Magnet and Steele

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It's getting interesting in D.C. now:

A criminal referral from top Senate investigators confirms explosive charges in last week’s House Intelligence Committee memo regarding abuse of surveillance authorities at the FBI and Department of Justice. It also reveals a host of problems arising from the bureau’s cooperation with foreign investigator Christopher Steele, who was working on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The eight-page memo from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) includes underlying evidence to support the claims.

That's from Mollie Hemingway, writing for the Federalist. The Grassley/Graham referral not only backstops the material Devin Nunes wrote about in his memo, it expands upon what appears to have happened during the campaign. You should read the whole thing, but here are a few highlights:

The letter describes a verification effort before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) so inadequate it resembles a concerted effort to conceal information from the court. However, the senators blame Steele’s “apparent deception” for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) failures by FBI and Justice, and refer Steele for investigation of violating federal law regarding making false statements to the U.S. government. The letter also reveals Clinton associates were feeding Steele allegations that he used in his reports.

Garbage in, garbage out. And who were the garbage merchants? Well, that's redacted, sort of. But how did Yahoo News get the information? From the Grassley/Graham document:

[REDACTED], the application attempts to explain away the inconsistency between Mr. Steele’s assertion to the FBI and the existence of the article, apparently to shield Mr. Steele’s credibility on which it still relied for the renewal request. The application to the FISC said: “Given that the information contained in the September 23rd news article generally matches the information about Page that [Steele] discovered doing his/her research, [REDACTED] The FBI does not believe that [Steele] directly provided this information to the press” (emphasis added).

One problem with that assertion -- it's not true. Steele gave it all to Michael Isikoff. Back to Hemingway:

Reporter Michael Isikoff recently confirmed that Steele was obviously his source for the article, and that Clinton’s Russia dossier project head Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS was a longtime friend. The FBI stated to the court that Steele had nothing to do with the article. Shopping his unverified allegations to the media was contrary to Steele’s agreement with the FBI. Even after Steele publicly testified about his many media contacts, the FBI hid that part of his dossier operation from the court and continued to rely on his credibility for surveillance reauthorization.

We knew this a long time ago, actually -- there were reports galore that someone had been shopping the dossier around to the news media in the aftermath of the election. What we didn't know then was that Team Clinton was directly involved. Grassley/Graham explain:

One memorandum by Mr. Steele that was not published by Buzzfeed is dated October 19, 2016. The report alleges REDACTED as well as REDACTED Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company “received this report from REDACTED US State Department,” that the report was the second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who “is in touch with REDACTED, a contact of REDACTED, a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to REDACTED.” It is troubling enough that the Clinton campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.

The REDACTED folks here are almost certainly longtime Clinton hatchetman Sidney Blumenthal, and the other individual is Cody Shearer, another Clinton hand.

So if we connect the dots, it appears Steele was a partisan, working for a partisan (Glenn Simpson, the head of Fusion/GPS), who had the Clintons for a client. It also appears that the Justice Department and the FBI knew this and didn't see fit to explain what it meant when they were pursuing the FISA warrant against Carter Page, a figure mostly on the periphery of the Trump campaign.

Things are getting real.