by WorldTribune Staff, June 22, 2018
The Obama State Department had access to parts of the discredited Trump dossier before the FBI had obtained the document, a report said.
“State Department officials obtained and reviewed parts of the infamous Steele dossier by mid-July 2016, well before FBI headquarters had access to the document,” The Daily Caller noted in a June 22 report.
A senior State Dept. official in the Obama Administration cleared the way for an FBI agent in 2016 to meet with dossier writer Christopher Steele, according to a Washington Times report in March citing a book ‘Russian Roulette’ by Michael Isikoff and David Corn.
The U.S. embassy in London was also an early recipient of information about former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that the FBI would use to justify opening its counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016, the report said.
Related: ‘Special relationship’? UK’s SIS so far skirts scrutiny in Washington’s Russia scandal, Feb. 6, 2018
“The State Department’s involvement in Trump-Russia matters has received little media attention, but it has grabbed the interest” of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, the report said.
Nunes has said he is investigating “major irregularities” in how the State Department handled unspecified information used in the Russia investigation. The dossier, authored by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, was a key cog in launching the investigation.
Victoria Nuland, who was the Obama State Department’s top Russia expert, revealed in Senate testimony on June 20 that “I was first shown excerpts from the dossier, I believe in mid-July of 2016. It wasn’t the complete thing, which I didn’t see until it was published in the U.S. press.”
Nuland, Jonathan Winer and Elizabeth Dibble “appear to be key to the State Department’s role in handling Trump-related Russia information,” the report said.
Nuland had came forward in February to acknowledge that she received and handled information from Steele. Winer wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post on Feb. 8 asserting that he was being unfairly targeted by Nunes.
“Winer and Nuland suggested in their disclosures that they determined Steele’s reports were too hot for the State Department to handle,” the Daily Caller report said. “They have both claimed they referred the information to the FBI, which was better suited to verify Steele’s still-unverified allegations.”
Winer “would later serve as a source for Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff and Mother Jones reporter David Corn, the two veteran reporters revealed in their recent book, ‘Russian Roulette.’ “ the report said. “Winer vouched for Steele to both Isikoff and Corn, the only two reporters to write stories before the election about Steele’s allegations.”
Dibble, the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in London, “was reportedly one of the first U.S. officials to receive information about a May 2016 conversation that Papadopoulos, the Trump adviser, had with Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner to the UK,” the Daily Caller noted.
The meeting, held May 10, 2016, in which Downer says Papadopoulos mentioned Hillary Clinton and Russians, “would later prompt the FBI to start its counterintelligence investigation, known as Crossfire Hurricane,” the report said.
It was also revealed at the same Senate hearing on June 20 that Steele had briefed State Department officials in October 2016.
“The briefing suggests closer contacts between Steele and the State Department than the agency has acknowledged,” the Daily Caller noted.