[Photo: National Security Agency, Ft. Meade, MD via Wikimedia]

The Frothy Right Proves Trump Buried 7 Details of Russian Outreach by Wailing about Carter Page

The other day, the government released a spreadsheet that the FBI used to validate the Steele dossier.

The spreadsheet shows that, if the Steele dossier included disinformation, the disinformation was really well crafted, because the disinformation was close enough to the truth to make known events — like Paul Manafort’s expanding corruption scandal — appear to confirm the dossier.

It also shows that when John Solomon claimed, in 2019, that the spreadsheet “was a sea of blanks,” he was wrong.

Multiple sources familiar with the FBI spreadsheet tell me the vast majority of Steele’s claims were deemed to be wrong, or could not be corroborated even with the most awesome tools available to the U.S. intelligence community. One source estimated the spreadsheet found upward of 90 percent of the dossier’s claims to be either wrong, nonverifiable or open-source intelligence found with a Google search.

In other words, it was mostly useless.

“The spreadsheet was a sea of blanks, meaning most claims couldn’t be corroborated, and those things that were found in classified intelligence suggested Steele’s intelligence was partly or totally inaccurate on several claims,” one source told me.

Given the redactions, it is unclear whether the redacted material affirmatively disproves claims from the dossier or provides partial corroboration. Since I’ve argued the dossier was problematic for longer than even the frothers, I don’t have a stake in that. But the spreadsheet in no way was full of blanks. There are relatively few blank entries in the spreadsheet.

Which means, if it was disinformation, it succeeded in wasting a lot of the FBI’s time.

But a potentially more important detail from the spreadsheet is that it shows the Carter Page FISA collection was useful in testing the dossier’s claims. Probably, given other soft corroboration and Igor Danchenko’s claims to have two independent sources backing the claim, the FISA collection produced evidence that made it harder to rule out a meeting between Igor Sechin and Page (which is what the Mueller Report ultimately concluded, that they couldn’t rule it out; 302s show there was time in Page’s schedule he didn’t account for).

And Trump has succeeded in burying that useful intelligence, even the intelligence collected during a period when — the bipartisan SSCI Report concluded — the FISA application targeting Page was appropriate.

In September, the FISA Court unsealed an opinion explaining its decision to sequester the intelligence collected under the Carter Page orders. The order reveals that, when the Court asked whether it should treat the first two applications targeting Page the same way it would treat the two for which DOJ had withdrawn probable cause determination, DOJ declined to do so.

In fact, in response to the Conrt’s directive to explain why retaining the Page FISA information “in the manner intended by the government, and any contemplated use or disclosure of it,” comport with§§ 1809(a)(2) and 1827(a)(2), Jan. 7, 2020, Order at 2, the government declined to argue, even alternatively, that those provisions do not apply ( or apply differently) to information obtained under the first two dockets. See Feb. 5, 2020, Resp. at 28-29. Under the circumstances, the Court will assume that§§ l 809(a)(2) and l 827(a)(2) apply to information acquired under color of the first and second dockets just as, per the government’s admission, they apply to information acquired under color of the third and fourth.

This had the result that, even though DOJ itself did not withdraw its probable cause determination, and even though a bipartisan committee at SSCI believed the initial applications were merited, all four applications targeting Page would be treated as if the applications were improper.

DOJ did not tell the FISC that it was (and probably still is) criminally investigating several people involved in these applications, meaning the FISC opinion sequestering case file information would be make necessary source information unavailable for anyone targeted in that investigation to show that the applications were reasonable.

That may have been part of the point.

And the Steele dossier spreadsheet shows in tangible form that useful information — whether it corroborated suspicions against Page or disproved them — has been sealed permanently as a result. The spreadsheet redacts information on the following topics because of FISC’s decision to sequester everything collected under the Page applications:

I get why the FISC would want to rule aggressively to protect Carter Page’s privacy, and I’m fine with the decision.

But this intelligence seems like it would be really useful to understanding the Russian operation, even if Page was targeted by Russian disinformation. Indeed, this intelligence would be really important to understand the nature of the disinformation Russia fed the US.

The decision by Trump’s DOJ not to stand by its earlier decision that the first two applications were appropriate had the effect, then, of burying intelligence on Trump and the Russian operation.

Which was likely part of the point.

13 replies
  1. klynn says:

    Great post. Thank you.
    “The decision by Trump’s DOJ not to stand by its earlier decision that the first two applications were appropriate had the effect, then, of burying intelligence on Trump and the Russian operation.”


  2. bmaz says:

    Lol, we are “still” talking about the so called “dossier”? All four Page warrants were fine under Franks. Until that is acknowledged, or Franks changed (hey, maybe the Barrett Court will!) the entire discussion is complete bullshit.

      • bmaz says:

        PJ, please explain why Franks v. Delaware is not controlling on the entire Page warrants issue. Tell me why I should “be smarter” when all I have done is point out the clearly relevant and applicable law. Law that applies to ALL warrants, even the FISA ones as to Page.

        The controlling law that has been relentlessly ignored over the simpering Carter Page claptrap. It is far past time to give that twatwaffle time and space. So, when you say you expect things to be smarter, how about starting with addressing the actual legal standard. Something that seemed to escape thousands of pages of analysis and “reports” on the issue.

    • Greg Hunter says:

      Thanks for the Franks as I listen intently for the reference and James Comey invoked it during his inquisition before the Graham led judiciary. No one took the bait while I watched but it had an impact on Graham.

  3. franktoo says:

    Emptywheel complains the Solomon wrote: “The spreadsheet was a sea of blanks, meaning most claims couldn’t be corroborated, and those things that were found in classified intelligence suggested Steele’s intelligence was partly or totally inaccurate on several claims.

    When the only information in a box is that the FBI has learned through the primary source that this information came from sub-source A, then the corroboration box may as well be empty. It seems to me that there should be a separate spreadsheet for each sub-source with that information at the top. The source’s allegations should be listed chronologically (in case Russian intelligence began feeding that sub source disinformation at a certain point in time – such as the false story of Cohen’s trip to Prague) and then categorized in terms of importance: information that could be what LeCarre called Russian chickenfeed, public information in the West likely available to Steele or Danchenko, etc. The top category would be what LeCarre called “gold” – non-public information the Russians wouldn’t give away. Corroboration in any box for any source is at least partial corroboration of the other earlier allegations from that source and possibly their later allegations (if there is no sign that Russia intelligence has begun interfering).

    The organization of the spreadsheet given the SSCI is appallingly bad.

  4. Norskieflamethrower says:

    Again “the rule of law” sets the playing field for hiding justice. Sigh, this s**t is getting old.

  5. Peterr says:

    A spreadsheet, in which blank cells are suddenly filled with data that miraculously exculpates the libs and incriminates the Russians? Sounds like a Bill Gates/Hillary Clinton conspiracy if you ask me!


    *beats head against desk

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