The FBI’s decision to seek a surveillance warrant against a member of the 2016 Trump campaign was not based on solid evidence but rather on a tip from an anonymous source that the bureau soon discovered was unreliable.
However, the FBI continued to seek Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrants against adviser Carter Page for nearly a year anyway, the Washington Times reported Monday.
According to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report, the FBI’s probe, named “Crossfire Hurricane,” was prompted by allegations contained in a dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele.
The IG’s report notes that an anonymous phone call with a Steele source proved to be the catalyst for an unverified conspiracy theory that led to four FISA Court surveillance warrants against Page, even after the bureau knew the claims were bogus and even after President Donald Trump was elected.
The Times noted that Steele held talks with the FBI but would not reveal his network of sources.
However, the FBI managed to find his “primary sub-source,” according to the IG report, and after interviewing the Moscow-based person three times in 2017, the results “raised significant questions about the reliability of the Steele election reporting,” the IG report said.
The source informed the FBI that what he had relayed to Steele was “just talk.” He was never certain of the identity of another anonymous call-in source who became central to Steele’s dossier.
“That contact is described by the IG as sub-source Person 1 and by Mr. Steele in his dossier as ‘Source E.’ In a 20-minute phone call with the primary source, Person 1 provided the critical allegations — a Russia-Trump conspiracy — that persuaded the FBI to seek a year’s worth of wiretaps on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. Mr. Steele later would describe Person 1 as a ‘boaster,'” the Times reported.
Despite the fact that the FBI learned of contradictions between Source E and Steele, the bureau never amended its FISA Court applications to convince a judge that Page was an asset of Russia, the IG report said.
The report also noted that Page, a Naval Academy graduate, was actually a CIA informant for a number of years, and that the agency informed the FBI of that fact.
However, a mid-level FBI lawyer helping to prepare the FISA warrant applications left out that fact, the IG said.