For months, Republicans in the US Congress, the White House and elsewhere, have been hard at work to discredit the FBI, itself, and any work product that the FBI would be producing, regarding its investigative findings regarding the Trump-Russian connection probe, being led by the highly reputable Special Counsel Robert Mueller III. Their more recent assertions against the FBI focused on the republicans’ theory that the dossier by a former MI6 agent Christopher Steele and which was shared with the FBI, was flawed because Mr. Steele had been hired by the democratic presidential opponent Hillary Clinton.
It was hard to see how this talking point carried much weight because its impact on the FBI investigation had been used as an added source of corroboration, and it was not the basis to instigate any FBI inquiry. Its value was real, only because it validated other data from other sources.
This reality did not impede the republicans from pushing forward with their latest maneuver to discredit the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe which was orchestrated by the elders of the US Senate, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Both have been serving on the Senates’s Judiciary Committee and they acted without the knowledge of their democratic counterparts.
These two men had been blocking “we the people” from reading for ourselves, the transcript of the Fusion GPS executives 10 hours of testimony held before the US Senate’s Judiciary Committee around August 2017. This is the entity which had hired Mr. Steele to do opposition research on Mr. Trump. The Fusion GPS personnel had been requesting that their testimony be made public. (See: New York Times opinion piece. / At Town Hall Chuck Grassley is Pushed to Release Glenn Simpson 8/24/17
So, on January 9, the democratic co-chair Dianne Feinstein of the Senate Judiciary Committee came to the rescue by unilaterally releasing the full transcript for public consumption. Her move came days after Sen. Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) had referred Mr. Steele to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation.
(To read the entire transcript, click here.) The transcript proves the lies that republicans were resorting to as political talking points.
Here’s the rest of the story…
On January 16, 2018, David Ignatius of the Washington Post penned the following report, “The truth about the FBI’s Russia probe”
“Does this concern you at all?” asks a tart email message from a Trump supporter who wonders why the mainstream media doesn’t take a closer look at allegations that the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election has been tainted by bias.
“It’s a fair question. President Trump has made very serious charges, tweeting in December that the FBI’s “reputation is in Tatters — worst in History!” And Republicans in Congress have claimed that the bureau was manipulated by a former British intelligence officer named Christopher Steele, who supposedly pumped up allegations about Trump-Russia collusion with a “dossier” that was financed by Hillary Clinton.”
“What’s true here, and what’s false? A careful look at the evidence rebuts the claim that the FBI was misused by Steele and that the bureau’s operations are in disarray. The FBI isn’t perfect, and text messages show that some officials favored Clinton (just as others supported Trump). But Republicans delude themselves in claiming that the Russia probe is a partisan concoction. Trump operatives have admitted in plea agreements that they lied to the FBI about their contacts with Russia.”
“What I can tell you is [I see] tens of thousands of agents and analysts and staff working their tails off to keep Americans safe from the next terrorist attack, gang violence, child predators, spies from Russia, China and North Korea, and Iran.”
“What about Republican claims that Steele spawned what Trump calls a “witch hunt”? It’s true that Steele was hired by Fusion GPS, an investigative firm paid to dig up dirt on Trump, first by Republican opponents, then by Clinton supporters. But Steele went through well-established contacts, and the FBI got serious only after it obtained its own independent information.Steele’s main FBI connection was a senior agent he had met in 2010, when he shared information about corruption in the international soccer federation known as FIFA. Steele, who had retired from MI6 the year before, had been retained as a private investigator by the Football Association in England. His FBI contact was involved in international organized-crime investigations. The FIFA investigation helped bring Justice Department indictments in 2015 that toppled the organization’s leadership.”
“So when Steele contacted the FBI in mid-2016 with information about Trump and the Russians, he was already a valued source. On about July 4, 2016, he met with his FBI friend in London to share what he had gathered for a June 20 Fusion GPS report, the first chapter of his eventual dossier. In that first report, Steele’s sources claimed that Russia had been “cultivating” Trump for at least five years.”
“Steele’s information didn’t get much high-level attention at first. But bells began ringing in July, after Australian intelligence told the FBI about an unusual conversation two months earlier between Australia’s London high commissioner and George Papadopoulos, a Trump foreign policy adviser. As the New York Times reported last month, Papadopoulos had told the Australian official that Russia had damaging political information about Clinton. The Australians decided to share this intelligence with the FBI after hacked Democratic emails were published in July.”
“The FBI was now very interested. Based on the Australian account, knowledgeable sources say, the bureau requested another meeting with Steele to dig deeper. That encounter took place around Oct. 1 in Rome with Steele’s old FBI contact. At this meeting, the FBI official asked Steele if he had ever heard of Papadopoulos, according to an official familiar with the meeting. Steele hadn’t.”
“What does this narrative tell us? Far from a yarn concocted by Steele, the FBI probe was driven by its own independent reporting about Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty last October to lying about his Russia contacts. The bottom line: There may be something in tatters at the center of this investigation, but it isn’t the FBI.”