February 8th, 2018

And then there’s the Grassley-Graham letter

How many memos and letters will be released before this is over?

More details of the letter issued by senators Grassley and Graham have come out, quoted in this article by Mollie Hemingway. I had originally referenced that memo in a post I wrote two days ago, and noted that the memo is a criminal referral for Christopher Steele of the notorious Steele dossier.

The Grassley-Graham memo tells quite a tale, but it’s a hard one to summarize. So I suggest you read the entire Hemingway article. I’ll just recap a few of the main points, and I urge you to get the details and the other main points there.

The dossier formed the bulk of the FISA application, and furthermore: “The application appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations against Mr. Page, although it does cite to a news article that appears to be sourced to Mr. Steele’s dossier as well..”

This is not the way it’s supposed to work. But as Comey testified, the FBI was relying on Steele’s prior reputation as a truth-teller. At the time, they apparently were unaware that Steele was the source for the news article (the Yahoo piece by Isikoff). If true, that would be bad enough, but it arguably would only be mere incompetence (although serious incompetence) rather than deception or coverup on the FBI’s part. The lying and coverup would have been from Steele at that point.

Which brings us to the following [emphasis mine]:

In Steele’s sworn court filings in litigation in London, he admitted that he “gave off the record briefings to a small number of journalists about the pre-election memoranda [i.e., the dossier] in late summer/autumn 2016.” In another sworn filing in that case, Mr. Steele further stated that journalists from “the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker, and CNN” were “briefed at the end of September 2016 by [Steele] and Fusion at Fusion’s instruction.”The filing further states that Mr. Steele “subsequently participated in further meetings at Fusion’s instruction with Fusion and the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Yahoo News, which took place mid-October 2016.”…

The first of these filings was publicly reported in the U.S. media in April of 2017, yet the FBI did not subsequently disclose to the ISC this evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele had lied to the FBI. Instead the application still relied primarily on his credibility prior to the October media incident.

The FBI also learned from an interview with a source that Steele was “desperate” to make sure Trump was not elected president, but this rather salient fact was never reported in the FBI’s subsequent FISA applications for a renewal of the Page surveillance. In other words, as the credibility of Steele and his otherwise-unverified dossier grew weaker and weaker and basically evaporated, the FBI hid that situation from the FISA court, much as they hid the fact that the DNC and the Hillary campaign funded the Steele dossier in the first place.

The Grassley-Graham letter also indicates that, even after the FBI had suspended its relationship with Steele because they discovered he’d talked to the press in violation of an agreement they’d had with him, and then he’d lied to them about that—even after that happened (a fact they apparently did disclose to the FISA court) they kept vouching for Steele’s veracity and that of the Yahoo article by Isikoff as constituting independent corroboration of Steele’s dossier. In other words, despite the fact that they knew he’d talked to the press and lied to them about talking to the press, they claimed to the court that Steele somehow hadn’t been the press’s source for the Isikoff article (for which he actually was the source).

And remember that controversy over whether the Nunes memo was telling the truth about whether the FBI had told the FISA court that the Steele dossier was funded by Hillary and the DNC? Both sides agree that those particular details were never revealed to the FISA court. But the Democrats have said that at least the FISA court was told by the FBI that a “political entity” had funded the dossier (I previously dealt with the question here). But this is what the Grassley-Grahm letter reveals:

[T]he FBI noted to a vaguely limited extent the political origins of the dossier. In footnote 8 the FBI stated that the dossier information was compiled pursuant to the direction of a law firm who had hired an “identified U.S. person”–now known as Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS–[REDACTED] The application failed to disclose that the identities of Mr. Simpson’s ultimate clients were the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

That’s certainly an unimpressive amount of disclosure on the part of the FBI. In fact, it’s inadequate and deceptive. No doubt the Democrats will claim this part of Grassley-Graham isn’t true, either. And on and on and on, until perhaps the actual FISA application will be released and we can see its wording.

At this point, why on earth not? Redact the sensitive parts and get on with it. It sets a bad precedent for the future, but we already basically know what’s in it. As I’ve noted earlier, the worse precedent was set by the FBI’s behavior, rather than the disclosure of it. If we have to decide which is more dangerous, I say the former. An out of control FBI bent on political ends and using deception and a secret court to achieve those ends would be extraordinarily perilous.

And remember, we were never supposed to learn any of this.

[ADDENDUM: And this is speculative but interesting. It’s certainly occurred to me lately that the entire Steele dossier may have been a Clinton-associate creation that was laundered through various layers of sources to hide the original source.]

