Cause of Action (CoA) Institute is suing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to find out whether the agency paid or planned to pay former British spy Christopher Steele for research on the infamous Trump dossier.
The institute first tried to obtain records of the FBI-Steele relationship via a Freedom of Information Act request, but the FBI has not responded.
“If a former spy who was being paid to do opposition research on a U.S. presidential nominee was also on the FBI’s payroll, there are serious concerns about the agency’s independence,” CoA Institute President John Vecchione said in a statement. “We need to better understand this financial relationship to ensure the FBI was not misusing taxpayer money to interfere in a presidential election on behalf of one of the candidates.”
Although the dossier has now largely been discredited, it caused enough of a ruckus to keep the spotlight directed at Steele. The Washington Post reported in late February that the FBI reached an agreement with Steele several weeks before the 2016 presidential election to continue researching connections between Trump’s camp and Russia. Clinton supporters were also paying him for opposition research during this time.
The FBI reneged on its apparent agreement to pay Steele, however.
Former FBI assistant director Ron Hosko told The Daily Caller News Foundation in March that it’s possible the agency terminated the relationship due to partisanship and double-dealing. Ties between Steele and the FBI ended after the dossier was leaked to the media, causing a firestorm.
“The potential for bias and double-dealing is one that’s real and one that the FBI agents and their bosses need to be guarding against,” Hosko told TheDCNF. “And it could be that they had some conversations and they determined, ‘Well they this guy is playing these cards all over town, let’s pull away from it,’ or ‘this is riddled with bad information, they’ve mis-characterized it, they’ve overstated it’ – all of these things are a risk that the FBI is looking for and will result in termination of a relationship.”
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