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FBI Director Christopher Wray orders review of Michael Flynn probe

FBI Director Christopher Wray orders review of Michael Flynn probe
  • FBI Director Christopher Wray has ordered an internal review of the bureau’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
  • The review will examine whether any “current employees engaged in misconduct” while investigating Flynn and identify whether “improvements” need to be made to FBI protocol, the bureau said in a statement.
  • Wray’s decision comes as President Donald Trump and his allies double down on a conspiracy theory, dubbed Obamagate, that accuses the Obama administration of masterminding a “deep state” plot to target Flynn and sabotage Trump’s presidency.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

FBI Director Christopher Wray has ordered a review of the federal investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the bureau said in a statement Friday.

“FBI Director Christopher Wray today ordered the Bureau’s Inspection Division to conduct an after-action review of the Michael Flynn investigation,” the statement said. The review will examine whether any “current employees engaged in misconduct” while investigating Flynn and identify whether any “improvements” should be made to FBI protocol.

“Although the FBI does not have the prosecutorial authority to bring a criminal case, the Inspection Division can and will evaluate whether any current onboard employees engaged in actions that might warrant disciplinary measures,” the statement said.

Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding US sanctions against Russia.

Flynn initially cooperated with prosecutors but later shifted course and hired Sidney Powell, a defense attorney who took a more combative stance, urging the court to dismiss the Justice Department’s case against Flynn and accusing the department of prosecutorial misconduct.

Earlier this month, the Justice Department abruptly moved to drop its case against Flynn after Attorney General William Barr tapped an outside prosecutor to reexamine the case. A federal judge is reviewing the request.

Late last month, the Justice Department also turned over four pages of records to Flynn’s legal team showing how the FBI debated handling his interview in early 2017.

“If we’re seen as playing games, WH will be furious,” one page of the notes said. “Protect our institution by not playing games.”

There was also some deliberation within the bureau about how to phrase questions to Flynn during the interview.

“What is our goal? Truth/admission, or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” the notes said.

Intelligence veterans said the notes depicted the extraordinarily sensitive nature of an investigation into a newly inaugurated president’s highest-profile national security aide. But President Donald Trump and Flynn’s other defenders characterized the documents as a smoking gun showing that the FBI tried to trap the former national security adviser into pleading guilty.

The FBI’s decision to review the Flynn investigation also comes as Trump and his allies double down on allegations that the Obama administration masterminded the Russia investigation as part of a “deep-state” plot to sabotage Trump’s presidency.

The conspiracy theory, dubbed Obamagate, accuses former Vice President Joe Biden and other Obama administration officials of improperly requesting that Flynn’s name be “unmasked” in intelligence reports monitoring Kislyak’s communications.

The conspiracy theory picked up steam last week when Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence, declassified a list of Obama administration officials who made unmasking requests that included Flynn’s name between November 30, 2016, and January 12, 2017. Biden was among the names on the list.

Trump and his allies seized on the development and said it showed that Biden and others improperly and illegally unmasked the former national security adviser’s identity.

But a Washington Post report on Wednesday debunked that allegation when it revealed that Flynn’s name was never “masked” in the first place.

Moreover, the list documented unmasking requests made through the National Security Agency, while transcripts documenting Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak were an FBI product, meaning the names on the declassified list Grenell released are unrelated to Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak.

The US intelligence community also surveils hundreds of thousands of foreign targets per year, and “unmasking” is a routine and legal tool officials use to make more sense of the communications they’re monitoring. The intelligence community gets thousands of unmasking requests a year.

The Obamagate theory also accuses Obama and Biden of having advance knowledge of the FBI’s plans to interview Flynn about his communications with Kislyak during the 2017 presidential transition period.

That allegation centers on an Oval Office meeting that took place on January 5, 2017, and included Obama, Biden, then-national security adviser Susan Rice, then-FBI Director James Comey, and then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

Rice sent herself an email documenting the meeting afterward — known as a contemporaneous memo — and Trump and his Republican allies have seized on the email as evidence that Obama ordered the FBI to “spy” on the Trump campaign.

But the email, which was declassified in full this week (though much of it had already been declassified), appears to indicate otherwise.

