by Chuck Ross
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham is asking the Justice Department to turn over records related to a key source for Christopher Steele who undercut allegations made in the salacious Trump dossier.
“The Primary Sub-source substantially undercut Steele’s election reporting, calling into question the accuracy and reliability of any of Steele’s reports,” Graham wrote in a letter to Attorney General William Barr released Monday.
The source, who has not been identified, could help answer several mysteries still surrounding the dossier, which the FBI used to obtain authority to wiretap former Trump aide Carter Page.
Several allegations in the dossier have been debunked, including Steele’s claim of a “well-developed conspiracy of coordination” between the Trump campaign and Russian government. Steele’s source told the FBI and Justice Department in January 2017 that Steele misrepresented or embellished several claims in the dossier.
The Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report that the FBI received evidence that Russian intelligence operatives might have fed disinformation to Steele, a former MI6 officer.
If disinformation is in the dossier, Steele’s source would have handled it. Steele relied exclusively on the individual to collect information from others inside and outside Russia regarding Donald Trump, his campaign aides and Russian activities related to the 2016 election.
The FBI failed to disclose the negative information about the dossier in its applications to surveil Page. The Justice Department has invalidated two of those surveillance orders because of the FBI’s omissions regarding Steele, his source and exculpatory information regarding Page.
Graham is seeking a written summary of a January 2017 interview that the source had with FBI agents and Justice Department attorneys.
The South Carolina Republican also seeks an analytical document prepared by an FBI intelligence analyst after the interview with the source. The South Carolina Republican said that the document “identified inconsistencies” between Steele and his source regarding information in two memos from the dossier.
He is also asking Barr for access to three email chains from February and March 2017 discussing the source, including one that Peter Strzok, then the deputy chief of FBI counterintelligence, sent to his colleagues.
Steele has refused to identify his source, or the network of sources used in the dossier. He said in a British court deposition in March that the source had worked for him on various projects “for several years.” Steele also said his firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, paid sources a monthly retainer of between $3,000 and $5,000.
The FBI said it has “no comment” when the Daily Caller News Foundation asked by email to explain the rationale for keeping the source’s identity secret.
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Chuck Ross is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.