February 9th, 2018

Byron York on why the FBI had so much faith in Christopher Steele

Recommended. I think York’s got a point:

[After discovering Steele had violated his contract with them not to talk to the media, and suspending their relationship with him over it] “The FBI still seemed to believe Mr. Steele’s earlier claim that he had only provided the dossier information to the FBI and Fusion — and not to the media — prior to his October media contact that resulted in the FBI suspending the relationship,” Grassley and Graham wrote. “Accordingly, the FBI still deemed the information he provided prior to the October disclosure to be reliable.”

Why? The FBI went into the relationship with Steele believing he was reliable. His information about Trump was spectacular, and if true would be the basis of a historically important FBI investigation. And Steele had denied talking to the press. And one more thing, Grassley and Graham drily noted: “Lying to the FBI is a crime.” FBI officials did not want to admit that Steele had lied to them, in part because if they did, their prized informant would be in legal jeopardy, instead of the investigation’s real target, Donald Trump.

So in the end, the FBI vouched for Steele and his information without verification and without fully grappling with the question of Steele’s honesty. “The FBI relied on admittedly uncorroborated information, funded by and obtained for Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in order to conduct surveillance of an associate of the opposing candidate,” the Grassley-Graham referral said. “It did so based on Mr. Steele’s personal credibility and presumably having faith in his process of obtaining the information.”

Top FBI officials wanted to believe Steele. They needed to believe Steele. So they believed Steele.

If so, this would be a form of confirmation bias that’s very very common and very very human. But investigators need to be very very aware of it and very very guarded against it. In this case, the FBI apparently violated that caveat.

Of course, that’s if you subscribe to the “fools” theory rather than the “knaves” theory. Then again, it might be “knaves and fools.”

You might think that the FBI never expected Trump to be elected when all of this happened. But some of the requests for renewal of the FISA surveillance occurred after Trump’s election.

32 Responses to “Byron York on why the FBI had so much faith in Christopher Steele”

  1. kevino Says:

    RE: “Then again, it might be ‘knaves and fools.'”
    I agree: I have embraced the power of “and”.

    RE: “You might think that the FBI never expected Trump to be elected when all of this happened. But some of the requests for renewal of the FISA surveillance occurred after Trump’s election.”
    If we believe the Strzok texts, the goal after the election was to get President Trump thrown out of office. Failing that, I believe the plan was to destroy Trump’s stature.

  2. Ray Says:

    Remember Dan Rather and the Bush physical exam memos? They just had to be true because Rather wanted them to be true. No need verify that they were actually true.

  3. Sven Says:

    You’d think the world’s premier investigative agency would be alert to the possibility that sources might occasionally feed them false information. I guess that’s expecting too much when they really, really wanted something to be true. I’ll go with the knaves theory.

  4. OldTexan Says:

    Could be, it could be that the FBI, DOJ and POTUS and crew were all dealt in on this crap sandwich that looked great and fit their needs, besides that Trump never was going to win because that would be absurd. Why look inside when you have a ready made situation that really met all their needs.

    Trump got elected and the established crew that would never do so they went to work to drive him out and settle for Pence stepping up. Lots of the Republicans would have been happy to see this happen because Trump made no sense at all and he had no idea how to be a president and he would go into some sort of a melt down and they might as well kind of keep on working with the crap sandwich because who would know the difference and Trump would soon be gone.

    So as things started to fray at the edges and the sandwich became more smelly those fine folks just kept smiling and munching away hoping Trump would end up going away and things would be right once more.

    Didn’t work out did it? Now as the layers of onion are being pulled away and we see good old crooked Hillary and crew at the center it all makes sense and it does not matter who did what when, I wish we could see some indictments but the reality is the best we can hope for is full disclosure and disgrace with all the parties being called on this crap sandwich they tried to serve us, even when they knew it was rotten.

  5. Tom G Says:

    I hope for indictments, including of Hillary, and of all who obstructed justice or destroyed evidence.

    I even fantasize that, because Trump allowed and continues to allow Mueller (finding nothing), it will be tough for Dems to stop a special prosecutor / Nunes committee (future Pres?) from continuing investigating and finding out about more crimes. Maybe even RICO against the organized criminal gov’t??