18 Responses to “And then there’s the Grassley-Graham letter”

  1. blert Says:

    This is unfolding like a classic film noir script.

    The twists, the turns, the lying — something chronic — Sam Spade has his work cut out for him.

  2. neo-neocon Says:


    Truth is often stranger than fiction.

    And more creative.

  3. Richard Saunders Says:

    More like Hitchcock, I would say. The whole Russia collusion thing is the MacGuffin to distract everyone from HRC’s crimes — Benghazi, the e-mails, and the Uranium One (and other, doubtlessly) bribes.

  4. parker Says:

    Wake me to be ‘woke’ when someone is charged, tried, sentenced, and marched in cuffs to the prison van. This whole affair is a serious threat to the rule of law, if there are no consequences do we still have any semblance of the rule of law?

  5. Ray Says:

    Hillary never impressed me as a mental heavyweight. I can’t believe she was smart enough to come up with a scheme like this on her own.

  6. TommyJay Says:

    It would very sad if the end result of all of this (FBI/FISC/NSA surveillance brouhaha) was the indictment and jailing of Chris Steele. But not surprising.

    I was surprised that about half of the Hemingway piece was about the Yahoo/Isikoff article. I’ll have to reread it more carefully, but it almost sounds like the FBI came clean about the Isikoff article, at some later date, and the FISC didn’t care. One of the retired judges in the media recently made a comment that perhaps the FBI was “forum shopping” and hunted out a favorable or complicit FISC judge.

  7. TommyJay Says:

    Oops! No the FBI did not come clean with the FISC. It was the London court that got the info on Steele’s press dealings in April 2017.

    So the FBI severed informant status with Steele around the same time as their first application for a FISA warrant, Oct. 2016, but roughly a month after the Yahoo/Isikoff article came out.

    Steele had made some blanket statement to the FBI that he wasn’t working with the media, but if the FBI had scrutinized the Isikoff article shortly after it was published, the FBI could have just asked their official informant, Mr. Steele, “Did you provide this information?” But they didn’t. They also could have picked up the phone to Isikoff and asked “Confirm for us that Chris Steele is not your anonymous source for this article.”

    In June of 2017 the FBI is still actively telling the FISC that the Isikoff article is independent corroboration, even though Steele’s Yahoo collaboration info from London was in the WashTimes in April 2017.

  8. huxley Says:

    I wonder what sort of backroom deals between Trump’s people and his Democrat/FBI/DOJ/IC opponents are going on, if any.

    Or is this a monster game of chicken that the Democrats initially thought they had in the bag, but now it’s out of control and it all depends on who gets there firstest with the mostest and who has to swerve away.

  9. M J R Says:

    Ray, 4:08 pm — “Hillary never impressed me as a mental heavyweight. I can’t believe she was smart enough to come up with a scheme like this on her own.”

    Ray, I *detest* Hillary Clinton, and that’s putting it mildly. But Hillary Rodham was valedictorian at an excellent college, and her evil mind has been active ever since.

    There are many forms of being smart, and book-smart — what it takes to be valedictorian — is one of them. Also, we must not conflate being any kind of smart with being moral or principled. Hillary is smart *and* neither moral nor principled.

  10. Baklava Says:

    I am learning Neo, that stories do unfold.

    The press and hollywood like to push the make believe that one BIG story is just seconds from wakening the American public. Who was it that just did a movie showing the Washington Post peddling fiction. Oh well.

    I remember how long the story unfolded with the Clinton emails. I thought at the time that it was going to be one email dump and over with in a few days. As it turned out, there were new discoveries each day, adding to it Podesta’s emails and how many other people’s emails.

    All the way to today where we learn about the contents of Wiener’s laptop. It never ends.

  11. AesopFan Says:

    I just spent about an hour strolling through the related posts at the Daily Caller, which include some aspects of the Collusion Conspiracy that I hadn’t seen before. Probably just missed them — it’s been hard to keep up.
    Most of the information has been well masticated here and elsewhere, but there are useful summaries in most of the posts.


    The FBI didn’t notice that some emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server were marked classified with a “(C)” when they were sent — something that seemingly would have been one of the first and most obvious checks in an investigation, and one that FBI agents instantly recognized put the facts at odds with Clinton’s public statements.

    The Intelligence Community Inspector General spotted it after the FBI missed it, texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, reveal. “Holy cow,” Strzok wrote, “if the FBI missed this, what else was missed?”


    A Belarusian businessman who runs a small Russian-American trade organization in New York has been identified as the source of the most salacious claims in an unverified dossier about Donald Trump.

    But that businessman, 38-year-old Sergei Millian, is “a phony,” according to Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney and a central figure in the uncorroborated memos.


