The Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked the Justice Department to hand over documents that he said “undercut” one of British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s sources.
Sen. Lindsey Graham made the request on Monday in a two-page letter to Attorney General William Barr, asking that his committee be provided with five tranches of still-classified documents referenced in DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s Russia investigation.
The South Carolina Republican stressed the importance of his panel having access to the records as it “continues to investigate … abuses related to [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] coverage on Carter Page,” an adviser for the Trump campaign who was suspected of being a foreign agent for Russia but was never charged with wrongdoing.
Graham asked for all records related to the FBI’s interviews with Steele’s primary subsource in January, March, and May 2017 including the “lengthy written summary” of a January 2017 interview written by FBI agents dubbed “Supervisory Intel Analyst” and “Case Agent 1.” He also asked for the two-page “Intelligence Memorandum” provided to Crossfire Hurricane leader Bill Priestap by the supervisory intel analyst in late 2017, which discussed “aspects of the Primary Sub-source’s interview” that raised red flags about Steele.
“Christopher Steele’s election reporting, on which the FBI relied to obtain FISA coverage on Carter Page, was based on information Steele obtained from a source network,” Graham said. “In particular, Steele heavily relied on the information he obtained from an individual identified in the Inspector General’s FISA Report as the ‘Primary Sub-source.’ The FBI identified and interviewed the Primary Sub-source at least three times during the course of the Carter Page FISA investigation, including in January, March, and May of 2017.”
Graham wrote, “During these interviews, the Primary Sub-source substantially undercut Steele’s election reporting, calling into question the accuracy and reliability of any of Steele’s reports.” Still, the senator noted, “the FBI continued to seek renewals for FISA coverage on Carter Page and never informed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of the credibility issues identified by the FBI’s interviews of the Primary Sub-source.”
Graham said the FBI found the primary subsource to be “truthful and cooperative” as he contradicted Steele, and yet “the FBI made it appear to the court that the Primary Sub-source corroborated Steele’s reporting.”
Horowitz found flaws in the FBI’s investigation, and newly declassified footnotes show the bureau was aware Steele’s dossier might have been compromised by Russian disinformation.
Robert Mueller said his special counsel investigation “identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign” but “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Graham also asked the Justice Department to hand over the “analytical documents” put together by the supervisory intel analyst after the primary source interview that “identified inconsistencies between Steele and the Primary Sub-source regarding some of the information contained in Reports 94 and 95,” parts of Steele’s dossier that contained the most salacious and unverified allegations about President Trump and Russia.
The GOP senator additionally asked for the full February 2017 email exchange between FBI special agent Peter Strzok, Priestap, and other bureau investigators, in which Strzok seemed to cast doubt on Steele, saying that “recent interviews and investigation, however, reveal [Steele] may not be in a position to judge the reliability of his sub-source network.” Graham further requested a copy of a March 2017 email exchange between two people dubbed an “Office of Intelligence Attorney” and “Office of General Counsel Attorney” related to the second FISA renewal application and the primary subsource’s credibility. Graham asked the DOJ to hand over a March 2017 email exchange between the supervisory intel analyst and the OGC Attorney, where it cryptically communicated that “the Primary Sub‐source was not [REDACTED] as stated in the FISA applications.”
Horowitz criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the FISA warrants against Page in 2016 and 2017 and for the bureau’s reliance on Steele’s unverified dossier. Steele put his research together at the behest of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which was funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee through the Perkins Coie law firm.
The announcement by Graham comes the day after GOP Rep. Devin Nunes of the House Intelligence Committee signaled his desire to interview a mysterious Trump-Russia figure, Sergei Millian, who allegedly was an unwitting source for Steele’s dossier.
Millian is reportedly listed as both “Source D” and “Source E” in Steele’s dossier, which describes him as a “close associate of Trump” and attributes to him some of the wildest and most salacious allegations about Trump, including the claim about Trump and prostitutes at a hotel during the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, as well as the assertion of a “well-developed conspiracy” between Trump and Russia. Millian has said in the past that he was not a willing source of this information and has disputed its accuracy. He also reached out to Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos during the 2016 campaign.
Millian is additionally believed to be “Person 1” in Horowitz’s report.
Horowitz described Person 1 as a “key Steele sub-source,” who was attributed with providing information in Steele’s dossier. The newly unmasked details say an intelligence document circulated among members of the Crossfire Hurricane team in early October 2016 that showed Person 1 had “historical contact with persons and entities suspected of being linked to [Russian Intelligence Services].” The document reported Person 1 “was rumored to be a former KGB/SVR officer.”
The declassified footnote shows in late December 2016, Justice Department official Bruce Ohr told “SSA 1,” believed to be FBI agent Joseph Pientka, that he met with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, who assessed Person 1 was a “RIS officer” central in connecting Trump to Russia. Horowitz found the FBI “omitted information relevant to the reliability of Person 1” in its FISA applications, including that Steele told members of the Crossfire Hurricane team “Person 1″ was a “boaster” and an “egoist,” who “may engage in some embellishment.” The bureau also did not tell the FISA court “the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation on Person 1 a few days before the FISA application was filed.”
The primary subsource about whom Graham seeks more information dismissed many of the claims that Steele sourced to Person 1 as being untrue.