s reliability even after he’d been fired for freelancing.