October 14, 2022 – Danchenko Trial: An FBI amendment to Carter Page’s FISA application was much worse than using the uncorroborated Steele dossier

In Email/Dossier Investigations, Featured Timeline Entries by Katie Weddington

FISA Court rubber stamps FBI warrant applications to spy on Americans. (Credit: River City Reader)

(…) The FBI’s use of the uncorroborated Steele dossier was not the FBI’s worst offense, however. Worse still was the Crossfire Hurricane team’s last-minute amendment to the FISA application that misleadingly framed Steele’s source network as one established during his time as an MI6 agent, when, in fact, neither Danchenko nor any of Steele’s other dossier sources had been sources during his time with British intelligence.

While Steele would later confirm for the inspector general that his source network did not involve sources from his time with MI6, but “was developed entirely in the period after he retired from government service,” from Auten’s detailed trial testimony, we now know that the Crossfire Hurricane team either knew Steele’s source network was not connected to British intelligence or knew that it could not, in good faith, make that representation to the FISA court.

For two days, Durham elicited testimony from Auten of the FBI’s attempts to ascertain Steele’s source network, including during a trip to Europe in early October, but Steele refused to identify his sources. Auten’s testimony in this regard proves significant when considered together with details previously revealed in the Office of Inspector General’s report on FISA abuse.

In discussing the process the FBI undertook to obtain the first FISA warrant on Page, the OIG explained that the day before the FISA court granted the surveillance order, the government submitted a “read copy” of the FISA application to the FISA court’s legal adviser for a preliminary assessment of any issues. The FISA court’s legal adviser asked the attorney working with the FBI on the application “how it was that Steele had a network of subsources?”

The government lawyer “provided additional information to him regarding Steele’s past employment history,” the OIG report explained; that response implied Steele’s source network came from his time with MI6. Significantly, the FISA court’s legal adviser then indicated the additional detail of Steele’s prior work with British intelligence should be included in the official FISA application to the court.

“That the legal advisor not only raised the question about Steele’s access to a network of sources, but then insisted that the FISA application be updated to include information concerning Steele’s prior government position, shows the FISA court placed great significance on Steele’s previous British intelligence work for purposes of assessing the reliability of his source network.” And with that misleading information added, the next day, Oct. 21, 2016, the FISA court issued the first of four orders authorizing the surveillance of Page’s phone and email accounts.

Given the importance the legal adviser placed on understanding Steele’s source network, it seems unlikely the FISA court would have authorized the surveillance of Page had the FBI either acknowledged that Steele’s source network came from his private work with Orbis or conceded that Steele had refused to reveal his sources. It was this final deception, then, and not merely the FBI’s reliance on the uncorroborated Steele dossier, that led to the illegal surveillance of Page. And, here, those involved in adding the last-minute, credibility-boosting footnote reference to Steele’s MI6 work knew full well that misrepresentation would score the bureau a surveillance warrant, making it an even worse transgression.” (Read more: The Federalist, 10/14/2022)  (Archive)