2/7/18, "More Doubts About Mr. Steele," Wall St. Journal Editorial Board (print ed. Thurs., 2/8)
"Including an appearance by none other than Sidney Blumenthal."
"The case of the FBI and Christopher Steele gets curiouser and curiouser. In the latest news, GOP Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham late Tuesday released a less redacted version of their criminal referral letter [of Jan. 2018] to the Justice Department concerning Mr. Steele, who wrote the now famous dossier alleging Russian collusion with Donald Trump. The letter [written in January] supports the recent House Intelligence Committee claims of surveillance abuse and offers new evidence that the Clinton campaign may have been more involved than previously known.
Democrats claim the House Intel memo distorts the FBI’s actions in obtaining in October 2016 an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor former Trump aide Carter Page. But the Grassley-Graham referral makes public for the first time actual text from the FBI’s FISA application, as well as classified testimony the FBI gave the Senate Judiciary Committee about the dossier and FISA application.
In particular, the referral rebuts the Democratic claim that the FBI told the FISA court about the partisan nature of the Steele dossier.
“The FBI noted to a vaguely limited extent the political origins of the dossier,” says the letter. And “the FBI stated that the dossier information was compiled pursuant to the direction of a law firm who had hired an ‘identified U.S. person’—[no suggestion of political origin] now known as Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS,” the firm that hired Mr. Steele. [Mr. Steele, a UK citizen, obviously wasn't a "U.S. person"]
But, adds the [Sen. Grassley] referral letter, “the application failed to disclose that the identities of Mr. Simpson’s ultimate clients were the Clinton campaign and the DNC [Democratic National Committee].” That’s not being honest with the judges who sign off on an eavesdrop order.
The referral also confirms the House memo’s finding that the FBI “relied heavily” on Mr. Steele’s dossier claims, as well as on a Yahoo News article for which Mr. Steele was the main source.
And the letter notes that “the application appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations against Mr. Page.”
James Comey, who was running the FBI at the time of the FISA fiasco, told the Senate Judiciary Committee as much in March 2017. According to the referral [by Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley], when Mr. Comey was asked “why the FBI relied on the dossier in the FISA applications absent meaningful corroboration,” he said this was “because Mr. Steele himself was considered reliable due to his past work with the Bureau.”
In other words, the FBI rested its wiretap application on the credibility of a source who was working at the direction of the Clinton campaign. The FBI also seems to have closed its eyes to evidence that Mr. Steele wasn’t honest. The FBI acknowledges that it told Mr. Steele not to speak to the media about the dossier. Yet in September 2016 the ex-British spy briefed reporters about the FBI’s investigation and the dossier, which resulted in the Yahoo News article. The Clinton campaign cited that article on TV and social media to attack the Trump campaign.
This was about a month prior to the FBI filing its first FISA application. Yet the FBI’s October application told the FISA court that, “The FBI does not believe that [Steele] directly provided this information to the press.” Whether Mr. Steele lied to the FBI, or the FBI was too incompetent to verify that he was the source of the Yahoo News story, the result is the same: The FISA court issued a surveillance order on the basis of false information about the credibility of the FBI’s main source.
Even after Mr. Steele said under oath in court filings in London that he had briefed Yahoo News, and this fact was reported by U.S. media in April 2017, the FBI didn't tell the FISA court in any subsequent wiretap application."...
[Ed. note: FISA warrant ran for almost a year beginning Oct. 21, 2016 through Oct. 2017. Initial application was renewed 3 times, the second time around April 21, and third around July 21. Two were signed when Trump was in office. Total of 4 warrants at 90 days each. "Former FBI director James Comey signed one of the three renewal applications on behalf of the FBI, and McCabe signed one. Then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, then-acting-DAG Dana Beonte, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed at least one or more renewal applications on behalf of the DOJ].
The letter redacts the names involved. But the press is now reporting, and our sources confirm, that one of the generators of this information was none other than Sidney Blumenthal....
Mr. Blumenthal has declined comment to several media outlets. But our readers will recall that he is a long-time Hillary Clinton operative whom President Obama barred from an official role at State but was later discovered to have sent her policy and political advice via her private email server. This revelation raises questions about the degree to which the Clinton team was involved in the Steele-Fusion effort from the beginning.
Some of our media friends are so invested in the Steele dossier, or in protecting their Fusion pals, or in Donald Trump’s perfidy, that they want to ignore all this. But journalists ought to tell the complete story.
The best way to learn what’s true and false in the Russian influence story is radical transparency, and the Trump Administration should declassify all four FISA applications on Mr. Page and all of the documents behind them. Meanwhile, thanks to the two Senators for helping get closer to the truth."