The main source used by former British spy Christopher Steele to compile a dossier that included salacious details about President Trump’s ties to Russia was investigated by the FBI for suspicious contacts with the Kremlin, it has been reported.
From 2009 to 2011, this source was the subject of a counterintelligence investigation for alleged contact with Russian spies, according to Fox News.
The revelation was made in a letter sent by Attorney General William Barr to Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina.
Barr was responding to requests from Graham’s committee as it relates to the ongoing investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation.
Christopher Steele (left), the former British spy who compiled a salacious dossier that included unverified claims about President Trump's (right) ties to the Kremlin, used a source that was subject of a counterintelligence investigation into alleged contacts with Russian spies, according to a report
The claim about a counterintelligence probe into the source of the Steele Dossier was made in a letter written on Thursday by Attorney General Bill Barr
President Trump has long denied allegations that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 elections.
‘In connection with your Committee's investigation of these matters and ongoing hearings, you have been asking us to accelerate this process and to provide any additional information relating to the reliability of the work of Christopher Steele and the so-called “Steele dossier,” as long as its release would not compromise U.S. Attorney John Durham's ongoing criminal investigation,’ Barr wrote.
‘A footnote in the Inspector General's report contains information, which up till now has been classified and redacted, bearing on the reliability of the Steele dossier,’ Barr wrote.
‘The FBI has declassified the relevant portion of the footnote, number 334, which states that “the Primary Sub-source was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 that assessed his or her contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officers”.’
Barr wrote that he asked the FBI to prepare a declassified summary of information from that same counterintelligence investigation.
‘I have consulted with Mr. Durham, who originally brought this information to my attention in the course of his investigation, and he has informed me that the disclosure of the information will not interfere with his criminal investigation,’ Barr wrote.
The counterintelligence investigation, which took place between 2009 and 2011, was discovered by US Attorney John Durham (pictured), who is probing the origins of the Russia investigation
The attorney general added that he informed John Ratcliffe, the Director of National Intelligence, of ‘certain classified information in possession of the intelligence community’ which ‘bears upon the FBI's knowledge of the reliability of the dossier.’
‘Mr. Durham confirms that the disclosure of that information would not interfere with his investigation, and the Department otherwise defers to the DNI concerning the handling of this information," Barr wrote.
Durham, the US attorney from Connecticut, was appointed last year to lead an investigation into how the FBI and other federal agencies set out to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump campaign had coordinated with the Kremlin.
Robert Mueller, who was appointed special counsel, concluded a two-year investigation at the end of which he found insufficient evidence pointing to a conspiracy.
The dossier of information was compiled during the course of the 2016 presidential campaign by Steele, a former MI6 spy whose research into ties between Trump and Russia was financed by Democrats.
The FBI relied in part on information from the dossier during multiple applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2016 and 2017 to monitor the communications of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide, on suspicion that he was an agent of a foreign power.
Page has denied any wrongdoing and was never charged.
DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in a report last December that, though there was no evidence that the FBI was motivated by political bias during the investigation, the bureau made serious errors during the application process, including by omitting information that called into question the reliability of certain reporting included in the dossier.
The inspector general report said the FBI had contemplated the possibility ‘that Russia was funneling disinformation to Steele, and the possibility that disinformation was included in his election reports.’
But, Horowitz said, more should have been done by the FBI to determine if that was the case.
The dossier famously alleges Trump and his campaign were blackmailed by the Russian government because it had obtained a video of Trump watching prostitutes urinate on a hotel bed in Moscow in 2013 when he traveled there for the Miss Universe pageant
The FBI did not rely on the dossier when it opened the Russia investigation in July 2016, instead using other information about possible Trump campaign links to Russia.
But it did rely in part on the document a couple months later when it applied for a warrant to monitor the communications of Page.
The fact that the dossier was used at all is one of the main points of contention Trump supporters cite in challenging the legitimacy of the probe.
Graham said last month that the FBI 'misled' the Senate Intelligence Committee during a March 2018 briefing where they bolstered up the reliability of the dossier even though the primary sub-source said most of the information is 'hearsay.'
Last month, redacted documents released by the Senate Judiciary Committee revealed that the primary sub-source of the dossier told the FBI that all the information included came from 'word of mouth and hearsay.'
This runs contrary to what the FBI represented to the panel during the 2018 briefing, when the committee was told there was no reason to doubt the dossier.
Graham said Horowitz decided to call the FBI in to brief the Senate Intelligence Committee during the Russian election interference investigation after lawmakers became suspicious about the sub-source information.
'And they did to the Senate Intel Committee what they did to the FISA court,' the South Carolina Republican said in reference to the FBI's briefing to his colleagues.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said last month that the FBI 'misled' the Senate Intelligence Committee during a March 2018 briefing where they bolstered up the reliability of the dossier even though the primary sub-source said most of the information is 'hearsay.'
'They misled the hell out of them.'
'They said there's no evidence from the sub-source to suggest that Steele fabricated anything in the dossier,' Graham, a Trump ally, continued.
This was contrary to what the FBI told the committee in the spring of 2018, when they were told that the primary sub-source 'maintains trusted relationships with individuals who are capable of reporting on the material he collected for Steele.'
The redacted documents also bring doubt over the 'golden showers' aspect of the dossier.
The dossier claimed that the president was being blackmailed by Russia because Moscow had video proof of an alleged incident where Trump apparently watched prostitutes pee on a hotel bed in Moscow while he was there for the Miss Universe Pageant in 2013.
The sub-source revealed to the FBI, the newly released document shows, that much of the conversation he had were 'with friends over beers.'
Despite the primary sub-source telling the FBI that Christopher Steele – the former British spy and author of the dossier that contributed to the launch of the Russia probe – made claims based on his own 'analytical conclusions' and 'judgements,' the FBI still told the Intelligence Committee the dossier was 'reliable.'