The primary “source” of the anti-Trump dossier authored by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 for suspected contact with Russian intelligence officers, Fox News has learned.
Attorney General Bill Barr penned a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Thursday responding to requests as part of the panel’s review into the origins of the Russia probe.
“In connection with your Committee’s investigation of these matters and ongoing hearings, you have been asking us to accelerate this process and to provide any additional information relating to the reliability of the work of Christopher Steele and the so-called ‘Steele dossier,’ as long as its release would not compromise U.S. Attorney John Durham’s ongoing criminal investigation,” Barr wrote.
“A footnote in the Inspector General’s report contains information, which up till now has been classified and redacted, bearing on the reliability of the Steele dossier,” Barr wrote. “The FBI has declassified the relevant portion of the footnote, number 334, which states that ‘the Primary Sub-source was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 that assessed his or her contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officers’.”
Barr added that at his request, the FBI has prepared a declassified summary of certain information from the counterintelligence investigation into the source, which he has shared with the committee.
“I have consulted with Mr. Durham, who originally brought this information to my attention in the course of his investigation, and he has informed me that the disclosure of the information will not interfere with his criminal investigation,” Barr wrote, adding that he alerted Director of National Inteligence John Ratcliffe to “certain classified information in possession of the intelligence community” which “bears upon the FBI’s knowledge of the reliability of the dossier.”
“Mr. Durham confirms that the disclosure of that information would not interfere with his investigaiton, and the Department otherwise defers to the DNI concerning the handling of this information,” Barr said.
Durham was appointed by Attorney General Barr last year to investigate the origins of the FBI’s Russia probe shortly after Special Counsel Robert Mueller completed his years-long investigation into whether the campaign colluded with the Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Steele authored and compiled information for the controversial and unverified anti-Trump dossier on behalf of Fusion GPS — the firm that was hired to conduct opposition research funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign through law firm Perkins Coie.
The dossier contains claims about alleged ties between Donald Trump and Russia that served as the basis for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants obtained against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Meanwhile, Fox News reported in July that the primary source of Steele’s election reporting was not a current or former Russian official, but a non-Russian based contract employee of Steele’s firm. Fox News also reported in July that the information the source provided Steele that served as the basis of the dossier was “second and third-hand information and rumors at best.”
The committee earlier this summer released a declassified summary of a three-day interview with the source.
The source, according to the committee, told the FBI in interviews in January and March of 2017 that the information contained in the anti-Trump dossier was unreliable.