The revelations from US Government records about the FBI/Intel Community plot to take out Donald Trump continue to flow thanks to the dogged efforts of Judicial Watch. The latest nugget came last Friday with the release of FBI records detailing their recruitment and management of Britain's ostensibly retired Intelligence Officer, Christopher Steele. He was an officially recruited FBI source and received at least 11 payments during the 9 month period that he was signed up as a Confidential Human Source.
You may find it strange that we can glean so much information from a document dump that is almost entirely redacted. The key is to look at the report forms; there are three types–FD-1023 (Source Reports), FD-209a (Contact Reports) and FD-794b (Payment Requests). There are 15 different 1023s, 13 209a reports and 11 794b payment requests covering the period from 2 February 2016 thru 1 November 2016. That is a total of nine months.
These reports totally destroy the existing meme that Steele only came into contact with the FBI sometime in July 2016. It is important for you to understand that a 1023 Source Report is filled out each time that the FBI source handler has contact with the source. This can be an in person meeting or a phone call. Each report lists the name of the Case Agent; the date, time and location of the meeting; any other people attending the meeting; and a summary of what was discussed.
What is clear from the new records is that Christopher Steele, a foreign intelligence officer, had frequent and extensive contacts with the FBI. Who was his FBI Case Agent?
Up to this point most folks believed, based on testimony from Fusion GPS owner Glen Simpson, that Steele only started dealing with the FBI in June or July of 2016. Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he hired Steele in May or June of 2016. Steele produced his first report for Fusion GPS on 20 June 2016. Simpson's Senate testimony suggested that Steele only first met with the FBI in July 2016 :
Q. So after Mr. Steele had found out the information that he put in the very first of these memos, the one dated June 20, 2016, he approached you about taking this information to specifically the FBI, the Federal Bureau of Investigation?
A. That's my recollection.
Q. So to the best of your recollection, that request or idea came directly from Mr. Steele, not anyone else?
A. That's right.
We now know that was grossly misleading. Steele was a fully signed up intelligence asset. There are very strict rules governing how such an asset is signed up. These rules were instituted in the wake of the Whitey Bulger fiasco, where FBI Agents cut corners and broke rules in handling a sensitive, compromised source. Most importantly, before the FBI can sign up a Confidential Human Source, aka CHS, the FBI must conduct a Suitability and Pertinence inquiry, aka SI. This has to be done no more than 120 days before the source is signed up. The SI starts on the date a 137 file is opened (see p. 136-6). So when was the 137 file opened on Christopher Steele?
The recruitment of Steele was done with the full knowledge of senior FBI and DOJ officials. We know this from the other requirements for signing up a CHS:
- A CHS must be subjected to a validation process (p. 12).
- FBI Agent shall document information pertaining to that Source and forward it to an appropriate FBI Supervisor for an Initial Validation (p. 13), which will include the person's motivation for providing the information.
Immediately after these instructions have been given, the FBI Agent shall require the Confidential Human Source to acknowledge his or her receipt and understanding of the instructions. The FBI Agent, and the additional Agent or other government official present as a witness, shall document that the instructions were reviewed with the Confidential HumanSource and that the Source acknowledged the instructions and his or her understanding of them. As soon as practicable thereafter, an FBI Supervisor shall •,review and, if warranted, approve the documentation. In addition, the FBI Agent handling the source is required to have the approval of senior FBI leaders
- An individual becomes an informant once the supervisor certifies the individuals's suitability. (see p. 137-9)
By virtue of being a CHS, Steele's travel to other locations for meetings with the FBI (for example, he met with FBI officials in Italy in September) requires prior approval from Headquarters. He just cannot pick up and go on his own. My point is simple–the FBI decision to get into bed with Christopher Steele pre-dated what the American people had been previously told about the FBI's relations with this foreign spy.
But there is a major unanswered question surrounding the decision to recruit and rely on Steele as a Confidential Informant–the U.S. and the United Kingdom have a standing agreement to not recruit each other's intelligence personnel for clandestine activities. Why was this exception made?
Christopher Steele was terminated as a Confidential Human Source for cause. We know this because that part is not redacted in the FBI documents:
CHS confirmed to an outside third party that CHS has a confidential relationship with the FBI. CHS was used as a source for an online article. In the article, CHS revealed CHS’ relationship with the FBI as well as information that CHS obtained and provided to FBI. On November 1, 2016, CHS confirmed all of this to the handling agent. At that time, handling agent advised CHS that the nature of the relationship between the FBI and CHS would change completely and that it was unlikely that the FBI would continue a relationship with the CHS. Additionally, handling agent advised that CHS was not to operate to obtain any intelligence whatsoever on behalf of the FBI.
Pay attention to the last item–Steele was told NOT to operate to get any info on behalf of the FBI. So what did he do? After Trump's election Steele provided one more report, which was passed directly to Senator John McCain who in turn passed it to James Comey. What did Comey swear to in the FISA renewal application in January 2017? Did he tell the judge that he was using information from a CHS that had been fired? I doubt it.
What was the precipitating incident or issue that led the FBI to recruit and sign up Steele as a Confidential Human Source? I am told by friends with knowledge of the matter that the impetus came because British Intelligence was passing information to the U.S. Intelligence Community. Did DNI Jim Clapper or CIA Director John Brennan contact the FBI and ask the FBI to bring Christopher Steele on board as an informant? The Guardian reported that this is exactly what happened (but they got the timing wrong):
. . . both US and UK intelligence sources acknowledge that GCHQ played an early, prominent role in kickstarting the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation, which began in late July 2016.
One source called the British eavesdropping agency the “principal whistleblower”.
According to the Guarding, GCHQ Chief Robert Hannigan spoke directly to John Brennan, who:
used GCHQ information and intelligence from other partners to launch a major inter-agency investigation. In late August and September Brennan gave a series of classified briefings to the Gang of Eight, the top-ranking Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate.
This latest document dump makes it very clear that the FBI activity with respect to going after Trump on all matters Russia predates July 2016. More information needs to come out.