In the final hours of his Administration, Pres. Trump has ordered the declassification and release of documents related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation conducted by the FBI into alleged links between Pres. Trump, members of his 2016 Campaign staff, and individuals connected to the Russian Government — the Russian Hoax Investigation.
Among the items that have now been made public is a 26-page memorandum of interview that relates to a two-day interview done with Christopher Steele in September 2017. That is 13 months after the Crossfire Hurricane investigation was launched, and it was almost exactly 12 months after the Crossfire Hurricane investigators received the first set of memoranda from Steele.
The most significant fact of this interview to me is that it was done at the direction and under the supervision of the Mueller Special Counsel’s Office. Understanding the timeline here is important, and given what has been revealed over the past nearly two years since the Mueller investigation was wrapped up, this interview is revealing for a host of not-all-that-obvious reasons.
Mueller was appointed in mid-May 2017. By mid-June, he had his “Dream Team” selected and in place, and all responsibility for investigating all aspects of what the FBI had been responsible for prior to his appointment had been transferred to the SCO by order of Ron Rosenstein.
The Carter Page FISA warrant had been renewed for the final time in late June 2017, and the Inspector General Report states that FBI officials almost didn’t seek to renew it because it had become largely unproductive.
On July 26, the FBI executed a search warrant at the home of Paul Manafort in suburban Virginia.
On July 27, George Papadopolous was intercepted and arrested at Dulles Airport on his way to a connecting flight that was to take him to his home in Chicago. They kept him in jail overnight, and suggested to him, without his lawyer present, that he might be facing as much as 20 years in prison for “obstruction” because he deleted his Facebook account — after asking FBI permission to delete his Facebook account.
On September 17, NBC news reports based on leaks by “four current and former government officials” that Michael Flynn Jr., was the subject of the investigation into Russian election interference.
NOTHING of substance materialized from any of those investigative efforts. Carter Page has been charged with nothing, and the scope of the FBI’s illegal conduct is coming into greater focus. Manafort was eventually charged and convicted of crimes predating the Trump campaign and had nothing to do with the 2016 election. Papadopolous turned out to know no one in Russia and nothing about any Russian efforts to influence the campaign. And the leak about Michael Flynn Jr. was simply an unethical tactic employed by the SCO to gain leverage over his father at the outset of discussions about a plea agreement to a crime he never committed, part of which would involve his cooperation with the investigation of Pres. Trump by the SCO.
So, in other words, the Special Counsel’s Office didn’t have jack squat on anyone about anything that the FBI had supposedly been looking into for over a year.
So, the bright idea occurs to the “Dream Team” — “Maybe we should go back and reinterview that guy who started this whole thing.”
They spent two days with Steele in a London hotel retracing the steps of Steele’s work and the start of the FBI investigation.
And the FBI has kept that memorandum of that interview secret until today.
What did they learn? The 26 single-spaced pages of information are too voluminous to capture all at one time in this article. As I find specific facts that are of significance, I’ll report on them over the next couple of days, as well as attempt to read the other documents Pres. Trump ordered released today.
But the first piece of interesting information from the Steele interview is found right near the start.
Remember that Steele’s downfall as an FBI “Confidential Human Source” came about as a result of his having contacts with the press after agreeing in his “Source Agreement” to not disclose his contacts with the FBI to anyone. The first set of memos that Steele had prepared for the Clinton Campaign found their way to the Crossfire Hurricane team on September 16 according to the Inspector General’s report.
On September 23, Yahoo News ran an article by reporter Michael Isikoff on the existence of an FBI investigation into Carter Page and a trip he took to Moscow in July 2016, with the story claiming that Page had met with high-level officials in the Russian Government — the exact same claims made in one of Steele’s memos that were delivered to the Crossfire Hurricane team one week earlier. The story included the following statement:
But U.S. officials have since received intelligence reports that during that same three-day trip, Page met with Igor Sechin, a longtime Putin associate and former Russian deputy prime minister who is now the executive chairman of Rosneft, Russian’s leading oil company, a well-placed Western intelligence source tells Yahoo News.
In the September 2017 interview, Steele “apologized” for going to the press in September 2016. He claimed he and his company were “riding two horses” — the Clinton campaign which wanted that information made public, and the FBI which did not. They chose the business relationship — the party paying them — over the FBI. He followed the direction of his client over the directions given to him by the FBI.
Steele described Candidate Trump as his “main opponent”, and he was fearful at the time about how a Trump Presidency would negatively impact the historical relationship between the US and the UK.
It hasn’t been a mystery for a long time that the entire affair was a “set-up” meant to derail the Trump campaign. After it failed to do so — and Steele became a mostly inactive participant — anti-Trump government actors continued to push forward through the early months of the Trump Administration.
But by September 2017, the SCO could see there was nothing to any of the lines of inquiry that were being pursued — Manfort, Page, Papadopolous, and Flynn. Everything came up empty.
With this interview in September 2017, the SCO knew absolutely that the ENTIRE episode had been a political hit-job from the very start. The most damning claims made by Steele in his memos were those about Carter Page being involving alleged first-person contact with senior Kremlin officials during the middle of the campaign, and it knew that a year of surveillance and a search of all Carter Page’s campaign communications showed the Steele information was false.
It was ALL BULLSHIT. The FBI was able to get the most intrusive warrant it could get in order to comb through Carter Page’s campaign activity — Carter Page’s entire life — and not a single claim made about him by Steele has ever been confirmed by the FBI.
But the SCO had a life of its own at this point — fueled by ant-Trump Democrats who were determined to continue to tie-up the Administration that was only 9 months old.
The country — and President Trump — lived with that practical reality on a daily basis for another 18 months before the SCO finally acknowledged it had all be a lie. They papered-over that concession the best they could with the Mueller Report, but nothing in the Steele information was ever used by the SCO to advance their ‘investigation”.
The SCO knew all along that it all started with a fraud.