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Russian Intelligence Knew of Steele Research into Trump Campaign as Early as July 2016

Donald Trump greets supporters at a rally in Fountain Hills, Ariz., in March 2016. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

The Russian Intelligence Service was aware of former British spy Christopher Steele’s investigation into the Trump presidential campaign as early as July 2016, according to newly declassified footnotes from the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Steele’s firm Orbis was hired by Fusion GPS in June 2016 to conduct opposition research on the Trump campaign. The Hillary Clinton campaign had commissioned Fusion GPS in April 2016 to compile opposition research on Trump.

The FBI had known of Steele’s connections to Russian oligarchs since 2015. However, those concerns were not relayed to the team investigating the Trump campaign for alleged collaboration with Russian operatives.

“In late January 2017, a member of the Crossfire Hurricane of the Crossfire Hurricane received information [redacted] that RIS (Russian Intelligence) may have targeted Orbis and research all publicly available information about it,” reads Footnote 342 of the IG report, obtained by CBS News. “However, an early June 2017 USIC (US Intelligence community) report indicated that two persons affiliated with RIS were aware of Steele’s election investigation in early July 2016.”

Despite this, the FBI’s “Supervisory Intel Analyst told us he was aware of these reports, but that he had no information as of June 2017 that Steele’s election reporting source network had been penetrated or compromised,” the footnote continued.

According to Footnote 347, in early June 2017 the FBI learned of “personal and business ties” between Steele’s “primary sub-source” of information and another “sub-subsource.” The “sub-subsource” had contacts with “an individual in the Russian Presidential Administration in June/July 2016; (redacted) and the sub-subsource voicing strong support for Candidate Clinton in the 2016 U.S. elections.”

Several other declassified footnotes released on Friday indicated that the FBI suspected as early as January 2017 that certain allegations found in the Steele dossier were planted by Russian intelligence. Those allegations included a supposed incident in which Russian operatives recorded Trump in a Moscow hotel room with prostitutes in 2013, and an alleged meeting between Trump fixer Michael Cohen and Russian operatives in the Czech Republic in 2016.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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