The article is fine, as far as it goes--Felten concentrates on Gaeta's and the FBI's dismay when Steele turned out to be the source for an article by ueber-sleazy 'journalist' David Corn. Corn's article--A Veteran Spy Has Given the FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump--Has the bureau investigated this material?--came out in Mother Jones on October 31, 2016, just a week before the election. Corn's article is, typically, full of innuendo and anonymously sourced characterizations. Coming in the immediate wake of disgraced former FBI Director James Comey's reopening of the Hillary email case, Corn hints at possible negligence on the part of the FBI in not following up on the 'Veteran Spy's' information about supposed Trump - Russia collusion, leading off with a statement by noted champion of bipartisanship, Senator Harry Reid:
On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid upped the ante. He sent Comey a fiery letter saying the FBI chief may have broken the law and pointed to a potentially greater controversy: “In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government…The public has a right to know this information.”
The FBI was predictably upset that their supposed top source, Steele, was participating in a hit job on the Bureau. Steele's handling agent, Michael Gaeta was dispatched to contact Steele--tellingly, not so much to read Steele the riot act but to find out what had gone wrong. Was it something the FBI had done or neglected to do? Was Steele in a huff about slow payments? Was this payback for the Bureau's slowness?
"Listen, is it about the money?" Gaeta asked Steele. "Because we have the money now. Is it about the money?" The FBI had promised, but had yet to deliver to Steele, $15,000 for one meeting with Crossfire Hurricane agents. The bureau had further promised Steele he would be paid “significantly” for his Trump-Russia research.
One seems to sense a pleading tone on Gaeta's part. Please, please, can we patch this up? But Steele was having none of the kiss and make up routine. He forthrightly responded:
“Yes, I'm owed the money, but that's secondary," Steele told Gaeta. "I'm very upset about – we’re very upset – about the actions of your agency." By the “we” in “we’re very upset” one can reasonably infer that Steele was speaking about himself and his client, Fusion GPS head Glenn Simpson (whose client, not counting cutouts, was Hillary Clinton’s campaign).
Gaeta told the Senate that he had "no idea what [Steele] was talking about." If so, then he was probably the only person in any way knowledgeable about the Russia Hoax at that point who didn't get it.
Let's start with the FBI's promise to Steele that he would be paid "significantly" for his Trump related material. There was nothing in Steele's track record to suggest to the FBI that he could provide reliable information about the inner top-level machination's of the Putin regime. There were, however, even by October 31, numerous indications that he was winging it with his "dossier" memos. For example, Kathleen Kavalec from the State Department had told the FBI that Steele seemed to think that Russia had a consulate in Miami--an absurd mistake for a supposed Russian expert. There was also the public refutation of Steele's claims by Carter Page, as well as the absurd Alfa bank hoax, which had already collapsed.
But above all there was the well known fact that Steele was working for the Hillary campaign--he was well known to be "with her," in the employ of Hillary's oppo research shop: Glenn Simpson's Fusion GPS. James Baker--former General Counsel for the FBI, turned cooperating witness for John Durham--told House interrogators that David Corn had fed him "dossier" material before the election, which he duly relayed to Bill Priestap. Baker surely knew that this material was sourced to Steele, and would have told Priestap. Michael Sussman, part of Hillary's legal team, also provided Baker with "dossier" material. Baker himself indicated that it was well known that multiple versions of the "dossier" were floating around Washington, that Glenn Simpson was flogging the stuff to all and sundry. Steele's contact with Kavalec had already violated his supposed "exclusive" relationship with the FBI.
All of this provided abundant reason for the FBI to keep Steele at arm's length. Instead, with no known reservations, they embraced Steele and his dodgy "dossier."
In this situation, one wonders about the FBI's promise--made in advance--to pay Steele "significantly" for additional material. Doesn't that violate the basics of agent handling? Here you have a source with a clear axe to grind against Trump who is up to his neck in a business--oppo research--well known for playing fast and loose with facts (or even inventing 'facts'). He would have every reason to manufacture material, to cash in on the FBI's promise. That promise appears terribly amateurish, yet no one at FBIHQ seems to have given the matter a second thought.
One suspects that the Bureau's upset over the Corn article may have to do with the inclusion of certain details about the FBI's investigation. Those details were provided to Steele by FBI personnel in Rome just a couple of weeks before Corn's article appeared. That, too, violated a cardinal rule of agent handling--the source is supposed to provide information, not receive inside the FBI details from the handlers. I suspect that the FBI was upset because they were concerned that sharp eyed readers of the Corn article would surmise that Corn's article contained material that could be sourced to the FBI. It would not take much speculation to put two and two together and realize that the FBI was in bed with the Hillary campaign--via Glenn Simpson's Fusion GPS and Simpson's dashing "veteran spy", Chris Steele, who seemed to be quite the man about town in DC in those last days before the election.
And that seems to have been the truth of the matter--the FBI was all in against Trump. Thus, while the FBI "fired" Steele, they maintained contact with Steele through a backdoor, unofficial, and quite irregular source: Bruce Ohr.