The FBI claimed in its initial FISA warrant application and three following renewals that were used to spy on former Trump 2016 aide Carter Page that it did not believe former British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele had supplied information to a Yahoo News reporter who wrote about the investigation into Page.
The FBI used reporter Michael Isikoff’s article as justification for the warrant against Page as a way to claim it did not use Steele’s infamous and dubious “dossier” as a source for the warrant. According to newly released redacted transcripts of FBI interviews with DOJ attorney Bruce Ohr, it appears the FBI was aware — at least for the three renewals — that Steele was Isikoff’s source yet failed to change their reasoning.
The first FISA warrant against Page was issued on October 2016. On November 22, 2016, Ohr told the FBI that Steele, Isikoff, and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson (who hired Steele to create the dossier on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s campaign) had been meeting.
“OHR met [redacted] in Washington, D.C. in late September, possibly close to the time when the Yahoo news article was published on September 23, 2016,” read the Ohr notes.
“Simpson and [redacted] could have met with Yahoo or Michael Isikoff jointly, but OHR does not know if they did,” they continued.
It was already known that Steele was the source for Isikoff’s article because they both said they met in mid-September 2016. The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross pointed to Steele’s May 18, 2017 British court filing that he had met with several reporters, including reporters from Yahoo. Isikoff finally acknowledged in 2018 that he had met with Steele and Simpson in mid-September 2016. As Ross noted, most of the reporters briefed on Steele’s allegations ignored them for lack of evidence. Not Isikoff.
Isikoff’s admission to meeting with Steele came long after the FBI stopped renewing FISA warrants to spy on Page. Steele’s admission in court filings came a month before the final FISA warrant was issued.
But Ohr’s statements make it clear that the FBI must have or should have known that Steele was the source of Isikoff’s article. In a footnote in the FISA warrants against Page, the FBI noted “The FBI does not believe that Source #1 directly provided this information to the identified news organization that published the September 23rd News Article,” believing instead that the information indirectly made its way to that news organization.
Whether it was direct or indirect, Steele was still the source for Isikoff’s article, yet it has still been used to independently corroborate the dossier and obtain warrants against Page.
The Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General and Attorney General William Barr are each investigating the origins of the FISA warrants used to spy on Page and other Trump associates during and after the 2016 election.