The Various Channels Via Which the Steele Reports Got Ingested by FBI
One side benefit of the DOJ IG Report on Carter Page is its running description of when the FBI obtained Steele’s reports when. I’ve tried to track that information, which appears in narrative form, in this spreadsheet. It shows that the FBI got different sets of Steele reports from the following sources:
- Mike Gaeta, Steele’s handling agent. He first got a report on July 5, 2016, got more in time to share them with the Crossfire Hurricane team on September 19, and then kept sharing files as he received them in October. Two of the most problematic reports — the one that claimed Russia had not had success hacking Western targets (which was knowably false in 2015) and the one that misspelled Alfa Bank “Alpha”) — did not get shared directly with the FBI. There are three reports shared with the FBI that are not public, though the content and report number of one can be surmised from the report.
- Kathleen Kavalec. Kavalec shared the content of a briefing she attended on October 11, 2016 after Steele had been closed out in November (though she tried to share it in more timely fashion). The FBI describes the briefing she received as largely the same as two reports Steele wrote (one that is not public) the following day.
- David Corn. He shared his set of files either “after the election” or on November 6, 2016 with FBI’s General Counsel, Jim Baker. His set did include those two dodgier reports on hacking and “Alpha” Bank.
- John McCain. He shared his set of files with Jim Comey on December 9, 2016. He, too, got the dodgy cyber and “Alpha” reports, as well as a report invoking Aras Agalarov.
- Bruce Ohr. After Steele was closed out, Ohr helped the FBI figure out what Steele had actually been doing (for which favor the IG referred him to Office of Professional Responsibility). He obtained a set of files from Glenn Simpson and shared it with the FBI, which largely overlapped McCain’s, but included an extra report claiming Russia had input on whom Trump picked for Secretary of State.
- BuzzFeed. The BuzzFeed dossier included an extra report no one else had, dated December 13, 2016. It made the most inflammatory claim of all the reports — that Michael Cohen had paid the hackers who had targeted the DNC — and accused XBT of doing things that the Internet Research Agency had actually done.
As noted, the FBI never received their own copy of two of the sketchiest reports — the one claiming Russia had had no success hacking targets that the FBI knew well they had been hacking for over a year, and the one that misspelled “Alfa” bank. They would have first obtained those via David Corn either just before or after the election (the report is inconsistent on the timing).
This in no way exonerates the FBI for using the dossier in later Page FISA applications. It’s also not clear when the Crossfire Hurricane team received the first three reports on Michael Cohen, which were some of other other most easily disproved reports, but it’s unlikely they received and vetted them before the first application. But at the time they used the dossier as a basis for the first Page FISA application, there would have been less reason to immediately distrust the reports.
OTHER POSTS ON THE DOJ IG REPORT
Overview and ancillary posts
Crossfire Hurricane Glossary (by bmaz)