    Well, fantasy. Sunlight and shame is maybe 60-70% of the benefit of “Guilty” verdicts. I’d rather have the top 100 FBI, DOJ, Dept of State who illegally covered for Hillary to be exposed and lose their public honor.

    Do you know if an ex-President like Obama can be impeached for crimes he committed in office? I’d guess so but don’t know.

    He clearly obstructed justice on the matter of Clinton’s illegal server.

  6. AesopFan Says:

    Here’s an article showing explicitly what the FBI wanted us not to see, by comparing the now-unredacted portions to what was underneath the black lines. It covers the same points made by York, but really, um, lays it on the line about the FBI malfeasance.

    https://amgreatness.com/2018/02/07/black-lines-matter/

  7. AesopFan Says:

    I want to make a personal point here addressing the obligatory mantra “but of course the FBI line agents are really fine people who would never do anything reprehensible and it’s all the fault of the politicized top leadership.”
    The current mess is definitely the fault of the top and they should all go to jail.
    Many line agents are fine people.
    BUT — I have two (2) close friends from college who were raided by the FBI on the basis of “tips” from disgruntled employees (sacked for good cause), in the classic “Manafort fashion” of armed agents kicking down doors and confiscating property.
    Both were attacked (there is no other word for it) despite the fact that a little bit of prior due diligence would have shown the Feds that the “tips” had no factual validity.
    Both continued to be bullied after the initial investigations supported their side of the story.
    Both suffered extreme stress, financial losses, damage to their businesses and reputations, and one had his father forced into the hospital by agency harassment.

    I am not just repeating my friends’ gripes: both took their cases to court and were vindicated, with the judges censuring the FBI for their outrageous behavior.
    They survived because they were (a) innocent; (b) strong-willed and not a little stubborn; (c) honest and decent people who had no skeletons in the closet for the FBI to gnaw on.

    Bottom line: as we know from other sources, basically, the FBI is not filled with nice people, but with ruthless power-junkies.
    Any decent ones are the exception, not the rule

  8. AesopFan Says:

    A couple of things to consider, from Liberty Unyielding.
    Both address the degree to which the differing treatments of the Clinton clan v. the Trump tribe were sustained at the highest levels of the Democrat-supporting agencies and administration.

    https://libertyunyielding.com/2018/02/07/strzok-texts-suggest-discussions-giving-huma-abedin-immunity/

    “Congressional investigators are puzzling over a December 2016 text message that suggests the Justice Department sought to grant immunity to Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

    In a Dec. 13, 2016 text exchange, FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok sent his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, a text message referring to a conversation he had with the Justice Department discussing immunity and potential grand jury testimony.

    The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee released the text message along with 384 pages of additional records on Wednesday.

    “Talked with DoJ about HA interview,” Strzok wrote to Page.”

    https://libertyunyielding.com/2018/02/06/dont-laugh-russians-pranking-schiff-naked-trump-photos-ask-obama-admin-reacted-differently-2016/

    “Schiff isn’t covering himself with glory in his dealings with the FBI/FISA drama, but my purpose here isn’t to assume the worst about him regarding the prank phone call last year.

    Rather, it is to observe how this event highlights something that never seems to occur to anyone about 2016.

    If Adam Schiff, as a conscientious public official, was right to take the phone call, take down information from callers purporting to have compromising material on Trump, and pass it on to the FBI, what should the Obama administration have done if it seriously thought Trump was mixed up in a compromising way with Russian agents of Vladimir Putin?
    I certainly have some things in mind. And none of them fits the profile of what we are led to understand the Obama administration’s agencies actually did.”

  9. J.J. Says:

    Any organization is subject to losing its way. I saw it in the Navy, the oil business, and the airline industry. Leadership/management seemingly forgets the mission and the standards of ethical behavior that characterize truly successful organizations. Yes, an organization can be degraded by rogue employees, but most often it is the leadership that is lax or has a corrupt agenda that weakens and corrupts the operation. It is a very human characteristic. One that needs to be guarded against by every organization – big or small. The Inspector General is the safeguard against this in government bureaucracies. In this case the IG is on the job. The Strzok/Page texts were found by the IG and they clearly anti-Trump machinations at the FBI/DOJ. The final IG report will no doubt be a great help in exposing the corruption.

