Orbis Business Intelligence

September 18, 2019 – Judicial Watch files a FOIA lawsuit for the records of FBI Special Agent Michael Gaeta

Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) for records about FBI Special Agent Michael Gaeta, who was the Legal Attaché in Rome who helped circulate the Steele dossier (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-02722)).

The suit was filed after the Justice Department and FBI failed to respond to an August 10, 2018, FOIA requests seeking:

  • All records of communications, including emails (using [his or her] own name or aliases), text messages, instant chats and encrypted messages, sent to and from former FBI Legal Attaché in Rome, Special Agent Michael Gaeta, mentioning the terms “Trump”, “Clinton”, “Republican”, “Democrat”, and/or “conservatives.”
  • All SF50s and SF52s of SA Michael Gaeta.
  • All expense reports and travel vouchers submitted for SA Michael Gaeta.

On August 28, 2018, Bruce Ohr testified before a joint task force of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees that Christopher Steele, author of the Clinton funded dossier, gave two reports from the dossier to Gaeta.

In the July 30 meeting, Chris Steele also mentioned something about the doping — you know, one of the doping scandals. And he also mentioned, I believe — and, again, this is based on my review of my notes — that he had provided Mr. Gaeta with two reports…”

The only thing I recall him mentioning is that he had provided two of his reports to Special Agent Gaeta.

Gaeta reportedly was authorized by then Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland to meet with Steele at his office in London to receive reports from the dossier

The purpose of the London visit was clear. Steele was personally handing the first memo in his dossier to Gaeta for ultimate transmission back to the FBI and the State Department.

For this visit, the FBI sought permission from the office of Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Nuland, who had been the recipient of many of Steele’s reports, gave permission for the more formal meeting. On July 5, 2016, Gaeta traveled to London and met with Steele at the offices of Steele’s firm, Orbis.

“The FBI is covering up its role in the Russiagate hoax,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch has had to fight the FBI ‘tooth and nail’ for every scrap of information about the illicit targeting of President Trump.” (Read more: September 18, 2019)

September 14, 2019 – Senator Graham says U.S. officials received as many as six warnings about Christopher Steele’s reliability as a source

The London offices of Orbis Business Intelligence. (Credit: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters)

“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Friday that U.S. officials received as many as six warnings that dossier author Christopher Steele was an unreliable source of information regarding President Donald Trump.

Graham discussed the assessment of Steele during a radio interview with host Sean Hannity, but he stopped short of describing all of the information regarding the former British spy because much of it is classified.

“There’s four events that I’m aware of, five actually, where the system was informed that Christopher Steele was an unreliable informant when it came to Trump,” Graham told Hannity.

“Some of them I can’t tell you yet until we get this stuff declassified. But I think it’s going to be five; it may be six,” the South Carolina Republican added later.” (Daily Caller, 9/14/2019)

September 12, 2019 – Grassley and Johnson ask State OIG why he failed to issue report on his investigation into the meeting between Steele and State Dept officials, before the Carter Page FISA application

“U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, sent a letter to U.S. Department of State Inspector General Steve Linick today seeking an explanation as to why his office did not issue a report on its investigation into the October 2016 meeting between Christopher Steele and Orbis Intelligence employee Tatyana Duran, then-Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec, and then-Special Envoy Jonathan Winer. The senators also seek to understand why the state department OIG did not interview all parties present at that October 2016 meeting.

“We write seeking to understand why the OIG did not issue a report on its investigation and did not interview employees who most likely have relevant information regarding the subject matter of the inquiry,” the senators wrote.

The senators asked the state department OIG about its failure to interview Mr. Winer in light of him introducing Mr. Steele to high-ranking state department officials with direct access to their counterparts at the FBI days before the FBI sought a FISA order to surveil a Trump campaign official.

The senators also learned the state department OIG discovered at least one department official, Mr. Winer, utilized non-official email accounts to conduct official department business, and they have requested an explanation as to why the OIG did not interview Mr. Winer about his use of personal email when he directed others to upload those emails to classified systems within the department.  In addition, the senators learned that the state department OIG determined a department employee may have engaged in anti-Trump political conduct, in violation of the Hatch Act, and the OIG referred that individual to the Office of Special Counsel for Investigation. That Hatch Act investigation is ongoing.

The Office of Special Counsel is the permanent, independent investigative agency for personnel matters in the federal government and is not related to Robert Mueller’s temporary prosecutorial office within the justice department.

The full text of the letter can be viewed here.

Sens. Johnson and Grassley’s May 9, 2019, letters to the state department and the FBI can be viewed here.

(GrassleySenate.gov, 9/12/2019)

April 16, 2019 – Judicial watch files a FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ for records of communications and payments between the FBI and Christopher Steele

(Judicial Watch logo)

“Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice for records of communications and payments between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and his private firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.

(…) The time frame for this request is March 9, 2017, to September 27, 2018.

Former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr testified to Congress that “at some point during 2017, Chris Steele did speak with somebody from the FBI, but I don’t know who.”

This is the latest Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit in an extensive investigation into the Clinton-funded, anti-Trump dossier and its use to obtain FISA warrants in order to spy on the Trump campaign.

In a case seeking information between January 1, 2016, and March 8, 2017, Judicial Watch previously released FBI records showing that Steele was cut off as a “Confidential Human Source” in November 2016 after he disclosed his relationship to the FBI to a third party. The documents show that there were at least 11 FBI payments to Steele in 2016.

Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm hired by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, reportedly paid $168,000 in 2016 to Steele’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence.

In a related case, Judicial Watch recently released 339 pages of heavily redacted records from the DOJ revealing Bruce Ohr remained in regular contact with Steele after Steele was terminated by the FBI.

“How and why did the FBI pay Christopher Steele, who was already being funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC through Fusion GPS?” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “That we had to sue for this basic information shows the FBI may have something more to hide.” (Judicial Watch, 4/16/2019)

July 5, 2016 – Michael Gaeta travels to London, meets with Christopher Steele and is referred to as his “FBI handler”

Lisa Page references Christopher Steele’s FBI handler during her testimony July 13, 2018:

An Orbis Business Intelligence ad that states, “”We provide strategic advice, mount intelligence-gathering operations and conduct complex, often cross-border investigations.” (Credit: public domain)

“When the FBI first receives the reports that are known as the dossier from an FBI agent who is Christopher Steele’s handler in September of 2016 at that time, we do not know who—we don’t know why these reports have been generated.”

Steele’s handler is almost certainly Michael Gaeta, head of the FBI’s Eurasian Crime Squad. Gaeta, an FBI agent and also assistant legal attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, has known the former MI6 spy since at least 2010, when Steele provided assistance in the FBI’s investigation into the FIFA corruption scandal over concern that Russia might have been engaging in bribery to host the 2018 World Cup.

On July 5, 2016, Gaeta traveled to London and met with Steele at the offices of Steele’s firm, Orbis. For this visit, the FBI sought permission from the office of Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Nuland, who had been the recipient of many of Steele’s reports, gave permission for the more formal meeting.

Nuland provided this version of events during a Feb. 4, 2018, appearance on CBS News’ “Face the Nation”:

“In the middle of July, when he [Steele] was doing this other work and became concerned, he passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding and our immediate reaction to that was, this is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian Federation. That’s something for the FBI to investigate.”

In September 2016, Steele would travel back to Rome to meet with the FBI Eurasian squad again. It was at this meeting that Steele gave a copy of his dossier—what there was of it at that time—to the FBI counterintelligence team investigators.

One individual who had previous involvement with the Eurasian Crime Squad was former FBI Deputy Director McCabe:

“McCabe began his career as a special agent with the FBI in 1996,” the FBI states on its website. “He first reported to the New York division, where he investigated a variety of organized crime matters. In 2003, he became the supervisory special agent of the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force.”

McCabe remained with the Eurasian squad until 2006, when he was moved to FBI headquarters in Washington.

The question that has yet to be answered was who, exactly, did Gaeta give the dossier to and when. Was it transmitted to FBI leadership? If so, why did the counterintelligence team have to travel to Rome in September to get their first copy from Steele?

And finally, potentially the biggest question: Did Brennan receive a copy of the dossier via Gaeta—or whomever he transmitted a copy to—in the summer of 2016 following Gaeta’s return?” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 1/11/2019)

May 19, 2014 – November 2015: Documents reveal an extensive relationship between dossier author Steele and top Obama State Dept. officials re Russia-Ukraine policy and sanctions

“Judicial Watch and The Daily Caller News Foundation today released 146 pages of State Department documents revealing that former British spy and dossier author Christopher Steele had an extensive and close working relationship dating back to May of 2014 with high-ranking Obama State Department officials.

Daniel Fried (Credit: The Atlantic Council)

The documents obtained by Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit show that, from May 2014 to November 2015, Steele filed dozens of reports with his close associate at State, Special Coordinator for Libya Jonathan Winer, who would then pass them to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland. The reports focused mainly on the Russia-Ukraine crisis and U.S. sanctions on Russia.

The documents show that Steele’s work was also distributed to State Department Coordinator for Sanctions Policy Daniel Fried and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Paul Jones, whose focus in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs was on Russia and Ukraine policy.

The documents are Orbis Business Intelligence reports that Steele provided to the State Department. Steele, a former MI6 spy, co-founded Orbis in 2009.

Paul Jones with Clinton during her visit to Malaysia in November 2010. (Credit: Wikipedia)

An early Steele report was passed by Winer to Nuland on May 19, 2014. It discusses Russia-Ukraine policy. Winer writes: “Toria, another piece that is not in my lane but which I wished to pass on to you. My friend Chris Steele (Orbis Intelligence, former MI-6 Russia expert), provided me the enclosed memo yesterday, describing a recent conversation (redacted) on Russian Ukraine policy. As I was provided it from a person in private sector, I am treating it as low side.”

In a November 20, 2014 email exchange, Winer offers to introduce Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Paul Jones to Steele while Steele was to be in town, and he provides Jones and Nuland with three Steele reports, discussing: “Ukraine looking towards [redacted]”; “Ukraine economy shrinking due to loss of East [redacted]”; and “President Putin’s current priorities [redacted]”. Winer writes to Jones: Paul, if you are still free, does 3 pm work to meet with Chris Steele? I would pick him up downstairs, get him to your office, and sit in. Will be sending you another Orbis report regardless in a few minutes, it just arrived but I haven’t had chance to open it and manicure it yet.”

(Read more: Judicial Watch, 9/19/2019)