During the meeting, according to Rice’s email, Obama emphasized “his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities ‘by the book.'”

“The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective,” the email said. “He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.”

Obama said, however, that from “a national security perspective,” the outgoing administration should be “mindful” when sharing information about Russia with the incoming Trump administration, according to Rice’s memo.

Comey then affirmed that he was proceeding “by the book” but said he was concerned about Flynn’s frequent conversations with Kislyak and that the communications “could be an issue as it relates to sharing sensitive information.”

Obama asked Comey if he was saying the National Security Council should not share sensitive intelligence about Russia with Flynn, to which Comey replied: “Potentially.”

He added, however, that he had no information indicating that Flynn had passed any classified information to Kislyak, though their “level of communication” was “unusual,” the memo said.

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Christopher Wray downplays election fraud as suspected ballot issues found in Pennsylvania, Texas

Four people in Texas including a county commissioner were charged with felonies Thursday in an alleged ballot-harvesting scheme, while the Justice Department opened an investigation into discarded mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania. The developments came as President Trump voiced renewed concerns about the potential for fraud in widespread mail-in voting in the presidential election. “We have…

Christopher Wray downplays election fraud as suspected ballot issues found in Pennsylvania, Texas

Four people in Texas including a county commissioner were charged with felonies Thursday in an alleged ballot-harvesting scheme, while the Justice Department opened an investigation into discarded mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania.

The developments came as President Trump voiced renewed concerns about the potential for fraud in widespread mail-in voting in the presidential election.

“We have to be very careful with the ballots,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s a whole big scam.”

Texas officials announced charges in what they called a vote-harvesting scheme during the state’s 2018 primary election, accusing four people of arranging to have people mailed absentee ballots even though they didn’t qualify.

In at least one instance the schemers actually cast a ballot on behalf of a voter, while other times they encouraged them to claim to have a disability — or marked the disability box themselves — to make sure the voters were sent an absentee ballot, according to a lengthy indictment.

To vote by mail in Texas, a voter must be 65 years of age or have a disability. The voters in question were young and did not have a disability, Attorney General Ken Paxton said.

The scheme helped Gregg County Commissioner Shannon Brown win the Democratic primary for his seat by expanding the pool of absentee voters.

He would win the primary by 1,047 to 1,042 over Kasha Williams, in part by winning 73.4% of absentee mail ballots, the Longview News Journal reported in 2018.

The newspaper reported that Mr. Brown thanked God for his victory.

A grand jury handed up a 134-count indictment against Mr. Brown, Marlena Jackson, Charlie Burns and DeWayne Ward.

“It is an unfortunate reality that elections can be stolen outright by mail ballot fraud,” Mr. Paxton said in announcing the indictment.

In Pennsylvania, the Justice Department and FBI are investigating how nine military mail-in ballots ended up discarded.

The Justice Department said the nine discarded ballots, seven for President Trump, were discovered in Luzerne County, a Democratic stronghold in the northeast part of the crucial swing state that was captured by the president in 2016.

“At this point we can confirm that a small number of military ballots were discarded,” said David Freed, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, in a statement. “Investigators have recovered nine ballots at this time. Some of those ballots can be attributed to specific voters and some cannot.”

Of the nine ballots that were discarded and then recovered, Mr. Freed said, seven were cast for Mr. Trump. Two of the discarded ballots “had been resealed inside their appropriate envelopes by Luzerne elections staff prior to recovery by the FBI, and the contents of those 2 ballots are unknown,” he said.

The Justice Department said it began investigating at the Luzerne County Board of Elections after receiving a request from Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis.

The president won the county against the odds four years ago, after Luzerne had voted for Democratic presidential candidates for several decades.

Mr. Trump said it’s one more reason to distrust the integrity of widespread voting by mail.

“They found, I understand, eight ballots in a wastepaper basket in some location,” the president told reporters at the White House. “We want to make sure that the election is honest, and I’m not sure that it can be. I don’t know that it can be with this whole situation, unsolicited ballots — millions being sent to anybody.”

Mr. Trump also said some ballots had been found in a river, but didn’t say where.

“They throw them out if they have the name ‘Trump’ on them, I guess,” he said.

