Don’t forget the batting order. Last Friday Senator Chuck Grassley sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray formally demanding a Mandatory Declassification Review of the classified criminal referral Chairman Lindsey Graham and Chairman Grassley sent to the FBI and Justice Department regarding Christopher Steele’s potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. The response date is tomorrow, February 6th, 2018.
WASHINGTON – The Federal Bureau of Investigation signed off on an unclassified version of the criminal referral by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham only after the White House declassified a House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) Majority memo largely based on the same underlying documents. Grassley is now calling on the FBI to update the classification of the referral to allow complete disclosure of important context from the documents on which it is based.
“Seeking transparency and cooperation should not be this challenging. The government should not be blotting out information that it admits isn’t secret, and it should not take dramatic steps by Congress and the White House to get answers that the American people are demanding. There are still many questions that can only be answered by complete transparency. That means declassifying as much of the underlying documents as possible,” Grassley said.
Here’s the redacted Grassley Memo:
On January 4, Senator Grassley and Senator Graham referred Christopher Steele, the author of an unverified “Trump dossier,” to the FBI for further investigation after reviewing Justice Department documents that conflicted with Steele’s sworn statements in British court about the distribution of his research.
At the time of the referral, the existence of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications described in the HPSCI memo was still classified. Grassley had sought the FBI’s cooperation to confirm that portions of the referral derived from sources other than the applications were unclassified. Following weeks of consultation, the FBI asked the committee to redact additional material despite confirming that it was, in fact, not classified, and only approved the release of the unclassified, heavily-redacted version of the referral after the White House formally declassified the House memo.
While the HPSCI Majority memo is no longer classified, the underlying text of the FISA applications that it references is still controlled by the Executive Branch. The Grassley-Graham referral contains verbatim quotes from the FISA applications that are not included in the HPSCI memo.
Specifically, the referral quotes the government’s description of Steele’s statements to the FBI about his contacts with the media. Those quotes remain redacted in the version currently approved for public release. Friday evening, Grassley formally requested the FBI to update the classification of the referral and remove the extensive redactions to allow a more complete understanding and better inform the public debate.
That letter follows:
If we consider the ramifications here, we can see how the Nunes memo and the Grassley Memo compliment each other. As Chuck Ross points out: “The FBI reviewed the referral for classified information and approved the release of the document in heavily redacted form.”
It has two bombshell revelations.
“There is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one which bears on his credibility,” Graham and Grassley wrote to Wray and Rosenstein.
Much of their letter refers to Steele’s contacts with media outlets prior to the 2016 election. Steele has disclosed in court filings in London that he held off-the-record meetings with reporters at several news outlets prior to the election.
[…] Steele’s dossier, which includes 17 memos in all, was published on Jan. 10, 2017 by BuzzFeed.
But according to Grassley and Graham, Steele wrote another memo — one dated Oct. 19, 2016 — that was not part of the BuzzFeed dossier.
In that memo, Steele stated that he received information from someone at the State Department. The identity of the contact is redacted in the Grassley-Graham letter, as are other portions of the document.
The information originated with “a foreign sub-source” who had been in touch with a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. That Clinton associate, whose name is redacted, passed it on to another person.
Though the identities of the State Department official and Clinton associate are unclear, there has been some reporting recently that sheds some light on the matter.
The Guardian reported last week that Clinton hatchet man Cody Shearer compiled a dossier of his own prior to the election and that Steele passed some of the information to the FBI. Shearer has long worked on dirty tricks campaigns for Democrats and the Clintons. […] One recently retired State Department official has emerged at the center of the dossier controversy.
Jonathan Winer, the State Department’s special envoy to Libya, recently disclosed that he met Steele in Summer 2016 and was provided information about Trump.
Winer wrote a two-page memo based on Steele’s information and briefed then-Sec. of State John Kerry.
Winer served as counsel to Kerry when he served in the Senate. The Washington Post reported last week that the State Department did not do anything with Steele’s information. Instead, they reached out to the FBI and determined that the bureau had already been in contact with the former spy.
Grassley said Monday that he is calling on the FBI to conduct another review of the referral on Steele and to “allow complete disclosure of important context from the documents on which it is based.” (read more)
Let’s take a look at those redactions: IF we have this right (fitting the names to the redactions) Steele received a report from Jonathan Winer at State, who in turn had received info from Sid Blumenthal (Hillary’s BFF), who in turn received it from Cody Shearer’s sub-source.
Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer were also in the list of names that Grassley sent to DNC requesting communication.
So Hillary’s henchmen with whom she communicates with regularly, Sidney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer, fed information to Jonathan Winer at the State Department who then briefed Secretary of State John Kerry and fed it to Christopher Steele (under hire from the Clinton campaign) – who then fed the briefing memo to FBI.
Nice laundry system you got there, huh? Turning unfounded gossip and accusations into officially sounding intelligence information.
This is a similar pattern to how the Clinton campaign fed opposition research to the DOJ:
Fusion GPS (Glenn Simpson) opposition research, to Nellie Ohr (Fusion Employee), to her husband DOJ Deputy Attorney Bruce Ohr, to Christopher Steele, to media leaks and back to the FBI to validate ongoing efforts.
More information laundry. Opposition research become intelligence information.