Christopher Steele, former British intelligence officer in London Tuesday March 7, 2017 where he has spoken to the media for the first time . Steele who compiled an explosive and unproven dossier on President Donald Trump’s purported activities in Russia has returned to work. Christopher Steele said Tuesday he is “really pleased” to be back at work in London after a prolonged period out of public view. He went into hiding in January. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP).
The Hill’s John Solomon broke the bombshell story of an October 2016 meeting between a high ranking State Department official and Christopher Steele. During this exchange, the author of the dossier told Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec that his client was “keen” to break the story before election day. (I wrote about it here. Solomon’s article can be viewed here and here.)
Ten days before the FBI applied to the FISA Court for their first warrant to spy on Trump advisor Carter Page, Kavalec made two important discoveries. First, she realized that some of the material in the dossier Steele had prepared for the FBI and the Clinton campaign was inaccurate. After a brief meeting with Steele, Kavalec was instantly aware of Steele’s agenda and she was alarmed. She prepared a memo from her meeting notes and sent it to the appropriate officials at the FBI. The memo said that Steele had told her, “Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami.” She then wrote, “It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami.” Kavalec also said that Steele admitted his work was political.
Citizens United recently obtained copies of Kavalec’s memo, through a FOIA request. The documents were immediately forwarded to the DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz who had not been aware that the document even existed.
Citizens United learned that the memo and related documents had been retroactively labeled as classified by the FBI. They were heavily redacted. Kavalec sent the email to the FBI on October 13, 2016.
It’s impossible to know who Kavalec sent the memo to because the FBI redacted the names of the recipients, the subject line and the attachments. Solomon said that only three sentences were unredacted.
As if they FBI was not aware that Steele’s motivation was political, lawmakers want to know how they handled Kavalec’s memo. Dates it was received. By whom. And why they went forward with their application to the FISA Court for a warrant to spy on Page when they knew the document was just a political smear. Hmmm.
It’s been reported that Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which they request all documents, memos, texts, emails “related to an October 2016 meeting between Christopher Steele and State Department – information that was reportedly referred to the FBI, possibly before the FISA applications.” The letter can be viewed here.
Johnson and Grassley wrote:
Based on the publicly-released version of the typed notes of the meeting, it appears Steele’s intent of the meeting with the State Department was to maximize the impact of the unverified information that he had acquired in an effort to undermine the Trump campaign. Further, if that information was included in the material submitted to the FBI, then the FBI may have been aware of Steele’s political motivations before submitting any FISA application.
They also included a list of questions they would like written answers to by May 24th.
- On what date did the State Department notify the FBI that it obtained the Steele dossier?
- How did the State Department describe to the FBI the process by which it obtained the Steele dossier?
- On what date did the State Department notify the FBI about the October 2016 meeting between Kathleen Kavalec and Christopher Steele?
- On what date did the State Department provide the memorandum, notes, and any other material connected to Kathleen Kavalec’s October 2016 meeting with Christopher Steele to the FBI?
- Did any FBI employees request that Christopher Steele furnish the dossier to the State Department or seek a meeting with the State Department? If so, who, when, and why?
- Did the State Department mark any material from the October 2016 meeting as classified? If so, what was initially marked classified and at what level?
- Has the FBI provided all material relating to the State Department’s meeting with Steele to the Justice Department Office of the Inspector General? If so, on what date? If not, why not?
- All records, including all memoranda, notes, and other material regarding the State Department’s receipt of the Steele dossier and its referral of that information to the FBI.
- An explanation about the legal and factual basis for classifying any of these materials.
This information came right in the nick of time, because IG Horowitz is expected to complete his report into possible FISA abuse by the FBI within the next month.
As I wrote last week:
Former U.S. District Court Judge Joe diGenova appeared on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” Thursday evening and made an extraordinary claim. He said the DOJ Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, has “concluded that the final three FISA extensions were illegally obtained.”
He added, “The only question now is whether or not the first FISA warrant was illegally obtained…As a result of those disclosures from John Solomon today, which he was unaware of, the Bureau hid those memos from Horowitz. As a result of that, they are doing some additional work on the first FISA. It may be that all four FISAs will have been obtained illegally.”
DiGenova did not reveal his source, but he is certainly a well connected man who has spent years in Washington.