Byron York: What explains the FBI’s deep faith in Trump dossier author Christopher Steele?

From Washington Examiner

One of the most remarkable takeaways from the new documents released in the Trump-Russia investigation is the degree to which FBI officials were determined to believe dossier author Christopher Steele — even after it became clear he had lied to them. In their drive to win a warrant to wiretap sometime Trump volunteer Carter Page — along with Paul Manafort, one of only two Trump figures known to be wiretapped in the investigation — the bureau rested most of its case on Steele’s information, and the officials who filed the warrant application seemed resolved to believe Steele even after his credibility came into question.

The new document is the (mostly) unredacted version of the criminal referral of Steele sent to the Justice Department by Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley and subcommittee chairman Lindsey Graham. Like the earlier House Intelligence Committee memo, the Grassley-Graham referral shows that the FBI focused extensively on the dossier in its effort to convince the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court to give permission to wiretap Page. The FBI warrant application “relied heavily” on the dossier, according to the referral, and “the bulk of the application consists of allegations against Page that were disclosed to the FBI by Mr. Steele and are also outlined in the Steele dossier.”

In part, the FBI trusted Steele because it had to; the bureau had no other evidence that would have sufficed to win a warrant to wiretap Page. “The application appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations against Mr. Page,” the Grassley-Graham referral said, “although it does cite to a news article that appears to be sourced to Mr. Steele’s dossier as well.” At another point in the referral, Grassley and Graham wrote that the FBI “relied more heavily on Steele’s credibility than on any independent verification or corroboration for his claims.”

“Indeed, the documents we have reviewed show that the FBI took important investigative steps largely based on Mr. Steele’s information — and relying heavily on his credibility,” Grassley and Graham wrote.

The FBI placed so much faith in Steele because he was a former British spy — a fellow professional — who had worked with the bureau a few years earlier in the world soccer corruption investigation. The FBI specifically referenced Steele’s history in the Page application to the FISA court, known as FISC.

“The FBI stated to the FISC that ‘based on [Steele’s] previous reporting history with the FBI, whereby [Steele] provided reliable information to the FBI, the FBI believes [Steele’s] reporting to be credible,'” Grassley and Graham wrote, quoting from the surveillance application.

But there were two problems with Steele’s credibility, according to the referral. The first was the lack of corroborating evidence. The other was convincing evidence that Steele lied to the FBI.