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17 Jan, 2019 18:31

Transcripts reveal FBI & DOJ were warned in 2016 about ‘bias’ in Steele dossier & ‘links’ to Clinton

Transcripts reveal FBI & DOJ were warned in 2016 about ‘bias’ in Steele dossier & ‘links’ to Clinton

FBI and DOJ officials were warned in 2016 that the infamous anti-Trump Steele dossier was likely biased, but they ignored the warning and used the document to obtain a FISA warrant to spy on a Trump campaign official.

Justice Department official Bruce Ohr briefed the then-deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, a top DOJ official, and a lawyer for then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch about his concerns surrounding the objectivity of the Steele dossier, according to transcripts of a closed-door meeting between Ohr and congressional investigators, which were first published this week by the Epoch Times.

Two of the people Ohr warned about the document are now part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. One of them, Andrew Weissmann, is now Mueller's top deputy.

Ohr also discussed this information with FBI lawyer Lisa Page and FBI agent Peter Strzok who has since been fired in relation to anti-Trump texts exchanged between himself and Page. It is not new information that Ohr made these warnings to officials in 2016, but it is the first time transcripts of exactly what he said have been made public.

According to the transcripts, Ohr told the FBI and DOJ officials that Steele's dossier, which contained salacious allegations about Trump and his alleged activities in Russia, was essentially opposition research linked to Hillary Clinton's campaign and that it therefore might be biased. In relaying this information, Ohr told the officials that while he thought Steele believed the information in the dossier was true, that the British ex-spy was also “desperate” to ensure Trump was not elected.

“I don’t know if I used the term opposition research, but certainly that was my—what I tried to convey to them. I told them this is the information I had gotten from Chris Steele,” Ohr said. “At some point, and I don’t remember exactly when...I told them that Chris Steele was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected.”

Ohr also told congressional investigators that he had conveyed to officials that his wife, Nellie Ohr, was employed by Fusion GPS, the PR firm which had produced the dossier, and that she worked on compiling the research. He also told them he had known Steele for years and that Fusion GPS had links to the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

A portion of the transcripts confirmed by Fox News, show that when Ohr — who worked as a key conduit between Steele and the FBI — provided the bureau with Steele’s information, he also told them he did not know how reliable it was and that they should “be aware” that it was coming from people who were “related to” the Clinton campaign. He said he didn’t know at the time that the DNC had actually hired Fusion GPS, but he was aware that they were “somehow working” or “associated” with Clinton’s campaign.

Also on rt.com Reasons to doubt the veracity of the ‘Steele dossier’ on Trump are still emerging

Ohr's testimony also appears to contradict a memo from Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee which said that Republicans had “overstated” the significance of his interactions with Steele and misled regarding the timeframe of his communications with FBI officials. The Democratic memo says Ohr told the FBI about his contacts with Steele in November 2016, but in Ohr's testimony to congress, he said he met with them in August 2016, before the FISA warrant on Page was obtained.

The transcripts also revealed that the FBI tried to re-engage with Steele six months after he was dropped as a source for leaking information to the media and that Ohr still served as a conduit between Steele and the FBI long after his dismissal.

Asked by investigators why he worked as a go-between between the FBI and Steele when he knew Steele's information might be unreliable, Ohr said he thought the information “might be important” and he believed the FBI could look into it and decide if it was “useful or credible.” Ohr admitted that passing such information to FBI officials like Strzok and Page, who were later exposed for their anti-Trump bias, might be “troubling” to people.

Also on rt.com Steele dossier’s main claims ‘likely false,’ admits journalist who helped launch Russiagate

Despite being aware of these links and the obvious possibility for bias in the Steele dossier, however, officials used the document weeks later as a major piece of evidence to secure a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. This suggests that the FBI and DOJ officials possibly misled federal judges when obtaining that warrant.

Last year, a redacted version of the FISA warrant was released which showed no mention of connections between the Steele dossier and Clinton or the DNC. Steele was presented as a reliable source who had simply been hired by a US law firm to research Trump's Russia connections.

The application did not mention that this law firm, Perkins Coie, represented the DNC and the Clinton campaign, and had been paying Fusion GPS — the PR firm which was, in turn, paying Steele. 

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