Reported by Jerry Dunleavy | May 28, 2019 05:13 PM
URL of the original posting site: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/christopher-steele-wont-cooperate-with-john-durham-review-of-russia-investigation
Christopher Steele, author of the dossier that played a key role in the Trump-Russia inquiry, will not assist Attorney General William Barr’s investigation of the investigators, according to a new report.
A source close to Orbis Business Intelligence, which is Steele’s investigative firm, told Reuters that the British ex-spy “would not cooperate” with nor answer questions from U.S. Attorney John Durham, whom Barr has tasked with reviewing the origins of the counterintelligence investigation into President Trump’s presidential campaign and the way that the Justice Department and FBI conducted the inquiry.
This revelation comes days after Trump’s order stating Barr was given “full and complete authority to declassify information” and ordering the intelligence community “to quickly and fully cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 presidential election.” Barr said he picked Durham because he “was looking for someone who is tenacious, who is used to looking at sensitive material involving government activities, who has a reputation for being fair and evenhanded.”
Neither the Justice Department nor Steele’s business immediately responded to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment. Durham’s office said they had no comment at this time.
The report said Steele “might cooperate” with DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s independent investigation, signaling a shift in Steele’s thinking. In April, Politico reported that Steele “declined to be interviewed by the inspector general, citing, among other things, the potential impropriety of his involvement in an internal Justice Department investigation as a foreign national and former British intelligence agent.” That report said Steele might even “rebut the Inspector General’s characterizations” with a public statement.
Horowitz has been looking into potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse since early 2018 and is “homing in” on the potential misuse of Steele’s unverified dossier by the DOJ and FBI. Barr has said Horowitz’s probe should be done by May or June.
Steele did cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and submitted written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.
According to a New York Times report from April, the FBI reached out to some of Steele’s foreign sources in an attempt to determine their credibility, and as early as January 2017 agents had concluded that some of the dossier’s contents may have been based on “rumors and hearsay” which were “passed from source to source.” The agents believed that some of Steele’s information may have even been based on “Russian disinformation.”
Steele’s dossier, which was packed with unverified claims about Trump’s ties to Russia, formed a key part of the FISA applications that were used to justify surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Steele was working for Fusion GPS, which received funding through the Perkins Coie law firm from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Steele’s Democratic benefactors were not revealed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Barr said this month that “it’s a very unusual situation to have opposition research like that — especially one that on its face had a number of clear mistakes and a somewhat jejune analysis.” Barr’s pointed critiques of the Steele dossier’s flaws comes after former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI General Counsel James Baker defended their handling of the dossier in recent weeks.