Just the other day, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Senators on Capitol Hill that he wouldn’t characterize federal surveillance of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 as “spying.” Given some rather explosive new information that has come to light since then, Wray might be wise to reconsider.
According to a story in The Hill, there is now proof that the infamous Steele dossier—a compilation of scandalous dirt that the Russians supposedly had on Trump, subsequently used to get a FISA warrant to surveil a Trump campaign staffer—had been compiled for expressly political reasons by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Moreover, the FBI knew full well the dossier’s origins, and yet they neglected to inform the FISA court when applying for a warrant:
If ever there were an admission that taints the FBI’s secret warrant to surveil Donald Trump’s campaign, it sat buried for more than 2 1/2 years in the files of a high-ranking State Department official.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec’s written account of her Oct. 11, 2016, meeting with FBI informant Christopher Steele shows the Hillary Clinton campaign-funded British intelligence operative admitted that his research was political and facing an Election Day deadline.
And that confession occurred 10 days before the FBI used Steele’s now-discredited dossier to justify securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the campaign’s ties to Russia.
Steele’s client “is keen to see this information come to light prior to November 8,” the date of the 2016 election, Kavalec wrote in a typed summary of her meeting with Steele and Tatyana Duran, a colleague from Steele’s Orbis Security firm.
Citizens United, a conservative advocacy group, unearthed the memo as part of a Freedom of Information Act request, albeit in a heavily redacted form. Apparently it had never been provided to Congressional investigators looking into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation—a major oversight, given that this would be the first documented proof that the FBI knew that the Steele dossier was nothing more than opposition research before they used it to get a FISA warrant.
But here’s where it gets really interesting:
One member of Congress transmitted the memos this week to the Department of Justice’s inspector general, fearing its investigation of FISA abuses may not have had access to them.
Nonetheless, the FBI is doing its best to keep much of Kavalec’s information secret by retroactively claiming it is classified, even though it was originally marked unclassified in 2016.
In case there’s any confusion here, this means that the memo and accompanying notes detailing Kavalec’s discussions with Steele had not been marked as classified until just recently. And what could have prompted such a hasty reclassification? Well, Attorney General William Barr testified before Congress last week that he believed spying did occur against the Trump campaign, and that the Department of Justice is taking a close look to find out if the surveillance, while authorized by a FISA warrant, was in fact lawfully predicated.
Coincidence? Perhaps—but then consider this fact:
The FOIA notes contain this explanation for the redactions: “Classified by FBI on 4/25/2019 — Class: SECRET.”
In other words, the FBI under Director Christopher Wray classified the document as “secret” just a few days ago.
Right before Barr announced his own investigation into potential FISA abuses. Sounds to me as if Wray—or somebody else high up in the food chain at the bureau—figured out that this memo contradicted their whole, “Spying? What spying?” narrative, and attempted to bury it from public view. It also explains why they conveniently forgot to provide the document to Congress.
So to sum up: a State Department person talks to Christopher Steele about the dossier, which he is hot to release ahead of the 2016 election in order to help his client Hillary Clinton, and then that person forwards the information on to the FBI days before they apply for a FISA warrant to surveil the Trump campaign—only the FBI doesn’t bother to mention that little tidbit to the FISA court judge.
That sounds an awful lot like politically-motivated spying to me—not to mention a major cover-up in progress. I hope Barr has battened down the hatches, because this storm is about to get really intense.