Told by a reporter that the ballots had no name on them, the president replied, “OK, well, they still found them in a river.”

The FBI has not detected any evidence of a widespread fraud conspiracy in this year’s elections, including in ballot-by-mail states, but is vigilant to the possibility, bureau Director Christopher A. Wray said Thursday.

Testifying to the Senate, Mr. Wray said they haven’t seen those efforts in the past, either, partially because it’s tough to succeed.

“Certainly to change a federal election outcome by mounting that kind of fraud at scale would be a major challenge for an adversary, but people should make no mistake, we’re vigilant as to the threat and watching it carefully because we’re uncharted new territory,” he said.

When it comes to attempting to influence American politics, though, he did say China is playing an increasingly large role. That comes a week after he drew the ire of Mr. Trump by singling out Russia during congressional testimony, saying Moscow was trying to “denigrate” the president’s Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden.

“Foreign adversaries will identify trends, divisive issues, in some cases conspiracy theories, that they will then, in effect, piggyback on and amplify and push to suit their own policy goals and propaganda,” he said. “And we see that across a range of adversaries. Russia, of course, but also China, also Iran.”

When it comes to the 2020 election specifically, he said Russia and Iran are using online methods such as social media and placement of fake news stories.

The White House said Thursday that Mr. Trump will accept the results of a “fair” election in November, a day after the president said his reaction would depend on how well mail-in ballots are safeguarded.

“The president will accept the results of a free and fair election,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. “He will accept the will of the American people.”

Asked by a reporter Wednesday if he would accept a peaceful transfer of power “win, lose or draw,” the president responded, “We’ll have to see what happens.

“I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots,” Mr. Trump said. “And the ballots are a disaster.”

Mr. Trump noted that former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton urged Mr. Biden recently not to concede the Nov. 3 election under any circumstances.

“But you don’t ask her that question. You only ask me that,” he chided reporters.

Mr. Wray said China’s threat to the election is different than other countries because it has such deeper economic ties to the U.S., giving Beijing a much broader reach to federal, state and local officials, “and they use economic levers very heavily.”

Sen. Tom Carper, Delaware Democrat, asked Mr. Wray to rank the foreign adversaries in terms of which posed the biggest threat — many Democrats argue Russia is the chief concern.

The FBI chief said it’s not possible to compare the threats that way.

“The Russians are engaging, and as the [intelligence director’s] statement on behalf of the intelligence community says, they’re engaged in a range of measures, but also the Chinese are recently been expanding their influence efforts,” he said.

He said he has expanded the focus of the FBI’s foreign influence task force to include China and Iran because “those countries are very much looking for different ways to take a page out of the malign foreign influence playbook that they’ve seen elsewhere.”

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad F. Wolf on Wednesday, testifying to senators, said all three countries are a threat. And he said while Russia’s efforts are designed to oppose Mr. Biden, China and Iran are active and each “prefers” Mr. Biden to win.

Officials say they haven’t seen attempts to penetrate the election infrastructure itself this year, unlike 2016, when they traced some efforts back to Russia.

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Christopher Rufo claims win as Trump ends ‘White privilege’ indoctrination within federal agencies

An occasional interview series with everyday Americans who are challenging the status quo. Christopher Rufo doesn’t work at the White House, but it sure seems like he gets results there. Just days ago, Mr. Rufo appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Channel program and boldly declared a one-man war on critical race theory. He denounced…

Christopher Rufo claims win as Trump ends ‘White privilege’ indoctrination within federal agencies

An occasional interview series with everyday Americans who are challenging the status quo.

Christopher Rufo doesn’t work at the White House, but it sure seems like he gets results there.

Just days ago, Mr. Rufo appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Channel program and boldly declared a one-man war on critical race theory. He denounced as nefarious and expensive the ways it had begun to intrude on taxpayers’ wallets. He urged President Trump to take action against the trend and end what he described as “White privilege” indoctrination within federal agencies.

On Friday, Mr. Trump signed an executive order doing just that.

Wearing his warrior’s cap, Mr. Rufo saw the move as a victory in a battle, not the war.

“On Tuesday, I called on the president to abolish critical race theory in the federal government,” he tweeted. “Tonight, he delivered. This executive action is the first successful counterattack against critical race theory in American history.

