By Jon Dougherty
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham told appeared onÂ Fox News‘ “Hannity” program Tuesday night to drop some bombshell information regarding the Obama-era “Spygate” operation to depose POTUS Donald Trump.
Specifically, the South Carolina Republican and host Sean Hannity discussed revelations related to the author of the infamous “Russia dossier” — Christopher Steele — and how he was more closely aligned with the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee than previously thought.
Hannity noted that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr — whose wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS, the firm that produced the dossier — testified previously under oath that he told officials at DoJ and the FBI Steele was no fan of then-GOP nominee Trump and that the dossier he produced was unverified.
He also noted that the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid for much of the dossier, all of which was previously known.
But Graham and Hannity noted that when the dossier was presented to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court as evidence against the 2016 Trump campaign, it was described in the filing as “verified” information — a crime in and of itself because it means whoever presented it as such lied about its veracity.
“You’re supposed to say, under oath, to the [FISA] court that the document I’m presenting to you is accurate,” Graham said. “That’s the whole point of getting a warrant. You’ve got to have reliable information.
“But why is this so important?” the senator continued. “We know in August 2016 Ohr tells the FBI senior leadership, ‘You’ve gotta watch this Steele guy, he’s out to get Trump.’
“Now, what do we know?” Graham continued, adding that a Steele “went to the Department of State on October 11 (2016) to try and get [the department] to release the dossier to the public for political reasons.”
Continuing, Graham said the State Department then informedÂ the FBI of the request — 10 days before the bureau went before the FISA court with a “verified” dossier for the first warrant to spy on the Trump team.
“They [the FBI] were told in August that Steele was out to get Trump,” Graham said, “then in October Steele goes to the State Department trying to get them to release it to the public for political reasons.”
At the same time, according to a separate report, SteeleÂ admitted that his dossier was unverifiedÂ and designed to derail Trump’s presidency.
Investigative reporter John Solomon atÂ The Hill reported Tuesday:
If ever there were an admission that taints the FBIâ€™s secret warrant to surveilÂ Donald Trumpâ€™s campaign, it sat buried for more than 2 1/2Â years in the files of a high-ranking State Department official.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalecâ€™sÂ written accountÂ of her Oct. 11, 2016, meeting with FBI informant Christopher Steele shows theÂ Hillary ClintonÂ campaign-funded British intelligence operative admitted that his research was political and facing an Election Day deadline.
And that confession occurred 10 days before the FBI used Steeleâ€™sÂ now-discredited dossierÂ to justify securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant toÂ surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter PageÂ and the campaignâ€™s ties to Russia.
Steeleâ€™s client â€œis keen to see this information come to light prior to November 8,â€ the date of the 2016 election, Kavalec wrote in a typed summary of her meeting with Steele and Tatyana Duran, a colleague from Steeleâ€™s Orbis Security firm. The memos were unearthed a few days ago through open-records litigation by the conservative group Citizens United.
Kavalecâ€™s notes do not appear to have been provided to the House Intelligence Committee during its Russia probe, according to former Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). “They tried to hide a lot of documents from us during our investigation, and it usually turns out thereâ€™s a reason for it,” Nunes told me. Senate and House Judiciary investigators told me they did not know about them, even though they investigated Steeleâ€™s behavior in 2017-18.
One member of Congress transmitted the memos this week to the Department of Justiceâ€™s inspector general, fearing itsÂ investigation of FISA abusesÂ may not have had access to them.
Nonetheless, the FBI is doing its best to keep much of Kavalecâ€™s information secret by retroactively claiming it is classified, even though it was originally marked unclassified in 2016.
Investigative reporter Sara A. Carter adds:
Citizenâ€™s UnitedÂ obtained the memos last week ago through open-records litigation, according to David Bossie, head of Citizens United. Bossie, who is also an information Trump advisor, noted that his conservative group Citizenâ€™s United has been a leader on using FOIA litigation to uncover a treasure trove of documents from Hillary Clintonâ€™s emails, to Benghazi and now what appears to be the framing of Trump by a former British intelligence officer.
â€œWe obtained them through our ongoing FOIA litigation that has been going on for years,â€ Bossie toldÂ SaraACarter.com. This is the latest and quite possibly the most damaging documents yet to expose the ObamaÂ Administration and that is why they need to investigate the investigators.â€
Let’s connect some dots: Citizens United is the conservative advocacy group run by David Bossie, who was deputy campaign manager to the 2016 Trump campaign and has since become an adviser. The White House is upset with him after anÂ AxiosÂ report on Sunday claiming Bossie may have formed a political organization in 2016 ostensibly to fundraise for the president but allegedly used the millions raised for other purposes.
Graham noted that officials within the FBI and Justice Department have said the FISA warrant would never have been issued but for the claims made by Steele in the dossier. He also noted that officials have confirmed that Steele was, indeed, “on the payroll of the Democratic Party” — and the Clinton campaign, since Hillary was running the DNC at the time.
“So here’s what needs to happen,” Graham told Hannity. “Someone needs to go to the FISA court and tell them that the FBI had plenty of notice that this guy was on the payroll of the Democratic Party and he was out to get Trump and the dossier was not verified…”
Hannity interjected: “Wouldn’t that be considered a conspiracy to commit fraud on the FISA court?”
“Here’s the question,” said Graham. “How could you not know that Steele should be looked at really hard given what Ohr said and given his actions on October 11.”
He added: “Why would the FBI classify this exchange between Steele and the State Department in April of this year?”
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10