As Attorney General William Barr prepares to release the redacted final report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, President Trump has continued to hammer the key takeaways from Barr's summary: "No Collusion - No Obstruction!" On Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted out another "dirty" detail that has come to light about what led up to the "collusion" investigation: The former British agent who Democrats paid to compile the dossier that got the collusion narrative rolling reportedly received 11 payments from the FBI in 2016.
"Wow! FBI made 11 payments to Fake Dossier’s discredited author, Trump hater Christopher Steele," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, citing Judicial Watch and One American News Network. "The Witch Hunt has been a total fraud on your President and the American people! It was brought to you by Dirty Cops, Crooked Hillary and the DNC."
On Tuesday, Judicial Watch announced that it had filed a new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice seeking the records of the communication and payments between the FBI and former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele and his private firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.
In the announcement, Judicial Watch lays out some of what they've helped uncover about Steele's involvement with the FBI through previous FOIA lawsuits related to the Clinton campaign and DNC-funded dossier and how it was used in order to obtain FISA warrants to surveil Trump associates:
In a case seeking information between January 1, 2016, and March 8, 2017, Judicial Watch previously released FBI records showing that Steele was cut off as a “Confidential Human Source” in November 2016 after he disclosed his relationship to the FBI to a third party. The documents show that there were at least 11 FBI payments to Steele in 2016.
Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm hired by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, reportedly paid $168,000 in 2016 to Steele’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence.
In a related case, Judicial Watch recently released 339 pages of heavily redacted records from the DOJ revealing Bruce Ohr remained in regular contact with Steele after Steele was terminated by the FBI.
"How and why did the FBI pay Christopher Steele, who was already being funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC through Fusion GPS?" asked Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in the press release Tuesday. "That we had to sue for this basic information shows the FBI may have something more to hide."
Judicial Watch's new FOIA lawsuit requests all communications with Steele and his firm, as well as all records of payments or planned payments to Steele or Orbis, from March 9, 2017, to September 27, 2018.
Trump's declaration that Mueller found "no collusion" and "no obstruction" stems from Barr's summary of Mueller's final report, in which Barr concludes on the question of collusion: "The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: '[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.'" On the report's findings on obstruction of justice, Barr writes: "After making a 'thorough factual investigation' into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards regarding prosecution and conviction but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion — one way or the other — as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. ... The Special Counsel’s report states that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'"
Trump has hit his "Dirty Cops, Dems and Crooked Hillary!" and "No Collusion - No Obstruction!" themes a few times this week. On Monday, the president issued a series of tweets on the topic: "Mueller, and the A.G. based on Mueller findings (and great intelligence), have already ruled No Collusion, No Obstruction. These were crimes committed by Crooked Hillary, the DNC, Dirty Cops and others! INVESTIGATE THE INVESTIGATORS! ... THEY SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN (We will never forget)! ...Since there was no Collusion, why was there an Investigation in the first place! Answer - Dirty Cops, Dems and Crooked Hillary!"