08.14.2018 0

The Steele dossier Obama used to spy on Trump was classified. So, who distributed it and why haven’t they been charged with a crime?

By Robert Romano

The information in the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign-funded Christopher Steele dossier the Obama administration used to spy on the Donald Trump presidential campaign in 2016 was classified. It had to be.

We know that from CNN’s very first story about the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017, which stated emphatically, “Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.”

The dossier was a part of the top secret briefing former FBI Director James Comey gave to former President Barack Obama and to then-President Elect Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2017. Later Comey testified that the information in the dossier was “salacious and unverified.”

We also know the dossier was used to obtain the top secret — says so right on the first page — Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrant against Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, who has not been charged with a crime, in Oct. 2016 that was released to Judicial Watch via the Freedom of Information Act.

The warrant also says in addition to being top secret,  it was “NOFORN,” which according to Archives.gov means “Information may not be disseminated in any form to foreign governments, foreign nationals, foreign or international organizations, or non-U.S. citizens.”

Page was accused both in the dossier and in the warrant of having contacts with Russians while he was overseas in Moscow in July 2016 to deliver a commencement address at the New Economic School, specifically Igor Sechin. The warrant stated, “according to information provided by an FBI confidential human source (Source #1)… reported that Page had a secret meeting with Igor Sechin, who is the President of Rosneft (a Russian energy company) and a close associate to Russian President Putin.” Which, appears to be directly from Steele’s dossier in the memo he wrote July 19, 2016, stating, “Speaking in July 2016, a Russian source close to Rosneft President, PUTIN close associate and US-sanctioned individual, Igor SECHIN, confided the details of a recent secret meeting between him and visiting Foreign Affairs Advisor to Republican presidential candidate Donald TRUMP, Carter PAGE.”

The details of the meeting Page allegedly had with Sechin described in both documents are written almost verbatim. From the warrant, it stated “during the meeting, Page and Sechin discussed future bilateral energy cooperation and the prospects for an associated move to lift Ukraine-related Western sanctions against Russia.” And from the dossier, it stated “According to SECHIN’s associate, the Rosneft President (CEO) had raised with PAGE the issues of future bilateral energy cooperation and prospects for an associated move to lift Ukraine-related western sanctions against Russia.”

Not only was the dossier used to get the warrant, the information contained therein was classified since the contents of the dossier were included in top secret documents. And it should have been classified from at least Oct. 2016 and likely at some point prior to going to the FISA court. We don’t know specifically when that happened, but there’s only a few people who could have classified it.

The authority to classify information occurs pursuant to Executive Order 13256 section 1.3 includes “the President and the Vice President… agency heads and officials designated by the President; and … United  States  Government  officials  delegated  this  authority…” And those delegations “shall be limited to the minimum required to administer this order. Agency heads are responsible for ensuring that designated subordinate officials have a demonstrable and continuing need to exercise this authority.”

So, it was either the President, the Vice President, an agency head or an agency head’s designee. Point is, somebody classified that information and then it was included in the FISA warrant application. Whoever did so should have been in contact with Steele and his employer, Fusion GPS, to alert them to the fact that the information was being classified or had been classified so that the information would become compartmentalized. No question.

Instead, according to later FISA applications on Page by the Justice Department, also released to Judicial Watch via FOIA, Steele further disseminated the dossier to news reporters. According the second FISA warrant filed Jan. 2017, “In or about late October 2016, however, after the Director of the FBI sent a letter to the U.S. Congress, which stated that the FBI had learned of new information that might be pertinent to an investigation that the FBI was conducting of Candidate #2, Source #1 told the FBI that he/she was frustrated with this action and believed it would likely influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. In response to Source #l’s concerns, Source #1 independently, and against the prior admonishment from the FBI to speak only with the FBI on this matter, released the reporting discussed herein to an identified news organization. Although the FBI continues to assess Source #1′ s reporting is reliable, as noted above, the FBI has suspended its relationship with Source #1 because of this disclosure.”