    I have seen organizations quickly turned around by new leadership. But, of course, the FBI and DOJ have been descending into corruption for nine years now. It will not be easy, but it can be done. A few indictments and firings along with a rededication to the proposition that these organizations work for the citizens and should be as unpolitical as possible would be a good start.

  10. Highlander Says:

    To my way of thinking, a conspiracy, which this was and is, speaks more to the knave side of things. The level of coordination and dedication required to develop and enact a complex plan over many months would be much harder to sustain, were it driven primarily by a hopeful incompetence, rather than a scheming animus. There are elements of idiocy, no doubt, but there’s far more bad intent apparent here than foolishness.

  11. steve walsh Says:

    They began as fools, and then as more and more information came available, especially that which undermined the story in the dossier, they turned into knaves.

  12. Baklava Says:

    I’m still grappling with how these high up officials believe the ends justify the means.

    I mean I couldn’t get that during the Gore 2000 fiasco and thank goodness there were good men to pound on the doors and demand fairness – and thank goodness for a somewhat fair Supreme Court.

  13. Frog Says:

    We are actually in great peril as a nation.
    We have progressively hamstrung ourselves.
    The Deep State is truly very deep, its members effectively have tenure. Congressional “oversight” has limited powers. Eric “The Red” Holder was cited for contempt of Congress and what happened? Zip, nada, nothing. His corruption continued unabated. He was succeeded by Loretta the Lynch, who was equally corrupt. And what happened? Zip, nada.
    Hillary went unelected, fortunately, or Loretta would remain in situ.
    Now comes Mr. Sessions, who is controlled by his nominal underling, Rosenstein, because Sessions made a foolish recusal decision. Under Rosenstein’s “supervision”, Mueller will attempt to take down the Head of State.
    I do not know enough about the Special Prosecutor enabling legislation to even know if this is possible per statute, but as national CEO it is time for Trump to call in Mueller for a full closed-door report as to findings. He should NEVER answer any Mueller question.
    The Clinton mafia is in pretty firm control, with its Comeys, Muellers, Abedins et al.

  14. Griffin Says:

    Everything about all of the Clinton investigation and then the Trump investigation HAS to be viewed through the understanding that they never thought Trump would win so nobody would ever know about any of this stuff and their good times would merrily go along.

    Everything fits if you think of it that way. Everything.

  15. neal Says:

    Courtesans scheming against the nobles, in between trysts.
    Same as it ever was.

    Hard to tell them apart. Like the Vatican, or China.

  16. Oldflyer Says:

    I am afraid that Frog is on target.

    I have a hard time buying the mantra that the rank and file are not complicit. There is no way to know how deep the rot goes, nor how wide it spreads; but, evidence shows that it is not a just a handful at the very top.

    I get especially lathered up by these “process crimes” that seem to be the fashion. Although they occur most often in the world of politics, they are not limited to that. Even if directed from the top, there are people at some lower level who set the traps, and spring them.

    Sadly, it is clear that too often people in justice and law enforcement are willing to administer punishment, and ruin lives, by simply conducting “investigations”, or even bringing cases, that do not meet the smell test. For most people, once they are forced to “lawyer up”, the financial blow, if nothing else, is severe.

    I don’t know if there has been a recent turn for the worse; or if some of us are only recently becoming aware.

  17. Doug Purdie Says:

    “Accordingly, the FBI still deemed the information he provided prior to the October disclosure to be reliable.”

    The Director of the FBI (Comey) testified before Congress that the Steele Dossier was unverified. What does it say about a law enforcement official who would consider an unverified document reliable?

    Yes. Biased is the word that comes to my mind.

  18. AesopFan Says:

    Frog Says:
    February 9th, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    * * *
    You are very right to see that the lack of punishment for clear malfeasance simply reassures the others that they are also exempt from normal legal consequences.

    This dovetails with the observation by JJ here
    J.J. Says:
    February 9th, 2018 at 2:11 pm
    Any organization is subject to losing its way.
    …Leadership/management seemingly forgets the mission and the standards of ethical behavior that characterize truly successful organizations.
    * * *
    (Cue the Mulvaney Memo again, for instituting standards at the CFPB that should be mandatory throughout the government.)

    Rot can set in at the top, bottom, or middle, but it has to have either the instigation, the involvement, or at least the tacit acceptance of the top to thrive.

    What worries me is: what happens if the IGs become corrupt also? Is there anything that guards against that?

