WASHINGTON – The “central and essential” evidence used to justify invasive surveillance of an American citizen in the FBI’s probe into Russian interference was, itself, an example of Russian interference, according to once-secret footnotes declassified at the urging of two U.S. Senators. The footnotes, part of the Justice Department Inspector General’s postmortem of the FBI’s flawed operation to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, were released just hours after Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) renewed their push for transparency. The senators expect a fuller declassification in the coming days.
“It’s ironic that the Russian collusion narrative was fatally flawed because of Russian disinformation. These footnotes confirm that there was a direct Russian disinformation campaign in 2016, and there were ties between Russian intelligence and a presidential campaign – the Clinton campaign, not Trump’s.”
The IG report detailed how the FBI’s application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Page relied heavily on an unverified dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele on behalf of Fusion GPS, which was conducting opposition research for the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee. According to Footnote 302, in October 2016, FBI investigators learned that one of Steele’s main sources was linked to the Russian Intelligence Service (RIS), and was rumored to be a former KGB/SVR officer. However, the FBI neglected to include this information in its application, which the FISA court approved that same month. Two months later, investigators learned that Glenn Simpson, the head of Fusion GPS, told a Justice Department attorney that he assessed the same source “was a RIS officer who was central in connecting Trump to Russia.” In January, the FISA warrant was renewed.