The Democratic Party-funded, anti-Trump “dossier” – parts of which were described by then-FBI director James Comey as “salacious and unverified” – continues to be used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as his “road map” for investigative leads, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Mueller’s team, reports Paul Sperry for RealClearInvestigations, also has used information obtained through the wiretapping of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, which was authorized by a top-secret surveillance court based on the dossier, according to former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.
Earlier this month, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton asserted the revelations about the discredited dossier’s centrality in obtaining the surveillance warrant means the entire Mueller investigation is unjustified.
“When you have Andrew McCabe, who is no friend of Donald Trump, testifying there would be no spying operation on the Trump team without this Clinton dossier, that necessarily means there wouldn’t have been a Mueller investigation,” he said in a Fox News interview after the House Intelligence Committee released a memo on the dossier on Feb. 2.
Fitton reasoned that Mueller was hired to investigate alleged Russia collusion, “and the only reason there’s alleged Russia collusion, it looks like, is because they had this dossier, paid for by the Clinton camp.”
Since then, Fitton has called for the Mueller investigation to be shut down.
A top Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who had a major part in writing the memo, however, said he remains “100 percent confident in Special Counsel Robert Mueller,” insisting the “contents of this memo do not – in any way – discredit his investigation.”
Spearheaded by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the memo said McCabe – who resigned unexpectedly just five days before the memo was released – testified to the committee that the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court would not have approved surveillance warrants to wiretap former Trump policy adviser Carter Page if not for the dossier.
The dossier, commissioned by the political research firm Fusion GPS with funding from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, was written by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Sperry noted that the trip to London last fall by Mueller investigators to debrief Steele is cast in a new light with the memo’s revelation that FBI agents abruptly stopped using Steele as an informant in late 2016 after concluding that he had lied to them.
Special Counsel’s Office spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment to RealClearInvestigations regarding Steele and the dossier.
Mueller pressing Manafort to ‘flip’?
On Thursday, a federal grand jury returned a new indictment in Mueller’s investigation, charging former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and aide Rick Gates with tax and bank fraud.
The charges had nothing to do with the Trump campaign, however, centering on understating income on federal tax returns and bank fraud surrounding three loans Manafort applied for in connection with various homes.
However, former FBI assistant director Frank Figliuzzi told MSNBC he believes Mueller’s new charges against Manafort are about getting him to “flip” and testify against Trump.
“If he doesn’t do it with these new tax charges – you’re looking at Manafort dying in federal prison,” Figliuzzi said.
Last year, Mueller separately charged Manafort and Gates with money laundering and failing to register as foreign agents for their work related to Ukraine.
On Friday, a federal grand jury returned the indictment of 13 Russians on charges of attempting to defraud the United States by meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.
A former federal prosecutor told WND earlier this week it’s significant that the special counsel’s indictment of the Russians concluded that no Americans knowingly collaborated with Russian attempts to cause mischief in the campaign.
“It does say that to the extent Americans were involved in this it was ‘unwitting,’ which means that if that’s the full extent of it, there obviously can’t be a collusion conspiracy because you can’t collude – I mean collusion is a nonsense word legally anyway,” said Andrew McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
“To be a criminal conspirator, you have to have an agreement to violate the law, and that’s not something that someone can do unwittingly,” he said.
Critics of the Mueller probe have charged that the former FBI investigator has stacked his team with investigators who are politically biased.
None of the 16 publicly confirmed lawyers on Mueller’s team are registered Republicans, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported Wednesday. Voter registration records indicate that 13 of the attorneys are Democrats and three have no party affiliation.
Mueller dismissed the top FBI agent on his team, Peter Strzok, after texts he exchanged with an FBI lawyer working for McCabe at the time of the 2016 campaign surfaced showing his disdain for Donald Trump and efforts to ensure he was not elected. The lawyer, Lisa Page, was having an extramarital affair with Strzok at the time.
Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in December against the FBI for records about the removal and reassignment of Strzok.
Judicial Watch noted Strzok oversaw the FBI’s interviews of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who is said to be rethinking his agreement to plea guilty to lying regarding conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S.
Strzok also changed former FBI Director James Comey’s language about Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information through an unauthorized and unsecured email server from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless”; played a lead role in the FBI’s interview of Clinton and is suspected of being responsible for using the dossier to obtain the Page warrant.
“It is disturbing the FBI has stonewalled our request about the Mr. Strzok demotion for four months,” said Judicial Watch’s Fitton in December. “One can only conclude the FBI and Justice Department, including Mr. Mueller’s operation, wanted to hide the truth about how Strzok’s and Page’s political biases and misconduct have compromised both the Clinton email and Russia collusion investigations.”