FISA bombshell: Russian intel knew Christopher Steele was investigating Trump during 2016 campaign

FISA bombshell: Russian intel knew Christopher Steele was investigating Trump during 2016 campaign
Christopher Steele. (Image: Screen grab of CBS video)

By Chuck Ross

Two Russian intelligence operatives were aware as early as July 2016 that former British spy Christopher Steele was investigating Donald Trump, according to newly declassified information in footnotes from the Justice Department’s report on FBI surveillance of the Trump campaign.

Footnotes from that report also said a member of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team investigating the Trump campaign received evidence in January 2017 that Russian intelligence might have targeted and collected information on Steele’s firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.

“In late January 2017, a member of the Crossfire Hurricane received information [redacted] that RIS (Russian Intelligence) may have targeted Orbis and research all publicly available information about it,” a footnote from the Justice Department inspector general’s report said.

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“However, an early June 2017 USIC (US Intelligence community) report indicated that two persons affiliated with RIS were aware of Steele’s election investigation in early July 2016.”

CBS News first reported the footnotes. The Daily Caller News Foundation confirmed their accuracy with sources familiar with the declassification process.

The footnotes were declassified following a campaign led by Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson to declassify four footnotes from the IG report.

Grassley and Johnson released portions of three footnotes Friday.

The FBI obtained information in 2017 that Russian operatives fed disinformation to Christopher Steele, according to the footnotes. They cited Steele’s claim that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen visited Prague in August 2016 to meet with Kremlin insiders to discuss paying Russian hackers.

“An individual with reported connections to Trump and Russia who claimed that the public reporting about the details of Trump’s [redacted] activities in Moscow during a trip in 2013 are false, and that they were the product of RIS ‘infiltrating a source into the network’ of a [redacted] who compiled a dossier of information on Trump’s activities,” one of the footnotes said.

The lead supervisory intelligence analyst on the FBI investigation told the IG’s office he did not know as of June 2017 that Steele’s source network “had been penetrated or compromised.”

Another footnote of the IG report said that the FBI received information in early June 2017 about “personal and business ties between” Steele’s primary source of information for the dossier and sub-source.

There were also “contacts between the sub-source and an individual in the Russian Presidential Administration in June/July 2016,” according to an IG footnote.

The “sub-subsource” also voiced “strong support” for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.

Steele’s firm, Orbis, declined the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment Tuesday.

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