Thursday, January 9, 2020

Why Did The FBI Stop Documenting Its Contacts With Chris Steele?

This past Monday I adverted to a circumstance that Margot Cleveland dug up from perusing the Horowitz Dossier--which is slowly being revealed as a gold mine of information (albeit partial) on the Russia Hoax: Cleveland: OIG Report Fingers Team Mueller. The nugget that caught my attention was the previously unknown fact that that Team Mueller continued to contact Chris Steele--supposed author of the eponymous dossier--until nearly the end of 2017. They did this, using Bruce Ohr as a cut-out, but they didn't document those meetings. Here's what I wrote about that:


Second, the OIG report discovered something that, if it didn't exactly shock me, definitely caused me to sit up and take notice, to even involuntarily raise my eyebrows:

... after June 2017, “an agent from the Special Counsel’s Office became Ohr’s final point of contact through November 2017.” Thus, Mueller’s team made a concerted decision to continue to use Ohr to obtain “intel” from Steele—a decision the IG condemned. 
In fact, the special counsel’s use of Ohr appears even more problematic than the FBI’s prior mishandling of their meetings with Ohr: At least prior to Mueller’s appearance, the FBI documented the details of their conversations with Ohr in FD-302 forms, but as the IG report noted, while Ohr continued to communicate with Steele through the end of November 2017 and passed on the details of those conversations to the FBI, “the FBI did not memorialize any meetings its agents had with Ohr after the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was transferred to the Special Counsel’s Office in May 2017.” 
Further, while the special counsel’s team continued to meet with Ohr during this time, no one from Mueller’s group informed DOJ leadership of Ohr’s involvement in the investigation nor his meetings with Steele until “after Congress requested information from the Department regarding Ohr’s activities in late November 2017.”

I had previously thought that, once the 302s of Joe Pientka's contacts with Ohr stopped, so did the contacts. Not so!

Remember how Crossfire Hurricane was predicated on the idea that there was a de facto "enterprise"--an informal but cohesive entity--operating within the Trump campaign to collude with Russia? Uh, looks like there was an illegal enterprise of sorts going on within the FBI and DoJ--and Team Mueller! All FBI investigation must be documented. FBI agents are not allowed to operate what we referred to as "hip pocket sources." This is a huge no-no. Pientka has to be in deep, deep, doo-doo. As with Clinesmith, I find it non-credible that Clinesmith and Pientka undertook these patently illegal actions totally on their own. Who knew what, when?


I've been rereading Mark Steyn articles this morning, and I'm just as impressed this time through as I was the first time. I've already re-linked to Tinker, Tailor, Clapper, Carter, Downer, Halper, Spy (5/18), but another Steyn article from back in 10/17 with a more pedestrian title, How to Steele an Election, suggests the reason that those FBI/Ohr/Steele meetings were kept on the down low, so to speak. 

The reason is fairly obvious. The nonsensical, fictional, nature of the Steele "dossier" had long been known and, in the wake of the election, had actually been documented by the FBI--even if they didn't "share" that knowledge with the FISC (Margot Cleveland has the details on that today, again drawn from the Horowitz Dossier: IG Report Documents How The FBI Hid Negative Information About Christopher Steele). Using dodgy opposition research obtained from the Clinton campaign to sink Trump's campaign was one thing. There were significant elements in the GOP establishment that might have acceded to that, at the time. But using such nonsense to oust a president was something else entirely. Team Mueller couldn't be implicated in that, so the contacts continued but they were no longer "memorialized."

I'll paste in below excerpts from Steyn's exposition of the use that the Deep State made of the Steele "dossier"--really, in effect, the Clinton dossier, courtesy of Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS. None of this will be new, in a factual sense, but the way Steyn contextualizes it all, and the way it ties in to what we now know about Team Mueller's continued use of Steele, sheds a glaring light on Team Mueller. I've maintained all along that Barr/Durham has Team Mueller in its sights, and I'm not backing away from that.


From Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes:

Mostly she was mad - mad that she'd lost and that the country would have to endure a Trump presidency... Hillary kept pointing her finger at Comey and Russia. 'She wants to make sure all these narratives get spun the right way,' this person said.
That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech. Mook and Podesta assembled her communications team at the Brooklyn headquarters to engineer the case that the election wasn't entirely on the up-and-up. For a couple of hours, with Shake Shack containers littering the room, they went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.


And engineering-wise they did a pretty impressive job, as you'll know if you're one of the impressionable rubes who gets his news from ABC, CBS, NBC or CNN. ...

By "Russian hacking" of the election, they mean that some Internet trolls from halfway round the world bought a few fake Facebook ads, half of which weren't seen until after election day. For purposes of comparison, the one hundred grand these trolls spent to "interfere" in the US election works out at less than two per cent of what Hillary paid a high-ranking spy of a foreign power to interfere in the US election ...and post-election.