    Along those lines, this is encouraging:
    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trump-jump-starts-stalled-veteran-healthcare-negotiations/article/2648550

    In the last year, some important steps have been taken to reform and fix the VA. As the president reminded us last week, federal employees derelict in their responsibility to care for our veterans are being fired much more rapidly due to the passage of the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. Additionally, the VA has started to publicly release more data about its performance compared to the private sector – which is a critical tool in helping veterans make the proper decisions about their healthcare.

  19. AesopFan Says:

    Oldflyer Says:
    February 9th, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    I don’t know if there has been a recent turn for the worse; or if some of us are only recently becoming aware.
    * * *
    Definitely the latter: we are seeing so much of the past now being exposed as just as rotten and biased as the current situation, but the MSM has always suppressed what they knew, didn’t look for what they didn’t want to know, and told us what we knew wasn’t true.
    Now they have competitors.

    As for the former: it’s hard to judge that, since we still have too much we don’t know. However, corruption in leadership is not something new in the world.

    neal Says:
    February 9th, 2018 at 3:50 pm
    Courtesans scheming against the nobles, in between trysts.
    Same as it ever was.

  20. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Please. Knaves all the way down. These are professionals with long experience, many of whom are lawyers. They knew exactly what they were doing.

  21. neo-neocon Says:

    Doug Purdie:

    Actually, I read somewhere (don’t recall where) that in applying to FISA for permission to surveil someone, they can rely either on independently corroborated/verified evidence or they can rely on the prior reliability of the informant.

  22. Steve57 Says:

    neo, the same can be said for any warrant application. But veteran cops are always wary that the informant, no matter how reliable they’ve been in the past, may just be playing them this time. Maybe to get rid of a rival, or maybe just for personal revenge. No veteran cop I ever knew (my uncle was a battalion fire chief in Oakland and his kitchen table was a gathering spot for cops and firemen) would simply take an informant’s word without doing at least something in the way of verification.

    Steele played the FBI. And the FBI wanted to be played.

    I wasn’t a cop but I was a Naval Intelligence Officer and never relied on a single source. I would always verify the information by at least one other means. Sorry, but I can’t tell you how that worked. But then, I was doing my level best for 7th Fleet.

  23. neo-neocon Says:

    Steve57:

    I just meant that they covered themselves in the legal sense. I agree that they should have shown much more wariness.

  24. parker Says:

    First rule: Never trust the government. Second rule: See the first rule. Third rule: See the second rule. It is rather simple, stupid. Drilled into my head by dad, mom, and all my family. Being Scot-Irish makes one a bit paranoid. ;-}

  25. AesopFan Says:

    PowerLine linked a Hewitt post that illuminates the FISA warrant process, especially the criteria for extension (excerpt) as explained by a former Bureau agent. Even more importantly, IMO, is the shenanigans around Steele’s termination and the lack of both confirmation of the dossier and supporting independent evidence.
    RTWT very muchly.

    http://www.hughhewitt.com/carter-page-fisa-warrant-need-second-special-counsel/

    “5. Whenever a FISA source is terminated for misconduct, that source’s information cannot be relied upon in the renewals. Normally the renewal is justified based on intelligence that is gathered during the first 90 days. Its normally not necessary to rely on the original source as justification to renew the FISA warrant UNLESS your surveillance is NOT turning up information about the target’s foreign entanglements. You only rely on the original PC if your surveillance is not providing you new PC information. But you would NEVER be allowed to rely on a terminated source’s information to continue PC when the surveillance is not providing sufficient new PC. So it makes no sense — as stated in Grassley’s memo — for the Bureau to continue to rely on Steele’s dossier information as PC in the 90, 180, or 270 day renewals. If there is new PC generated by the surveillance, then there is no need to use the terminated source. If there is no new PC from the surveillance, its a violation of policy to rely on the information from the terminated source as a substitute. The fact that the Bureau continued to present the Steele information in the renewals SUGGESTS — though is not necessarily conclusive — that there was insufficient intelligence coming out of the surveillance to provide new PC to continue the surveillance.”

  26. MrTea Says:

    The FBI has shown evidence of political manipulation for a while.

    ABC news showed video of the ATF looking for the bomb on the AM of the OKC bombing. The video “A Noble Lie” says ABC planned a follow-up looking into what certainly looked like advance knowledge of the attack but the FBI visited and stopped it. The video was never shown again.

