Christopher Steele declined to meet with the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General, which is reportedly poised to cast doubt on the veracity of some of the former British spy’s infamous anti-Trump dossier.
Steele declined the inspector general’s request on the grounds that it would be improper for him to take part “in an internal Justice Department investigation as a foreign national and former British intelligence agent,” Politico reported Wednesday.
The explanation is somewhat ironic given that Steele, a former MI6 officer, provided his anti-Trump research to the FBI as well as to Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official.
Witnesses who have met with the inspector general’s office told Politico that they got the impression that investigators are “going to try and deeply undermine” Steele’s work.
The investigation is also likely “to cast doubt on the veracity of the information Steele provided about [Carter] Page that the FBI included in its application for a [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] warrant,” according to Politico.
Michael Horowitz, the inspector general, opened an investigation on March 28, 2018 into whether the FBI abused the FISA by relying on Steele’s dossier to obtain spy warrants against Page. Horowitz’s investigation is expected to wrap up in May or June, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Steele was hired in June 2016 by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that was investigating the Trump campaign on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign.
He produced 17 memos dated between June 20, 2016 and Dec. 13, 2016 that alleged a “well-developed conspiracy” between Trump associates and the Kremlin.
Steele’s sources fingered Page as one link to the Kremlin.
Republican lawmakers have investigated the FBI’s handling of the dossier, which they note was unverified when used to obtain the warrants to spy on Page.
Steele has reportedly been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller, but he has refused to meet with congressional committees, including the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Horowitz is also taking a hard look at Steele’s previous work as a confidential FBI informant, according to Politico. The DOJ watchdog has already concluded that Steele oversold his contribution to an investigation into a FIFA bribery scandal, according to the report.
None of Steele’s most serious allegations have been verified in the 27 months since BuzzFeed published the dossier. Some, such as the claim that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen visited Prague to meet with Kremlin insiders, have come under intense scrutiny. Cohen told Congress on Feb. 27 that he has never visited Prague.
Horowitz is also scrutinizing Steele’s links to Ohr, the Justice Department official. Ohr and Steele met in Washington, D.C., on July 30, 2016. Ohr became Steele’s handler shortly after the 2016 election. The FBI had cut ties with Steele after finding out he had unauthorized contacts with the media.
As The Daily Caller News Foundation reported last week, FBI attorney Sally Moyer told Congress in October 2018 that one reason Ohr was tasked to work as Steele’s handler was to assess the ex-spy’s “reliability.”
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