It started in April 2016, when it became clear that Trump was going to win the Republican nomination. The Hillary campaign and the DNC gave millions of dollars to Marc Elias, a Clinton lawyer, who in turn hired Fusion GPS, who in turn hired former MI6 agent Christopher Steele. Why use Mr Elias as a cutout? Because Hillary and the DNC could then itemize the expense as "legal services" rather than list payments to Mr Steele, which would be in breach of federal law.

Mr Steele used to be head of "the Russia house", to go all John le Carré on you. So he asked his contacts in Moscow to come up with some stuff on Trump, and they responded with some pretty thinnish material that Steele managed to stretch out to a total of about 33 pages. ...

At which point things took a strange and disturbing turn. Steele's dossier was passed along to the FBI. It seems a reasonable inference, to put it as blandly as possible, that the dossier was used to justify the opening of what the Feds call an "FI" (Full Investigation), which in turn was used to justify a FISA order permitting the FBI to put Trump's associates under surveillance. Indeed, it seems a reasonable inference that the dossier was created and supplied to friendly forces within the bureau in order to provide a pretext for an FI, without which surveillance of the Trump campaign would not be possible.

In October 2016, things took a stranger and more disturbing turn. Steele "reached an agreement with the FBI a few weeks before the election for the Bureau to pay him to continue his work". In other words, the permanent bureaucracy and the ruling party were collaborating to get the goods on their political opponent, by illegally paying a foreign spy to interfere with the election. Why would the most lavishly funded investigative agency on the planet need the services of a British subject and his modest consulting firm? Not just for plausible deniability but also for plausible reliability: Hey, investigating Trump would never have occurred to us, but the former head of the Russia desk at MI6 thought we ought to know about this... Which, in case you haven't noticed, is the precise equivalent of Bush crediting British intelligence as the unimpeachable source for his belief that Saddam Hussein was seeking to acquire yellowcake from Niger.

A month later, Trump did the impossible and won the election. And within twenty-four hours Mook and Podesta had begun "engineering the case" that the election "wasn't entirely on the up-and-up". ...


But there was enough of a pseudo-dossier, by the debased standards of the bloated US "intelligence community", to be used as a pretext to get the rubber-stamp FISA court to approve 24/7 surveillance of everyone around Trump - and maybe that would turn up something to destroy him.

But, again, it didn't. Every sentient creature knows that - because everyone understands that if they'd found anything they'd have leaked it.

So once again the worthless dossier was pressed into service, this time to bolster the case that the Russians had stolen the election from Hillary. ...

All this from one dodgy dossier compiled by an MI6 agent with deep ties to FSB operatives in Russia. Has any one foreigner so interfered in a US election as Christopher Steele? Hillary and her chums needed Steele for oppo research. The Deep State needed Steele as a cover for wiretapping the Trump team. The Never Trumpers needed Steele to mire the incoming President and hobble him from the get-go. And the outgoing Administration needed Steele to bolster their narrative that Trump and the Russians had colluded to steal the election. In fact, Trump seems to have fewer "ties" to Russia than almost any other multinational businessman of comparable wealth, and certainly fewer ties than the corrupt Clintons.

Many things can be deduced from this scandal: Robert Mueller should retire, preferably somewhere far, far away. James Comey should be charged, convicted and jailed. So should senior figures in the Clinton campaign. And those large sections of the "intelligence community" that have gone rogue and spend more time subverting their own government than any foreign enemies need to be overhauled from top to toe, or, more likely, put out of business entirely.

Thus Washington's vast wilderness of distorting mirrors: as I told Tucker Carlson, everyone was colluding with the Russians except Trump - Hillary, the DNC, Democrat lawyers, the FBI, all frantically pointing fingers at the only non-colluding guy in the room. No man anywhere has ever been less in need of a "golden shower" than Donald J Trump. He is surrounded on all sides by powerful forces leaking on him incessantly.


  1. I think that the leaderships of the Democrat Party and of the US Intelligence Community were expecting an October Surprise. Incriminating information, hacked from computers, about the pay-to-play Clinton Family Foundation might be revealed to the public a short time before Election Day.

    Donald Trump thus might come from behind to be elected in an upset victory.

    A big motivation for the wiretapping was to get an early warning about such an October Surprise.

    A big motivation for slandering Russia was to prepare the US electorate for the accusation that Russia had altered the e-mails or documents that might be revealed. No matter who actually stole the documents, Russia would be blamed for the stealing and also for the altering. This accusation had to be effective only for the few days between the revelation and Election Day.

    If Trump won but with only a tiny Electoral College margin, then the accusation might convince the necessary few EC voters to switch their EC votes from Trump to Clinton. That was "the insurance policy".

