Last Friday Chairman Grassley asked FBI Director Chris Wray to remove the prior redactions and declassify the underlying supportive documents; known as the “Grassley Memo”. FBI Director Wray did not remove all redactions; but did remove most. Here is the newest version (pdf link here):
With the HPSCI memo now in the rear-view mirror, and the content in the bloodstream of the U.S. electorate, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is next.
Toward the end of December, the FBI provided the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, with FBI investigative documents (likely FD-302’s) from their contacts with Christopher Steele. According to most reasonable timing we can discover Steele met with FBI officials sometime around October 1st, 2016.
From the U.K. lawsuit against Christopher Steele (pdf here), Steele admits to having shopped the Clinton-Steele dossier to U.S. media outlets “in person” in late September (New York Times, WaPo, New Yorker and CNN), and mid-October, 2016 (New York Times, WaPo, and Yahoo News), per instructions from Glenn Simpson (Fusion GPS):
Additionally, in late October, 2016, Christopher Steele briefed Mother Jones via Skype.
According to the released HPSCI intelligence memo, the FBI sought a FISA application based on the Steele Dossier on October 21st, 2016. From those UK court records at least two briefings with reporters, containing five outlets, took place prior to the FBI using the Clinton-Steele dossier in their FISA application.
The “late September” briefings with the New York Times, Washington Post, Yahoo News, New Yorker and CNN took place prior to Christopher Steele meeting with FBI officials early October. The implication therein is that the FBI had to know prior to their October 21st, 2016, court application that the information they were presenting to the FISA court was being heavily shopped to media outlets. This would be immediately disqualifying.
However, in the released HPSCI memo, it is noted that Christopher Steele lied to the FBI about those media engagements taking place. See:
The HPSCI memo notes the FBI relationship with Christopher Steele was terminated after the FISA application (Oct. 21st, 2016), as a result of the Mother Jones article from October 30th, 2016. Media contact by an FBI material witness is immediately disqualifying.
The question is: did the FBI submit the FISA application under false pretenses? Did the FBI actually know Christopher Steele was shopping the dossier to the media prior to their FISA court submission?
The HPSCI memo gives the FBI the benefit of doubt by presuming the FBI were unaware or “lied to“. The FD-302’s (FBI investigative interview notes), which appear to have been turned over to Senate Chairman Chuck Grassley, would contain the evidence to support the FBI being duped – OR – show the FBI knew, and proceeded in using the dossier despite disqualifying knowledge of media involvement.
The answers to those important questions appear to be the looming in the FBI classified documents behind the Grassley criminal referral.
In an effort to get the answer to those questions into sunlight; and with the understanding that Chairman Grassley has the FBI documents; Grassley has produced a memo for declassification that facilitates understanding how the FBI used the Clinton-Steele dossier.
Like the underlying documents behind the HPSCI (Nunes) memo, the Grassley memo cannot declassify the underlying information (ie. the FBI FD-302’s). However, unlike the process in the House, Senator Grassley cannot declassify the memo and submit it for public review without approval from the DOJ, Rod Rosenstein, and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
On January 5th, 2018, The Grassley Memo approach surfaces. Grassley issues a statement on the reason for the criminal referral. He lets us know that he ALSO has a classified memo that he is trying to get released! Unlike Nunes he needs to go through DOJ:
January 24th, 2018, Grassley Speech: “Hiding From Tough Questions” – In his 17 minute speech Grassley reveals important details about his investigation into Steele and the FBI.
Thanks to the brilliant work of DaveNYviii we can walk through this carefully, and watch the outline in a logical sequence.
FIRST – The Criminal Referral:
SECOND – The Discrepancies: “If those [FBI] documents are not true, and there are serious discrepancies that are no fault of Mr. Steele, then we have another problem—an arguably more serious one.
THIRD – The Grassley Memo: “Judiciary Cmte has access to the same information that House Intel Cmte saw before drafting ITS SUMMARY MEMO. Our committee doesn’t have the same authority to release classified information. We have to rely on the agency to review & potentially DECLASSIFY OUR MEMO”:
In his speech, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley lets us know that unlike Devin Nunes and the HPSCI he has to get agency approval (DOJ) to declassify his memo.
Chairman Nunes had the clearance and a process to release his memo to the Full House, Executive Branch and then to the public. Senator Grassley does not have that same process or clearance availability… Yet.