Steele ID’d as news source FBI used for Page wire­tap

FISA ap­pli­ca­tion lacks cor­rob­o­rat­ing ev­i­dence

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY ROWAN SCAR­BOR­OUGH

Two pieces of ev­i­dence that have come to­gether prove anti-Trump dossier writer Christo­pher Steele was the key source for a Ya­hoo News story that the FBI cited to sup­port its wire­tap ap­pli­ca­tion.

Iden­ti­fy­ing the source of that Septem­ber 2016 ar­ti­cle on Trump cam­paign vol­un­teer Carter Page has taken on added im­por­tance in re­cent weeks.

First, Rep. Devin Nunes, Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can and chair­man of the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, is­sued a de­clas­si­fied memo on Feb. 2. It said the FBI re­lied greatly on Mr. Steele’s dis­cred­ited Democrat­fi­nanced dossier to ob­tain a sur­veil­lance war­rant on Mr. Page.

To bol­ster the dossier’s charge that Mr. Page met with two Krem­lin fig­ures in Moscow, the FBI cited the Ya­hoo News ar­ti­cle, which said the same thing.

But the Nunes memo said the FBI, in its For­eign Sur­veil­lance In­tel­li­gence Act ap­pli­ca­tion, wasn’t cor­rob­o­rat­ing the dossier be­cause the Page ac­cu­sa­tion in Ya­hoo came from the same source: Mr. Steele.

“The Carter Page FISA ap­pli­ca­tion also cited ex­ten­sively a Septem­ber 23, 2016 Ya­hoo News ar­ti­cle by Michael Isikoff, which fo­cuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow,” the memo states. “This ar­ti­cle does not cor­rob­o­rate the Steele dossier be­cause it is de­rived from in­for­ma­tion leaked by Steele him­self to Ya­hoo News.”

Mr. Nunes cited Mr. Steele’s tes­ti­mony, through his at­tor­neys, in a Lon­don court case in which he is be­ing sued for li­bel.

Then came a Demo­cratic re­but­tal from Rep. Adam B. Schiff of Cal­i­for­nia, a lead­ing dossier sup­porter.

Mr. Schiff, the House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee’s top Demo­crat, said Re­pub­li­cans failed to “cite ev­i­dence that Steele dis­closed to Ya­hoo de­tails in­cluded in the FISA war­rant, since the Bri­tish Court fil­ings to which they re­fer do not ad­dress what Steele may have said to Ya­hoo.”

This as­ser­tion is im­por­tant to Democrats. They are try­ing to bol­ster the FBI as it pur­sues col­lu­sion charges be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia, and also sup­port Mr. Steele, whose un­ver­i­fied ac­cu­sa­tions they have re­peat­edly cited.

The two pieces of ev­i­dence that say Mr. Steele was in fact the source:

In the Lon­don court case, Mr. Steele ac­knowl­edged that he came to the U.S. in Septem­ber 2016 at the re­quest of Fu­sion GPS, which paid him with Demo­cratic Party money. He met with a num­ber of ma­jor news rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in­clud­ing The New York Times and The Washington Post as he tried to sell his ex­plo­sive charges. In­cluded in Mr. Steele’s list of ap­point­ments was a meet­ing with Mr. Isikoff.

Mr. Isikoff sub­se­quently wrote a story that matched the dossier. Both the dossier and the Ya­hoo story said Mr. Page met with two U.S.-sanc­tioned Rus­sians, Ros­neft oil chief Igor Sechin and Vladimir Putin aide Igor Diveykin. Mr. Isikoff sourced the in­for­ma­tion not to Mr. Steele but to a “West­ern in­tel­li­gence source.”

Mr. Page, whose trip to Moscow was for a public speech at a univer­sity, has re­peat­edly de­nied un­der oath that he met the two men. The former Moscow res­i­dent and en­ergy in­vestor has de­cried the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into him, in­clud­ing the nearly one-year-long wire­tap, which he says found no wrong­do­ing.

Af­ter Mr. Schiff wrote his re­but­tal to the Nunes memo on Jan. 31, Mr. Isikoff, a long­time jour­nal­ist in Washington with a num­ber of scoops to his credit, posted an edi­tion of his pod­cast, “Skull­dug­gery,” on Feb. 2. Through the Nunes memo, Mr. Isikoff had just learned and said he was sur­prised that the FBI re­lied on his ar­ti­cle be­fore the FISA court judge.

He told about be­ing sum­moned by his “old friend,” Fu­sion GPS co-founder Glenn Simp­son, to a pri­vate room in a Washington ho­tel to meet the former spy from Bri­tain.

“Steele tells me an amaz­ing story,” Mr. Isikoff said. “One of Don­ald Trump’s for­eign pol­icy ad­vis­ers, Carter Page, had flown to Moscow and held pri­vate talks with close as­so­ciates of Vladimir Putin about lift­ing U.S. sanc­tions against Rus­sia. And Steele tells me some­thing else that day that gets my at­ten­tion. He has taken this in­for­ma­tion to the FBI, and the bureau is very in­ter­ested. Why were they in­ter­ested? What did the bureau know that would prompt them to take the next step of launch­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into an ad­viser to the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee for pres­i­dent?”

Mr. Isikoff sub­se­quently wrote the ar­ti­cle that ended up in the FBI’s FISA pe­ti­tion. His pod­cast sealed the case for Mr. Nunes.

This prompts the ques­tion: Why did the FBI be­lieve that the dossier sec­tion about Mr. Page and the Isikoff ar­ti­cle came from col­lab­o­rat­ing sources?

The an­swer lies in a de­clas­si­fied re­fer­ral sent to the Jus­tice De­part­ment from Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley, Iowa Repub­li­can, and Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, South Car­olina Repub­li­can.

The two said the ev­i­dence sug­gests that Mr. Steele lied to the FBI when he de­nied be­ing the source. They have asked the Jus­tice De­part­ment to in­ves­ti­gate him.

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