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18 Dec, 2020 12:14

Discredited Steele dossier was ‘intended to influence’ media, ex-FBI agent Strzok says in newly released text message

Discredited Steele dossier was ‘intended to influence’ media, ex-FBI agent Strzok says in newly released text message

A report filled with unverified claims about Donald Trump that prompted a probe into his alleged ties to Russia, was tailored to score points with the press, ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok suggests, in a recently declassified message.

Senate Republicans on Thursday released a new batch of text messages from Strzok, who was fired by the FBI in 2018 after internal communications showed that he wanted to use the agency’s investigation into Russian collusion as an “insurance policy” to attack Trump if he won the White House. 

In one newly revealed message dated September 23, 2016, Strzok appears to acknowledge that the dodgy dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, and later used by the FBI to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump campaign, could at the very least be used to create a media narrative. Referring to a Yahoo article based on an unnamed source that alleged Trump campaign adviser Carter Page attended a secret summit in Moscow with two Kremlin insiders, Strzok wrote: “I would definitely say at a minimum Steele’s reports should be viewed as intended to influence as well as to inform.”

The FBI ended its relationship with Steele after it became clear that he was leaking information to the press. However, the agency failed to inform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that Steele had been a source for the Yahoo article, which was used to corroborate the dossier and obtain a warrant to spy on Page. In January 2020, a court ruled that two of the four warrant applications submitted by the FBI to snoop on Page were “invalid.”

Another newly-released Strzok message, from January 12, 2017, shows that the FBI recorded a phone call between former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and an unnamed executive at Fox News. Notably, the Justice Department never obtained a warrant to spy on Papadopoulos or Fox, and likely used a so-called National Security Letter to carry out the surveillance.

Steele’s infamous dossier, which was part of an opposition research campaign commissioned by the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, has been widely discredited since it first appeared in the media four years ago. 

In September, it was revealed that the FBI knew that Steele’s primary source for the document had been flagged as a national security threat and was investigated in 2009 as a possible Russian agent. 

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