Revelations over the past few days and weeks about the FBI’s Russia collusion probe raise more than enough questions to warrant a renewed government investigation into actions taken at the agency during James Comey’s tenure there.
Below is a list of just some of the revelations from the newly declassified documents that spotlight possible misdeeds of the FBI in investigating now debunked claims of collusion between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign. The list includes disclosures from the past three weeks alone.
- FBI notes show internal motivations on interviewing Michael Flynn “to get him to lie” and “get him fired.”
The smoking-gun notes were written by Bill Priestap, the FBI’s former head of counterintelligence, documenting conclusions from a meeting with Comey and then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
“What is our goal?” one note reads. “Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”
The note discussed whether the FBI should get Flynn “to admit to breaking the Logan Act” during a conversation he had with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
The Logan Act is an obscure law banning negotiation by unauthorized American citizens with foreign governments in dispute with the U.S. It was only used twice to indict to Americans – once in 1802 and another in 1852. Neither case ended in a conviction.
- Comey used Steele’s dossier despite the FBI internally finding contradictory information about its claims.
Another newly released bombshell footnote in the IG report documents that the FBI was not only aware Steele’s dossier was potentially influenced by Russian “disinformation”; the agency also had information from sources totally denying some of Steele’s main claims.
- Comey’s FBI relied on Steele despite the agency’s own warnings about him.
As early as 2015, a unit within the FBI was skeptical of Steele’s Russian contacts and recommended that his work be put through a validation review.
The FBI, however, did not conduct such a review until 2017 and, even then, didn’t include the results of the review in Steele’s official file at the agency’s electronic record-keeping system, the newly declassified documents reveal.
As detailed above and below, the FBI review found major problems with Steele’s reporting. There is no evidence the FISA court was told about these findings.
- Comey’s FISA applications omitted a claim about the FBI having no known critiques of Steele.
The newly declassified documents show that a senior official in the FBI under Comey was told early on from Steele’s professional colleagues that they found Steele to possess traits evidencing “poor judgement,” a “lack of self-awareness,” and issues with validating claims. The official was provided this assessment as part of an FBI review of Steele’s reliability.
The negative findings about Steele’s character were collected in November and December of 2016 from meetings with professional colleagues who were aware of Steele’s work performance in a previous position, the declassified documents show.
At issue for Comey is a sentence about Steele’s reliability that appeared on the first warrant obtained from the FISA court to spy on Page but went conspicuously missing from three renewal applications.
On October 20, 2016, the original FISA warrant signed by Comey told the FISA court in an extensive footnote that the FBI was “unaware of any derogatory information” about Steele.
The language in the same footnote on renewal applications omitted the sentence that the FBI was “unaware of any derogatory information” about Steele. The findings with potentially derogatory information about Steele collected by the FBI were not added to that footnote.
Instead, the same footnote informed the FISA court that “in or about October 2016,” the FBI had to “suspend its relationship” with Steele because of his “unauthorized disclosure of information to the press.”
Not only did the FBI’s three FISA renewal applications not mention the potentially derogatory information it collected on Steele in that footnote, it used the same footnote to seemingly deceptively continue to uphold Steele’s alleged reliability. The footnote assessed Steele as being “reliable” even though he spoke to the media.
Even after directly cutting off Steele over his decision to speak to a media outlet, there are numerous reports the FBI continued to obtain Steele’s Russia collusion claims about the Trump campaign via Bruce Ohr, a career Justice Department official.
- The FBI used a left-wing conspiracy theory to obtain the FISA warrants and spy on Page.
The newly declassified documents show that in order to build its dubious case of Russian collusion to the FISA court, Comey’s FBI utilized the misleading Democratic Party talking point that Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign had the Republican Party platform gutted so as to “not provide defensive weapons to Ukraine.”
The talking point originates with a discredited opinion piece published in the Washington Post, which relied on accusations from one platform committee member, a Ted Cruz supporter.
The charge remains so unproven that even the left-leaning PolitiFact failed to reach a judgement on the issue, allowing that “it’s hard to use those news reports as evidence in this fact-check.”