So, right there, the Justice Department was aware that Steele had, after providing the information to the FBI, and it becoming classified, “released the reporting discussed herein to an identified news organization.”

This of course would appear to be a flagrant violation of 18 U.S. Code § 798 titled “Disclosure of classified information.” It defines “classified information” as “information which, at the time of a violation of this section, is, for reasons of national security, specifically designated by a United States Government Agency for limited or restricted dissemination or distribution.”

Well, in this case, it was labeled top secret, and according to the FISA court warrant, Steele had been admonished on a prior basis “from the FBI to speak only with the FBI on this matter…”

So, why hasn’t Steele been charged with a crime? Why isn’t the Justice Department demanding to the UK that he be extradited to the U.S. for prosecution? Was he granted immunity or something?

And who else was distributing the Steele dossier to the press after its information had been classified? Wouldn’t they be guilty of disseminating classified information, too? Because those were tainted goods. Reading the statute carefully, it is the information itself that is classified, not how it was packaged. What matters is that the information was classified at the time it was distributed. So, any unauthorized distributions between Oct. 2016 going forward at least until Buzzfeed published it Jan. 10, 2017 would clearly qualify as potential violations.

Talk about foreign interference in the election. Christopher Steele was a former British intelligence agent who was hired by the Democrats and the Clinton campaign to gather information on Trump from supposed Russian sources and then disseminated it to the FBI, initiating a national security investigation and then, when it didn’t leak, took it upon himself to leak it so that it would influence the elections. Afterward, the same material was used to attempt to influence and overturn the Electoral College in Dec. 2016.

Other leaks of classified information appear to have led to other investigations. For example, then-incoming National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s perfectly legal Dec. 2016 conversation with Russian ambassador Sergei Kisylak being leaked to the Washington Post on Jan. 12, 2017, just two days after the CNN and Buzzfeed stories. Immediately it was presented as the centerpiece of the collusion narrative. Were sanctions discussed, media outlets intoned?

That leak is what caused then-Vice President Elect Mike Pence to go on television on Jan. 15, 2017 discussing what was and was not discussed in that conversation, including sanctions. Pence said they weren’t. But then, later the contents of that conversation were leaked to the Post on Feb. 9, 2017, saying Flynn had discussed sanctions.

Without these leaks, and Pence never goes on television to explain the conversation. Flynn might never have been questioned by the FBI or fired, or later prosecuted for lying about the leaked conversation. There might not be a special counsel right now.

Recall, the dossier per Comey was “salacious and unverified.” So far, no Americans including Page or former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort have been charged with having “full knowledge” of the DNC and John Podesta emails being hacked by Russia and given to Wikileaks, as Steele had alleged.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made sure we knew that when indictments of Russians for the hack by Special Counsel Robert Mueller were announced.

On July 13, when Russian intelligence officers were accused of hacking the DNC and Podesta emails, although at times they were in contact with Americans, Rosenstein stated, “There is no allegation in this indictment that the Americans knew they were corresponding with Russian intelligence officers.”

And again, “There is no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime,” nor did the hacks alter any votes or the outcome of the election.

This was an investigation into a very specific matter, that Russia had hacked the DNC and Podesta, and Trump helped “with full knowledge,” per Steele, with only one glaring problem. Trump apparently didn’t help, or else he or his campaign’s officials would have been charged with a crime on that very specific count.

When you get down to it, the Steele dossier and the ensuing FBI investigation was used by the Obama administration to spy on the Trump campaign. In turn, it was used by Steele and others, with classified information, to try to influence the outcome of the election and, then, when that failed, to overturn the outcome of the election. Leading up to and after the President was sworn in, the dossier and other classified information leaks were then used to carry over the investigation into the Trump administration. Anyone seeing a pattern here?

Where is the Justice Department investigating this blatant political weaponization of our justice and intelligence services? Who was leaking this classified information to influence the election, the Electoral College and intelligence and law enforcement officials to investigate certain matters. It’s time to investigate the investigators.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

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