  2. I think that the CIA leadership convinced John Brennan that the Steele Dossier was poison. By the time the joint assessment about alleged Russian meddling was being written at the very end of 2016, Brennan and the CIA wanted to exclude the Dossier where as Comey and the FBI wanted to include it. That is a surprising revelation in the Horowitz report.

    Much of the Dossier was based on information from the CIA's informant Oleg Smolenkov. Somehow, Steele obtained some of Smolenkov's information. Surely, this feature of the Dossier was recognized and studied by the CIA's leadership.

    The CIA leadership knew exactly what Smolenkov had said to the CIA and was able to compare those statements with the Dossier. By doing so, the CIA determined that Steele was a con-artist.

    Steele's most blatant lie might have been that Putin's Presidential Administration sent three of its lawyers to meet with Michael Cohen in Prague. No such meeting ever happened, and surely Smolenkov never told the CIA that such a meeting had happened.

    So, the CIA leadership insisted that Brennan disassociate the CIA absolutely from the Dossier.

    Meanwhile, much of the FBI leadership (and Mueller's gang) still thought far into 2017 that the Dossier was plausible.

    That's why the FBI and Mueller's gang continued to communicate secretly with Steele.

    Anyway, that's my speculation.

    1. I suspect the plotters didn't plan far enough ahead--like, What do we do if Trump wins? Nevertheless, not everything adds up, and I can't claim to have the answers.

      It would make sense that Brennan--knowing that the "dossier" was really just oppo "research" "sourced" to a Russian informant--realized that in the post election environment the "dossier" was potentially poison. However, the difficulty with that is that up until the Mueller Dossier came out Brennan publicly pushed the essential thesis of the "dossier"--Trump colluding with Putin--in the most outrageous fashion. Publicly claiming Trump was committing "treason", etc.

      Again, we know that the FBI knew--if they ever had any illusions--no later than the first week of January, 2017, that the Steele "dossier" was pure BS. They'd talked to Steele's claimed Russian source in the UK, they'd done other research. They knew. So why would Comey insist on referencing the "dossier" in the ICA?

      One possible reason is that, having relied on it for the FISA, he couldn't disavow it without pointing a finger at FBI criminality. What I can't see is that the FBI was truly fooled.

    2. Brennan publicly pushed the essential thesis of the "dossier"--Trump colluding with Putin--in the most outrageous fashion.

      I speculate that Smolenkov did tell the CIA a lot of nonsense about how Putin's Presidential Administration was meddling in the US election in order to undermine our faith in our Democracy, and so forth. Therefore, Brennan did continue to believe in the alleged collusion.

      However, the CIA knew exactly what Smolenkov had told the CIA. Therefore, the CIA was able to compare Smolenkov's exact statements with the Dossier. The CIA thus recognized that Steele was writing distortions and outright fabrications (e.g. Cohen in Prague).

      Although Brennan continued to preach the collusion story, the CIA leadership insisted that he disassociate the CIA absolutely from Steele's Dossier. In particular, Brennan was compelled to argue that the Dossier should be excluded from the joint assessment on Russian meddling that was written at the end of 2016.

      Surprisingly, the advocate for including the Dossier in that joint assessment was Comey and his FBI.

    3. Based on his public statements and what we all know, I don't believe either Brennan or Comey were ever believers.

    4. Believers in the Dossier?

      Evidently, Brennan had been convinced by the end of 2016 that the Dossier should not be included in the joint assessment. I have no idea what Brennan thought about the Dossier in mid-2016.

      Certainly, Brennan thought long after 2016 that Russia had colluded with Russia -- but that is not the same as thinking that the Dossier was reliable.

      As for Comey, he wanted to include the Dossier in the joint assessment. Therefore he apparently thought the Dossier was at least plausible.

      The DOJ/FBI continued to communicate with Steele and to cite the Dossier as grounds for FISA renewals far into 2017. Someone there must have believed at least some of the Dossier.

    5. "Brennan thought long after 2016 that Russia had colluded with Russia"

      TRUMP had colluded with Russia? Saying so doesn't mean he believed it. He had access to vast amounts of information that showed it wasn't true. He didn't have to wait for Mueller, because Mueller didn't go over any essentially new ground.

      "As for Comey, he wanted to include the Dossier in the joint assessment. Therefore he apparently thought the Dossier was at least plausible."

      No, definitely not THEREFORE. Comey was one of the first to testify under oath: salacious and UNVERIFIED. As a lawyer and experienced prosecutor Comey would have known better than to place his eggs in the basket of "plausibility." He knew already that Steele was peddling fictions--the Cohen trip to Prague, the Russian consulate in Miami. He knew through the FISA that Manafort and Page (and later Cohen) were not coordinating anything with Putin for Trump.

