Attorney General says ‘we’re gonna have to look at’ FBI for relying on ‘clear mistakes’
Attorney General Willaim Barr has said the FBI’s use of the unverified Steele Dossier as counterintelligence against Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was “very unusual” and will be investigated.
AG Barr said during a Fox News interview that aired Friday that “we’re gonna have to look at” why the Bureau used a piece of opposition research from a rival campaign to spy on Trump’s team.
Barr described the move by officials to rely on the salacious document as “strange” given the “number of clear mistakes” in the anti-Trump dossier.
“It’s a very unusual situation to have opposition research like that, especially one that on its face had a number of clear mistakes and a somewhat jejune analysis,” the attorney general told Fox News host Bill Hemmer.
“And to use that to conduct counterintelligence against an American political campaign is a strange… would be strange development.”
Barr assured Hemmer that he is investigating what role the Steele dossier played during the origins of the Russia probe.
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According to the Daily Caller, Barr spoke at length about an inquiry he launched at the Justice Department into the origins of the Russia investigation.
He told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that the investigation is also focusing on what information U.S. intelligence agencies gathered on Trump campaign associates before the FBI formally opened its investigation in July 2016.
The FBI relied heavily on the Steele dossier, which was funded by the DNC and Clinton campaign, to obtain surveillance warrants against Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser.
But Republicans have accused the FBI of misleading the surveillance court by relying on the dossier given that its allegations were unverified.
Christopher Steele, a former British spy, claimed in the dossier that the Trump campaign was involved in a “well-developed conspiracy of co-operation” with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election.
He alleged that Page and other Trump associates, like Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen, were at the center of the scheme.
But the special counsel’s report all but debunked the dossier’s central thesis, while dismissing one specific allegation about Cohen.
The report said that prosecutors were unable to establish a conspiracy between the Trump team and Russia.
It also said that Cohen did not visit Prague in August 2016, which is where the dossier claimed the former Trump lawyer went to pay off Russian hackers.
Steele and his client, Fusion GPS, shopped the dossier around to numerous journalists.
Steele also provided memos from his dossier to the FBI and State Department.
Barr told Hemmer that the answers he has received so far about the origins of the investigations “aren’t sufficient.”
He is reportedly working with the directors of the CIA, FBI, and Office of National Intelligence on the inquiry.
The Justice Department’s inspector general is also investigating the dossier’s role in the Russia investigation, as well as the FBI’s surveillance efforts against the Trump campaign.