I recently wrote a column concerning a pattern of willful blindness by the media as new evidence emerges of serious wrongdoing by the FBI in the origin and continuation of the Russian collusion investigation. The latest information comes from the Senate Intelligence Committee which released a declassified briefing report to the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2018 on the Steele dossier’s Primary Sub-source. It is hard to read the document linked below and not conclude that the FBI misled the Congress on the subject. This occurred after the FBI misled the FISA court, including the submission of falsified documents to continue the surveillance.
The statement that most stands out from the briefing is that the Primary Sub-source “did not cite any significant concerns with the way his reporting was characterized in the dossier to the extent he could identify it.”
Keep in mind that this is a statement made in 2018. FBI agents had already warned that dossier author Christopher Steele may have been used by Russian intelligence to plant false information to disrupt the election. Indeed, Steele’s allegations were quickly discredited by the FBI. In 2017, key agents were aware that the basis for the FISA applications were dubious and likely false. Yet it continued the investigation, and then someone leaked its existence to the media. Both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified that they would not have signed off on surveillance if they knew this information at the time. Yet, the media seems uninterested in how this countervailing information was buried, even in briefings to the intelligence committees.
Another declassified document shows that, after the New York Times ran a leaked story on the investigation, even Strzok had balked at the account as misleading and inaccurate the year before. His early 2017 memo affirmed that there was no evidence of any individuals in collusion with Russians. This information came as the collusion stories were turning into a frenzy that would last years.
The reference to the sub-source in the new document is particularly troubling because that individual told the FBI that he “has no idea” where some of the language attributed to him came from in the Steele report. He expressly denied being the source for some of the information. That would seem a tad more than even a “significant concern.” Yet, the Senate was told he had no significant concerns. In fact, he said that he “never mentioned” the information and “did not know the origins” of information. On some point, he said he had no recollection of ever giving the information to Steele. He also directly contradicted Steele in how he characterized the information.
The report also states that “[a]t minimum, our discussions with [the Primary Sub-source] confirm that the dossier was not fabricated by Steele.”
However, again, the sub-source said that he had no idea where some of the information attributed to him came from. That would seem to contradict this statement directly. He said that he has “zero” corroboration for some of the information while other claims were just stuff that he heard over drinks or was meant in “jest.”
The point is not that this source is clearly telling the truth or that this proves a deep-state conspiracy. Rather, the question is why this document has received virtually no media attention — as with earlier declassified documents. It is at best misleading by omission and at worse intentionally false in its briefing of a congressional intelligence committee. The media spent years exploring every possible claim of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, which were found to be baseless. Yet, these recent documents raise serious questions of false statements to Congress to keep that investigation going. These serious allegations of false statements and false evidence in an investigation that targeted figures associated with the opposing party and its presidential campaign. Indeed, the recent documents show, in direct contradiction of prior statements, the FBI used briefings with Trump as part of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. The response from the media? Crickets. Nada. Not interested.
We should be interested. This is why I continue to support the investigation by John Durham and why former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has called for continuing these investigations. The problem is that there seems a virtual new blackout on the new evidence being declassified. After using tanker loads of ink on the unfounded collusion theories, the media seems unwilling to use a drop of ink on the evidence of misconduct in pursuing that investigation. In today’s echo-journalistic world, there is no place for such stories that challenge the prior narrative.
This declassified document and other related material may be accessed at the following link: judiciary.senate.gov/fisa-investigation.