“Tonight, we celebrate; tomorrow, back to war.”

Like all other major conflicts, the one playing out over whether taxpayers should foot the bill for training sessions that denounce “whiteness” did not begin with a single shot, Mr. Rufo said.

And, like so many other ideas, critical race theory began in an ivory tower, removed from real-life consequences and contemptuous of alternative explanations, Mr. Rufo told The Washington Times.

He sees critical race theory as an ignoble successor to the tradition of other left-wing intellectual fads, such as the radical Frankfurt School and the postmodern French theorists of the late 20th century.

“Critical legal studies, that swept Harvard Law School, is a branch of it, just as the ‘60s and ‘70s French intellectuals are,” he said. “What they did was take critical theory, essentially an intellectual and literary notion, and applied it to law, public policy, race. They created a many-headed monster.”

Critical race theory is a philosophy that argues, in general, that racism is a structural system created by embedded cultural assumptions and ideas rather than merely a set of specific laws or individual actions with malicious intent. In practice, it almost always describes the U.S. as a racist society to the core rather than as a society in which racism once existed or now exists as an anomaly.

Mr. Rufo, 36, conducts his war on two fronts: public records searches and sources.

Through both, he has exposed how Seattle trained White public employees on “Interrupting Internalized Racial Superiority and Whiteness,” which showed the workers their “complicity in the system of white supremacy.”

After reviewing the material, Mr. Rufo, who lives in Seattle, wrote in City Journal that it framed the discussion “around the idea that Black Americans are reducible to the essential quality of ‘blackness’ and White Americans are reducible to the essential quality of ‘whiteness’ — that is, the new metaphysics of good and evil.”

Such reductionist reasoning with its emphasis on skin color and its insistence on universal applicability is, Mr. Rufo said, racist.

He compares it to discredited sociobiological theories such as those of Cesare Lombroso, which held that criminals had distinctive physical features.

“It revives all the most horrific concepts from the racism of a century ago, this pseudoscientific idea people are reducible to this essential quality of race,” he said. “Now it’s segregation all over again — with training sessions, dorms, workforce participation. We used to recoil in horror at the prospect of ‘Whites only’ bathrooms. Now it’s a sign of progress?”

Mr. Rufo was involved in another project last month that may have caught Mr. Trump’s attention more than the dubious Seattle training. As an employee at Sandia National Laboratory, the federal government’s biggest nuclear weapons research facility, he exposed critical race theory running rampant there.

Executives at the labs last year wrote letters of apology to marginalized groups after reciting mantras about “White privilege” and “male privilege,” part of their mandatory workshop run by the “White Men’s Caucus on Eliminating Racism, Sexism and Homophobia in Organizations.”

Casey Peterson, an engineer at Sandia, wrote an internet post that went viral and revealed the critical race theory material given to employees at the labs.

Mr. Peterson found the arguments about systemic racism and the de facto assumption of guilt among all members of a race to be a fundamentally political argument and objected to management’s push of the belief.

When he approached Sandia’s human resources department with his concerns, Mr. Peterson said, he was given the Orwellian response that he needed to check his thinking. After he published the material in a podcast, he was placed on administrative leave.

“This is an ideology that is political in nature, grafted onto a Marxist structure,” Mr. Rufo said. “This whole oppressed-oppressor narrative has no place in our public institutions. Can you imagine the same thing being done with an anti-abortion stance or gun rights? It’s unthinkable because these are private, political matters.”

Mr. Rufo does not do the kind of work usually associated with a modern documentary filmmaker, but that is what he hopes to do.

He has produced four documentaries for PBS, and he said his politics about 15 years ago could have been described as “progressive.”

Since then, they have followed an arc from libertarian to conservative. Mr. Rufo said the transitions were triggered by what he saw as the creeping monolithic thinking in the documentary industry.

“If you look at the Sundance Festival for the last five years, with really no exceptions, the documentaries are all very progressive in their political orientation,” he said. “They touch on CRT, [critical gender theory], queer theory. It is no longer a business about making entertaining films that will reach a broad audience. It is about work that supports the dominant ideology.”

