In newly declassified messages, ex-FBI agent Peter Strzok, who oversaw the bureau’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia, touted the Steele dossier’s ability to “influence” media.
Senate Republicans on Thursday released a number of internal FBI messages from Strzok that provide insight into Crossfire Hurricane, the investigation into the Trump campaign. The Justice Department declassified the records on December 1 after Senators Ron Johnson (R., Wisc.) and Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) asked Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray to declassify the documents in October as part of their investigation into Crossfire Hurricane.
Strzok’s messages suggest that he was aware that former British spy Christopher Steele, whose dossier was used by the FBI to obtain surveillance warrants against Carter Page, was a source for a Yahoo! News story alleging that Page had a secret meeting in Moscow with two Kremlin insiders.
“Looking at the Yahoo article, I would definitely say at a minimum Steele’s reports should be viewed as intended to influence as well as to inform,” Strzok, who was fired from the FBI in August 2018, wrote on Sept. 23, 2016.
It was later uncovered that Steele was a source for the article and he had met with a number of journalists in Washington, D.C. as part of an opposition research campaign commissioned by the DNC and Clinton campaign.
Though Strzok expressed his suspicion that Steele was the source for the article, the Bureau continued working with the ex-spy and did not disclose Steele’s contact with journalists to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
The FBI later ended its relationship with Steele after he spoke to Mother Jones for another dossier story on October 31, 2016.
A number of the allegations included in the dossier have since been discredited and a December 2019 report by the Justice Department inspector general criticized the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team for failing to communicate key details about Steele and the dossier to the FISC.