      I simply have to reject that.

    6. He [Brennan] had access to vast amounts of information that showed it [Trump-Russia collusion] wasn't true.

      Brennan, Comey, Clapper, etc., hated Trump so much that they could not -- and still cannot -- evaluate the evidence objectively.

      They reflexively ignore evidence exonerating Trump and reflexively obsess about evidence that might incriminate him.

      Furthermore, all their subordinates recognized that their bosses had lost their minds about Trump. Nobody challenged any of the nonsense. If the discussion were about, for example, former DIA Director Michael Flynn being a spy for Russian Intelligence, nobody at the meeting dared to laugh aloud.

      The US Intelligence Community's leadership became hysterical about Russia meddling in the 2016 election to help Trump win unfairly and thus to destroy Americans' faith in our Democracy.

      Clapper continues to think sincerely that Facebook ads helped Trump win several battleground states. On television, Clapper continues to insinuate that Russia enabled Trump to get his small but decisive margins in those states. When I have seen Clapper spout this nonsense on television, he has seemed sincere to me.

      At least Clapper always seems calm. Brennan and Comey still seem to be hysterical in many interviews.

  3. "I've maintained all along that Barr/Durham has Team Mueller in its sights"

    Do you think Barr's reported long-standing friendship with Mueller will have any effect re pulling any punches?

    1. None whatsoever. In fact, I've heard that when Mueller worked under Barr, years ago, that Barr ridiculed him rather unmercifully because Mueller used to say things that Barr thought were stupid.

  4. I think that the DOJ/FBI top officials hated Trump and wanted to find justifications to investigate him. Almost any justification that came along was accepted with very little skepticism. The "Australian Government" report about the conversation between Downer and Papadopoulos seems like no justification at all for ordinary people, but the DOJ/FBI leadership went crazy about it.

    The FBI can provide some plausible reasons to investigate Page and Manafort. After all, those two actually had been involved with Russians. However, it's obvious that the impetus to investigate those two was that they were on Trump's campaign staff.

    The justifications for investigating Papadopoulos and Flynn in regard to Russia were so flimsy that they were absurd.

    The Horowitz report informs us that the Dossier came into the DOJ/FBI investigation somewhat later. The investigation already had been justified without the Dossier.


    In contrast to the FBI, the CIA had a special problem with the Dossier. The CIA's top officials who knew about Oleg Smolenkov recognized that much of the information in the Dossier seemed to come from Smolenkov. How was that happening?

    Even if John Brennan himself was leaking Smolenkov information directly to Steele, the rest of the CIA leadership was mystified and concerned about the Smolenkov elements in the Dossier.

    For that reason, the CIA leadership perceived the Dossier to be poison for the CIA. The situation might develop eventually into an appearance that the CIA leadership deliberately provided information to Steele in order to undermine Trump.

    For that reason, the CIA leadership disassociated itself absolutely from the Dossier. The CIA leadership acted like the Dossier did not deserve any attention or credibility.


    DOJ/FBI did not have that special problem to such an extent. DOJ/FBI was not so vulnerable to future accusations that it had provided information to Steele.

    The one such accusation that might be made against DOJ/FBI was that its contractors had informed Steele that a Michael Cohen (but the wrong one) had visited Prague in the fall of 2016. Even if contractors had done so, they likely acted without the knowledge of the DOJ/FBI leadership.

    The DOJ/FBI leadership was not as determined to disassociate itself from the Dossier as the CIA leadership was determined to do so.

    1. I think you're giving Comey both too much and too little credit. Too much, because you appear to credit him with some degree of sincerity. But far too little in assuming that his dislike for Trump could cloud his legal judgment entirely for a period of at least a year, through any number of crucial investigative decisions. Comey is far too smart a lawyer for that.

      "CIA leadership was mystified and concerned about the Smolenkov elements in the Dossier."

      You know this--how?

  5. "Brennan, Comey, Clapper, etc., hated Trump so much that they could not -- and still cannot -- evaluate the evidence objectively."

    I just want to say that I'm discounting 'Trump hatred' across the board. These guys might not have cared much for the Orange reality tv host, but I think hatred misses the point.

    These guys are cold-blooded professional cops and spooks. They've seen it all: assassinations, blackmail, extortion, and more. They've seen betrayals and odd bedfellows and ugly compromises. Some of their 'friends' are the lowest of the low. I don't think 'hatred' is an emotion which is part of the equation.

    I think its far more likely they were (and are) engaged in a massive coverup of at least highly embarrassing and more likely outright criminal activity -- on their part and implicating the guys they worked for and were 'paid' by. Including the hit on Trump but probably going back quite a ways and involving many nefarious activities.