FBI agents determined to discover evidence that President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russia to steal the election used selective leaks to the media to justify continuing its investigation.
Chuck Ross, an investigative journalist at the Daily Caller News Foundation, has outlined five examples of the FBI using so-called news hooks to advance its probe into the Trump campaign. In one of the most extreme cases, fired FBI Director James Comey actually used a media leak to push for the appointment of a special counsel. That special counsel, Robert Mueller, spent two years investigating claims of Russian collusion and found no evidence to suggest the Trump campaign worked with the hostile nation to win the election.
“Prominent media outlets played a key role in advancing the now-debunked theory that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government. Much of that media manipulation centered around the infamous Steele dossier, which the Clinton campaign and DNC funded,” Ross reported. “Christopher Steele, a former British spy, briefed numerous reporters, the FBI, Department of Justice (DOJ), State Department and think tank officials on his dossier. The FBI’s possession of the dossier itself would eventually serve as a news hook that allowed Steele’s unverified allegations to make their way into public view.”
It was Comey who used the dossier to advance the investigation. He briefed incoming President Trump on the dossier’s existence, thereby allowing the media to report on the dossier and launch the narrative that Trump colluded with Russia. The FBI then used those media reports to advance its probe into the incoming Trump administration.
Former FBI agent Peter Strzok used the publication of the dossier to interview more people who worked with Trump, texting his lover, former FBI attorney Lisa Page, that he and other agents were discussing whether to use the published dossier “as a pretext to go interview some people.”
“Weeks after the dossier was published, two FBI agents would investigate former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos for the first time. Court documents show that the investigators initially told Papadopoulos that they wanted to speak to him about an associate, Sergei Millian, who had been identified in the media as a possible unwitting source for the dossier,” Ross reported.
In another instance, the “FBI also seized on a seemingly illegal leak of classified information to the media in order to advance its investigation of Michael Flynn,” Ross continued.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Flynn’s phone call with then-Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak was leaked to The Washington Post, who questioned whether Flynn violated an obscure U.S. law known as the Logan Act during the conversation. Fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe would use the Post article to interview Flynn – without an attorney. FBI agents who interviewed Flynn had a transcript of Flynn’s phone call, while Flynn did not. Flynn was accused of lying to the FBI, though it now appears as though he simply didn’t recall details exactly as they happened, since his phone call with Kislyak was unremarkable and had taken place a month before the FBI interviewed him. The Department of Justice has since dropped charges against Flynn for lying to the FBI.
The final example Ross noted was the numerous news reports used to further the FBI’s investigation into former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
“Applications for FISA orders that the FBI submitted on Page in 2016 and 2017 show at least three areas where news reports about the Trump aide were used to open up new lines of inquiry or to make the case that he was working for Russia,” Ross reported.
Claims that Page orchestrated a change to the 2016 GOP platform regarding Ukraine and that he was a Russian agent were eventually debunked, though the FBI ignored obvious evidence that was never the case to begin with, a DOJ Inspector General found in December 2019.
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