    The mysterious professor who former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos claimed offered him “dirt” on Hillary Clinton last year is denying the allegations, calling them “incredible” and a “laughingstock.”

    Joseph Mifsud, an honorary director of the London Academy of Diplomacy at the University of Stirling in Scotland, is acknowledging to The Telegraph (U.K.) that he is the professor referenced in court papers unsealed on Monday in the case against Papadopoulos.

  12. junior Says:

    All the way to today where we learn about the contents of Wiener’s laptop. It never ends.

    And then over in the wings we’ve got the odd story about the Congressional Democrats and how defensive and uncooperative they’ve been after getting hacked by their own IT support. That story burbles along quietly, and then all of a sudden some new bit of information will tumble out and leave everyone who hears it scratching their heads and saying, “Huh?”

  13. Yancey Ward Says:

    The Grassley memo is more thorough than the Nunes one.

    I think it about 50/50 whether or not Steele told them the truth about the Isikoff story. I have a hard time understanding why he would lie about it, but then go ahead and do, in particular, the Mother Jones story which didn’t even try to hide his identity. I am guessing the FBI had no corroboration, at all, and decided to wing it. I think if Grassley digs deep enough, he will find that Steele basically told the FBI the truth about his media contacts because there was no reason to lie about them in the first place.

  14. Barry Meislin Says:

    Layers upon layers of obfuscation.

    Door after door. False leads and mirrors.

    A veritable maze of immaculate deception.

    Exceedingly well choreographed—even better than the UN Resolution 2334 outrage—“I had nothing to do with it; I was in Hawaii”, Obama could have said….even as Kerry would be claiming that the move was really the only way to promote I/P peace….and that Israel brought it all upon itself…. Yes, Kerry.

    But if one really wants to know the MO of these b******s, reread the David Samuels interview of Ben Rhodes interview in the NYT:

    …and then refresh your memory (if needed) with the contempt that administration sustained for its lessers (aka “We the People”), as shown by Jonathan Gruber:

    …and finish off with how the NYT severely chastises Gruber on his inexplicable fit of honesty:

    (Not that one should forget the weaponization of the IRS against perceived Obama-regime opponents, or the pursuit of journalists and media outlets perceived as Obama-regime opponents, or the shenanigans of both of Obama’s AGs, or the supreme deception that was/is the Orwellian “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”—but who has the time to go into it all?)

    This is how these thugs work.

    And continue to work.

  15. AesopFan Says:

    Offered without comment

    The Deep State is not just the law&disorder agencies.


    Internal DHS documents obtained by Breitbart News indicate that, in mid-December, a teleconference took place among DHS staffers with the aim of completing the letter to Lighthizer. Just days later, a DHS staffer involved in organizing the teleconference informed the same group that they were to “stand-down” on the completion of this letter — an order from holdover DHS career staffer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade and Transport Christa Brzozowski.

    The original decision to bury the letter, however, according to the documents in hand, was made further up the chain after “Chief of Staff level” communications between the USTR and the office of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

    Sources familiar indicate that senior USTR staff do not want the president to know about the TN visas in NAFTA, and they fear Lighthizer, if aware, would negotiate for a position that is favorable to the president’s viewpoint.

    Financial companies and big law firms have been pushing hard to maintain the TN Visa program. “If they eliminate this, it’ll be a huge headache for Wall Street,” one recruiter told Breitbart.

  16. AesopFan Says:

    And what is the purpose of all these machinations by the Democrats?
    Daniel Greenfield speculates.

    The political movement that once took its marching orders from Moscow doesn’t want to stop Russia. It wants to pretend that its political reign of terror, the illegal eavesdropping, the investigations, the censorship, the sudden raids against its political opponents, and the rest of the KGB tactics are a necessarily evil in the face of a “constitutional crisis”.

    There’s a constitutional crisis and it isn’t Russian bots. It’s the left.

    When leftists who don’t believe in the constitution speak about a “constitutional crisis”, what they really mean is that we need to suspend the constitution to deal with this emergency. Obama’s illegal KGB tactics of surveillance and investigations have already bypassed the most basic constitutional norms.

    Now the Democrats are signaling that they’ll have to suspend all of it to deal with this “crisis”.

    The left doesn’t want to fight Russia. It wants to turn Americans into Russia.

  17. Barry Meislin Says:

    “…and the Uranium One (and other, doubtlessly) bribes.”

    Did someone mention Uranium One?

  18. Ymar Sakar Says:

    The Leftist alliance loves Nazis and Marxists. Don’t ever forget it, even for those that had faith in the US political process.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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