The FBI was aware of issues with ex-British spy Christopher Steele’s work but kept the information out of an important documents after agreeing to do so in order to learn about Steele’s credibility.
In other words, to assess Steele’s credibility, the FBI agreed not to include its assessment of Steele’s credibility in a document maintained by the FBI regarding Steele as a confidential source.
The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross reported that Bill Priestap, former FBI chief of counterintelligence, “told Justice Department investigators he agreed not to disclose information he learned about Christopher Steele as a precondition for a meeting with British government officials regarding the former MI6 officer, according to recently declassified information.”
Priestap and Peter Strzok, the infamous ex-FBI agent who had an affair and talked about an “insurance policy” against then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016, met with officials in the United Kingdom in 2016 to look into Steele’s credibility. Steel compiled the infamous “Steel Dossier” that was used to claim Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton and to obtain FISA warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
More from Ross:
Priestap and Strzok received mixed reviews about Steele from his former colleagues, according to a Justice Department inspector general’s report on the FBI’s probe.
Some vouched for Steele’s honesty and integrity, but several others questioned his judgement and “lack of self-awareness.” Some colleagues described Steele as “smart,” and a “person of integrity,” their notes said.
“[I]f he reported it, he believed it,” one contact said.
But their notes also reflected negative reviews on Steele. He “[d]emonstrates lack of self-awareness, poor judgment,” was “underpinned by poor judgment,” and “[r]eporting in good faith, but not clear what he would have done to validate,” one source said.
Ross reported that Priestap and Strzok went to assess Steele’s credibility weeks after the FBI already used his dossier to obtain the surveillance warrants against Page. Priestap and Strzok shared the information they learned about Steele with the people already investigating Trump on Steele’s trumped up claims, but the information was not included in Steele’s “Delta File,” which is kept on the FBI’s confidential sources.
“Because the information was not in Steele’s file, it was not used to assess Steele’s validity as an FBI source for the Trump investigation. The FBI also did not share the information in three additional applications for FISA orders against Page,” Ross explained.
When Priestap was asked why the negative information was kept out of Steele’s file, he told the Inspector General’s office that he “may have made a commitment” to MI6 – Steele’s former employer – “not to document the former employer’s views on Steele as a condition for obtaining the information.”
As The Daily Wire reported in March 2019, Steele’s former MI6 boss, Sir John Scarlett, refused to answer a reporter’s question about what it was like to work with Steele. Scarlett also called the information in Steele’s dossier “overrated.”
“I looked at it and I thought these are commercial intelligence reports; I don’t know about the sources — they might be right, they might be wrong and they’ll probably be overrated and they’ve been overrated,” Scarlett said at the time.
It is unclear whether Scarlett is the source of the negative information about Steele included in the FBI report.
The Steele Dossier was already decimated by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, who found that the FBI knew in early 2017 that Steele was fed Russian disinformation and included it in the dossier. Still, the FBI used it against Trump.