Mr. Rufo said his career has suffered from the crusade against what he considers, at root, a racist ideology.

“I’ve definitely encountered some people, even some former colleagues, who have said, ‘I can’t work with you anymore because you are a conservative,’” he said. “There are now some doors pretty tightly closed to me with people who have funded my work in the past.”

The cost of critical race theory to taxpayers is also growing. Mr. Rufo highlighted that spending, which also could have contributed to Mr. Trump’s action.

One critical race theory training guru, Howard Ross, has raked in more than $5 million in federal contracts for workshops that tell White people they are inherently racist and impediments to “race-based growth.”

Mr. Rufo’s work has unearthed contracts for workshops on “Difficult Conversations About Race in Troubling Times” at the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Credit Union Administration.

Mr. Ross even landed a $500,000 contract with NASA to guide employees through issues of sexual orientation, power and privilege.

“I don’t know. Is that a good use of taxpayer’s money?” he asked. “Should a plumber in Omaha be paying for astronauts to explore their sexual identity in outer space? It’s completely insane, and I think it’s a scam.”

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Christopher Steele Trump dossier relied on mystery man, hearsay

A man of mystery in Moscow who fed a cache of anti-Trump hearsay to Christopher Steele in London for his notorious dossier relied on six sources: five friends and a 30-minute call from an anonymous person he never could identify, a newly declassified FBI document shows. The dossier rocked Washington, empowered the liberal media, captivated…

Christopher Steele Trump dossier relied on mystery man, hearsay

A man of mystery in Moscow who fed a cache of anti-Trump hearsay to Christopher Steele in London for his notorious dossier relied on six sources: five friends and a 30-minute call from an anonymous person he never could identify, a newly declassified FBI document shows.

The dossier rocked Washington, empowered the liberal media, captivated the FBI and emboldened Democrats to try to oust President Trump. Yet Mr. Steele’s work was based on the words of a smattering of Moscow inhabitants with no firsthand knowledge of any supposed event, the FBI paper shows.

The alleged trip to Prague by Trump attorney Michael Cohen, for example, came from the Moscow source’s longtime childhood friend, who repeated gossip to him and later repudiated what she had said to the FBI.

The FBI notes show the dossier’s go-to source told agents “his social network is vast and he has other, random associates.”

The U.S. government officially calls the mystery man Mr. Steele’s “primary sub source” — in other words, the main dossier architect. He is a Russian-speaking foreigner who circulates in Moscow’s academic and consulting worlds and does his research from home.

After feeding Mr. Steele stunning allegations — plot lines about The Ritz-Carlton hotel, Prague, Trump-is-a-Russian-spy — the primary source conceded to the FBI that he took what his friends told him with “a grain of salt.”

The source’s profile, but not his name, is contained in a highly censored FBI report summarizing three interviews agents conducted with him in the Washington field office in January 2017. It is the first look at any detail of the group of people, or subsources, who provided now-discredited allegations against the president and his aides. Mr. Trump recently said Mr. Steele belongs in jail.

Together with the December report from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the two narratives show a dossier compiled from raw second- and thirdhand gossip that was texted or phoned in, once while the primary source lounged by a pool. At some point in his collecting, the source and Mr. Steele, whom he first met in 2009 and went on his payroll, celebrated with a glass of champagne.

The debunked dossier was funded by the Democratic Party and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. Notable congressional Democrats freely quoted it in 2017 as a way to dislodge the president.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said the debriefing shows that the FBI at that point should have stopped seeking dossier-based wiretap warrants on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.

Instead, the FBI sought two more warrants, vouching for the dossier’s accuracy, and used it to fuel the 22-month probe of special counsel Robert Mueller. The special counsel found no Trump-Russia election conspiracy.

Said Mr. Graham: “The document reveals that the primary ‘source’ of Steele’s election reporting was not some well-connected current or former Russian official, but a non-Russian-based contract employee of Christopher Steele’s firm. Moreover, it demonstrates that the information that Steele’s primary source provided him was second- and thirdhand information and rumor at best.”

Then there is the question of Kremlin disinformation. The profiles of the six sources show that some of them claimed to be conduits for Russian intelligence. The Horowitz report said intelligence agencies warned the FBI that Russian spies knew what Mr. Steele was up to and had infiltrated the primary source’s network.

