Less redacted

Earlier this week I posted the heavily redacted memo released by Senators Grassley and Graham referring Christopher Steele for possible prosecution. Senator Grassley “call[ed] on the FBI to update the classification of the referral to allow complete disclosure of important context from the documents on which it is based.” After further review by the FBI at Senator Grassley’s request, a less redacted version of the memo was released on Tuesday evening.

We are inundated with information, misinformation, disinformation and lies in the matter of alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign The less redacted version of the Grassley referral memo is an important document. It sheds some light on dark corners. It helps clarify where we are. I am taking the liberty of reposting it below via Scribd. Reminder: the referral memo identified a previously undisclosed memo by Steele that derives, you might say, from a tangled Clintonian web (see also the Wall Street Journal editorial quoted below).

Today’s Wall Street Journal publishes the editorial (by Kim Strassel, I would guess) “More doubts about Mr. Steele.” Mollie Hemingway gets to all this and more, but the editorial observes in narrative form:

[T]he Grassley-Graham referral makes public for the first time actual text from the FBI’s FISA application, as well as classified testimony the FBI gave the Senate Judiciary Committee about the dossier and FISA application.

In particular, the referral rebuts the Democratic claim that the FBI told the FISA court about the partisan nature of the Steele dossier. “The FBI noted to a vaguely limited extent the political origins of the dossier,” says the letter. And “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,” the firm that hired Mr. Steele.

But, adds the referral letter, “the application failed to disclose that the identities of Mr. Simpson’s ultimate clients were the Clinton campaign and the DNC [Democratic National Committee].” That’s not being honest with the judges who sign off on an eavesdrop order.

The referral also confirms the House memo’s finding that the FBI “relied heavily” on Mr. Steele’s dossier claims, as well as on a Yahoo News article for which Mr. Steele was the main source. And the letter notes that “the application appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations against Mr. Page.”

James Comey, who was running the FBI at the time of the FISA fiasco, told the Senate Judiciary Committee as much in March 2017. According to the referral, when Mr. Comey was asked “why the FBI relied on the dossier in the FISA applications absent meaningful corroboration,” he said this was “because Mr. Steele himself was considered reliable due to his past work with the Bureau.”

In other words, the FBI rested its wiretap application on the credibility of a source who was working at the direction of the Clinton campaign. The FBI also seems to have closed its eyes to evidence that Mr. Steele wasn’t honest. The FBI acknowledges that it told Mr. Steele not to speak to the media about the dossier. Yet in September 2016 the ex-British spy briefed reporters about the FBI’s investigation and the dossier, which resulted in the Yahoo News article. The Clinton campaign cited that article on TV and social media to attack the Trump campaign. This was about a month prior to the FBI filing its first FISA application.

Yet the FBI’s October application told the FISA court that, “The FBI does not believe that [Steele] directly provided this information to the press.” Whether Mr. Steele lied to the FBI, or the FBI was too incompetent to verify that he was the source of the Yahoo News story, the result is the same: The FISA court issued a surveillance order on the basis of false information about the credibility of the FBI’s main source.

Even after Mr. Steele said under oath in court filings in London that he had briefed Yahoo News, and this fact was reported by U.S. media in April 2017, the FBI didn’t tell the FISA court in any subsequent wiretap application.

The Grassley-Graham referral also drops the stunning news that Mr. Steele received at least some of the information for his dossier from the Obama State Department. The letter redacts the names involved. But the press is now reporting, and our sources confirm, that one of the generators of this information was none other than Sidney Blumenthal. GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy, who has seen the documents, told Fox News “that would be really warm” when asked if Mr. Blumenthal is one of the redacted names.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway summarizes the revelations that can be gleaned from memo version 2.0 in the Federalist column “NEW: Criminal Referral Confirms Nunes Memo’s Explosive Claims Of FISA Abuse.” This is valuable compilation and review. If you seek to understand where we are, don’t miss it.

Reminding us of how much we don’t know, and why, Paul Sperry adds this via Twitter.

Below is the unredacted Grassley/Graham cover letter with the less redacted version of their referral memo released on Tuesday evening.

Grassley Referral (Less Redacted Version) by Scott Johnson on Scribd

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