Disgraced former British spy Christopher Steele has allegedly prematurely refused to cooperate with U.S. Attorney John Durham, the “bulldog” prosecutor assigned by Attorney General Bill Barr to investigate the origins of the fruitless probe into alleged Russian collusion.
According to a source close to Steele’s private investigation firm, Orbis Business Intelligence, who spoke with Reuters, he is, however, willing to cooperate with other federal officials.
“The source close to Steele’s company said Steele would not cooperate with Durham’s probe but might cooperate with a parallel inquiry by the Justice Department’s Inspector General into how U.S. law enforcement agencies handled pre-election investigations into both Trump and Clinton,” Reuters reported Tuesday, though if it’s unclear whether Durham has even reached out to Steele yet.
Steele likewise had no qualms about cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. The problem is that Mueller showed no interest in investigating the origins of the Russia probe, let alone determining why the fraudulent, Democrat-funded dossier produced by Steele was used to justify a potentially illegal spying operation against President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team.
Author of the Steele dossier reportedly refusing to cooperate with US Atty Durham, appointed by Barr to investigate origins of the 2016 counter-intel probe. More at 11p @FoxNews – In the meantime, your thoughts?https://t.co/YTzZwl2MIq
— Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) May 29, 2019
Regarding Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, he’s specifically investigating whether the Obama DOJ and FBI abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Steele previously refused to sit with him for an interview.
“He declined to be interviewed by the inspector general, citing, among other things, the potential impropriety of his involvement in an internal Justice Department investigation as a foreign national and former British intelligence agent,” Politico reported just last month.
The disgraced former spy also vowed “to rebut the Inspector General’s characterizations, if necessary, in the form of a rare public statement, according to people familiar with his plans.”
The only thing that’s changed in the past month is the introduction of Durham, who was appointed by Barr to conduct a comprehensive investigation of the entire Russia probe — not just any potential FISA abuse issues. The attorney general’s primary interest is determining whether the Obama administration’s surveillance/spying of Trump’s campaign had been predicated on legal justifications.
“I think spying did occur, but the question is whether it was predicated — adequately predicated,” he explained in testimony to the Senate Appropriations Commitee last month.
“I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that. I think it’s my obligation. Congress is usually very concerned about intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies staying in their proper lane.”
Roughly a month later, around the middle of May, the AG assigned Durham to examine the DOJ and FBI’s actions prior to the 2016 presidential election.
And then last Thursday, only five days before Reuter’s bombshell report dropped, the president issued a memo granting Barr “full and complete authority” to declassify any and all documents tied to the Russia probe, including presumably the documents filed by the FBI in 2016 to obtain FISA warrants against Trump campaign officials George Papadopoulos and Carter Page.
Some believe these documents will prove that the Obama FBI withheld crucial information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when seeking warrants for the two.
“The first will be the exculpatory evidence, that of George Papadopoulos and Carter Page,” investigative reporter Sara Carter predicted last Friday while speaking on FNC’s “Hannity” about what sort of information she believes this declassification order will ultimately unveil.
“If they were recorded — which we have heard they were by Stefan Halper, who was a spy basically for the FBI — and the FBI withheld that information from the foreign intelligence surveillance court, that is going to be huge.”
Steele’s alleged refusal to cooperate with Durham is uncorroborated at the moment. It’s based entirely on an anonymous source.
That being said, if he does indeed refuse to work with the Trump DOJ, will congressional Democrats target him for obstruction of justice and contempt like they’ve done with Barr?
The #RussianDossier‘s Steele is refusing to cooperate with Durham’s investigation into spying on the Trump Campaign.
I’m sure the Democrat Majority will be threatening him with inherent contempt and jail time any day now…
— Bill Mitchell (@mitchellvii) May 28, 2019
— Julio Gonzalez (@TaxReformExpert) May 28, 2019
Earlier this month the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to violate federal law and release Mueller’s full report, including any and all confidential grand jury information.
Committee chairman Jerry Nadler pushed for the vote despite the AG having “repeatedly sought to accommodate” him via other ways, as noted by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd.
“On April 18, 2019, the Attorney General voluntarily disclosed to Congress the Special Counsel’s report, which was intended to be ‘confidential’ under the applicable regulations, with as few redactions as possible, consistent with the law and long established confidentiality interests of the Executive Branch,” he wrote in a letter at the time to Nadler.
“He also made available to you and other congressional leaders a minimally redacted version of the report that excluded only grand jury information, which could not lawfully be shared with Congress.”
Yet only three lawmakers ever took advantage of the opportunity to review the report — Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican Rep. Doug Collins and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
If Barr deserved to be held in contempt for not violating the law, what does Steele deserve?
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