On the same day that President Trump tweeted more details about the relationship between the FBI and the "Trump hater" Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent who compiled the Democrat-funded dossier that got the Russia collusion narrative rolling, Politico reported that the Department of Justice is conducting an investigation that "will likely take direct aim" at Steele. Steele, Politico reports, is refusing to cooperate; meanwhile, more questions about his credibility have come to light.
"Wow! FBI made 11 payments to Fake Dossier’s discredited author, Trump hater Christopher Steele," Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. "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." In the tweet, Trump cited Judicial Watch, which announced Tuesday that it had filed a new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking more records of the communication and payments between the FBI and Steele and his private firm, Orbis Business Intelligence. (Read more here.)
In its report on DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz's investigation of Steele, Politico also notes that the FBI worked with Steele in 2016, which largely ended "after learning that Steele had described his Trump campaign research to reporters," though Steele maintained contact with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, whose wife worked for Fusion GPS. Horowitz is "intensely focused on gauging Steele’s credibility as a source for the bureau," Politico reports, noting that one former U.S. official got a sense that the IG "is going to try and deeply undermine" Steele.
But Steele is refusing to cooperate, citing "the potential impropriety of his involvement in an internal Justice Department investigation as a foreign national and former British intelligence agent," Politico reports.
Fusion GPS, hired by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton Campaign to conduct opposition research on Trump, contracted with Steele in 2016. The dossier he compiled for the firm contained sensational accusations about Trump that have never been verified yet was used to help secure a FISA surveillance warrant on Trump associate Carter Page. Special Counsel Robert Mueller never charged Page with anything. Horowitz's investigation is looking into how that FISA warrant was obtained, including the role of Steele's "dirty" dossier in the process.
In its report, Politico provides some more background on Steele and his work with the FBI that raises even more questions about his credibility:
In 2010, Steele delivered information to the bureau’s Eurasian Organized Crime squad about corruption within the international soccer league FIFA, with links to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, that led to the ouster of longtime FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the indictment of several FIFA officials.
The inspector general’s office has concluded that Steele inflated his worth to the bureau in that case, and did little more than introduce agents to a journalist who had obtained hacked documents, according to two people who were interviewed and briefed on the matter. For the FBI to have formalized its relationship with Steele — paying him an undisclosed amount beginning in 2013 — as a result of his FIFA role may therefore have been bad judgment, the inspector general’s team has intimated. Horowitz’s probe also appears set to cast doubt on the veracity of the information Steele provided about Page that the FBI included in its application for a FISA warrant.
Politico notes that in 2015, "Steele was producing intelligence that appeared to rely not just on a single journalist but on high-level Russian insiders. One Steele report from June of that year, reviewed by POLITICO, cited both a senior Russian lawyer and 'a close Russian confidante' of then-Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin." (Read Politico's full report here.)
H/T The Daily Caller