Here is the cast of six dossier contributors as described in the FBI’s 60-page debrief. The FBI gave each a number:

Source 1: A Russian with contacts in the intelligence service and FSB, or Federal Security Service. The primary source met this person at a cafe in June 2016. The person was a source for the first dossier memo, No. 80.

This person apparently spoke with or heard secondhand information from “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin.”

The memo claims that the Kremlin “had been feeding Trump and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents.” (This assertion, like so many others in the dossier, proved untrue.)

Source 2. This Russian supplied the rumor, also in memo No. 80, about Mr. Trump and prostitutes in The Ritz-Carlton Moscow hotel in 2013, when the Trump Organization staged the Miss Universe pageant.

The primary source had asked this person for any “compromising materials on Trump,” the FBI document says. Source 2 repeated a “well known story.” “Source 2 said the hotel is bugged and ‘heaven only knows’ who or what has been filmed by the FSB.”

The primary source interviewed hotel management and said he did not get a denial. He said he reported to Mr. Steele “Trump’s unorthodox sexual activity at the Ritz as ‘rumor and speculation’ and that he had not been able to confirm the story.”

Intelligence agencies warned the FBI that the Ritz story was Russian disinformation.

Source 3. This is perhaps the dossier’s most damaging contributor for Mr. Trump and aides. She is a female friend of the primary source. They have known each other for years. They have borrowed money from each other and gone shopping together.

She said Trump volunteer Carter Page, during a July 2016 trip to Moscow, met secretly with Igor Divyekin, a crony of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Mr. Page has always denied this, and the Mueller report cleared him.

Source 3 also told the other big conspiracy story: that Trump attorney Michael Cohen secretly traveled to Prague in August 2016 to meet Putin aides and engineer a cover-up of their shared Democratic Party computer hacking. The FBI later concluded that Cohen never went to Prague.

More information about Source 3 emerged in April, when Republican senators won declassification of footnote No. 347, which had been completely censored in the Horowitz report.

The footnote said Source 3, described as a “sub-source,” had “personal and business ties” with the primary subsource. She also had contacts with Mr. Putin’s staff in June and July 2016, when Mr. Steele was compiling the dossier.

The woman also was “voicing strong support for candidate Clinton in the 2016 U.S. elections,” the footnote said.

What’s more, other declassified footnotes show that intelligence agencies warned the FBI that the information about Cohen was Kremlin disinformation.

As for Source 3, the Horowitz report said the FBI questioned her in August 2017. She called the information attributed to her “exaggerated,” and she did not recognize anything as coming from her.

Source 4. This person has ties to the FSB. The primary source said they enjoyed each other’s company and “drank heavily together.”

“I just overheard such and such about an issue” is how he would feed information to the primary source.

Source 5: A Russian woman with ties to Kremlin intelligence. She provided the other half of the Carter Page story — that he also met in Moscow with Igor Sechin, a Putin adviser who runs the state oil company.

Mr. Page denies this meeting ever occurred, and Mr. Mueller cleared him.

Source 6: This U.S.-based person telephoned the primary source for 20 minutes. Never providing his name, Source 6 became the basis for Mr. Steele’s writing about an extensive conspiracy between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. Source 6’s phone call was used as evidence by the FBI to persuade judges to approve the Carter Page wiretaps.

Mr. Steele designated Source 6 as source E. The Horowitz report called him Person 1. This person has been described in media reports as having left the U.S. and not cooperating with Mr. Mueller.

After the three interviews in January 2017, the FBI talked to the primary source two more times. It was then when he made the “grain of salt” comment — essentially dismissing the entire dossier.

Those interview notes have not been declassified.

He said he never knew Mr. Steele planned to put what he told him into official reports. The Horowitz report said he told the FBI he made it clear to Mr. Steele that he was repeating “just talk” and “word of mouth and hearsay” and “conversations that [he] had with friends over beers.”

That February, agent Peter Strzok, who led the FBI’s Trump probe, made this comment in a declassified document after the primary source had been interviewed three times: “Recent interviews and investigation … reveal Steele may not be in a position to judge the reliability of his sub source network.”

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