By Byron York
Originally published by the WashingtonExaminer
The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump-Russia affair shortly after receiving the first installment of an anti-Trump dossier from a former British spy working for the Hillary Clinton campaign. What congressional investigators want to know is whether that was a coincidence or not.
The first report in the dossier compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele was dated June 20, 2016.
Steele told the left-leaning publication Mother Jones that he took the first part of his dossier to the FBI “near the start of July.”
James Comey, when he was FBI director, told members of the House Intelligence Committee the Trump-Russia investigation began “in late July.”
So the timeline is: The first dossier report was June 20, Steele approached the FBI near the start of July, and the FBI began its investigation in late July.
Steele’s first dossier installment, the June 20 document, cited a “senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure” and a “former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin.” It reported that “Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting US Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP for at least 5 years” and that “the TRUMP operation was both supported and directed by Russian President Vladimir PUTIN.” Also citing a “senior Russian financial official” and a “close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow,” the dossier said Russians had been feeding Trump “valuable intelligence” on Clinton “for several years.” The report also said “TRUMP’s (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton hotel, where he knew President and Mrs. OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him.” The action was all captured by hidden cameras, the dossier said.
The FBI was very interested in Steele’s report, according to Mother Jones’ David Corn, who was personally briefed by Steele:
The former intelligence officer says the response from the FBI was “shock and horror.” The FBI, after receiving the first memo, did not immediately request additional material, according to the former intelligence officer and his American associates. Yet in August, they say, the FBI asked him for all the information in his possession, and for him to explain how the material had been gathered and to identify his sources. The former spy forwarded to the bureau several memos — some of which referred to members of Trump’s inner circle. At that point, he continued to share information with the FBI. “It’s quite clear there was or is a pretty substantial inquiry going on,” he says.
Corn’s report suggested the FBI was surprised by the dossier report’s contents, which in turn suggested the FBI wasn’t already on the case when Steele approached the bureau near the start of July.
Not long after, on July 7, Carter Page, whom Trump had named to a little-used foreign policy advisory board, began a three-day visit to Moscow, where he gave a public commencement speech to a university known as the New Economic School.
In a dossier report dated July 19, Steele wrote that Page had met in Moscow with Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, the giant Russian oil company, and, separately, with Igor Divyekin, a senior figure in the Putin government. Sechin was known to be very close to Putin and was also under U.S. sanctions. According to Steele’s dossier report, Page and Sechin discussed ending U.S. sanctions against Russia. (A later dossier entry said Sechin offered Page billions of dollars to have Trump lift those sanctions.) Page and Divyekin allegedly discussed “a dossier of ‘kompromat’ the Kremlin possessed on TRUMP’s Democratic presidential rival, Hillary CLINTON, and its possible release to the Republican’s campaign team.”
The dossier information made its way from Steele to the FBI to Capitol Hill. On August 27, the Senate’s then-Minority Leader, Harry Reid, wrote a letter to Comey noting “a series of disturbing reports” about whether “a Trump advisor who has been highly critical of U.S. and European sanctions on Russia…met with high-ranking sanctioned individuals while in Moscow in July of 2016, well after Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee.”
Steele continued to file dossier reports to the Clinton campaign and, apparently, to the FBI during the July-August-September-October time frame — in other words, the period leading up to the November 8 presidential election. There were reports dated July 30; August 5, 10, and 22; September 14; and October 12, 18, 19, and 20.
The challenge — for Steele and for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired him with funding from the Clinton campaign — was to get the dossier’s charges out in public, where they might influence the presidential race.
As the election approached, the Clinton campaign, through Fusion GPS, directed Steele to give the dossier information to a few journalists. At the “end of September,” and again in October, according to British court papers, Steele personally briefed reporters from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, the New Yorker, and Yahoo.
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