Investigative journalist Michael Isikoff said Friday that he was surprised to find out that an article he wrote about Carter Page prior to the election was used to obtain a spy warrant against the former Trump campaign adviser.
The revelation, which was made in a memo released by the House Intelligence Committee on Friday, “stuns me,” Isikoff said in an episode of his podcast, “Skullduggery.”
The four-page memo alleges that the DOJ and FBI submitted inaccurate and incomplete information in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Page. The spy warrant was granted on Oct. 21, 2016.
One “essential” part of the application was the uncorroborated Steele dossier, according to the memo. And an article that Isikoff wrote for Yahoo! News on Sept. 23, 2016 that was based directly on the dossier was “cited extensively” in the application.
Isikoff was shocked, he said, because his very article was based on information that came from Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier. He said it was “a bit beyond me” that the FBI would use his article in the FISA application. (RELATED: Spy Warrant Relied On Dossier And News Stories Planted By Fusion GPS)
“Obviously the information that I got from Christopher Steele was information the FBI already had,” he said, noting that Steele began sharing information from his dossier in July 2016.
Isikoff acknowledged the potential problem with the DOJ and FBI citing his article to support the FISA against Page.
“It’s self-referential,” he said of the article and its reliance on the dossier.
“My story is about the FBI’s own investigation,” he continued.
“So it seems a little odd that they would be citing the Yahoo! News story about the matter that they are investigating themselves based on the same material that had been separately presented to the FBI before I was ever briefed by Christopher Steele.” (RELATED: Inside Fusion GPS’s Media Outreach Campaign)
The Republican spy memo makes a similar argument.
“This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from the information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo! News,” it reads.
It also asserts that the Page FISA application “incorrectly assesses” that Steele was not a source for Isikoff.
The memo also says that corroboration of the dossier was in its “infancy” at the time the FISA application was submitted. An FBI unit that tried to verify Steele’s research had determined that it was only “minimally corroborated” at the time the FISA warrant was granted.
Isikoff said on his podcast that he met Steele at a Washington, D.C. hotel in Sept. 2016. They were joined by his “old friend” Glenn Simpson, the founder of opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
Fusion hired Steele to investigate Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. The firm was working for the Clinton campaign and DNC, a fact which Isikoff was not aware of at the time of the meeting with Simpson and Steele.
He said on “Skullduggery” that he was aware that Simpson and Steele were working for Democrats, though he did not know it was the campaign and DNC.
Isikoff said that he wonders whether the Republican memo accurately characterized the FISA application or whether the FBI/DOJ were trying to “dress up” the document. The latter scenario would be “embarrassing” for U.S. officials, he said.
Isikoff’s article was not considered a bombshell when it was published, though the Clinton campaign did tout it in a press release. The report did not initially gain much traction on cable news or with other major outlets, but it has picked up attention over the past year amid the ongoing investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion.
The article did reveal for the first time that investigators were looking into Page’s contacts in Russia. It also provided the most extensive reporting on Page’s alleged activities in Russia up to that point in the campaign.
Isikoff reported that Page may have met secretly with the Kremlin insiders during a much-publicized trip to Moscow in July 2016.
The dossier — and the Isikoff report — identified the two individuals as Igor Sechin and Igor Diveykin. Page has denied ever meeting the men. He is also suing Yahoo! News for publishing the article suggesting he had.
Page denies other allegations made by Steele in the dossier. Steele claims in the document that Page worked with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to collude directly with Russian operatives. Page says he has never met or talked to Manafort. The dossier also asserts that it was Page’s idea to provide hacked DNC emails to Wikileaks in order to push Bernie Sanders supporters away from the Democrats’ camp.
Isikoff’s article also uses a quote from a senior U.S. law enforcement official. The unidentified official told Isikoff that Page’s contacts in Russia were on investigators’ “radar screen.”
The identity of that source remains a mystery, and Isikoff did not disclose who it was. But he did rule out that the source was Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official who met with Steele and Simpson before and after the election.
The memo says that Ohr passed information from Steele to the Justice Department. He also provided the FBI with information from his wife, who worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS. Ohr also met with Simpson after the election.