Under order of a Freedom of Information Request, the FBI has released 71 pages of documents that relate to payments made to former British spy and author of the infamous Trump Dossier, Christopher Steele.
The documents are redacted to the point where almost no information is actually available, leading some commentators to declare this a Pyrrhic victory for Trump supporters. Yet the most overlooked aspect is that Christopher Steele was being paid by the FBI in the first place.
When the Carter Page FISA warrants were released recently, there was a lot of debate around who “#Source 1” might have been. Speculation was rife that this dubious honor belonged to Steele himself. In the warrant, it was stated that the FBI “suspended its relationship with Source #1 due to Source #1’s unauthorized disclosure of information to the press.” This is now confirmed by the pay documents.
In fact, one of the only readable parts of this heavily redacted tome is that Steele’s working relationship with the FBI came to an end because he had become the lead source in a media exposé. The term “CHS” in the document is short for “confidential human source,” referring to Steele:
“CHS confirmed to an outside third party that CHS has a confidential relationship with the FBI. CHS was used as a source for an online article. In the article, CHS revealed CHS’ relationship with the FBI as well as information that CHS obtained and provided to FBI. On November 1, 2016, CHS confirmed all of this to the handling agent.
At that time, handling agent advised CHS that the nature of the relationship between the FBI and CHS would change completely and that it was unlikely that the FBI would continue a relationship with the CHS. Additionally, handling agent advised that CHS was not to operate to obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI.”
These documents, despite the redaction, paint a picture of ongoing cooperation, either over a period of time or for multiple projects. They consist of:
- Eleven (FD-794b) payment requests.
- One document ending the FBI’s relationship with Steele (FD-1040a).
- Fifteen (FD-1023) source reports.
- Thirteen (FD-209a) contact reports.
- One admonishment (FD-1057) document.
Partisan individuals have been quick to point out that there is no big “there there.” Which is true. However, these documents show something that is all too often ignored or dismissed: Both the Clinton Campaign and the FBI were paying Christopher Steele (through Fusion GPS). Based on the timing of the payments and the fact that the FBI ended their working relationship with Steele after he related details to “online publications” regarding his work, it seems most likely that he was being paid specifically for dossier-related work. According to The Washington Post:
“The revelation that the FBI agreed to pay Steele at the same time he was being paid by Clinton supporters to dig into Trump’s background could further strain relations between the law enforcement agency and the White House.”
Questions of Confidence
When Michael Horowitz defended his OIG report to Congress, he was adamant that despite individual bias being present, the investigations were free and fairly conducted. When the police want to investigate the Mafia, they do not go to Vito Corleone to ask for evidence.
The FBI used and paid for a dossier that was quite literally designed to do as much harm as possible to candidate Trump. They knew that this dossier was being compiled as opposition research with a view to undermining the Trump campaign yet presented it as fact to obtain FISA warrants against Carter Page. This is at best shoddy and naïve work, and at worst, a damning indictment on near-criminal behavior by the nation’s top law enforcement agency.
Christopher Steele was paid. He was paid to produce dirt on “an enemy” by an opponent. These documents show that he was paid twice for his work, but of whom is the second paymaster an opponent? Of Trump? Or of America?