    TWA Flight 800 was supposed to have blown up all by itself. The book “Altered Evidence” tells how some independent journalists found evidence of explosives residue on the seats of the reconstructed airplane–they were attacked by the DOJ and no mainstream media paid any attention to it. (This was during Clinton’s 1996 re-election).

    The books by Peter Lance “Triple Cross” and “Cover Up” about 9/11 demonstrate how the FBI under Louis Freeh was a politicized, unprofessional mess that fumbled away repeated chances to prevent what turned into the 9/11 attacks (don’t forget the first bombing of the WTC in1993). The Clinton administration promoted the people whose bad judgment allowed this to happen, the ones who tried to destroy the careers of the field agents who tried to do their jobs; the Frontline documentary series did do one story about former agent John O’Neill’s travails and ultimately his decision to leave (he died in a stairwell in the WTC on 9/11, a casualty of the FBI’s political war on professionalism).

    Freeh’s replacement Mueller is a media demigod but under his watch there was the Marathon bombing, after which the FBI went to interview the prime witness to the Tsarnaev brothers actions prior to the bombing and they killed him under very questionable circumstances, first saying he had a gun though he did not. (At that point in time there had been 151 FBI shotings 1993-2001, all found justified). http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/19/us/in-150-shootings-the-fbi-deemed-agents-faultless.html

    There remain serious questions about the Rosatom/Uranium One cases and the informant who was exposing bribery and extortion by the Russian nuclear authority inside the US but somewhere along the line the case was quashed and a single Russian was allowed to plead to a single minor charge.

    Something stinks big time. We need a purge. I’m old enough to remember that agent James Hosty admitted to disposing of a threatening note from Lee Oswald–on the orders of his supervisor–and nothing happened to either one of them.

  27. Unclefred Says:

    “The FBI” didn’t have faith in Christopher Steel. A group of conspirators at the top of the FBI and DOJ used him as a beard to knowingly place false information before the FISA court. They intentionally suppressed information that would have cause the court to deny the warrant and, if we could see the court transcripts, it’s a safe bet we’d find the applicants lied to the court directly.

    Given the timeline and what has already been revealed the FBI and DOJ abused their power and broke federal law to surveil a presidential candidate, nominee, and president. “Faith”, other than bad faith, doesn’t enter into this mess at all.

  28. Raul Alessandri Says:

    The real reason is because he was avaled by Sidney Blumenthal.

  29. Irv Says:

    My faith will be restored in the FBI and Justice Department when the whistle-blowers come forward and testify that ‘the king has no clothes’. Until that happens the rank and file will go down with their corrupt leaders and deserve to do so.

  30. Ymar Sakar Says:

    DC is corrupt. Apparently, if people put Trum there, it will get better.

    Not sure how to put this, but that kind of faith is interesting, but not something I bought into.

    The only thing keeping Trum from Nixon and JFK’s fate is that factions in the Deep State find Trum too useful against other factions of the DS.

    Also the FBI is not the DS, they are the Surface Bureaucracy, not very deep at all.

    Do not underestimate the power of the DS (Deep State), like many here underestimated the power of the Leftist alliance. They will come to regret it. The DS have not even deployed 2% of their strategic reserve for open war and conflict.

    Congratulations on getting the Leftist alliance to deploy above 20% of their strategic strength. There’s still more to go. But Wait, there’s more…

  31. AesopFan Says:

    MrTea Says:
    February 10th, 2018 at 7:25 am
    The FBI has shown evidence of political manipulation for a while.
    * * *
    A long and disturbing list.
    The John Q. Public probably remembers some of them, but not all of them, and doesn’t think about them enough to see the connection.
    If the rot has gone on this long (since Hoover started the Bureau probably), what kind of purge would even be effective, short of firing everyone and dissolving the whole thing, distributing functions to other agencies and departments, or even the States?

  32. Ymar Sakar Says:

    If the rot has gone on this long (since Hoover started the Bureau probably), what kind of purge would even be effective, short of firing everyone and dissolving the whole thing, distributing functions to other agencies and departments, or even the States?

    What good is that going to do. You can kill every single mortal in the FBI. Won’t dent the power of DC, the LA, or the DS at all.

    Americans truly have no idea what they are facing…

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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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