Former officials are fighting over who deserves blame.
Here’s what you need to know: In rushing out their assessment of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Obama-administration officials chose not to include the risible Steele-dossier allegations that they had put in their “VERIFIED APPLICATION” for warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) because . . . wait for it . . . the allegations weren’t verified.
And now, the officials are squabbling over who pushed the dossier. Why? Because the dossier — a Clinton-campaign opposition-research screed, based on anonymous Russian sources peddling farcical hearsay, compiled by a well-paid foreign operative (former British spy Christopher Steele) — is crumbling by the day.
As I write, we mark the two-year anniversary of Robert Mueller’s appointment to take over the Russiagate probe — which is fast transforming into the Spygate probe. Special Counsel Mueller inherited the investigation seven months after the Obama Justice Department and FBI sought a FISC warrant to monitor former Trump-campaign adviser Carter Page. By then, it was already acknowledged that dossier information was “salacious and unverified,” to quote congressional testimony by former FBI director James Comey.
That was problematic on a number of levels.
If dossier claims were still unverified when Comey testified to Congress in mid 2017 (and thereafter), then those claims could not have been verified when the Obama Justice Department and FBI submitted it to the FISC as a “VERIFIED APPLICATION” in October 2016. It also had to have been unverified on January 6, 2017, when the Obama administration chose to include a sliver of the dossier in the briefing of President-elect Trump — the day after intelligence chiefs met with President Obama in the Oval Office and discussed what Russia information should be shared with the incoming Trump team.
Indeed, as I’ve pointed out before, a January 2018 memo that has not gotten nearly enough attention, written by Judiciary Committee Senators Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), recounts then-director Comey’s concession that there was no meaningful corroboration of the dossier. Rather, the FBI and Justice Department included it in the “VERIFIED APPLICATION” because they trusted Steele (who, I note for the zillionth time, was not a source of information but an accumulator and purveyor of information from unverified sources. Steele’s credibility, consequently, was beside the point). more here