Report: Top FBI, DOJ Officials Knew Early On That Steele Dossier Was Clinton-Connected Oppo Research

Susan Jones | January 17, 2019 | 7:26am EST
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Former FBI Director James Comey swears to tell the truth in one of his many appearances before congressional committees. (Photo for Getty by Eric Thayer)

( - In a heated exchange with CNN's Chris Cuomo Wednesday night, President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the Trump team decided six weeks ago to stop answering questions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, given the "very disturbing" way Mueller's team has conducted itself.

Among other concerns, Giuliani pointed to a new report involving Andrew Weissmann, one of Mueller's top deputies.

The report says Weissmann was among the senior FBI and Justice Department officials who knew early on -- before the FISA court got involved -- that the Steele dossier was opposition research connected to the Clinton campaign.

Yet that opposition research was used to get a FISA warrant on Carter Page, someone loosely connected to the Trump campaign; and the FISA court reportedly was never told about the dossier's Clinton connection.

The Hill's Jon Solomon reported on Wednesday that Bruce Ohr, then the fourth-ranking official at the Justice Department, briefed senior FBI officials and Justice Department officials, including Weissmann, in the summer of 2016, "explicitly cautioning" that Christopher Steele's dossier "was opposition research connected to Hillary Clinton’s campaign and might be biased."

Both Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence official, and Ohr's wife Nellie worked for Fusion-GPS, the company that was paid, through a law firm, to conduct opposition research on Trump for the Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee.

According to Solomon:

Ohr’s briefings, in July and August 2016, included the deputy director of the FBI, a top lawyer for then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and a Justice official (Andrew Weissmann) who later would become the top deputy to special counsel Robert Mueller.

At the time, Ohr was the associate attorney general. Yet his warnings about political bias were pointedly omitted weeks later from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant that the FBI obtained from a federal court, granting it permission to spy on whether the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia to hijack the 2016 presidential election.

Ohr’s activities, chronicled in handwritten notes and congressional testimony I gleaned from sources, provide the most damning evidence to date that FBI and DOJ officials may have misled federal judges in October 2016 in their zeal to obtain the warrant targeting Trump adviser Carter Page just weeks before Election Day.

According to Solomon, Ohr told congressional investigators last summer that he had informed the FBI that Fusion GPS was doing opposition research on Donald Trump. He said he also warned the FBI that Steele expressed bias during their conversations.

“I provided information to the FBI when I thought Christopher Steele was, as I said, desperate that Trump not be elected,” Solomon quoted Ohr as telling Congress. “So, yes, of course I provided that to the FBI.”

Ohr said he also told FBI officials they would have to verify the information provided by Steele, but apparently that never happened.

In his conversation with Chris Cuomo Wednesday night, Giuliani called Solomon's report "devastating."

"That article says, from day one -- we didn't know this yet, but from day one, they knew that the dossier was bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC. $1.1 million. That it was a phony document," Giuliani said.

"You know what it was?" Giuliani asked, as Cuomo refuted every point he made. "It was a completely fraudulent affidavit, because the affidavit fails to mention that the dossier on which the case was based, at least in part, whether it's whole or in part, it was a totally false statement. It did not say to the court that this was op research."

“Listen, Sean,” Solomon said, "if the new attorney general Bill Barr, if the existing attorney general Matt Whittaker, the Justice Department inspector general, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham wants to investigate whether there was willful and knowing misleading of the FISA court, all they have to do is call Bruce Ohr.

"Because Bruce Ohr makes it adamantly clear. He told the FBI, I had concerns about bias. This (Steele dossier) is connected to the Clinton campaign. Its reliability is suspect. You need to do your own homework before you use it. And yet they go ahead and rush it through the FISA process.

We've been talking about this and we've been putting the pieces together. But this is probably the single most damning piece of evidence. It comes from the number four Justice Department official. The person that first really walks it (the Steele dossier) in, in a substantial way to the F.B.I. And he puts a word of caution on it. And those words of caution blown past as we submit a FISA with information not yet corroborated.

Fox News's Gregg Jarrett told Sean Hannity he has learned that after James Comey was fired, "a panicked FBI" reached out to Bruce Ohr, asking him to get them back in touch with Christopher Steele.  "Why?" Jarrett asked. "Because they were desperate to verify the dossier they had used and hadn't verified."

"If you lie to a court and conceal evidence, it's a fraud on the court," Jarrett added.


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