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Senate panel releases memo showing FBI may have misled lawmakers about Russia probe

Document shows FBI falsely told senators that Steele sub-source backed up his dossier. 'Somebody needs to go to jail for this,' Lindsey Graham says.

Updated: August 10, 2020 - 10:03am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Sunday released a document it says shows the FBI misled senators on the Intelligence Committee during the Russia probe by falsely suggesting Christopher Steele's dossier was backed up by one of his key sources.

"Somebody needs to go to jail for this," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the panel's chairman, told the Fox News program Sunday Futures with Maria Bartiromo. "This is a second lie. This is a second crime. They lied to the FISA court. They got rebuked, the FBI did, in 2019 by the FISA court, putting in doubt all FISA applications.

"A year before, they're lying to the Senate Intel Committee. It's just amazing the compounding of the lies," Graham added.

The document in question contains the draft talking points the FBI used to brief the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2018, including an assessment that the primary sub-source of the information contained in the Steele dossier had backed up the former MI-6 agent's reporting.

The primary sub-source “did not cite any significant concerns with the way his reporting was characterized in the dossier to the extent he could identify it,” the FBI memo claimed. "...At minimum, our discussions with [the Primary Sub-source] confirm that the dossier was not fabricated by Steele.”

You can read the document here.

In fact, by the time the FBI provided senators the briefing, agents had already interviewed Steele's primary sub-source who disavowed much of what was attributed to him in the dossier as in "jest" or containing uncorroborated allegations.

Agents also had been warned by the CIA that Steele's memos contained disinformation fed to him by Russian intelligence services, and had created a spreadsheet showing most of the claims in the dossier were either debunked, unable to be corroborated or Internet rumor.

Graham said the document is so misleading he is demanding FBI Director Chris Wray identify the names of those involved in the briefing. "They misled the hell out of them," he said.

There is widespread evidence released by the Judiciary Committee and the DOJ inspector general contradicting the February 2018 FBI briefing memo including that the primary sub-source:

  • told the FBI that he "has no idea" where some of the language attributed to him came from or that his contacts and "never mentioned" some information attributed to him.
  • told the FBI he "did not know the origins" or "did not recall" other information contained in the dossier that was supposedly from his contacts
  • alleged that Steele used “incorrect source characterization” for one of his contacts. told the FBI that the corroboration for the dossier was “zero” and that he takes what the sources for the dossier told him with “a grain of salt.”
  • claimed much of what he told Steele was second-hand or even in jest and never intended it to be treated as intelligence because if was “word of mouth and hearsay” and “conversation that [he] had with friends over beers.”