Russian Disinformation Fed the FBI’s Trump Investigation Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) Posted By Ruth King on April 11th, 2020
Declassified footnotes to a Justice Department inspector general report show that the Federal Bureau of Investigation team investigating members of the Trump campaign received classified reports in 2017 identifying key pieces of the Steele dossier as products of a Russian disinformation campaign. This might be only the tip of the iceberg because other recently declassified information demonstrates that even more disinformation may have been planted in Christopher Steele’s reporting.Let that sink in. The FBI knew that at least some of its evidence against the Trump campaign, and maybe more, was likely part of a Russian disinformation campaign—evidence from a source that was “central and essential” for getting the first FISA warrant. It isn’t clear what if anything the FBI did to determine whether their investigation was based in substantial part on Russian disinformation.
Yet the FBI assistant director in charge of the investigation, Bill Priestap, told the inspector general that as of May 2017 (when Robert Mueller took over as special counsel), the FBI “didn’t have any indication whatsoever” that their evidence was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
I first learned all this in late December 2019, when a member of my staff reviewed the classified version of the inspector general’s report and asked me to meet him in a secure room under the Capitol. As he walked me through the four footnotes, my immediate reaction was that the American people needed to know this information as soon as possible. My colleague Sen. Chuck Grassley and I began pressing Attorney General William Barr, and eventually acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, for full declassification of these footnotes. That’s why they’re now public.
Senator Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.