The FBI had only “medium confidence” in former British spy Christopher Steele and deemed his infamous anti-Trump dossier to be “minimally corroborated,” according to newly released government documents.
The assessment is made in a document known as a Human Source Validation Report. The FBI published the report to its online records vault earlier this week.
“Medium confidence generally means the information is credibly sourced and plausible but not of sufficient quality or corroborated sufficiently to warrant a higher level of confidence,” reads an appendix to the report, which appears to have been written sometime after Feb. 9, 2017. “Additional reporting of information or sources have the potential to increase the FBI’s confidence levels or substantively change analytical judgments.”
The dossier has been a topic of intense debate since its publication on Jan. 10, 2017. The 35-page report alleges a vast conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian government and claims that the Kremlin has blackmail material on President Donald Trump. (RELATED: Fusion GPS Doubted The Credibility Of A Major Dossier Source)
Republicans have faulted the FBI for relying on the unverified dossier to obtain four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The FBI had obtained at least two FISAs against Page by the time the bureau wrote Steele’s Human Source Validation Report.
Page has vehemently denied the dossier’s allegations about him. The report claims that Page was the Trump campaign’s chief negotiator with the Russian government.
A group of House Republicans has waged an investigation into whether the FBI and Department of Justice abused the FISA process by relying on the dossier, which was ultimately funded by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Republicans have also questioned why the FBI relied on Steele’s reporting even after the bureau terminated him as a confidential source just before the election. The FBI cut ties on Nov. 1, 2016 after learning he had unauthorized contact with a reporter from Mother Jones magazine.
Unknown to the FBI at the time, Steele also met in September and October 2016 with reporters from several other news outlets, including a reporter from Yahoo! News who published a report on Sept. 23, 2016 that relied on Steele as a source.
The FBI document backs up one section of a memo released in February by Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
“After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated,” Republicans asserted in the memo released on Feb. 2.
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